PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (0-2)
RIDGWAY ELKERS (2-0)
Sept. 8, 2016
Two weeks into the season, the Port Allegany varsity football team is still seeking its first win following last Friday’s 50-0 Allegheny Mountain League setback against Ridgway at Memorial Field in Johnsonburg.
And with starter Daniel Jordan sidelined for at least the next few weeks due to injury, the Gators (0-2) are also looking for a new quarterback.
“I feel bad, because he played one full game his sophomore year, none his junior year, and one full game his senior year. That’s it,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said.
The second quarter was the key to victory for the combined Ridgway/Johnsonburg squad, as they sandwiched a pair of short scoring drives around Neil MacDonald’s 66-yard punt return to build a 35-0 halftime lead.
“Overall, we were pretty pleased with the first half, especially the first quarter. We made them earn everything they got on their offensive end. We just seemed to give the ball back to them at inopportune times with good field position,” Bienkowski said. “We couldn’t sustain a drive on offense. We’re struggling on that side of the ball, trying to establish the line of scrimmage, but it’s certainly not for a lack of effort. Then the game just kind of got away from us in the second half.”
MacDonald also scored the first touchdown for Ridgway (2-0) and led all ballcarriers with 50 yards on seven attempts, while quarterback Johnny Mitchell ran for one score and threw for another. Trey Stiles rushed for 33 yards to pace the Gators and also contributed a team-leading eight stops on defense, with Josh Rees and Deven Smoker each contributing a tackle for loss.
Mentioning Stiles and Jake Kallenborn as two players who stood out on his squad, Bienkowski added, “Trey’s trying to make every possible cut and hit every hole he can, sticking his shoulder in there against guys double and triple his size. Gotta love that. Jake’s blocking guys to the whistle. Obviously, getting beat, they’re not happy, but you can tell they just love playing football. I don’t care what the score is, it’s hard not to like that.”
Of the team as a whole, he added, “They give it their all. I love and respect the effort they give, and the appreciation they have for the opportunity to play the sport. The skill level isn’t there right now, but the things we can help, effort and intensity, they bring it. We just tip our cap to a better football team in Ridgway.”
Moving forward, Kallenborn is the likely choice as Jordan’s replacement behind center. The 6-0, 160-pound junior played the position in junior high and as a backup during his freshman year before shifting to receiver, then moving to the line this season.
“He’s tall, very intelligent, extremely coachable and a good leader,” Bienkowski said. “I think that’s probably the route we’re going to go. The only problem with that is that it leaves such a huge hole at left guard. The kid’s a player. I’d take a team full of him every week. He’ll have to learn some of the intricacies of the game again, the footwork part, but he’ll pick up on it.”
The Gators face another formidable AML South foe this week in Brockway, which rolls into “The Swamp” this Friday night at 2-0 after beating Otto-Eldred 57-6 and Sheffield 56-9. The Rovers boast a balanced offense, with quarterback Hunter Miller tossing four touchdown passes against the Wolverines a week after running back Mark Latuska found the end zone four times against the Terrors.
“They spread it out, but mainly to run it,” Bienkowski said.
Taking one last look at the Ridgway game, he concluded, “We fixed some mistakes and made some new ones, but I respect their effort. I’m proud to coach them. We’ve just got to figure out a way to max out our talent, and that’s my job. Once again, I’ve got a fantastic coaching staff that’s losing sleep trying to make things work. We’re trying.
“We’re going to do some mixing and some matching, and our goal is to be at full strength, ready to roll, when we go to Eldred in three weeks. We’re going to keep on plugging.”
At Johnsonburg, Sept. 2:
Port Allegany 0-0-0-0-0
Ridgway (4:45) – Neil MacDonald 1 run; Aaron Hinton kick, 0-7
Ridgway (0:34) – Johnny Mitchell 22 run; Hinton kick, 0-14
Ridgway (7:49) – Jacob Myers 2 run; Hinton kick, 0-21
Ridgway (4:08) – MacDonald 66 punt return; Hinton kick, 0-28
Ridgway (1:26) – Ryan Kilhoffer 22 pass from Mitchell; Hinton kick, 0-35
Ridgway (7:46) – Jacob Zimmerman 1 run; Hinton kick, 0-42
Ridgway (3:51) – Evan Furlong 30 run; Joey Elinski pass from Hinton, 50-0
First downs: Port 4, Ridgway 14. Rushes-Yds: Port 29-41, Ridgway 37-245. C-A-I: Port 0-2-0, Ridgway 2-4-0. Passing yards: Port 0, Ridgway 22. Total offense: Port 41, Ridgway 289. Fumbles-Lost: Port 1-1, Ridgway 0-0. Punts-Avg: Port 5-34.4, Ridgway 1-50. Penalties-Yds: Port 4-35, Ridgway 4-35. Plays: Port 31, Ridgway 41.