They don’t get Social Security yet, but being a senior on Ford City’s football team still has benefits.
Since 2006 — the year most of the Ford City’s seniors made the jump from junior varsity to varsity — the Sabers have played in six playoff games, including last Friday’s 44-14 blowout win over Keystone Oaks. After going 4-2 in those games, the senior class has a wealth of valuable experience when it comes to the postseason.
“It’s almost like a whole other season we have under our belts,” senior offensive lineman Justin Steubgen said.
The farthest this year’s Sabers seniors have advanced was the WPIAL semifinals in 2006, when they lost a close game to Greensburg Central Catholic, 23-20. Last season, Ford City made it to the quarterfinals but was upset by Riverside, 21-12.
The No. 8-seeded Sabers (9-1) are hoping their experiences — both good and bad — can help propel them to a win over No. 1 seed Beaver Falls (10-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday at Seneca Valley High School’s NexTier Stadium.
“We’ve been through a lot of playoffs as sophomores, juniors and seniors,” running back Brandon Carson said. “I definitely think we have the momentum to carry on to the next game.”
Ford City coach John Bartolovic thinks the playoff familiarity at least gave the team a boost in its win over a young Keystone Oaks team.
“No one was nervous. No one was starry-eyed,” Bartolovic said. “I think sometimes teams are in those games.”
More importantly, the Sabers understand that the talent level of their opponents escalates dramatically each week on the way to Heinz Field, the site of the WPIAL championships.
“They know when it gets down eight (teams), they’re all good football teams,” Bartolovic said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re going to play. You’re going to have to execute and not make mistakes.”
Keystone Oaks coach Nick Kamberis doesn’t believe execution is going to be an issue for Ford City as it advances in the bracket — not after the Sabers gained 426 total yards against the Golden Eagles.
“They’re going to be tough to beat,” Kamberis said after Friday’s game. “They’re going to go far. I bet they give Beaver Falls a game.”
And while senior leadership and experience have been key during Ford City’s four-game winning streak, the veterans also admit they have received some help from the underclassmen.
“It helps us and it helps them for when they get in at the end of the game,” quarterback Jordan Eckman said. “I think it’s a big part of our winning tradition.”
WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals
Ford City (9-1) vs. Beaver Falls (10-0)
7:30 p.m. · NexTier Stadium, Seneca Valley