Same time this year: Bellwood-Antis and Bishop Carroll fight for District 6-A title

At last, the field has been cut to just two teams remaining in the District 6-A championship tournament. Bellwood-Antis and Bishop Carroll have picked and sliced and hammered their way through the qualifiers to Saturday’s title tilt at Mansion Park.
Neither is a stranger to district finals. Bishop Carroll has played for the last eight district finals in a row, including championships in 2002 and ‘03. Bellwood-Antis is playing in the 10th district final in the 21 years that District 6 has played a district tournament, having won in 1988, ‘97 and last year.
This is a rematch from last year, that many people have been looking to happen since the 2004 final, since both teams won last year with a bunch of underclassmen returning for 2005.
The two schools are meeting for the third time, all in district finals.
Bishop Carroll, under then first-year coach Chuck Sponsky, swept through their first 11 games in 1999, and then jumped out to a 16-0 lead over the Blue Devils after the first quarter. Bellwood-Antis closed to 23-20, but the Huskies prevailed 30-20 for the championship. Present B-A junior high coach Travis Martin completed six of 14 passes for 184 yards, but the B-A duo of Matt Garner and Dave Miller, who each rushed for over 1,170 yards during the ‘99 season, were held to just 105 yards between them as Bellwood-Antis finished the year 11-1.
In last year’s championship contest, B-A won their 11th straight game of the season after an opening loss to backyard rival Tyrone claiming their third district title with a 23-14 win over Bishop Carroll. The Blue Devils were held to 193 yards rushing, just half their usual 2004 total of 210 yards per game, but used passing, special teams and defense to post their victory.
First, Devon Clapper rambled 60 yards with a punt return to set up the first score. Jon Davila burst into the end zone, but fumbled the pigskin and an alert Josh Kleinfelter recovered in the end zone for the TD. Then Kleinfelter returned a kickoff 38 yards to give the Blue Devils a short field and later grabbed a pass from Kyle Drost for a 34-yard touchdown. Drost passed to Travis Ehredt for 17 yards and a play later to Dan Kovac, behind the Huskies secondary for 39 yards and a TD. Evan Celmo completed the scoring with a 25-yard field goal, as the Blue Devil defense shut out Bishop Carroll in the second half.
Sponsky has a roster of 49 with 24 lettermen returning from the district runner-up squad last year, including 19 seniors.
In 2005, Bishop Carroll ripped through their schedule, opening with a 24-6 win over Cambria Heights, 42-27 triumph over Central and 34-19 decision over Richland.
In a tough fourth week contest, Bishop Carroll scored on a two-point PAT in overtime to turn back a determined Bishop McCort team that plays Friday night against Forest Hills for the District 6-AA title, 14-13.
Westmont-Hilltop was edged 21-13 and then the Huskies went on a roll shutting out Johnstown 24-0 and Penn Cambria 25-0 sandwiched around a 21-7 win over Somerset. BC vanquished Central Cambria 27-7 in the season finale. In their two playoff games Carroll downed Conemaugh Valley 29-6 and Blairsville 33-23.
“Bishop Carroll runs a wide open “spread” option offense,” described Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “They have four wide receivers, or three wide receivers and a tight end. They use four receivers on the line with one back with the quarterback in a shot gun offense exclusively. They run the option, and they run a “read” play, which is kind of a zone play. It is wide open and presents a lot of problems to a defense. Defensively they make you spread the field and they have good speed. The quarterback is a good runner. They will use two backs, Forcellini is in the backfield almost all the time and they bring Jensen in and in motion a lot and is also involved a great deal in the options.
“They have some real lethal weapons in their backfield.”
Paul Forcellini (SR. 5-10, 192), who outgained the Blue Devils all by himself in last year’s district game with 30 carries for 155 yards, has rushed 178 times for 1,624 yards and 18 touchdowns as well as averaging 49.8 yards on six kickoff returns. Senior quarterback Brock Lauer (5-11, 167) has rushed for 865 yards on 119 carries and has completed 65 of 128 passes for 945 yards, with 10 TDs and eight interceptions. Luke Jensen (Sr. 5-9, 168) has 203 yards on 35 carries.
