CURWENSVILLE — Facing a one-win opponent with a league championship game and district playoffs looming on the horizon might be ingredients for a possible letdown, but the Curwensville Area High School football team is looking at Saturday\’s long trip to Sheffield for a rare afternoon game as an opportunity to close its regular season on a high note.
\”Anything we start we want to make sure we finish,\” Golden Tide Coach Andy Evanko said. \”Since this is the week we complete our regular season, we want to finish it the right way.\”
That would be an eighth consecutive win by the Allegheny Mountain League South Division champion Golden Tide since its opening night loss to Coudersport. The undefeated Falcons, who play Kane Friday night, are the North Division kings and will host the Golden Tide in the AML title game Saturday, Nov. 4. That winner will get the top seed for the District 9 Class A Playoffs, while the loser will be the third seed.
Curwensville has dominated the brief series with Sheffield, a District 10 school that saw its co-op program with Abraxas end earlier this year. Abraxas, a school for court-appointed students, dropped all of its athletic programs, making Sheffield the smallest school in the AML.
The Wolverines have been outscored 179-43 in one-sided losses to the Golden Tide the last four years, and their only success this season was a 16-14 victory at winless Smethport in Week Five that ended a 15-game losing streak.
Sheffield, which has posted only two winning records since 1985, lost to Kane 14-7, Port Allegany 41-22, Otto-Eldred 20-15, Ridgway 48-16, Coudersport 51-0, Brockway 67-7 and Cameron County 42-0. Turnovers have plagued the Wolverines, especially in the last three games in which they have mustered just over 100 yards in total offense.
Coach Scott Park (10-36) has had to work with a much smaller squad in his fifth season, though half of the 26 players were letterwinners.
\”It\’s got to be a big adjustment for them, going from having an influx of Abraxas kids to not having them,\” Evanko said. \”Certainly, they probably had kids who didn\’t come out because the people who were co-oping might be ahead of them. Now you\’ve got a different pool, but they\’re your own kids. I\’m sure there are some who might have played in junior high and then not played for a year or a couple of years, so it\’s a transitional year. And that\’s tough.
\”They do have three kids who honestly stand out,\” he added. \”Jordan Copley is a very good quarterback; he\’s agile and elusive. Michael Bryant is an good runner, more than adequate. And Jason Borst is a good receiver.\”
Copley, a junior, hasn\’t had nearly the success passing as he did last year when he completed 70 of 176 aerials for 1,011 yards and five touchdowns, though he was intercepted 24 times. He\’s 28 for 84 for 403 yards and three TDs this year, and he has suffered 15 interceptions. He will run out of Sheffield\’s multiple formations, gaining 46 yards on 13 carries last week. The rest of the Wolverine backs wound up with minus 16 yards.
Bryant, a senior, is the No. 26 rusher in District 9 with 378 yards for 60 carries, while soph Jesse Parsons joins Borst as key receivers. Parsons has nine catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Since edging Elk County Catholic 14-12 in Week Two, Curwensville has rolled past Brockway 29-0, Cameron County 46-29, Johnsonburg 18-3, Kane 42-0, Smethport 55-19 and Ridgway 21-8.
Nick Sipes probably has more yards rushing, 1,303 for 215 carries, than Sheffield has total offense. Sipes leads D-9 in that department as well as touchdowns with 20 and points with 151, both figures putting him among the leaders in the state.
With opposing defenses keying on Sipes, quarterback Shawn Sopic has skirted the flanks for 534 yards on 76 carries and fullback Brandon Hess has run inside and outside for 334 yards on 70 carries. They\’ve scored four touchdowns apiece.
Evanko has utilized the passing attack more in the last three games, and Sopic has padded his totals to 30 completions in 66 attempts for 578 yards and four touchdowns. He\’s suffered only three interceptions.
Sophomore split end Jesse Hoover leads the Golden Tide in receiving with 12 catches for 204 yards and one TD.
Evanko is not thrilled with Saturday afternoon games, which prompt a change in practice and preparation schedules.
\”It\’s not one of our favorite things to do,\” Evanko said. \”Today might be Thursday on the calendar, but it\’s Wednesday to us. We try to adjust accordingly to when we have to play, and it is a concern. The practice schedule would be different for a Saturday night game.
\”We didn\’t work so much teamwise and schemewise as we did on fundamentals Monday and Tuesday. Even though those are intense practices, they\’re not as intense as when you have team and group sessions. Wednesday, we started focusing on Sheffield.
\”You always try to reach your peak right when game time comes, so anything out of the norm is not very good, because you\’re out of your normal rhythm. Hopefully, it works out this year.\”
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.