Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The secret to Richland's success

Statistically speaking, no team in the area can stack up to the Richland Rams.

The Class AA power - Richland is ranked seventh by PA Football News - and LHAC juggernaut sports a 5-0 record heading into Friday night's game at surprising Somerset, which is 4-1 and a last-second fumble inside the Westmont 5-yard line from a possible 5-0 record.

Quarterback Matt Shaffer has thrown for 10 touchdowns and completed 74.6 percent of his passes. Nico Pecora, who also plays QB, has added four touchdowns. Together, the tandem has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and with a 126 quarterback rating.

Running back Tanner Solarczyk combines toughness and speed. His play keyed a 17-10 victory over Bishop McCort last week, and Solarczyk has rushed for 683 yards and is averaging 9.23 yards per carry.

Receiver Kyle Flick, despite missing last week's game and barely playing against Greater Johnstown, has 429 receiving yards and eight TDs.

And keep in mind that Richland has already played Bishop Guilfoyle and Bishop McCort, arguably the two toughest defenses in the LHAC.

The reason for Richland's success? The Rams are beating teams up front on both sides of the football.

"That's why we've had success," Richland coach Brandon Bailey said. "It all starts with our offensive and defensive lines. They've done a great job all year and we expected them to play well. They're a veteran group."

Josh Dininny - a first-team all-area selection last year as an offensive lineman - anchors the front. Players like Derek Crawford, Ben Verhovsek and defensive end Sam Finotti are also part of the foundation.

"There's no doubt they've helped our young guys in all other positions on the field," Bailey said. "As an offensive line, they know how to work as a group. It doesn't take as long to get the other guys acclimated."

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