Week 1 results flip local football scene upside down
The only thing more unpredictable than local game-time weather forecasts last Friday was the outcomes of the games themselves.
The first week of the season pulled the rug out from beneath fans, coaches and prognosticators who expected different outcomes from their teams.
Bad weather only delayed the craziness that eventually struck local fans like a bolt of lightning.
“The rain came down hard,” said Springdale coach Chuck Wagner, whose newly respected Dynamos lost a nine-point fourth quarter lead and dropped a 26-15 decision at Union.
None of the local games had to be suspended until Saturday like some around the WPIAL. But almost all of the contests left fans scratching their heads, asking questions and wanting more.
“There were definitely some unexpected victories and losses in the area,” said Leechburg coach Mark Jones, who won his debut, 19-13, over rival Apollo-Ridge. “It was a wild week.”
The Valley took its lumps on freaky Friday.
The Dynamos were flat after two strong scrimmages.
Four Dynamo possessions ended in turnovers — lost fumble, lost fumble, bad snap, interception.
Wagner felt some preseason hype may have bothered his players’ focus.
“As a coach, you look at different situations,” Wagner said. “(Rankings) may have had an adverse effect to a degree. It’s always nice to be ranked, but you’d rather be ranked at the end of the year, rather than the beginning.”
Springdale is ranked No. 3 locally this week as it prepares to host Mapletown.
“We had a good, long practice (Tuesday),” Wagner said. “I think the kids will bounce back.”
The Knights will not start 8-0 again, but they’ll look to get back on track Friday at home against Peters Township.
“I told the kids they’ve got to realize we’re going to be a target,” coach Mike King said. “This might sound strange, but this could be a building block for us.”
Last week’s performance was uncharacteristic for a team that has constructed a new identity of late.
But there were some positives.
The Knights may have let the cat out of the bag by debuting their secret weapon, sophomore Jordan Shoop.
Shoop caught two passes for 62 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown pass from Mark Rupert.
Rupert was 3 for 16 for 75 yards.
Deer Lakes led 7-0 and scored 14 third-quarter points before leaving Jeannette with a 35-21 loss.
If Week 1 is any indication, the Lancers appear more disciplined and headed in the right direction.
Then there were the season’s first eye-popping surprises.
Not many football followers gave Leechburg a chance at the start of the week, others the start of training camp.
“We went into our game expecting to win,” Jones said. “It was huge. While the win doesn’t matter in the conference standings, it means a great deal to our state of minds.”
Suddenly the Blue Devils are among the top local teams again. Now, there’s a surprise.
“Complacency is a word that cannot enter our vocabulary,” Jones said. “If we go out and not perform well, it makes the Apollo game look like a fluke. But I believe in my heart of hearts we beat them soundly as far as executing our game plan.”
Leechburg hosts Canevin this week. To prevent fumbleitis — Leechburg lost four fumbles in the victory — the Devils practiced diving for loose balls on a muddy home field Tuesday.
“The kids loved it,” Jones said. “I mean, they’re out there sliding through the mud.”
That must be what winning feels like.
Freshman Toney Clemons scored twice — on a reception and an end-around — to propel the Vikings.
Vikings coach Randy Walters said the game came down to more than a new secret weapon with big-play potential.
“The kids had a great attitude all week,” Walters said. “They were confident. It was a heck of a game and we came out on top. As the season goes on, we’re going to get closer and closer to each other. We’re all working for the same cause.”
A young team that was supposed to come out sluggish due to a low turnout of players and an incident at training camp involving an injured player came out of the locker room intense and focused.
Walters hopes that intensity carries over Friday at Elizabeth Forward.
“One game doesn’t make a season,” Walters said.
So that begs the next logical question — what can area fans expect from Week 2?
A season-high 15 games highlight the local schedule and many of the contests could help sort out a suddenly jumbled outlook.
The stage is set again for another possible dose of fan bewilderment.
The answers will come from the field. Here are some questions:
Better yet, will it rain again?
Don’t bet on it.
Valley News Dispatch Fab 5 rankings
Class AAAA, AAA
Last rank/ Last result/ Next game
1. Kiski Area (1-0) 1 Defeated Butler, 17-10 vs. Baldwin
2. Highlands (1-0) 3 Defeated Freeport, 49-14 at McGuffey
3. Knoch (0-1) 2 Lost to Indiana, 35-13 vs. Peters Twp.
4. Plum (1-0) NR defeated Fox Chapel, 30-7 vs. Penn Hills
5. Valley (1-0) NR Defeated Burrell, 12-7 at Elizabeth Forward
Last rank/ Last result/ Next game
1. Ford City (1-0) 5 Defeated Kittanning, 27-0 at Freedom
2. Freeport (0-1) 2 Lost to Highlands, 49-14; at Aliquippa
3. Springdale (0-1) 1 Lost to Union, 26-15; vs. Mapletown
4. Burrell (0-1) 3 Lost to Valley, 12-7; at Beaver
5. Leechburg (1-0) NR Defeated Apollo-Ridge, 19-13 vs. Canevin