Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

The Bellwood-Antis Blue Devil football team brings the 2003 season to a close on Friday night. B-A welcomes Curwensville to Bellwood Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m.
This is the first time Bellwood-Antis (5-4) has missed the district playoffs and played a 10th regular season game in seven years and the first time the Blue Devils haven’t won at least seven games since 1996. Bellwood-Antis seniors have a combined 25-7 record going into the game with the Golden Tide.
Bellwood-Antis leads the all-time series with Curwensville 11-1, with the only Curwensville win a 43-15 thrashing in 1995. The two schools played yearly from 1948-1951, with B-A winning the first game in 1948 45-0 with Len Hummel scoring four touchdowns. Then the series picked up again in 1991 and was played until 1998. The 1998 contest was a 27-0 B-A win at Riverside Stadium.
The Curwensville Golden Tide (3-6) is very young, particularly at the skill positions with a quarterback and one running back both freshmen. Much as the young Blue Devils have done, Curwensville has gone through a period of maturing and learning about their teammates. And like the Bellwood-Antis squad have lost some tough decisions.
Curwensville won just one of their first seven ballgames, but looked strong in a two point loss to Ridgway and then have scored 95 points in winning their last two games.
The Tide, coached by Andy Evanko, opened their season with losses to Eisenhower (10-7), Elk County Catholic (12-2) and Coudersport (28-0), before downing Cameron County (55-7) for their first win. Losses followed to Brockway (35-18), Kane (21-20) and Ridgway (37-35). Over the last two weeks, Curwensville has regrouped with wins over Johnsonburg (36-7) and Sheffield (59-20).
“Offensively, Curwensville does a lot of things,” explained Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes. “They run out of an I-formation, will use trips or split-backs. They are very multiple in their formations on offense. They use a number of different backs they rotate at tailback. Their quarterback, is a freshman as in one of the tailbacks. The quarterback looks pretty good both running and throwing the ball. He looks more mature on the field than you would think of a ninth grader. They seem to have a bright future. They are predominantly a running team, but they have a senior wideout who is the favorite receiver.”
The leading ball carrier for the Tide is Nate Sipes with 547 yards on 97 carries (5.46 yards per carry). Gary Kephart has 365 yards on 75 carries (5.1 per carry) and Nick Sipes adds 52 carries for 359 yards (6.9 per carry).
Freshman Shawn Sopic has taken over as quarterback, completing 20 of 43 passes for 343 yards. Sopic has thrown seven TD passes and been intercepted five times. Senior wide out Greg Gilbert is the leading receiver with 26 catches for 477 yards and 14 TDs. Doug Swatsworth threw 10 TD passes for Sopic took over late in the season.
Curwensville has rushed for 1,701 yards and passes for 674, an average of 264 yards total offense. On defense, the Tide has given up 940 yards rushing and 1,216 yards passing for an average of 240 yards per game given up.
“Defensively, they line up in a 6-2,” reports Hayes. “They play a lot of man-to-man or cover two in the secondary and they stunt a lot. They bring their linebackers and try to give opponents lots of heat. They try to get you to make mistakes. When it works, it is good, but its a do or die thing. When they don’t get pressure and force you to make the mistakes, it can go for big yardage.”
Dan Houser leads all Blue Devil runners with 760 yards on 153 carries, just short of five yards (4.97) per carry. Houser also leads the team in scoring with 11 TDs and three PAT kicks for 69 points. Matt Sneath has rushed 87 times for 423 yards and five TDs. Sneath averages 4.86 yards a carry.
Shawn Weiand has completed 67 of 120 passes for 972 yards. A senior, Shawn has thrown four TD passes and been intercepted six times. Weiand needs 28 yards passing to become the sixth B-A passer to eclipse 1,000 yards and presently has the highest completion percentage (.558) of any Blue Devil for a season in the history of the program. Weiand is tied with Matt Miller (1997) for third place in completions for one season and needs one more 100-yard passing game to break a tie with Miller (5) for second place in that category for one season.
Derrick Hoffer has 17 receptions for 307 yards and three TDs to lead the Blue Devils in all three receiving areas. Sneath has 16 catches for 182 yards, Matt Plummer has 13 grabs for 247 yards and one TD and Houser has caught 12 passes for 111 yards.
On offense, the Blue Devils will start Shawn Weiand at quarterback, Dan Houser at tailback, Matt Sneath at fullback and Derrick Hoffer is the wingback. Brian Buechele at center, Dwayne Cherry and Tony DelGrosso at the guards and Derek Reimer and Ben Kleiner at the tackles. Matt Plummer is the tight end and John McFalls is the wide out.
Defensively, Reimer and Kleiner are the ends, Lance Lafferty and Adam Martin are the tackles, DelGrosso and Sneath are the inside linebackers, Matt Plummer and Blake Hill are the outside linebackers, Houser and Derrick Hoffer are the cornerbacks and Weiand is the safety. Weiand, Houser, Sneath, Buechele, Reimer, Kleiner, Plummer and McFalls are seniors. Derrick Hoffer, Dwayne Cherry, Lafferty and Hill are juniors. DelGrosso and Martin are sophomores.
“The psychological impact of the last two weeks are tough to deal with,” said coach Hayes. “The guys played with a lot of heart and courage and came away with two extremely tough losses. This game gives us one more chance for the seniors to win at home. It’s a pride thing. The other team seemed to have the upper hand when it counted the most. We were discouraged and disappointed the last two weeks and they are desirous to end the season and for the seniors their high school careers, on a high note.
“Our staring lineup will be pretty much the same, although we will make a few changes on the depth chart and do some auditioning for the future. We won’t tweak it to change the nature of our game, but we will probably play a few more people than normal.”

By Rick