Burrell’s perfect mark at stake this weekend
Anyone with even a remote interest in the Allegheny Conference who isn’t already at the game will probably ask a recurring question Friday night: What’s the Burrell-Freeport score?
All eyes will be on the conference’s first big game of the season when Burrell (3-0, 3-0) travels to Freeport (2-1, 2-1) for a 7:30 kickoff at James Swartz Memorial Field.
The old-style setting is the perfect venue for what should be an action-packed, physical matchup of two potential playoff teams.
That said, the Bucs aren’t giving the Freeport game special treatment.
Burrell will play two tough games in a row, with a contest at unbeaten Shady Side Academy on Oct. 3.
Allegheny Conference teams have no nonconference games. They all count, although some loom larger than others.
“We’re excited about it and they’re a very good football team,” Burrell coach Tom Henderson said. “In a conference like this, though, Valley is good, Kittanning is good. Ford City is good. And Freeport is good. When you’re facing good teams like that, it’s almost like every game is a rivalry.”
Freeport, which needs five wins to reach 500 and become the first local team to that milestone, has beaten Burrell two consecutive years, by the same score, 21-14.
Burrell had won three in a row against the Yellowjackets until 2007. But Freeport leads the all-time series, 14-13.
“I think this will be one of the hardest-hitting games of the year,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “It was last year.
“Coach Henderson does a phenomenal job.”
Burrell is the highest-scoring team in the WPIAL through three games (49.3 ppg) and has surrendered just 26 points on defense. Henderson knows the Bucs have big-play ability, but he thinks fundamentals will be the key to contending for the conference title — and winning mini-battles along the way.
“We’re not winning games because of certain plays,” he said. “We’re winning games because we block well and we tackle well and play better every time we step on the field.
“It’s about preparing yourself and making yourself ready to step out onto the field at any time.”
Burrell has been led by quarterback Camren Nelson, who has passed for 358 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. He also has rushed for 150 yards and four scores.
Receiver Dave Yakopec has 12 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Several backs have been effective on offense.
“We know we have to come with our ‘A’ game,” Gaillot said. “(Camren) Nelson is an outstanding quarterback.”
Freeport is averaging 31 points per game, but hasn’t faced a quick defense such as Burrell’s since a Week 2 home loss to Shady Side Academy.
“Defensively, they must be doing something right,” Gaillot said of Burrell. “They’re scoring a lot on defense.”
Burrell, led by defensive end Colt Staley (19 tackles), has eight sacks and has returned two interceptions for scores.
The Yellowjackets’ defense has been impressive at times, too, led by defensive end Darius Frantz.
And offensively, quarterback Alex Isenberg is small in stature (5-9, 155), but hard to tackle and loves to make a big hit for the Yellowjackets. He scored three touchdowns in last week’s 42-13 win over Apollo-Ridge.
Freeport tailback Andrew Teorsky has rushed for 230 yards and three TDs.
Another running back, Mitchell Shaw, returned to the lineup last week, but is still wearing a brace on his injured leg.