Bellwood-Antis welcomes Erie area Mercyhurst Prep on Saturday

Bellwood-Antis plays a team from the Erie area for the first time on Saturday, Sept. 6, when Mercyhurst Prep travel to Bellwood Memorial Stadium for the second week of the 2003 football season.
Mercyhurst is a private school in the Erie area. Prep was 10-0 just three years ago, but has had 0-10 and 1-9 seasons since playing for the district championship.
With a second-year coach, who previously coached at the youth level, the team has struggled, but hopes to change that around. According to Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes, a number of Mercyhurst players have come from nearby Erie Cathedral Prep.
“Mercyhurst runs a lot of multiple receiver plays with twin sets or trip receivers to one side, “said Hayes. “In the first game and in films we have exchanged, they have fallen behind quickly and have thrown the ball a lot more than they have run it. It looks like they have some good athletes, but have not had much success offensively. Their key player is probably the slotback, who they use with a lot motion to try and get him involved as much as possible. Against Grove City, they fell behind 41-0 by halftime and had to throw a lot out of desperation.”
Mercyhurst Prep is a Double-A size school, which lost its first game to Grove City last week 61-0.
Bellwood-Antis wasn’t faring much better against archrival Tyrone, managing just 78 yards total offense and had just six plays go for more than a five-yard gain, never two in a row.
Senior tailback Dan Houser rushed 11 times for 31 yards and Shawn Weiand and Matt Sneath chipped in 15 yards rushing each. Weiand completed one of three passes for 13 yards and the Blue Devils combined for just one completion in 11 attempts. Weiand spent much of the final three quarters on the bench with cramps and flu-like symptoms, which didn’t help the offense.
In the two key middle quarters, Tyrone ran off 18 plays in the second quarter and 15 more in the third for a combined 33 plays during the middle of the game. Bellwood-Antis ran off nine in the second quarter and only four in the third quarter for a total of 13 plays. Tyrone scored 20 points during the second and third quarters, while B-A was scoreless for the entire contest.
“On defense, Mercyhurst uses a 5-2 alignment with a rover to the strong side,“ said Hayes. Sometimes, they drop into a Cover-2 defense with two corners and they stunt their linebackers a good bit, especially late in the game. It is a make or break type defense. When they make the right stunt, they can disrupt the offense and come up with a big play. However, when they guess wrong, it goes for a big gain or TD for the other team.”
Hayes reports no lasting injuries from the Tyrone game.
Brian Buechele will start at center, with Derek Reimer and Brandon Cherry at guard, Ben Kleiner and Dustin Hoffer at tackle, Matt Plummer at tight end, John McFalls at split end, Derrick Hoffer at slotback, Shawn Weiand at quarterback, Dan Houser at tailback and Matt Sneath at fullback.
On defense, Cherry and Hoffer will be the tackles, Reimer and Kleiner are the ends, Tony DelGrosso and Sneath are the inside linebackers, Plummer and Mark Rogers are the outside linebackers, Weiand and Houser are the corners and McFalls is the safety.
Hayes stressed that nobody did so well or so poor a job to warrant being taken out of the equation, so many of the regulars will be spelled at times to keep them fresh and to build experience for more than just the starting lineup.
“There will be more sharing of positions,” specified Hayes. We have a number of cases where two players are very even in playing level. Dwayne Cherry will get more time at inside linebacker and Mark Rogers and Travis Ehredt will share time at outside linebacker. We gave Matt Sneath time off at fullback so he could get more time at linebacker. Matt and Travis share the fullback position. We have lots of young kids looking for as much success as we can.”
Bellwood-Antis did actually play a game at Erie in 1997, but that was against Sharpsville in the 1997 PIAA playoffs. Sharpsville, also called the Blue Devils which went on to become the 1997 state champion is a town south of Erie.
The Bellwood-Antis game with Tyrone last Friday night was delayed for 25 minutes between the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth as lightening rolled past the stadium. It didn’t begin to rain until the game had been completed and the storm went around Bellwood. The fourth quarter began after the delay and the game was completed without further delay.
Remember! The game will be played on Saturday night, Sept 6 with a 6 p.m. starting time.