District 6 points, the city championship and bragging rights all will be at stake when undefeated and state-ranked Greater Johnstown visits once-beaten Bishop McCort Catholic on Friday night at Point Stadium.
“The rivalry speaks for itself, and as they say, you can throw the records out,” said coach Tony Penna Jr., whose 7-0 Trojans are sixth in the state Class AAAA poll and tied with Clearfield for the points leads in District 6-AAAA.
Bishop McCort is 6-1 and second with 760 points in the 6-AA rankings behind unbeaten Ligonier Valley (850) and in front of third-place Bellwood-Antis (730) in District 6-AA.
Both the Crushers and Trojans have wins over Westmont Hilltop and Richland, which means Friday’s victor will claim the symbolic city championship.
“That means so much to all four schools,” Penna said. “Over the last couple years, Richland’s won it, Westmont’s won it and we’ve both won it over the last 10 years.
“With all the playoff implications, plus the city championship, it’s even bigger.”
Bishop McCort has won four straight games since falling to two-time defending state champion Bishop Guilfoyle at the Point. The Crushers beat Westmont Hilltop 23-13 on Saturday at Trojan Stadium.
“This is a dream come true. To be able to be 6-1 is not an easy thing to do in the LHAC,” said second-year Crushers coach Brian Basile. “To play an undefeated team in Week 8 is a great opportunity.
“This is the third Johnstown area school in a row for us.
“This is for the city championship. We’re looking at it like the Super Bowl. It’s a great opportunity. Like the old song says, ‘It’s going to be a hot time in the old town’ come Friday night.’ ”
Greater Johnstown has 1,517 rushing yards, an average of 216.7 a game and 7.4 per carry.
Senior Bryce Gibson has 941 yards and 11 touchdowns on 113 carries, 8.3 a run.
“Bryce is a game-changer,” Penna said.
Junior quarterback Austin Barber passed for 840 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. West Virginia University recruit Exree Loe has caught 17 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns.
“They have some great weapons,” Basile said. “Offensively, they are able to do some things because of the athleticism they have. Defensively they run to the ball and play laterally very well. They’re able to cover for mistakes. They come with different blitz packages.”
Bishop McCort senior quarterback Levi Cook has thrown for 608 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions while also effectively fronting the veer option. He has 283 rushing yards and three scores.
Junior Anthony Walters leads the team with 487 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 64 carries, 7.6 a run. He has six catches for 133 yards and two scores.
“With Anthony Walters, whether he has 100 yards rushing or 1 yard rushing, you have to account for him,” Penna said. “That offense, with all due respect to everyone else, it goes through him. If you don’t stop the fullback, you’re going to have a long night. Levi is an outstanding runner, strong and smart. He has great command of that offense.”
Carnell Andrews has 321 rushing yards and six touchdowns, but Basile said the junior back won’t be at the game because of his participation in a national wrestling event in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Senior Anthony Formica has eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. Andre Nash has seven catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.
“They have weapons all over the place and a lot of kids we’re very familiar with,” Penna said. “These kids know each other and they are close. They’re so well-coached. I watch them on tape and every time I watch, I’m even more impressed.”
Defensively, the Crushers are led by junior linebacker Ridge Phillips (84 tackles) and Walters (63). Imil Britt has three interceptions, and Zach Goins has three sacks.
“They’re fast and physical,” Penna said. “Their front seven is outstanding. Ridge Phillips is a phenomenal linebacker. Zach Goins and Josiah Jones, Brenden Lavely. They’re a solid group. They’re probably the best front-seven we’ve played to date. The secondary is completely strong.”
Basile had similar assessments about a Johnstown defense that includes Shamar Jones (64 tackles, 3.5 sacks), Darrian Berkins (42 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions) and Tavis Price (34 tackles).
The versatile Price also accounts for 531 all-purpose yards and three scores on offense, and he handles punting duties.