“I know what he’s thinking...” That might be the one phrase two head coaches mutter under their breath throughout Friday’s LHAC game between Westmont Hilltop and Penn Cambria in Cresson.

Penn Cambria coach Ernie Fetzer has led his Panthers to seven consecutive victories after a Week 1 setback at Johnstown.

Westmont’s first-year coach Darren McLaurin has Hilltop in position to earn a playoff berth with a 5-3 mark.

Fetzer coached at Westmont for 14 seasons and won 99 games, including a District 6 Class AA title in 1989. McLaurin was an assistant under Fetzer 13 seasons, and his defensive coordinator, Joe Bulas, also was on Fetzer’s staff.

“It’s like teacher and student,” McLaurin said. “You try not to overanalyze. I’ve worked with him so long. You try to think what he’s thinking, and I’m sure he’s doing the same. You say, ‘Am I thinking too far into this thing?’ It’s fun though.”

Fetzer’s teams are known for using a diverse offense that includes audibles, players in motion and different formations. Not coincidentally, Westmont incorporates many of the same looks.

“First of all, there is great friendship with the coaches and that makes it a neat thing,” Fetzer said. “I have a lot of respect for the coaching staff and for Darren. It’s the fun part of coaching. But at the same token, I said to our players that no one will know us as well as their coaching staff because we spent so much time together over the years. He knows the way we operate. From that standpoint, it makes us think about things a lot differently to try to prepare for the game.”

McLaurin credits Fetzer for helping his coaching career evolve.

“Ernie teaches more than football,” McLaurin said. “I’ve learned and the players that have had him learn a lot about football and learn a lot about life. He’s very structured and organized. Everything I learned in football, I learned from him.”

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Forest Hills hasn’t lost three home games in the same season since 1986, a streak the Rangers will try to keep intact in the next two weeks.

Coach Don Bailey’s team closes the regular season with home games against Greater Johnstown on Friday and Karns City on Nov. 3. Forest Hills dropped two dramatic games at G.H. Miller Field this season.

Bishop McCort used a long pass in the closing minute to set up a game-winning touchdown as the Crushers beat the Rangers 18-16 in Week 2. In a wild LHAC game, Forest Hills built a 12-0 advantage against Penn Cambria and fell behind 26-12 before closing within 34-30.

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There is an interesting footrace among the area’s top four rushers.

Conemaugh Valley senior Robert Gunby has an area-best 1,309 yards on an area-high 218 carries. Gunby averages 6.0 yards a carry and has 18 touchdowns for 112 points.

Greater Johnstown junior Antwuan Reed has 1,261 yards on 112 attempts, an 11.26 average with 13 touchdowns and 86 points.

Penn Cambria senior Matt Holsberger gained 1,130 yards on 177 rushes. His 24 touchdowns and 176 points lead the area. Holsberger has 15 two-point conversions and two extra-points.

Meyersdale junior Tyler Edwards has 1,108 yards on 124 attempts, an 8.94 average.

Edwards has 13 touchdowns and 80 points for the undefeated Red Raiders.

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Two LHAC quarterbacks have passed for more than 1,500 yards and are only separated by 57 passing yards in the statistics.

Richland junior Marco Pecora completed 115 of 192 passes for 1,576 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Forest Hills senior Travis Rearick is 94-of-150 for 1,519 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

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Bishop McCort has won seven straight games after opening the season with a one-point, overtime loss to visiting Bedford.

The Crushers have been impressive, especially in the past six weeks. During that span, coach Ken Salem’s team has outscored opponents by a combined 215-13, or 35.8 points a game to 2.2 points a game.

McCort has three straight shutouts over Cambria Heights (40-0), Johnstown (30-0) and Westmont (36-0) and four shutouts overall.

No team has scored in double digits since Forest Hills put up 16 in a last-minute, two-point Rangers’ loss in Sidman during Week 2.

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