A-K Valley football notebook: Defense fueling undefeated Apollo-Ridge

Saturday, September 7, 2019 | 11:15 PM

It is said defense wins championships.

It also often wins smaller battles, and Apollo-Ridge’s defense responded again Friday night in a 22-7 victory over Carlynton in a battle of unbeatens at Davis Field in Apollo.

After surrendering an early touchdown, the Vikings (3-0) got in the board as senior Cam Bush and junior Dom Reiter met in the backfield in the end zone to record a safety in the second quarter.

The defense, which made seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage, helped keep Apollo-Ridge on track for the win despite four first-half turnovers from the offense.

Bush and Reiter each finished with a pair of sacks, and juniors Logan Harmon and Keighton Reese finished with 10 and seven tackles, respectively.

Junior Klay Fitzroy intercepted two passes, and sophomores Colton Neil and Brady Schrock each recovered a fumble.

“We gave up a lot of points last year, and the guys this year have really taken it upon themselves to be a better unit,” Vikings head coach John Skiba said. “They were flying around (Friday) night, getting a push into the backfield and making some nice plays in the secondary. I am confident it should only get better as we keep plugging new guys in.”

Of the 23 teams in WPIAL 2A, the Vikings are fourth in scoring defense at 8.3 points per game. Vikings fans also remember Harmon’s 96-yard scoop and score against Leechburg in Week Zero.

Apollo-Ridge will go for 4-0 overall and 2-0 in Allegheny Conference play Friday at East Allegheny (2-1, 1-0).

A Knight for 300

In honor of Knoch reaching the 300th victory in school history, Knights senior running back Matt Goodlin ran for almost 300 yards against Beaver.

Goodlin finished with a school-record 298 yards on 20 carries in a 42-7 victory that improved Knoch to 3-0. He also scored a school record-tying five touchdowns behind an offensive line which has been on a mission all season.

Jim Johnston added 31 yards and a touchdown.

For good measure, the defense has given up an average of just nine points in three games. Johnston picked off a pass and made three tackles, and Goodlin and Tyler Buterbaugh recorded five stops apiece.

Put one in win column

Deer Lakes came close to notching its first win of the season in Week Zero against Springdale and last week against Elizabeth Forward.

The Lancers had leads in the second half both weeks, but the Dynamos scored in the final minute and the Warriors rallied from a one-TD halftime deficit.

But Friday was a different story for Deer Lakes. On the strength of quarterback Aris Hasley’s five-TD game, the Lancer got into the win column, 35-13, at Uniontown.

Hasley is among the WPIAL passing leaders with nine touchdowns this season, and he has racked up close to 900 yards through the air.

Winless no more

Speaking of getting off the schneid.

Leechburg, which suffered losses to rival Apollo-Ridge at home in Week Zero and Class A No. 1 Jeannette on the road last week, returned to the familiar confines of Veterans Memorial Field on Friday and delivered a 13-6 non-conference victory over Rochester.

The Blue Devils recorded some payback after the Rams scored a 42-6 win last year. Rochester, which lost 3,000 yards of rushing to graduation from last year, has struggled offensively, and the Leechburg defense kept it frustrated.

At the same time, quarterback Dylan Cook and freshman Braylon Lovelace each produced TD runs.

Up next for the Blue Devils (1-2, 0-1): An Eastern Conference home matchup with Greensburg Central Catholic (2-1, 1-1).

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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