Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 24, 2002 · Page 22
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 22

Indiana, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Page 22
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Blairsu'lle Derty Hohver^Centsr Indiana Laurel Vsitey LfgonierVaJJsy _•'•.' " Saltsbum United . Mirion Center Northern: Cambria Psta? Msn'Qf; ,Purt>stit»(«nsy Purchase Liris «^.WestShambkin . - ,.--:-. : -',. i; .,* .: ._ : Indiana hoping to follow Foxes'lead By BILL BALINT Gazette Sports Writer Indiana High is one of the few places where a 2-6 football record is greeted with a smile. It used to be that way at Fox Chapel as well, at least until Todd Massack came call- Indiana preview ing. Indiana fans flocking to Fifth Street Stadium on Senior Night on Friday will get the rare chance to see precisely what first-year Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas intends for his program. One year to respectability, two years to the playoffs. The Foxes had only won five games in three years before Massack took over in 2001 and promptly guided his club to a 4-6 mark. Fox Chapel took that extra step this season, clinching a WPIAL Quad A playoff berth with last week's 19-0 whitewash of Trinity. Indiana had won just four games in the three years before Zilinskas took over, and he would desperately like to match Massack's 4-6 mark o f a year ago. But the Indians can't get there without first beating the Foxes in a non-conference game. "I really feel our kids sense the electricity," said Zilinskas, whose team is looking for its first three-game winning streak since 1998. "Ft's amazing all the positive comments and compliments we are receiving." The Indians are coming off their first overtime win and first win over Penn-Trafford thanks to last week's dramatic 20-17 comeback victory. "1 don't think we really executed as well as we had been offensively," said Zilinskas. "The good thing was our attitude. We were going to win that football game. Our defense created an opportunity by maintaining field position, and our offense got enough down to tie the game so we could win it in over- Fox Chapel (5-3) at Indiana (2-6) Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m. Matchup: Indiana, which has won two straight in the WPIAL Quad South after an 06 start, looks to keep the streak going against Fox Chapel, a playoff qualifier out of the WPIAL Quad West Conference. Last week: Fox Chapel defeated Trinity 190, and Indiana defeated Penn-Trafford 20-17 in overtime. Last meeting: Indiana won 41-7 in 1993. Key stats: Fox Chapel's Derek Evans has completed 28 of 62 passes for 458 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Stan Malyszka has 21 receptions for 420 yards and eight touchdowns. Jim Georss has 617 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 128 carries. Cyrus Serrao has 91 carries for 575 yards and seven touchdowns. Indiana leads the area in rushing at 237.3 yards per game. Chris Buchanan leads the rushing assault with 600 yards on 131 carries. Quarterback Jason Shirey has 552 yards on 116 carries. Chad Blystone has 356 yards on 40 carries, and Tom Tancraitor has 344 yards on 34 carries. Shirey has completed 37 of 88 passes for 419 yards with three touchdowns .and three interceptions. Blystone leads the receivers with 13 receptions for 205 yards. Blystone also shares the area lead in interceptions with four. Indiana has the area's lowest-rated defense, allowing 328.9 yards and 31.3 points per game. Next week: Fox Chape! will open the WPIAL playoffs next weekend. Indiana will play its final regular-season game against an opponent that will be determined after this weekend's games. time." But Indiana has not defeated a Quad A playoff team since downing Plum in 1995. The Indians have faced a minimum of four playoff teams each of the last seven seasons and lost each of those games. "They've had ups and downs at Fox Chapel through the years, and they are really trying to establish themselves," said Zilinskas. "They've clinched a playoff spot, but they are going to play to win. "Everything for us goes back to being an 0-6 football team not packing it in. We are definitely going to give it a shot against them." Fox Chapel has had an uneven road on its way to the postseason. The Foxes opened with hard-fought non-conference wins over Plum (20-13) and Shaler (15-12) before suf- ZILINSKAS faring a pair of heartbreakers to begin Quad West play, losing to Canon-McMillan (17-14) andMcK- eesport (31-28). It is noteworthy that Fox Chapel was held to minus- 16 yards rushing by Canon-McMillan and then allowed 393 yards rushing to McKeesport's vaunted option offense, yet still found away to remain close in both games. Massack's squad recovered nicely, hammering Albert Gallatin {3214) and Ringgold (43-0). Following a 28-7 loss to powerful Upper St. Clair, Fox Chapel wrapped up the playoff berth with last week's win. The Foxes held up well against Upper St. Clair and trailed just 14-7 in the fourth quarter before the winners scored two late touchdowns. "They