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Once-defeated Bellwood-Antis travels to battle undefeated Chestnut Ridge Lions

It’s time for the annual Bellwood-Antis/Chestnut Ridge football war/ This year the battleground is Dr. Giovacchini Stadium in Fishertown. Closed games that decide ICC division championships have been the norm in recent years, and so has extremely few losses by either team coming into the game.
The two schools have played nine times, with Bellwood-Antis winning all nine. In 1984 and ‘85 B-A slammed Chestnut Ridge 42-0 and 44-20 and the two schools parted ways. In 1990, the teams met for the Mid-Penn title at Fishertown. Bellwood-Antis won handily 35-6. In 1991, Ridge jumped out in front 21-7 at halftime, only to have the Blue Devils mount a comeback to win 27-21.
Since the last restructuring of the ICC, the teams have played each other yearly. Two years ago, although the Blue Devils were having an off season finishing just 5-5, they scored in the final minute to down once-beaten Ridge 13-10. Last year the Lions were undefeated and Bellwood-Antis had lost only to Tyrone in the season opener. The Lions jumped out in front 7-0 and 14-7, only to have the B-A defense shut them down and the Blue Devil offense score twice in the fourth quarter for a 21-14 victory.
The Chestnut Ridge junior varsity lost just once in 2004, a 17-14 loss to Bellwood-Antis on an Evan Celmo field goal with a minute to play. The B-A junior high lost 7-0 when ninth grade quarterback Max Kauert scored a six-yard TD for the only score in a 7-0 win over the Blue Devils.
This season seems almost a copy of last year. Once again the Lions are undefeated and once again, B-A lost their opener to Tyrone and enter this week’s game 5-1.
Chestnut Ridge opened the season with a 19-6 win over Bishop Guilfoyle and followed that with wins over Mount Union 36-6, Claysburg-Kimmel 29-0, Penns Valley 27-7, Glendale 41-0 and Everett last week 10-8.
The Lions lost nearly all their skill position people from last year to graduation, but have been able to rebuild quickly using more balance than they have has in recent years. No running back has more than 442 yards rushing, but six running backs have rushed for 50 yards or more this year.
“Chestnut Ridge runs primarily I-Formation football, either with double tight ends and a flanker or a Power-I,” said Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “This year, they have some new faces and have some pretty good kids right now. The tailback, fullback, slotback and quarterback are all equally dangerous runners. The quarterback is coming on as a passer replacing Barefoot. He is a younger guy (sophomore) who is pretty talented. He likes to run-in a number of passing situations, he has tucked it away and taken off and done a good job running the ball.
“Their balance is the mark of a good football team, you have to defend everybody, defend the field. That makes a defense more vulnerable than if you can concentrate on one or two players.”
Senior Jordan Downey (5-10, 155) leads the Lions with 84 rushes for 442 yards and three TDs. Brandon Miller (Sr. 5-11, 180) has carried the ball 48 times for 217 yards and a team high five TDs. Sophomore quarterback Max Kauert (5-11, 175) has 266 yards rushing and two TDs on 53 carries. T. J. Miller (Soph 506, 145) has 68 yards and one TD on seven carries, Nick Malone (Sr. 5-11, 180) has 63 yards and four TDs on 28 carries and junior Sasha Kauert (5-10, 180) has 52 yards on 10 carries. All but Malone average more than 4.5 yards per carry.
Max Kauert has completed 23 of 41 passes for 325 yards with seven TDs and five interceptions. Sasha Kauert leads the squad in receiving with six catches for 151 yards and two TDs and Mike Tomovich has caught four passes for 109 yards and three TDs and Downey has four catches for 45 yards.
The Chestnut Ridge offense averages 274 yards a game with 203 rushing and 71 passing.
“The Ridge defense runs an eight-man front usually a 4-4. They put their outside linebackers on the line like defensive ends, which gives them a lot of flexibility and they do a lot of stunting, bringing a linebacker or two on almost every play,” said Hayes. “On every play, they bring a lot of pressure around the line of scrimmage. They play a three-deep secondary and with what they do up front, play pretty conservatively. They have decent size up front and have good people in their skill positions. They make big plays and shut down the ordinary stuff as well.”
The Ridge defense has given up just 67 yards rushing and 67 yards passing through the first six contests. Only BG has rushed for over 87 yards (115) and only Penns Valley has passed for more than 71 yards (154). The Lions defense has recorded three safeties, once each in the Mount Union, Claysburg-Kimmel and Everett games.
Something has to give-the Bellwood-Antis offense has averaged 35.2 points per game, fourth best among the 24 area teams, while the Chestnut Ridge defense has only given up 4.5 points per game, tied with Moshannon Valley, the Blue Devils’ opponent next week, at the top of the area list in least points allowed.
Bellwood-Antis has averaged 260 yards rushing and 113 passing for a total yardage figure of 331 yards per game in 2005.
Leading the Blue Devils are Josh Kleinfelter with 135 carries for 975 yards rushing and a total of 15 TDs, 14 on the ground and one receiving. Jon Davila has rushed for 148 yards on 26 carries.
Kleinfelter, a junior, needs just 25 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second time. Only Chris McCartney (1989-’90), who is the Blue Devils all-time rushing leader with 3,170 yards, Walter Rhoades (1962-’63), Steve Walker (1980-’81), Dave Miller (1999-’00) and Matt Garner (1999-’00) have rushed for 1,000 yards in two different seasons at Bellwood-Antis.
After passing for 207 yards last week, senior Kyle Drost has completed 31 of 62 passes for 612 yards with seven TD passes and four interceptions. Dan Kovac has caught 15 passes for 349 yards. Devon Clapper has eight catches for 109 yards and Troy Brunner has six catches for 61 yards.
The B-A defense has been giving up 96.5 yards rushing and an even 100 yards passing per game.
The last two weeks have seen a little different look each week for us,” explained Hayes after B-A rushed for over 325 yards against Southern Huntingdon and then passed for better than 200 a week later against Philipsburg-Osceola. “Each week we want to take advantage of what the other team gives us. Every defense has something that makes it a little more vulnerable. There are certain things we hope to be able to do-if they shut one thing down, then we go to what they allow.”