Bellwood-Antis, Juniata Valley meet again, this time for D-6A championship crown

Bellwood-Antis and Juniata Valley have been scheduled to meet in the 10th week of the regular season for the past several years. However, because both teams have qualified for District 6-A playoffs, the two schools haven’t played in the regular season since a 69-0 Blue Devil victory in 2000.
That doesn’t mean however, that the two small school powers haven’t met in six years. The Hornets are very familiar with Bellwood-Antis, indeed. Juniata Valley was 10-0 and in the District 6-A semifinals in 2004 and 8-1 in the quarterfinal round last year before being eliminated. In both cases, it was the Blue Devils who were the brick wall Juniata Valley ran into. Bellwood-Antis rallied from a 14-0 deficit in 2004 to win 35-14, then lost again last year 22-14 again getting shut down in the second half.
The year is 2006 and these two are at it again. This time in the district finals at Mansion Park, on Saturday afternoon, at 2 p.m.
Juniata Valley which began the series with 20-13, and 14-6 wins in 1959 and 1960, when everybody was defeating the Blue Devils, has fallen behind in the series, with Bellwood-Antis winning eight of the last nine games to jump into the series lead 17-9.
Under head coach Mike Smith, the Hornets have posted a three-year record of 27-5 going into Saturday’s final. Of coach Smith’s five losses, two have come during the regular season to Southern Huntingdon and two have come against Bellwood-Antis in playoff action
The Hornets (9-2) opened 2006 with back-to-back 26-0 shutouts over West Branch and Glendale, then got white-washed themselves 21-0 by Southern Huntingdon. Juniata Valley defeated Claysburg-Kimmel 21-8, then was outgunned by Northern Bedford 29-22. Valley has been on a roll since then, in knocking off Tussey Mountain 28-3, Moshannon Valley 28-21 in overtime, Williamsburg 47-0 and Mount Union 32-0 to close out the regular season. The No. 5 seeded Hornets then took out No. 4 Portage 13-0 and No. 1 seed Purchase Line 6-0 in overtime, both in workmanlike fashion.
“Juniata Valley runs a version of the Wing-T, which is called the Jet Sweep,” explained Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes in his midweek interview. “They run a lot of misdirection, a lot of faking. It’s basically a Wing-T with a little different look. They have a lot of play-action and have been pretty successful. Boyd is a pretty good athlete at quarterback, but they have been very successful running the football. They run a lot because they can and they haven’t had to pass much.”
Senior halfback Joey Basil (5-11, 180), with seven 100-yard rushing games, has carried the ball 155 times for 953 yards and 10 TDs. Freshman fullback Shawn McCrum (5-10, 210) got off to a slow start, but has emerged in the second half of the season to top the Hornets in points scores with 14 TDs and one 2-point conversion for 86 points, and has rushed 150 times for 851 yards. Junior halfback Jared Johnson has 335 yards and three TDs on 44 carries and senior fullback Nate Patterson has 227 yards and two TDs on 51 totes.
Juniata Valley has averaged 228 yards rushing and 50 passing while outscoring their opponents 249-61.
On defense, the Hornets have given up an average of 102 yards rushing and 53.5 passing.
“Juniata Valley uses a number of defensive alignments,” said Hayes. “They may have a five-man front, a six-man front, or even a four-man front. Whatever they use, they do a lot of stunting. They are very aggressive and they try to get into the opponent’s backfield and create havoc, try to force mistakes. They have really done a great job of creating problems, we expect the same thing this year.”
Senior tailback Josh Kleinfelter has rushed for 1,840 yards on 238 carries and has a total of 29 touchdowns, one short of the school record of 30 which he set in 2005. Senior fullback Jon Davila had the biggest night of his career against Southern Huntingdon in the District 6-A semifinals with 10 carries for 150 yards, to raise his 2006 stats to 408 yards on 66 carries.
Evan Hughes has completed 49 of 105 passes for 616 yards with six TDs and nine interceptions. Hughes threw six picks in his first three games, but has thrown five TD passes and just three interceptions in his last eight games.
Devon Clapper has 15 receptions for 212 yards and two TDs to lead all Blue Devil receivers. Senior classmate David Burns has eight catches for 95 yards and one TD, senior tight end Blaze Winterstein has five catches for 60 yards, Brandon Pruznak has five receptions for 96 yards and one score, and Justin Manning has five for 36. Evan Celmo booted his third field goal of the year in the semifinal and has 27 PAT kicks. Celmo becomes the first B-A place-kicker to reach double figures (10) in field goals.
Bellwood-Antis has reached the district finals in 1985, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005 and with 2006 has played in the district championship game seven times in the last 10 years. B-A won the district tile in ‘88 (Double-A), ‘97 (Single-A) and ‘04 (Single-A).
Bellwood-Antis is averaging 26.5 points per game, 258.4 yards rushing and 56 passing. The Blue Devil defense has allowed an average of 7.5 points, 124.1 yards rushing and 48.2 passing. The B-A defense has picked it up a step in two playoff games giving up a total of 169 yards rushing and 33 passing, while the Bellwood-Antis offense has gained 704 yards in playoff games against Glendale and Southern Huntingdon.
Devon Clapper, who was injured in the semifinal contest and taken to the Altoona Hospital as a precautionary measure was home by Sunday after being diagnosed with severe whiplash, and was attending practice early in the week. Whether Devon will play on Saturday afternoon will be determined later in the week by his physicians, according to coach Hayes.
“We have the extra day with the game on Saturday, hopefully Devon will get the green light from the doctors,” said Hayes. “We are trying to develop a picture, an understanding of what we want to do this week. We want to get the kids more prepared to understand what they need to counteract what Juniata Valley will do, to get as good as we can. Our scout team can show what the opponent does, but can’t operate at game speed and sometimes it takes awhile to make the adjustments on game day. We want to eliminate our mistakes and do better on blocking schemes.”
The winner of the District 6-A final will host the winner of the Millersburg (12-0) vs. Steelton-Highspire (9-2) contest for the District 3-A title at Mansion Park next weekend.