CURWENSVILLE – Last season it was the Brockway Rovers who got in the way of the Curwensville Area High School football team’s bid to repeat as the Alleghany Mountain League Champions. That was when the Rovers were a Class AA team, and their offense was centered around the passing arm of Derek Buganza. In the 2011 season, the aerial attack is gone, Brockway is back in the Class A ranks and they are the Tide’s latest obstacle in the AML-South road to the title game.
Brockway (3-2) bumped Ridgway from a four-way tie in the south division last week by a score of 30-22. The Golden Tide pushed Kane out of the immediate running as well with a 13-6 win. Last week’s games left Curwensville and Elk County Catholic knotted for the division lead with 4-1 slates. Those two teams meet in two weeks, and both will hope that they are still in contention. But first things first.
“This season is right here, right now,” said Tide head coach Andy Evanko. “There are no breaks in the schedule, and we can’t look down the road past anyone.”
While the Rovers have all but abandoned the passing game, they have found an impressive ground game that involves several strong backs. Kyle Braun has moved into the quarterback role, but seems to be more of a threat with his feet than his arm.
Braun was one of Buganza’s favorite targets last year with 37 receptions for 802 yards. This season he has completed just 13 passes in 30 attempts for 252 yards with four interceptions. Braun has two passing touchdowns on the season – both coming in last week’s win. However, Braun is the leading rusher on the team with 415 yards on 58 carries. Tom Vervoort and Chad Melillo have also put up good numbers with 375 and 216 yards respectively.
“After so many years of throwing the ball, we now have to prepare for the double wing set,” Evanko noted. “Braun is very athletic with elusive ability, and Vervoort is a Jerome Bettis type back at 230-pounds. The key to this game is tackling and containing.”
Friday’s contest at Riverside Stadium features two teams with two similar opponents. Both teams took care of Smethport and Sheffield earlier in the season with similar margins of victory.
Curwensville will be looking to continue its strong ground game as well with Alex Holland’s 1129 yards on the season. Holland is currently the second leading rusher in Pennsylvania – just two yards behind Windber’s Colin Bryan. Holland has scored 13 TD’s this year. Backing Holland in the tailback position is Josh Greslick with 21 carries for 120 yards.
Through the air, junior quarterback Hunter McCracken has completed 25-of-54 passes for 471 yards and four scores. Senior Jesse Zorger has pulled in 16 catches for 335 yards while Jordan Russel has 122 yards on eight catches.
“Our division is so competitive that it seems like every game can make the difference in your season,” Evanko said. “There’s just no wiggle room. You have to be on your best game every week.”
With five of the six South Division teams within one game of each other in the standings, it is very important for teams to be ready to play from the opening kick-off. This week features ECC (4-1) at Kane (3-2) and Ridgway (3-2) hosting Johnsonburg (0-5).
Game time at Riverside Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m.