The Tussey Mountain football team is 2-0 for the second straight season under coach Kevin Steele. Last year, the Titans suffered their first loss by a 34-0 count when they traveled to Loysburg for their third contest of the campaign. This year, the Titans hope to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 1988 when they host Northern Bedford tomorrow night. Kickoff at Saxton is 7 p.m.
The Titans own wins over Claysburg (20-6) and Williamsburg (27-8) to open the 2006 season. On the other hand, Northern Bedford is 1-1 so far, winning 41-6 over Williamsburg in the season lidlifter before dropping a 48-13 decision at Southern Huntingdon last Friday.
Tussey dominated the Blue Pirates on the ground last week, rushing for 364 net yards and all four of its touchdowns. Tailback Chris Neuder led the way with 152 yards and two TDs on 30 carries.
“That kind of success with our running game was a pleasant surprise,” said Steele. “To be able to run like that is a positive sign.
“We played well at times last week, especially in the first half. We moved well and the backs found the holes and ran hard. We hurt ourselves with turnovers and penalties to kill drives in the second half. Defensively, we did a good job the entire game. We got to the ball and gang tackled. It was a very good effort.”
The Panthers passed for 140 yards and a score in their loss at Southern Huntingdon last Friday night. The NBC rushing attack never really got going and was limited to just 75 net yards on 23 carries.
Quarterback John Love completed just four of 13 pass attempts, but they went for 135 yards and a TD. Wide receiver Houston Klotz had two catches for 108 yards, including a 64-yard scoring strike.
Tailback Myles Crawford was the leading rusher with just 35 yards on 14 totes. Fullback Tyler Cogan added 30 yards and a TD on just three carries.
“Northern Bedford will give you a lot of looks and plenty of different things to defend offensively,” says Steele. “I believe their goal each game is to establish the run, but they are quite capable of throwing the ball. The quarterback is a big guy (6-2, 235) with a good arm.
“Defensively, they again like to mix things up and keep you guessing. They’re very aggressive and we expect them to put a lot of guys in the box to stop our running game and try to force us to throw.”
The Titans have avoided the injury bug over the first two weeks of the regular season and Steele expects no changes in his starting lineup.
Offensively, Skyler Sheeder and Trey Miller are the split ends. Tony Hoey and Patrick Rinehart the tackles, Kris Musselman and either Clay Harshbarger or Greg Strauss the guards and Kyle Zeigler the center.
In the backfield, Nick Angelo calls the signals with Neuder at fullback and Bussard and Jordan Donaldson the halfbacks.
Neuder leads the rushing attack with 257 yards and two scores on 52 carries, while Bussard chips in with 172 yards and two TDs on 22 rushes. Angelo has completed five of 22 passes for 73 yards and a score with three interceptions. Sheeder and Bussard have two receptions apiece.
Defensively, Zeigler is at one end with either Harshbarger or Chris Duvall at the other. Rinehart and Strauss are the tackles. Neuder and Musselman are the inside linebackers, flanked by Bussard and John Espinosa. Sheeder and Miller are the corners with Donaldson at safety.
“We come into each week with the same goals,” Steele concludes. “We want to take care of the ball, establish our running game and remain fundamentally sound. If we can do that, everything else will take care of itself.”
The Titans and Panthers met twice last year. After the Panthers won the regular season outing at Loysburg, Tussey got its revenge with a 21-17 District 5-A quarterfinal win at Loysburg Nov. 5. Still, Northern Bedford leads 32-15-1 in a series that began with the Tussey Mountain jointure in 1960.