Schuylkill Haven and Marian are entering their week two Anthracite Football League matchup in totally different positions.
Schuylkill Haven is coming off a thumping at the hands of one of the best AA teams in all of Pennsylvania, while Marian is looking to keep the momentum from its opening-season victory going.
Regardless, Colts' head coach Stan Dakosty is staying true to form and is refusing to take the Hurricanes lightly.
"We are sort of looking past Haven's first game and the kids know that," said Dakosty. "Haven is much improved from last year and is a well coached football team. Wyomissing is one of the better teams in the state so we aren't putting much stock into last week's game."
It is tough for anyone to gauge Schuylkill Haven after one week of football. The Hurricanes ran into the buzzsaw known as the Wyomissing Spartans last Friday and found out exactly why EasternPAFootball.com's Josh Funk has them ranked as the No. 2 AA team in the state. The Spartans racked up 30 points in the first quarter before pulling all of their starters and cruising to a 37-0 win.
As one would expect, Schuylkill Haven didn't manage much offense. Quarterback Ryan Fink, the lone key contributor returning from last year's squad, competed two passes for 45 yards while running nine times for 44 yards. Starting sophomore tailback William Casella grinded out 46 yards on 14 carries. The 'Canes biggest play of the night belonged to tailback Brandon Weiser, who hauled in a 37-yard reception. While those numbers are far from fear-imposing, Dakosty is still expecting a battle Friday night.
"I don't want to speak for Schuylkill Haven, but I really believe they knew what they were getting into with Wyomissing," Dakosty said. "I am sure their focus is the same as ours, which is the Anthracite Football League. I would expect that they are looking at this week as their second game, but more importantly as their league opener and a chance to get back on track."
The Hurricanes' strength resides in their size on the line of scrimmage. The offensive line returns four starters and weighs 250-219-250-275-250 from left to right. They also boast a 195-pound tight end to throw at either end as well. They are very tough inside and while they did give up 209 yards on the ground, it was on 31 carries (6.7 average). Some of Wyomissing's scores came on big plays (punt return, 69-yard TD pass, reverse), but didn't gain much when they tried to go inside. Dakosty believes Haven's line should match up well with his and will pose a challenge.
Fortunately for Marian, it has a stable of backs that it can keep throwing at the 'Canes front. Dylan Quirk (14-68-TD) and Anthony Agosti (10-54-TD) each carried the ball at least ten times last week against Lehighton, while quarterback Corey Quick (6-71-TD) led the team in rushing yards.
"We are very comfortable with our backs," said Dakosty. "They are a group of outstanding running backs who can become something special with time. Corey did a great job too.
"But I was very happy with the improvement of our offensive line. They opened up some holes for us. Our skill guys can make plays, but our line had some questions coming into the year. I think they really stepped up last week."
However, because of Haven's size up front, Marian may try to spread the opposition out and get the ball to its athletes on the outside. Quick completed 6-of-14 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns with those two scores landing in the hands of John Julian (34 yards) and Lukas Damian (25 yards). Quick isn't afraid to spread the wealth either, as he completed his six passes to five different receivers.
There are two things Dakosty wants his team to correct this Friday night. Those things would be the nine penalties and three fumbles that occurred last week. Dakosty stressed to his team that those mistakes will eventually come back to bite them if they aren't corrected in the future. He said he wants his team to 'improve on their weaknesses and build on their strengths' as the season wears on.
Last year Marian scored four second-half touchdowns and won 28-7. The win ended a three-game losing streak to the 'Canes.
Dakosty knows that last year's meeting, along with Haven's first-week loss, have nothing to do with this week's game. That is why he and his team are preparing for a tough contest.
"I think it is going to be a battle," said Dakosty. "I really do. Haven isn't fancy. They are a physical team and they come right at you. They have an offense that is very different from the ones we have seen over the last few weeks in our scrimmages aganst Catasauqua and Kutztown and our opener against Lehighton. This will be a chance for our defense to step up to the challenge."