Blue Devils take on constantly expanding, changing Bald Eagle Area offensive unit

Bellwood-Antis puts out the welcome mat for Bald Eagle Area on Friday night.
Although the B-A defense has played well in both games so far, the offense was lacking in the opener at Tyrone. The offensive line, drew praise from Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes after their second-week win over Penns Valley. But Hayes was also quick to point out that the progress was noticeable, but not anywhere near being finished to the point where they need to be.
That offensive line blocked well enough for senior tailback Josh Kleinfelter to ramble for 180 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. The offense needs to be more diversified however. In the first two games of the season, nine people, whose name is not Kleinfelter have gotten 29 carries but have gained only a net 34 yards. Subtract the 21 yards, quarterback Evan Hughes has accumulated in quarterback sacks, and you still have only 55 yards on 22 carries, just a little better than two yards per carry on the average.
Hughes had a nice day in the opener against Tyrone with 10 completions for 103 yards, but the Blue Devils didn’t need to pass much against Penns Valley. There will be games in which there will be a need to open up their passing attack, in addition to getting someone to run the ball other than Josh Kleinfelter, or the playoffs will be over before they begin for Bellwood-Antis.
Jon Davila has carried nine times for 17 yards, Devon Clapper has four carries for 16 yards and Brandon Humphreys has three totes for 14 yards.
Hughes has completed 17 of 36 pass attempts for 172 yards with three interceptions and one TD. Clapper has been the favorite receiver with five receptions for 45 yards. Blaze Winterstein has three catches for 31 yards, David Burns has three grabs for 24 yards, Brandon Pruznak has two catches and one TD for 34 yards and Justin Manning has two catches for 20 yards.
“We still need to get better because Bald Eagle Area’s defensive line has big, strong, physical kids, who are going to put pressure on us and we are going to have to continue to improve our blocking.”
The B-A defense has given up an average of 145 yards on the ground and 112 yards through the air, while the Bellwood-Antis offense has ground out 147.5 yards rushing and another 86 yards passing through their first two ballgames.
Bald Eagle Area opened their season with new head coach John Bathurst, with an 8-0 loss to Penns Valley on the road in the rain, then at home last week on their brand new artificial turf, defeated Lewistown 13-6.
“The system Bald Eagle Area is using seems to be expanding a little bit each week,” explained coach Hayes. “In talking to coach Bathurst, he felt a little behind in getting started. We have seen some additions and changes from the first scrimmage through their second game. We are not totally sure of everything we are going to see, but we have a good idea. It is a mixed offense-they run a little Pro-I, a little bit of Wishbone, and at times, they run trips (three wide outs) in an open formation. It’s kind of a multiple offense. Coach Bathurst’s background is with Gawen Stoker (former BEA coach, now at Indian Valley) and a little bit with State College, so he has had the opportunity to gather that.
“What we have seen is a change in personnel, some different people who have come in from week one to week two. We also see that a lot of the personnel is very athletic. They have a nice big tight end (Chris Gingrich) who can get downfield. Last week, he seemed to be their favorite target. Viehdorfer is the split end who plays out wide. Both are big kids who seem to run very well. The first week their quarterback was Robinson, last week it was MacNamara. Either they are finding themselves as they go, or they just have enough talent and are just spreading it around. They have a nice set of backs, with no one feature back. They block for each other, with the Wishbone look you kind of have to do that.”
The Bald Eagle sophomore A. J. Robinson (6-0, 175) has completed just one of six passes, but was not intercepted, in the rain on that first week against Penns Valley. Last week, senior Ryan MacNamara (5-11, 175), against Lewistown. MacNamara completed four of 10 attempts for 92 yards and was intercepted once.
Senior wide receiver Duane Viehdorfer (6-1, 200) has three catches for 85 yards and senior tight end Chris Gingrich (6-1, 180) has one catch for 26 yards.
Senior fullback Brian Kochik (6-0, 200) is the team’s leading rusher with 26 carries for 140 yards. Junior Gary Sowash (5-10, 165) has 22 yards on 16 carries, but scored both of Bald Eagle Area’s touchdowns last week from short range (one-yard, three-yards).
The BEA defense has given up just a single TD in each game thus far, while giving up an average of 176 yards rushing and 22.5 passing.
“They are a very athletic group on defense,” said Hayes. “They play a 4-3, cover two, primarily. They also have shown that they will bring one of the linebackers up and make it a 5-2, depending on the offensive set or the down and distance situation. We will try to prepare for both of them, Penns Valley did the same thing last week, so it’s not anything drastically different. They also stunt a lot, sending at least one linebacker, sometimes in combinations. At least 50 percent of the time they bring somebody and have more than four linemen pressuring the ball.
“They showed improvement from week one where they had mistakes, turnovers and penalties which kind of stalled drives. This past week against Lewistown, they turned the tables and forced the issue and the other team made the mistakes and Bald Eagle Area was able to win.”
The two teams began playing each other in 2004, with the formation of the Mountain Athletic Football Conference. Bellwood-Antis leads the series 2-0 with a 45-15 victory at Bellwood Memorial Stadium in 2004, and a 29-14 win at Wingate last year. With the probable end of the MAFC after this season, this may be the final time Bellwood-Antis and Bald Eagle Area meet on the football field.
Blue Devil Notes: Justin Manning was mistakenly identified as intercepting a pass that led to the first touchdown scored by Bellwood-Antis against Penns Valley. Manning did have an interception, in the fourth quarter, but Brandon Humphreys had the first pick, which led to the 7-0 B-A lead.