CURWENSVILLE – The first round of the District IX playoffs will feature round two for the Curwensville Area High School and Brockway football teams. In their first meeting back in week six when both teams were unbeaten, the Rovers scored early and often to keep the Golden Tide off-balance for a 56-34 decision. Five weeks later, the two teams will again meet at Frank Varischetti Field in a quarterfinal round clash.
The Tide (7-2) made its way into the playoffs as the number six seed while Brockway (8-2) holds the number three spot in the brackets. The winner of this game will meet either Clarion (10-0) or Smethport (4-5) in the Class A semifinals. Port Allegany (10-0) received a bye this week and will wait to meet the winner of the Elk County Catholic (7-2) – Union (9-1) match-up.
“We’ve seen an awful lot of Brockway on film in the past few weeks,” said Andy Evanko, Curwensville head coach. “It’s really hard to say whether it’s an advantage to play someone more than once in a season because so many variables come into play. I don’t think either of us will approach the game any differently just because we’ve already played each other.”
When the two teams met on October 5, the Rovers totally dominated the first quarter and held a 35-0 advantage early in the second quarter before the Tide offense got on track. Curwensville scored 22 points in the final five minutes of the first half to close the gap to 35-22 at the break. Junior Alex Olson, who averaged over 11-yards a carry in the game seemed to be the initial spark for the offense. Zach Tibbens followed suit to finish the game with 166 yards and four touchdowns. Tide quarterback Hunter McCracken threw for 87 yards and one touchdown in the game with a 6-of-14 effort through the air.
“Alex brings another dimension to the backfield, and he had a very good game against Brockway,” said Evanko. “We don’t call the plays because a certain player is in the game, but he started off by making the most of his attempts. Zach, Josh (Greslick) and Brad (Coudriet) all caught his momentum and played better the rest of the game.”
Curwensville continued to battle back through the second half and trailed by just one score at 42-34 by the end of the third quarter. However, the Rover “D” stiffened in the fourth period and the offense scored twice to put the game away at 56-34.
“We’re going into the game with a business as usual attitude,” said Evanko. “We felt that we moved the ball effectively and put points on the board against them. We just can’t allow ourselves to get behind like we did the last time and expect to get out of the hole we buried ourselves in.”
The real project for the Curwensville squad in the rematch will be to slow down the Rover offense. Brockway’s junior quarterback Alec Shaffer-Doane finished the game with 9-of-14 passing and 188 yards and four TD’s. Most of those passes went to three receivers. Seniors Jacob Perrin and Chad Melillo caught five passes for 123 yards while sophomore Anthony Benson grabbed three passes for 59 yards. Melillo also ran for two scores among his 162-yard rushing performance.
“They are a good football team,” assured Evanko. “They’ve only lost to one team this season – a team that hasn’t lost to anyone. This is a big challenge to our kids, and we have to rise up and meet it.
“We have to play inspired football for 48 minutes. It doesn’t have to be one person doing it all; just feed off each other. We’ve been on turf now and should be more comfortable this time.”
Perhaps another advantage for the Curwensville squad will be the fact that the Rovers have had to face Port Allegany for the past two weeks. Because of the meetings, Brockway is currently on a two-game losing streak, while the Golden Tide should be well rested after a strong win in their finale with Sheffield two weeks ago.
“I think we have taken advantage of our week off,” noted Evanko. “It was good to get the break, and as a result, everybody is back and strong.”
Kickoff in Brockway is set for 7:00 p.m. on Friday night. The other two games in the quarterfinal round will be played on Friday as well.
Golden Tide Scoreboard:
|08/31||@ Coudersport||34 – 26||1 – 0|
|09/07||CAMERON COUNTY||46 – 20||2 – 0|
|09/14||SMETHPORT||42 – 13||3 – 0|
|09/21||@ Johnsonburg||41 – 0||4 – 0|
|09/28||KANE||36 – 20||5 – 0|
|10/05||@ Brockway||34 – 56||5 – 1|
|10/12||RIDGWAY||55 – 6||6 – 1|
|10/19||ELK COUNTY||12 – 13||6 – 2|
|10/27||@ Sheffield||50-28||7 – 2|
|11/02||OFF WEEK||xxx||7 – 2|
|D9 A Playoffs|