are going to play power football," said Zilinskas. "They run a lot of three-back stuff and use a toss sweep. They want to run the football." The Foxes' running situation is a bit of a question mark. Jim Goerss has gained more than 1,400 yards over the past two seasons, but he suffered a hand injury last week and his status is uncertain. However, junior scat- back Cyrus Serrao (5-foot-5, 155 pounds) is averaging 120 yards over the past three games. A veteran team that began the season with nine senior starters returning; Fox Chapel has been deceptively strong on defense over the past month. Only two meaningless touchdowns by Albert Gallatin late in that game prevented the Foxes from registering three shutouts in the past four games. "They are good on defense," said Zilinskas. "They are not too fancy, but they are fundamentally sound and they aren't making big mistakes." Indiana's continuing success on the ground has covered for its problems throwing the football in recent weeks. But Zilinskas is looking for a brighter future in that area. "It's a lot to learn in one year," said Zilinskas of the option. "We focused on a few things, and we try to do them well. We are getting tough man-to-man coverage on our receivers, but I feel we can still get our passing game to another level this season." Fox Chapel is guaranteed to be the fourth- place team out of the Quad West, one of the two small Quad A sections. The Foxes probably can expect to see a large-quad powerhouse like Woodland Hills or Penn Hills next weekend as the WPIAL postseason gets underway. Despite that mammoth challenge, Zilinskas would happily trade places with Massack. "I would love nothing better than to go to Woodland Hills next week," said Zilinskas. "They are the best and I'd just like to see what we can do." Jon Matson Laurel Valley Senior 6-4197 End/Defensive end Laurel Valley was reeling, in desperate need of a win, and the team that had become known for its dominant rushing game with a few big pass plays found its victory through the air. The Rams, who had uncharacteristically lost three straight games, threw for 215 yards as quarterback Jeff Sisftki completed 9 of 15 passes tn a 27-20 victory over Northern Cambria. Eight of those completions went to Jon Matson, a big target who gained 208 yards, scored a touchdown on a 62-yard play and set up another with a 6f>yard catch in his last home game. He made six of the catches in the second half, including three on the scoring drive that put his team in the lead for good. Matson had been hampered during the skid with a fractured hand. He played despite the injury, but he had to wear a cast and heavy padding, which hindered his pass- Player of the Week catching ability. Minus the bulky gear. Matson went wild last Saturday. "What a time for him to come back," Northem Cambria coach Frank Paronish said. "He's a very good athlete, and we just couldn't keep up with him." On the season, Matson has 19 catches for 433 yards for a hefty 22.8-yard average. He has scored five touchdowns. he has a!so been a stalwart on a defense that has altowed slightly more than 200 yards per. game. Here's sorrie inside information on Jon Matson, this week's Indiana Gazette Player of the Week: Parents; Stuart and Linda Matson. Brothers and sisters: Justin," 20; Brian, 13; arid Rachel, 11. Pets: None. favorite football teams: IUP and Steelers. Favorite food: Pasta/shrimp. Favorite movie: Remember the Titans. Favorite musical artist: George Strait. Hobbles: Studying, hanging out with my friends and working on Blairsville's defense and pass routes. Favorite football play: Wing left 53 pass swingback. I like this piay because quarterback Jeff Sisitki and ! have been hooking up on this play since ; we were sophomores. Plans after high school: Attend college and major in criminal justice. How do you get ready for a game? i think about every play and what my job is. The three things I like about my coaches are: they believe in me; they tell me how ft is; and they demand respect. If you could play any position other than the one you play, what would it be, and why? Anywhere on the line because 'they'; play a huge part in the outcome of the game , and I. have the utmost respect for my line. '<' lour team plays BUursviBe this week. What do you know atort your opponent and what do you have to do to wfe? I don't. know much about Blairsville fn general, just their secondary. I think they're going,to jam me at the line of scrimmage. I'm looking forward to that! In order to win, our line on both sides of the ball has to do a job. Vbur team snapped a three-game losing streak last week. What was the key to that victory, and what do you have to do to keep it going? I think our key to that victory was the accuracy of Jeff's passes, and what • we have to do is give him time to throw. Why has Laurel Valley been so successful through the years? laurel Valley has been very successful because' of the discipline of the players, which we lacked some ..thisyear. o. - t ' - ••..'-,'«'

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