Senior tight end Jeff Minnemyer (6-7, 257) leads the Huskies receiving corps with 16 catches for 235 yards and two TDs. Junior Adam Crookshank (5-8, 141) has 14 catches for a team-high 257 yards and three TDs. Jensen has a dozen receptions for 195 yards, senior Nick McMahon (6-2, 160) has seven catches for 122 yards and four TDs, and Forcellini has nine grabs for 107 yards and one TD.
Forcellini leads Bishop Carroll in scoring with 21 TDs, two PAT kicks and a safety for a total of 130 points. Lauer has 10 TDs for 60 points, Crookshank has five scores for 30 points and McMahon four TDs for 24 points. Place kicker Pat Hegeman has 17 PATs for 17 points.
“On defense Bishop Carroll runs a pretty basic 5-2, cover 2 most of the time,” said Hayes. “In long yardage situations, they show a 4-3, Cover 2, so they bring an extra linebacker. Recently they have a little 4-4 with a three-deep secondary. Whether that was because of who they were playing, or because they were actually transgressing to that. They blitz a little, but not a lot. You are more likely to send more people with an eight-man front, because you have an overload with an extra man. With a seven-man front, they do blitz, but it’s not their forte.”
Junior defensive back Scott Bradley (6-1, 209) leads the Huskies defense with 98 tackles (46 unassisted), and senior lineman Ed Roudybush (5-7, 223) has 92 tackles, including 46 assists. Jensen has a team-high 57 solo tackles and a total of 88. Forcellini has 71 tackles, including a team-best four sacks and has six interceptions. Crookshank and Lauer each have four interceptions.
Bellwood-Antis is led by Josh Kleinfelter, Dan Kovac and Kyle Drost on offense. It seems one of them is breaking a team record every week. Kleinfelter, a junior, needs 68 yards to become the first Blue Devil to rush for 2,000 yards in a season with 1932 yards on 281 carries, which is a B-A mark and has caught six passes for another 195 yards and has an overall total of 30 TDs for 180 points, both of which are also records.
Devon Clapper has rushed 34 times for 236 yards and three TDs and is second in receiving with 16 catches for 252 yards. Clapper adds 436 kick return yards and 89 yards on a team-high four interceptions to total 1,013 all-purpose yards
Junior fullback Jon Davila has rushed 39 times for 212 yards and one TD and has four catches for 31 yards.
Senior quarterback Kyle Drost has completed 57 of 116 passes for 1,129 yards with 10 TDs and eight interceptions. Drost is in the top 10 of B-A passers in a number of categories, including eight 100-yard passing games, fifth in passing yards in a season and sixth in passing yards in a career with 1,554. Drost is tied for fourth in TD passes in a season and seventh in completions in a season.
Senior wide out Dan Kovac has 23 catches for 553 yards, second only to Jason Lamertina with 581 in 1988, and already the career leader in receiving yardage with 836. Senior tight end troy Brunner has nine receptions for 103 yards.
Tony DelGrosso has 117 total tackles, including a team-best 76 solo stops. Adam Martin has 54 solos and 83 overall tackles and Evan Hughes has 52 solos and a total of 81 tackles. Hughes and Troy Brunner lead the Blue Devils with four sacks and Clapper has four picks and Hughes, Kovac, DelGrosso, Danny Campbell and Pruznak have two each.
“This is a difficult week, because trying to emulate what they do offensively is very difficult for us. It’s not anything we do, so we are really working hard to try our scout squad coached up to try and emulate it in some way. Our people largely are not suited for that,” explained Hayes. “The bottom line is, we will not see the true speed and effectiveness of that offense till we hit the field on Saturday night.”