Things were looking bleak for the Bisons as they were steamrolled through the first four games, but the return of Luke Campbell – a standout player from a year ago – sparked Bedford in Friday's win over Westmont. Things are looking up for Bedford.
|Berlin's Drew Glotfelty|
The Mountaineers have passed two big tests with a Week 2 win at Portage and Friday night's win against preseason WestPAC favorite North Star. Berlin proved against North Star it can win without a monster game from Drew Glotfelty. The defense creates turnovers. Berlin is the team to beat in the WestPAC.
The Huskies entered the season with a new coach and low numbers, but they've been more competitive than expected. Friday night's blowout loss to Central Cambria hurts the midterm grade.
The Crushers are probably the toughest 3-2 team around, but they aren't scoring enough points against the better teams in the LHAC. Still, Bishop McCort's defense is good enough to keep any game close, as evidenced by Friday's near miss against Richland.
The Vikings were considered a playoff contender entering the season. They're sure looking like one now. Behind Johnny Sheesley, Blacklick Valley is 4-1 thanks to an overtime victory Friday night against Conemaugh Township. The Vikings struggled at Windber, or this grade would be an A-minus.
The Highlanders scored their first win over Forest Hills since 1983 on Friday night, a sign that things are continuing to improve at Cambria Heights. The one problem is the Highlanders have been a bit up-and-down.
After the opening month, some believed the Red Devils were the worst team in the LHAC, but Central Cambria responded with a thorough victory over crosstown rival Bishop Carroll. Red Devils coach Sam Shutty said his team is getting healthy. Who know? They might have a couple more wins in them.
The closer Chestnut Ridge stays to home, the better it plays. A close loss to Bald Eagle Area showed the Lions have made in-season strides, but they've yet to beat a team with a victory. Mountain Ridge, their next opponent, is winless.
The Indians struggles to start the season, losing their first two games. They worked to even their record and held a double-digit lead at Blacklick Valley before losing in overtime. Quarterback Bruno Rosa is improving steadily.
Shane Corson had a breakout game against Ferndale, which took three weeks to complete, but the Blue Jays offense has struggled since. Conemaugh Valley has been shut out in its last two games – Berlin and Shade.
The positive for Ferndale is it has scored 56 points the past three weeks. The bad news is all three games were losses, and the Yellow Jackets are still searching for an elusive victory.
Heard someone say this Friday night: "Who would have thought at this point in the season Forest Hills and Johnstown would have losing records?" Yet that's exactly what I heard. Forest Hills is young at several key positions and going through growing pains. Hard to believe the Rangers have only scored six points the past two games.
The Trojans show flashes, but have not been able to consistently sustain offensive success. Defensively, Johnstown has struggled. Against Richland and Somerset the past two weeks, Johnstown has given up 77 points. The schedule does get easier, though a game with Bishop McCort remains.
|Ligonier Valley's Ryan Torrance|
Hard to find any fault with the Rams right now. It's also difficult finding a team that may challenge the area's most balanced group. Will Ligonier Valley be tested the rest of the regular season? Games remain against Penns Manor, Homer Center and Northern Cambria.
The Red Raiders have scored points - 120 in five games, which is a substantial amount for a team with a 1-4 record. The defense, meanwhile, hasn't been able to stop teams from scoring.
Much is expected of the Cougars, and they may very well deliver during the postseason, but a 3-2 record with a tough game against Shade looming is cause for concern. North Star has talent, but it has scored a combined 29 points in losses to Portage and Berlin.
Armed with a 56-player roster, Northern Cambria opened the season with a shocker by beating 2011 PIAA Class A semifinalist Penns Manor. The Colts followed with a loss to Homer Center, which seemed equally surprising at the time though HC is also 4-1. We'll find out more about NC this weekend against Berlin. Come to think about it, we'll find out more about Berlin, too.
The Panthers roughed up opponents through the season's first month unitl they ran into Bishop Guilfoyle Saturday night and fell to 4-1 in the LHAC. BG won the battle up front, something most teams haven't accomplished against Penn Cambria the past two seasons.
Head coach Gary Gouse issued his Mustange a B-minus at the halfway point, but like many coaches, he's being a bit stingy. Portage boasts an impressive win at North Star and scored 35 points against Shade. The Mustangs defense has been stout.
|Richland Nick Naglic|
Richland's offense put up extraordinary numbers and displayed incredible balance through four weeks. Against Bishop McCort Friday night, the Rams proved they can grind out a physical victory too. At this point, Richland is the clear-cut favorite in the LHAC.
The Rockets are undermanned, and their lack of depth was evident in successive losses to Blacklick Valley, Windber, Conemaugh Township and Portage. Luke Brancato remains one of the WestPAC's best players,
Winning records at Shade aren't common. but the Panthers are 3-2 at the halfway point and have games remaining against Marion Center, Meyersdale and Rockwood. Six wins is a strong possibility at this point given Shade's defense and the play-making abilities of Brock Medva.
The Golden Eagles are probably wishing they could have a Saturday performance at Westmont back as it's their only blemish. Somerset is 4-1 following a win over Greater Johnstown, one of two wins this season over opponents they rarely beat. Bishop McCort is the other. Somerset is young and could be around for a couple years.
No area team is struggling like United, which has scored seven points this season - and that came in a season--opening loss at Rockwood.
Westmont is 1-4 and been compeitive in most games, save a season-opening loss at Forest Hills. The Hilltoppers beat Somerset, but followed with a loss to previously winless Bedford. There's reason for optimism but Westmont's next four games are against Bishop McCort, Richland, Bishop Guilfoyle and Penn Cambria.
The Ramblers rolled through their first four opponents, which included a pair of nice wins against Shade and Blacklick Valley. Against Class AA Ligonier valley at home, however, Windber's run defense struggled. That's something Berlin will likely notice.