CUMBERLAND — Finally. The long wait is over.
Fort Hill, threatening to extend the longest winning streak in Homecoming game history into double figures, and Allegany, determined once again to put an end to it, square off today for the 94th time at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
Kickoff for the 43rd Homecoming game is 12:30 p.m.
A year ago, the teams entered their final regular-season game undefeated for only the third time in 20 years and eighth time overall. Fort Hill leads the all-time series, 57-32-4.
This year, they’re both 8-1. And similar in a lot of other ways, too.
“When I see Fort Hill, I see a very disciplined team,” said Allegany coach Bryan Hansel. “A disciplined, aggressive, tough team coming after you.”
“When I see Allegany, I see a disciplined football team. Offensively, especially, and I think they are coming into their own defensively,” said Fort Hill coach Todd Appel. “I just know we have to play good team football.”
Hansel and Appel were disciplined themselves in their pre-game interviews, praising their opponent. There was plenty for each to praise.
Both have exceptional lines, 1,000-yard rushers and numerous offensive weapons and playmakers on both sides of the ball. Allegany has scored 40 or more points in all but one game and averages 47 per game. Fort Hill has scored 40 or more points in all but one game and averages 50.
“Offensively, they try to outnumber you, outmaneuver you. They have a very big line that is disciplined and does the job all the time,” Hansel said of the Sentinels. “You may know what play they’re running, but they don’t care. They’re running it anyway.
“Troy Banks is absolutely a great player, and Logan Johnson has really come along for them at quarterback. He really impresses me.”
Banks has run 107 times for 1,019 yards, 18 touchdowns and a 9.5-yard average. Tyreke Powell (40 carries, 493 yards) and Brayden Poling (54 carries, 454 yards) have combined for nearly 1,000 more yards. Powell’s 12.3-yard average is the best on a team that is averaging 365 yards rushing per game and 9 yards per carry.
Johnson has completed 26 of 41 passes for 530 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 39 rushes and 331 yards, an 8.5 average.
“Allegany’s offensive line does a great job coming off the ball hard and staying with people,” Appel said. “All of their backs are explosive and very capable of scoring on any given play. Karson Robinette, Elisha Llewellyn and R.J. Buford all run the ball very hard and Cameron Bratton is a very good quarterback who can beat you with his arm or his legs.
“We have to play good team defense. Hard nosed and tough. We have to be able to move the ball and get into the end zone. It’s the Homecoming game, there are a lot of emotions and they’ll be highly motivated so we need to be at our very best.”
Robinette leads the area in rushing with 1,576 yards on 159 carries, a 9.9-yard average, and broke the school’s single-season record for touchdowns last week with his 28th.
Llewellyn, with 91 carries and 796 yards, averages 8.7 yards per carry. Buford, with 35 carries and 331 yards, averages 9.5 per try. The Campers are averaging 356 yards rushing per game and 8.8 a carry.
Bratton is 40 for 73 for 694 yards and eight touchdowns. Llewellyn has caught 14 passes for 287 yards, a 20.5-yard average.
Those numbers will put plenty of pressure on the defenses.
“Defensively, it starts with Poling and Hamilton,” Hansel said of the Sentinels. “Brayden Poling, I’ve got great respect for that kid. He’s set a tackle record at that school that may never be touched. He’s a great football player. The same with Hamilton. He’s a specimen at end.”
Poling leads Fort Hill with 113 total tackles (54 solo) and 11 tackles for loss, with Hamilton (105 tackles, 43 solo, 9 for loss, 7 sacks) next. Wyatt Brehm also has seven sacks and Jadon Hoover five interceptions.
Christian Welch (95 tackles, 56 solo), Robinette (66 tackles, 46 solo, 11 sacks) and Amadeus Swinton (60 tackles, 4 sacks) lead the Allegany defense, which has 92 tackles for loss. Robinette has 23 of them.
Both defenses have two shutouts. Fort Hill has allowed 10 points or less six times, and has allowed an average of 13 points per game. Allegany has given up 10 points or less four times and has allowed 19 points per game.
Appel: “Allegany’s ability to move the ball on a consistent basis. They’ve done that against every opponent they’ve faced. We have to find ways to stop them. They do the small things very well, and that keeps the chains moving. That’s what we have to try to prevent.”
Hansel: “Homecoming games are won up front on both sides of the ball. Then it comes down to turnovers and penalties. Those things can kill you in a game like this. Fort Hill, if you make a mistake, they’re going to capitalize. If you give them a short field with a return, a penalty or a turnover, seems like 99 percent of the time they will capitalize.”
To win, we must:
Appel: “Get off the field defensively. That’s big. And don’t have any turnovers. That’s big, too. And we have to move the ball against them.
“I’m very impressed with their offense. Up front, Parker Preaskorn has been playing well and so has his brother Thomas Preaskorn. Wyatt Love at tackle and Braxton Mongold at guard have another year of experience under their belts. Trevaughn Taylor is a force on the line. They get out on sweeps and trap very well.
“What makes them good is they’ve had two years together. They had eight of the 11 back on that side of the ball. We have to battle against their experience. They had more returning players on both sides of the ball.”
Hansel: “We must win up front, we must win the penalty margin and we must not have turnovers. If you lose two of those three things, more than likely you lose the game. If we play like we have after Week 4, we feel we’ll be in a 4-quarter game. I think the teams are pretty equal. If we don’t lose the turnover and penalty margin, we’re going to be in this game to the end.”
We’re in trouble if:
Appel: “We don’t play well. We’ve got to bring our A-game.”
Hansel: “We turn the ball over and are not disciplined. “
A win would give Fort Hill 10 straight Homecoming game wins. The Sentinels are okay with the idea. The Campers want none of it.
Hansel: “Ten sounds much better than nine,” said Hansel, who works with numbers every day as a mathematics teacher at Allegany. “Our guys know if you want to be remembered at Allegany, you better beat Fort Hill. Especially when you’re a senior.
“We have a senior heavy team. I think these kids want to be remembered.”
Appel: “I think that’s a big motivating factor for them. We’ve got to make sure we’re just as hungry as them and be as motivated. I can understand why they would want to play their butts off, and that’s what they will do.”
Every kick may count
The last time the game was decided by a field goal or less was in 2012, a 21-20 win by Fort Hill. The playoff game two weeks later was 21-20, too.
Both teams have accurate kickers again this year. Ryan Hipp is 42 for 44 on extra points and Danny King is 2 for 2 on field goals, a 45-yarder against Keyser and a 24-yarder on the final play of the 44-42 win over Melbourne Central, Florida. He has punted 11 times and has a 40-yard average.
Allegany’s Coleton Furlow has converted 49 of 52 extra points. The Campers have punted only five times, with Bratton averaging 35 yards per punt.
At kickoff: Mostly cloudy, 52 degrees, light winds and 10 percent chance of rain, according to AccuWeather.com.
Follow Mike Mathews on Twitter @MikeMathewsCTN.
Final: Keyser 36, Mountain Ridge 14. #CTNFF— Mike Mathews (@MikeMathewsCTN) November 4, 2017
Drae Allen 21 yard TD run. Keyser 36, Mountain Ridge 14. 1:06 to go. #CTNFF— Mike Mathews (@MikeMathewsCTN) November 4, 2017
Christian Ravenscroft 43 yard TD run after Brady Ours interception. Keyser 29, Mountain Ridge 14. Three minutes left #CTNFF— Mike Mathews (@MikeMathewsCTN) November 4, 2017