Wolves look to finish season with three wins, in Bradford tonight

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

The Wolves are currently 1-3 and the goal after last week’s 59-27 loss in St. Marys is to finish with three wins. They take the first step tonight with a trip to Bradford (7 p.m.) to take on the 0-4 Owls who gave Ridgway all it could handle in a 28-21 loss in Johnsonburg.

“Our goal is to win out and we’re excited to get going Friday night. We’re going to play inspired football this week and get back on track. I think we’ll be fine,” said head coach Jim Hillman, who looks at the bright side of what has been a tough campaign thus far. “We’re blessed to even have the season (due to COVID-19). It’s been a rough schedule but thank God we had it. It’s one game at a time so we have to be ready to go against Bradford,”

Last week’s loss to the Dutch was the second in two weeks to the state’s ninth ranked Class AAA team. St. Marys came back from a 10-7 halftime deficit to win 23-7 when the teams met in Kane Sept. 26.

The Dutch are at Ridgway this week to face the 3-1 Elkers who will represent the IU9 portion of District 9 in the Class AA playoffs. Going into last week’s action the Wolves would have had to beat St. Marys and the Elkers would have had to lose to Bradford to leave the door open for a Kane double-A playoff appearance. Ridgway held the tie-breaker with a 17-14 season opening, home win over Hillman’s squad. Three teams Brookville (5-0), Clarion Central (4-1), and Karns City (3-2) will be representing the southern portion of the district in the playoffs which start next week. The Wolves were to host Ridgway next Friday but with the Elkers in the playoffs they will now host Otto-Eldred.

Last week the Dutch scored 35 points in the second half after leading 24-14 at the half vs. the Wolves.

“The kids gave everything they had. We stayed in the ball game and they continued to fight but St. Marys is a very good team that has depth. Things got away from us a little bit but the kids continued to fight through it,” Hillman said of his “no quit” effort.

Bradford certainly looked like a different team last week from the one that lost 51-7 in Kane on Homecoming night Oct. 2 and lost 45-14 to the Ekers at home Sept. 25. The Owls led Ridgway 14-13 at the half and were denied a chance to tie or win the game when quarterback Austen Davis was intercepted in the end zone with 21 seconds left to play. Ridgway held Bradford to one first down and 10 total yards in the first meeting in September. The Wolves rushed for 400 yards with Harley Morris and Josh Buhl each topping the 100-yard mark in the previous meeting with tonight’s foe. Defensively Kane recovered four fumbles and had three interceptions in the first meeting with the winless Owls.

“They’re a well-coached team and they’re going to battle. They have good kids and some real good athletes and we just have to be ready to line up and play them,” Hillman said of tonight’s showdown. “It’s going to be another test and we have to be aggressive up front and take control of the line of scrimmage to put us in a good position to get a win,” he added.

The Wolves will have to control Davis who missed the first game in Kane after being knocked out of the first meeting with the Elkers. The quarterback was 14-of-37 for 156 yards with a touchdown and interception last week. He also had an interception on defense. Dalton Dixon who had two catches for 55 yards vs. the Wolves had seven catches for 95 yards and the touchdown against Ridgway. Davis also picked up 76 yards on the ground despite being sacked three times for minus 23 yards. Elijah Fitton is another player to watch. He had five catches for 36 yards last week against the Elkers.

While the team was disappointed with the loss at St. Marys, Hillman likes how his team is responding to the adversity of being 1-3. “They’re very resilient and a lot of these kids know what it was like a couple years ago when we got into the big league (District 9 Large School Division – finished 2-7). We got back and had a successful season last year (6-5, advanced to D9 AA semi-finals). We’ve been on the rocks a bit and things were a bit shaky, but they all have great attitudes. We’re looking to finish with a winning record - that’s our goal,” he said.

The Wolves will host Elk County Catholic on Oct. 30. Their game at Coudersport on Nov. 6 is currently up in the air. If the Falcons win the district’s class A championship game another opponent will fill the slot.

Hillman noted his team got “dinged up a bit” last week in St. Marys but “is healing” heading into tonight’s game. The Wolves will be without Addison Plants who suffered an ankle injury and center and defensive lineman Reese Novosel is going through concussion protocol. The Kane coach said he is showing positive signs of being able to play tonight.

The game will be broadcast on WXZY, 101.7 FM and WDDH, 97.5 FM. A live feed with be provided by the Kane Area School District - https://vimeo.com/kasd. It will also be shown at the Kane Family-Drive in with donations going to the Kane Quarterback Club.

Wolves Stats

Rushing: Harley Morris 28-144-1 TD, Josh Buhl 23-140-3 TD, Zuke Smith 17-126-1 TD, Addison Plants 8-80-1 TD, Sam Lundeen 5-38, Bobby Rumcik 1-6.

Passing: Zuke Smith 30-77-401-4 TD-1 Int.

Receiving: Josh Buhl 5-133-1 TD, Bobby Rumcik 6-104-1 TD, Ricky Zampogna 9-99-1 TD, Harley Morris 8-52-1 TD, Shane Ackley 2-13.

Tackle Leaders: Jake Costanzo 42 (.5 sack), Josh Buhl 25, Addison Plants 23, Harley Morris 22, Ricky Zampogna 19, Reese Novosel 19 (.5 sack), Gus Traugott 19 (1 sack), Shane Ackley 17, Mason Metz 12 (2 sacks), Bobby Rumcik 11, Zuke Smith 10.

Interceptions: Harley Morris 3, Addison Plants 1, Shane Ackley 1.

Fumble Recoveries: Mason Metz 2, Ricky Zampogna 1, Addison Plants 1, Scott Szymanki 1.

PAT’s: Ryan Buhl 3-5

2-pt. conversions: Bobby Rumcik 2, Josh Buhl 1, Ricky Zampogna 1.