FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Heating up: Sheffield playing for division title

In Week 7, Warren County football teams went a combined 1-3.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Eisenhower and Youngsville’s losses were to non-region opponents, and Sheffield, despite being dropped into second place, still has a chance to win the District 9 AML North by knocking off Smethport this Saturday. The Knights and Eagles jump back into their Region 2 schedules on Friday against Union City and Cochranton, respectively, while Warren – Week 7’s only winner – will make a trip to DuBois to take on the Beavers in a Region 5 match-up.

Warren (5-2) at DuBois (4-3), Mansell Stadium, 7 p.m., Friday

Warren rebounded from a pair of region losses with a win against Corry last week, and the Dragons will look for another big win in Week 8 over a tough DuBois team. The Beavers play a Region 5 schedule despite competing out of District 9, and a Dragons’ victory would go a long way toward an at-large bid to the District 10 playoffs. Warren will have to contend with one of the regions best passers in DuBois quarterback Gabe French, who has completed 103-of-158 attempts for 1,533 yards and 17 touchdowns in seven games. His main target is junior receiver Bryson Paulinellie with 38 catches for 803 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“Our goal is to finish the season with three more victories and to become playoff eligible,” said Dragons coach Greg Latimer. “A strong opponent (like DuBois) will always challenge you to play at the next level. Our team is ready for the test.”

Warren quarterback D.J. Fehlman isn’t far behind French with 73 completions for 1,237 yards and 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. Tanner Stanz is the leading receiver with 22 catches for 373 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Ryan Shattuck has 332 yards and five touchdowns on 15 total catches.

Last year’s meeting: DuBois 39, Warren 13

Union City (1-6) at Eisenhower (5-2), Eisenhower High School, 7 p.m., Friday

The Eisenhower Knights have a 12-game region winning streak dating back to last season, and if they can keep it going through the end of the regular season, they’ll have earned their second straight Region 2 championship. Step one is the Union City Bears, who recently earned their first win of the season over step two, Youngsville. Despite their disappointing record, the Bears have been able to put up a fair number of points this year, including 50 against the Eagles in Week 6. The offense runs through dual-threat quarterback Brody Mangel and running back Shane Russell, who have seen the majority of the touches for 1-6 Union City.

Eisenhower has an athletic quarterback of its own in senior Rob Wilston, who has accounted for over 1,500 yards of total offense and 14 touchdowns for his team this year. Also carrying the load in the backfield is running back Alex Johnson with 104 carries for 748 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. He also has 175 yards receiving and two touchdowns through the air.

Jarrett Johnson has 221 receiving yards and four touchdowns and Tre Frank 183 yards.

“We smelled blood in the water weeks ago,” said Ike coach Jim Penley. “We have played that way each week. Even last week, with all the guys out, the rest played a hard-fought game. We have been in the post-season, so I don’t think it is on their brains in a way that will allow them to look past Union City. They have the playoffs on their minds in that we need to get better each week to have a hope of beating a south team in three weeks. We need to treat each week as a playoff game, to get ready.

“Union City is physical, and they run the option real well,” said Penley. “We need to shut that down and then be able to stop the bootleg. If we can do that, and control their pressure when we have the ball, we should have a good chance.”

Last year’s meeting: Eisenhower 55, Union City 0

Youngsville (0-7) at Cochranton (4-3), Cochranton High School, 7 p.m., Friday

This season has been a baptism by fire for an inexperienced Youngsville team which continues to look for win number one this week at Cochranton. The Cardinals have been somewhat of a third wheel in Region 2 behind Eisenhower and Cambridge Springs, though they have notched impressive wins over Mercyhurst Prep and Iroquois this season. Garrett Adams is the main threat with 498 rushing yards and six touchdowns, as well as 14 catches for 258 yards and three scores.

According to Youngsville coach John Victor, the key to playing with Cochranton is “playing disciplined football and staying focused.”

“Week in and week out my players continually give a one-hundred percent effort on every down and strive to get better with each play. This team is coming together and it’s a matter of time before they put it all together and win a game,” added Victor. “These young men understand that what is learned this year will greatly influence what happens next year and it is this thinking that keeps them focused on getting better.”

For the Eagles, quarterback Jake Lauffenburger has thrown for 446 yards and rushed for 193, while having a hand in nine of his team’s touchdowns this year. Tyler Hoffman and James Frazier each have over 100 yards receiving for Youngsville.

Last year’s meeting: Cochranton 54, Youngsville 7

Smethport (5-2) at Sheffield (4-3), Sheffield High School, 1:30 p.m., Saturday

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more important match-up in District 9 this weekend than Smethport at Sheffield. The Hubbers come into The Mountain with sole possession of first place in the AML North, though a win by the Wolverines would give the teams an identical league record with Sheffield holding the tiebreaker. If the Wolverines want the North Division’s automatic bid, they’ll need to contain Smethport’s four-man backfield attack of Ryan Nielson (56 carries, 443 yards), Ryan Stratton (84 carries, 423 yards), Dustin Zetwick (62 carries, 329 yards), and Adam Shunk (61 carries, 325 yards).

“Smethport runs a flexbone veer offense and we must be very disciplined in our defensive lanes,” said Sheffield coach Dave Fitch. “The have a good sized fullback that runs the veer hard and two quick smaller backs that get lost behind the line of scrimmage, and you see them when they break free if you don’t play smart. Their quarterback is also dangerous running the ball if he gets the edge. We have added a few defensive wrinkles that they have not seen this year and we are hoping it confuses their blocking scheme. Offensively we need to sustain our blocks much better than we did last week. If we do, I believe we can exploit some areas of their defense. But just like last week, a game like this could come down to special teams.”

Sheffield’s offense is led by running back Jereek Jackson, who has racked up 575 yards and nine touchdowns rushing on 73 carries. Adam Higby has completed 64-of-126 passes for 779 yards and six scores, and Noah Heeter has 26 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns.

Last year’s meeting: Smethport 21, Sheffield 3