The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 10, 2013

Eagles, Tigers look to get back on track in TVL

By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item

— MANDATA — It has been a rough few weeks for both the Line Mountain and East Juniata football teams.

After starting 2-0, East Juniata has lost four straight and brings a 2-4, 1-4 record into Friday’s Tri-Valley League game at Line Mountain. The Eagles (2-4, 1-4 TVL) snapped a three-game losing streak last week with a win over Halifax.

Eagles coach Rodney Knock said he could see a bit of relief in his players following last week’s win.

“Even through these last couple of weeks, the kids have been upbeat,” he said. “They have worked hard and they know how close they are to being 5-1.”

Knock said that this week’s practices have been very good and that he continues to stress to the kids that if they keep working this hard, you can never tell what will happen.

“We still have a shot at the Eastern Conference (playoffs), but nothing matters unless we take care of business and take it week by week,” Knock said. “Nothing will really matter if we don’t play hard against EJ.”

Last week’s win over winless Halifax was highlighted by limited turnovers and mistakes.

“We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot last week,” Knock said. “For once, we put a complete game together.”

The inexperienced kids that started the year off with a 10-point win over Phillipsburg-Osceola, are now starting to mature.

“I can see the kids turning the corner and I can see that a lot of kids have gotten better each week,” Knock said.

Knock noted that the Tigers are a much different team than in years past and that multi-talented David Brantley is a player who is tough to get take down in the open and that East Juniata has shown  it can move the ball on opponents.

Injuries have hampered the Tigers this year.

“We have made strides from where we were last year, but we are nowhere near where we want to be at this point in the year,” EJ coach Simon Cameron said. “We lost David for a quarter and a half last week, but we expect to have him ready for Friday night.”

There were a few games this season that Cameron felt his team could have won.

“A lack of focus at times has cost us games, including Pine Grove,” he said. “We turned the ball over five times against Juniata. You can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win.”

Cameron is looking to limit the touches by Brantley this week.

This week’s concern for Cameron and the Tigers is the Eagles’ running game, led by Cory Warford.

“He’s the biggest back we’ve faced this year and he’s a good runner.” Cameron said. “We have to stop their power running game and if we can’t stop it, we are going to be in serious trouble. They run a very nice read-option and they have a good veer, but we’ve been good in containing the veer this year.”

In the 42-14 loss to Newport, Cameron noted that the kids played well and on Newport’s opening drive, which was between 15 and 17 plays, they had a chance to intercept a pass and dropped it.

“We haven’t been able to put together a complete game on defense,” he said. “We just have to keep the intensity up and keep playing hard.”