By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
BEAVER SPRINGS — 2012 seems like a distant memory for East Juniata and Pine Grove.
Both teams finished last season with one win and Pine Grove earned its lone win last season against East Juniata in a 31-0 victory.
Fast forward one year and the Tigers and Cardinals are each undefeated heading into week three.
The Tigers have outscored their opponents 62-6 in wins over Halifax and Bucktail while the Cardinals are giving up an average of eight points per game this season.
Tigers head coach Simon Cameron pointed to offseason workouts and conditioning as a key to the turnaround this season for the Tigers.
After his team starting to lose intensity last week against Halifax, Cameron took a timeout and reminded his players of the sacrifices that each one made during the offseason preparing for this fall.
The Tigers proceeded to finish off the shutout against the Wildcats, 27-0.
However, Cameron was quick to downplay the early success of his team after struggles a year ago.
“We know we haven’t accomplished much yet,” Cameron said regarding the 2-0 start. “We’re just doing what we needed to do. We’ve been focused. We need to maintain that mentality and learn to win.”
Pine Grove head coach Jeff Sampson echoed the same sentiment.
“After last year’s 1-9 season, I think (the players) have turned the page,” Sampson said. “I think they’ve bought into the philosophy of one game at a time. They know we have a long road ahead of us.”
Sampson added that his players are hungry to get a win, especially the players who endured a losing season last year.
Standing in the way of another Tigers’ win is a trio of talented offensive weapons for the Cardinals.
Cameron singled out quarterback Steve Zimmerman, halfback Ryan Heim and fullback Mark Weinus as key cogs for the Cardinals.
“(Weinus) is a big role player for them,” Cameron said. “(Heim) is elusive and (Zimmerman) is a mix of the two.”
Cameron has an elusive back at his disposal as well in David Brantley, who rushed for 215 yards last week.
“The plays we get David are intended to be big plays,” Cameron said.
The home-run hitting capability of Brantley has opened gaps for the rest of the Tigers’ offense.
“If you stack the box, we’ll spread you out,” Cameron said. “If you focus on David and trying to stop him, the other (players) will pick up the slack.”
Stopping Brantley and the rest of the Tigers’ offensive attack will fall on the shoulders staff.
“They run the option very well,” Sampson said regarding East Juniata.
Sampson added that the Tigers are a fast team and the Cardinals’ biggest challenge will be containing the speed of the Tigers offensively.
Cameron described the Cardinals as a well-coached, disciplined team with good size and speed.
“We’ll have to put our athletes on their athletes,” Cameron said. “The difference (in the game) will be whose athletes come out on top in the one-on-one matchups.”