What the Westmont Hilltop double-tight/double-wing, ground-and-pound offense might lack in style points, the Hilltoppers make up for in another more important category:
Time of possession.
Fans of flashy offensive sets might not like watching, but Westmont is capable of methodically advancing the ball downfield with one short to mid-range gain after another.
The Hilltoppers’ ground game inadvertently complements the Westmont defense by keeping the opposing offense off the field.
“Our guys are patient. You’re not going to hit all home runs at the beginning of the game,” Westmont Hilltop coach Pat Barron said of his 2-1 squad.
“Our guys are content to gain 3, 4 or 5 at a time.”
The Hilltoppers will need to maintain possession on Saturday afternoon to have success against undefeated Chestnut Ridge at Price Field (1 p.m.).
Lions quarterback Logan Pfister and company edged visiting Westmont, 19-14, last season and Ridge is 23-5 since the start of the 2017 season.
“How versatile Pfister is,” said Barron, when asked what stands out most about the Lions, who have outscored opponents 103-20 through three weeks. “They can go in so many directions with him back there. He can throw it deep, he can throw it short or he can run. He can do it all.
“We got an appreciation of him by playing against him last year and then watching him in track and field in the spring.”
Westmont has carried the ball 140 times for 818 yards and nine touchdowns. That’s an average of 5.8 yards a carry and 272.7 a game.
Mason Muto (41-241, five TDs), Hudson Holbay (41-208, two TDs) and Zane Blackburn (31-183, one TD) have split much of the workload. Quarterback Connor Polacek has hit 3 of 8 passes for 34 yards.
“Those guys up front pave the way for us,” Barron said. “That’s our bread and butter. When one guy is running, the other 10 are blocking . It’s a full team effort.”
Barron said the Hilltop line features tight end Tanner Dluhos; tackle Nick Czyrnik and guard Rylee Mastovich on the left side; Malcolm Milligan at center; and tackle Chris Seda Fas, guard Max Yonko and tight end Stefan Dean on the right.
“It’s not something we have a stat line for at the end of the game,” Barron said of time of possession.
Against Bishop Guilfoyle in Week 2, Westmont rushed 47 times for 321 yards and didn’t throw a pass. Last week at Central Cambria, the Hilltoppers ran 49 times for 361 yards and passed for 18 yards.
They rushed for 136 yards on 44 carries in a season-opening 22-8 loss at Bedford.
Price of success: Portage senior quarterback/strong safety Connor Price continues to emerge as a dual threat on offense.
Price had season highs in both rushing and passing yards in last week’s 35-7 win over Windber.
Price completed 11 of 18 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He carried nine times for 111 yards as the 3-0 Mustangs won an early battle of WestPAC unbeatens.
“We started doing it a lot this year,” Price said of the passing element in Portage’s pistol Wing-T. “We didn’t really stress it in the past. We’d focus on the run because we were a little unsure of how we were going to pass the ball.
“This year we came out and said, ‘It’s time to throw the ball.’ ”
Portage will travel to Berlin Brothersvalley on Friday in another meeting of unbeaten squads.
The Mustangs haven’t won at the Snyder of Berlin Complex since 2009, going 0-4. Portage beat visiting Berlin last season and the Mustangs are 2-6 against the Mountaineers since 2012.
Price hopes Portage’s two-ronged offense and stingy defense help the Mustangs end the road streak.
“Having depth is a plus, a huge positive for our team,” Price said.
Price is among the area leaders with 241 rushing yards on 18 carries and 251 passing yards (22 of 35).
“Connor is a stud,” Portage coach Gary Gouse said. “He’s really one of the best players in the area. He can play anywhere offensively and defensively. We can play him just about any place.”