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Blue Devils prepare to be at all places at all times for undefeated Portage in Saturday night semifinal

Bellwood-Antis travels to Portage to play one of the two District 6-A semifinals on Saturday night at the Portage Area Stadium. It has been a while since the two schools have engaged in battle on the football gridiron, although the two have met five times before with the Mustangs holding a 3-2 advantage.
The series began with a three-game set from 1952-54. Portage, which is a jointure of Portage Borough with Portage Township, won the first game in 1952, by a 13-7 decision, then the Blue Devils came back with back-to-back triumphs, 52-0 in 1953 and 41-13 in ‘54. The series then fast forwarded to 1973 and 1974, a pair if victories for Portage, 20-0 in ’73, and 28-6 in ‘74. Those wins and losses pretty much describe how the two eras played out, in which the previous games took place.
The Blue Devils’ 8-2 record in 1952 (the other loss was Hollidaysburg 19-14) was a bad year for Bellwood-Antis football. Bad at 8-2, because B-A was 49-3 overall, in that five year period of time, going 10-0 during the regular season in 1950 and ‘51 and 1953 and ‘54, with an ICC playoff win in 1950 and a loss in 1951. Then during the early 70s, Bellwood-Antis had losing seasons in 1971, ‘73 and ‘75 and were just 5-4-1 in 1974.
The 2005 edition of the Portage Area Mustangs, has a roster of 69 players with 23 seniors under head coach Gary Gouse, who celebrated his 100th win this season, with a 34-14 win over North Star in week six. Portage, which won the WestPAC conference, opened the season with wins over Conemaugh Township 34-13, Shade 49-0, Berlin Brothersvalley 30-7, Myersdale 42-7 and Ferndale 35-6. Following the North Star game, Portage got wins over Blacklick Valley 53-13, Conemaugh Valley 27-7 and then clinched the number two seed by defeating previously unbeaten Windber 22-21, by going for two points after scoring a TD in the first overtime. Last week, Portage opened the district playoffs by downing United 22-14.
“Portage runs a Wing-T that is very similar to what Juniata Valley uses. They have a lot of speed to the outside,” said Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “They run a trap to the fullback up the middle on the majority of the time, and spread it out to all their other backs using a lot of diversity. They have a good quarterback, but they haven’t really had to throw a lot. He has good accuracy and is a real threat because he will pull the ball down and take off. Most of their passes come from play action.”
Portage is averaging 32.6 points per game on offense, rushing for 3,030 yards, an average of just over 300 yards per game and passes for 854 yards, or nearly 85.5 per contest. The Mustangs have had four different runners with at least one 100-yard rushing gain and two more who have rushed for at least 78 yards in a game.
Wayne Gathers (Sr. 5-9, 165) leads the way for Portage with 956 yards on 135 carries. Junior Ryan Fuller (6-0, 165) has rushed 87 times for 631 yards, Junior classmate David “Buck” Murphy (5-9, 185) has rushed for 358 yards on 43 carries, Senior Chris Willinsky (6-0, 170) has 276 yards on 39 totes, Matt Baxter (Jr. 5-9, 170) adds 178 yards on 17 carries and senior Justin Hut sky has 22 carries for 171 yards.
Senior quarterback Dan Kowalczyk (5-9, 180) has completed 56 of 115 passes for 854 yards with four TD passes and four interceptions.
Senior Jared Bilchak (6-1, 160) is the Mustangs top receiver with 28 catches for 381 yards and two TDs, Fuller has five catches for 111 yards and one TD, and senior Matt Martella (6-2, 220) has five grabs for 94 yards.
Gathers has scored 12 TDs and Fuller 10 TDs and six two-point conversions for 72 points each to lead the team, while Murphy and Willinsky each has seven scores for 42 points. Portage often goes for two-points after touchdowns, converting a total of 11 two-pointers overall and missing several more. Chris Rousell (Sr. 6-2, 285) has kicked 17 of 29 PAT attempts and one 30-yard field goal for 20 points.
On defense, Portage has allowed 8.8 points per game and limited opponents to 92.2 yards rushing and 78.9 yards passing.
“Portage is more complex in their defensive alignment. They run a 5-2 front with a cover 2 in the secondary, but will jump into a 4-4 and cover 3 and will blitz a lot out of that formation,” explains Hayes. “They are big and physical and it obvious to see why they have made it this far.”
The WestPAC has 10 teams, so there is no room on the schedule to play anyone except the other nine league members.
Bellwood-Antis dominated the second half against Juniata Valley last week to win 22-14, after trading scores with the Hornets during the first half for their ninth straight win after a season-opening loss to Tyrone.
The Blue Devils have rushed for 2,418 yards (241.8 per/game and passed for another 1,190 yards (119/game)to average 352.8 yards per game.
Record-breaking junior tailback Josh Kleinfelter is the Blue Devils go-to guy. Kleinfelter rushed for 160 yards on 36 carries against Juniata Valley, his ninth 100-yard game in a row and now has rushed 259 times for 1,771 yards. Josh leads the B-A scoring attack with 24 TDs rushing, two on pass receptions and an 82-yard TD return on a kickoff last week against Juniata Valley for a total of 162 points on 27 TDs. Only Don “Booker” Moore with 28 TDs in 1985, has scored more touchdowns in a season.
Devon Clapper has rushed 29 times for 199 yards, Jon Davila has 183 yards on 36 cvarries and Brandon Eger adds 177 yards on 30 carries.
Kyle Drost became the seventh passer at B-A to throw for 1,000 yards in a season. Drost has completed 52 of 112 passes for 1,043 yards with 10 TDs and eight interceptions. Dan Kovac has 21 catches for 494 yards and a new school record nine TDs. Devon Clapper has 14 catches for 205 yards, Kleinfelter has 195 yards and two TDs on six catches and Troy Brunner has nine catches for 103 yards.
“We want to try and patch up all the holes Juniata Valley punched into us, to prepare with what we think is the best way to be at all places at all times for this week” said Hayes. “We saw what Juniata Valley did and want to try and be ready for that. Some of our kids are nicked up a little, but all the guys who played last week should be ready on Saturday night