By CORY ISENBERG
ARMAGH – Even though Penns Manor has not yet played a down, the Comets enter the 2012 football season with a quiet confidence.
On Wednesday at the Heritage Conference Media Day held at United High School’s Thomas J. Madill Field, the Clymer school also got the endorsement of the rest of the league, which targeted it as the top team.
The defending District 6 Class A champs, who were 12-2 last year, received 23 of the 54 points from the nine coaches as the top contenders for this season. Also receiving votes were Northern Cambria with 14, Ligonier Valley with nine, Purchase Line with seven and Saltsburg with one.
Penns Manor coach Billy Packer knows that his team, which finished
8-1 in the league last season, losing to Ligonier Valley 28-0 in Week 3, has a target on its back in the Heritage Conference.
“It's a good feeling to know that coaches think we're one of the teams to beat,” Packer said. “But we feel that this conference is going to be even stronger than last year and having teams like Ligonier and Northern Cambria and Purchase Line, a team that's going to be right in there. We feel that week in, week out, if you’re not prepared, anybody can win. It feels good for people to put us up there, but we have to go and prove it.
“Hopefully, we have a lot of confidence. We’ve seen a lot of good things in the preseason now, but in the offseason we’ve been getting a lot more kids into the weight room and coming and working a little harder and coming to more practices. We’ve been seen more kids working a little bit harder. We’ll find out when game time comes around.”
One of the key factors for the Comets is the return of senior quarterback Danny Ferens, who is approaching the school and Indiana County rushing records.
“Having Danny back gives everyone a lot of confidence,” Packer said. “I wouldn’t want to be going against him. People are going to be after him and being that we don’t have any running backs returning, we feel the he is going to be keyed on. It will be tough on him.
“He’s been such a good level-headed kid. He’s not a cocky kid and he’s a great leader. What an athlete on the field who makes plays for you when there is nothing there. He’s a kid you will not replace for many, many years, if ever.”
The Colts ended last season with a
5-6 mark, but got a key first-round playoff victory against Glendale in District 6-A before falling to Penns Manor in the second round.
“It gives me chills talking about this team,” Northern Cambria coach Paul Taranto said. “The kids worked real hard in the offseason and we know that we have seven starters back on both sides of the ball and the kids are hungry.”
Northern Cambria hosts Penns Manor in the season opener.
Ligonier has just three starters back on each side of the ball and only one two-way starter in fullback/outside linebacker Ryan Torrance.
“I do like the nucleus of our team and I think we have some great seniors and some great kids who are learning how to be leaders,” Rams coach Roger Beitel said. “You’ve got great kids that are great students and great leaders in the school academically, and then they come out on the football field and do the same type of thing and that’s what it’s all about.”
By CORY ISENBERG
- High School Sports
South all-stars drawing bead on North quarterbacks
Forget about getting Shorty, the South defense is getting geared up to cover North quarterbacks Danny Ferens of Penns Manor and Nathan Bearer of Cambria Heights on Friday night in the 43rd annual Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Football Game.
Oh, and the Rebs, who won 44-6 last year, will also be working on containing the rest of the Yankees’ offense as well.
Bishop McCort’s title defense derailed by Johnsonburg
Bishop McCort coach Chris Pfeil credited Johnsonburg for its seemingly unlikely, if not miraculous comeback victory over the defending state champions on Friday afternoon.
But the veteran coach also conceded that the Crushers will probably spend a lot of time pondering what might have been in the aftermath of a 7-6 loss in 11 innings during a PIAA Class A quarterfinal playoff at Punxsutawney’s Rich Kuntz Memorial Field.
Squandered chances cost the Crushers
The Bishop McCort baseball team tasted the sweetness of winning last year in its pursuit of the PIAA Class A title.
The Crimson Crushers experienced the bitterness of defeat Friday afternoon, ending their 11-game postseason win streak with a 7-6 loss to Johnsonburg in an 11-inning PIAA quarterfinal-round contest at Rich Kuntz Field.
Somerset’s Ian Stiffler drafted by Atlanta Braves
Somerset boasts a proud baseball tradition. So much so, that a wall at the facility shared by the Somerset Golden Eagles and Somerset’s American Legion team lists those who have been drafted by a major-league club or have moved on to play collegiate baseball.
Time to find more paint.
Bishop McCort expects close game
During last year’s run to the PIAA Class A championship, Bishop McCort baseball ran into a District 9 team in Elk County Catholic in the semifinals.
The Crushers scored five runs in the fifth inning and eight in the sixth, and left with a 17-0 victory.
Ligonier Valley facing unbeaten opponent
The Ligonier Valley Rams continue their trek through the state playoffs reaching the state quarterfinal after a 6-5 victory over Chestnut Ridge on Monday.
They next play undefeated WPIAL champion Riverside at 4 p.m. today at Fairhaven Park in McKees Rocks.
Seven Northern Cambria athletes choose colleges
Alex Atkins was a standout defenseman for the Northern Cambria Colts and the Tribune-Democrat Defensive Player of the Year. Now, he will continue to play football and further his education at Division I Brown University. Atkins and six of his classmates have committed to continue their athletic careers in college.
Ian Stiffler is Athlete of the Week
Name: Ian Stiffler
Talented group of Shade athletes commits to college
The student-athletes from Shade’s graduating Class of 2013 rank among the more accomplished in recent Panthers’ history.
“It was quite a good year,” said Shade Athletic Director Mike Pribish, who also serves as co-coach of the Panthers’ football team. “We had a lot of success in a lot of different sports.”
Six Trojans plan to continue athletic careers
Greater Johnstown High School honored six student-athletes who will continue their careers in college, and the district recognized two senior athletes for their contributions.
The ceremony took place Tuesday afternoon at Cochran Auditorium.
- More High School Sports Headlines
- South all-stars drawing bead on North quarterbacks