By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
ELIZABETHVILLE — At 2-2 on the season, Upper Dauphin coach Brett Bell, the new athletic director at the school, is not looking at where his team will be after Friday’s game against undefeated Tri-Valley.
“We tell the kids we are taking it one game at a time and that it’s a marathon and we’ll see where we are at the end of the season,” he said.
For the second straight week, they’ll face an undefeated team, but thanks to playing Pine Grove last Saturday, they were able to see the Bulldogs in person last Friday.
“Tri-Valley is a quality team and they have some speed out of the backfield,” Bell said. “We saw their quarterback in junior varsity action last year and he’s someone that you cannot let get out of the backfield. He is their key player.”
The Trojans (1-2 TVL), who lost by eight points last week to Pine Grove and by 19 to Williams Valley, are just a couple of plays away from a better record, according to Bell.
“It came down to a couple of plays in each game and we have to work on reducing those plays while, at the same time, we need to get big plays from the offensive side of the ball.”
Upper Dauphin comes into this week’s game scoring more than 30 points per game.
“We need to open our offense up going into the next part of the season as we have mainly been a power running team so far,” Bell added. “We’ve made some mistakes early, but we are getting better and we are correcting those mistakes.”
Even with a 4-0 record (3-0 TVL), Bulldogs coach Mike Ulicny is still concerned about his team overall heading into the fifth week of the season.
“We had stayed healthy until last week,” he said. “We have some sophomore kids that have stepped up and played well for us, we are just hoping that we can weather the storm.”
The Bulldogs come into the game having lost two kids to injuries that Ulicny hopes to have back in two weeks.
“They have a nice solid team,” Ulicny said of Upper Dauphin. “We are very concerned about them. They have a solid backfield and they are a well-balanced offense. It will be tough for us to stop them.”
Ulicny noted the play of quarterback Hunter Harner, who has thrown three touchdowns while averaging 6.7 yards-per-carry this season.
“Hunter was tremendous for us last year at tight end and he’s only a sophomore,” Ulicny added. “We have to play good, smart football on Friday.”
Tri-Valley has given up just seven points in its last two games.