A-K Valley football notebook: Freeport hopes to avoid similar finish to ’16

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Thursday, October 12, 2017 | 4:48 PM


As Freeport chases its second Allegheny Conference championship in three years, the memory of the way last year ended is sticking in the back of the Yellowjackets' minds.

With a young roster, Freeport won four of its first five games in 2016 and stood in first place in the conference at midseason. But then the bottom dropped out with four consecutive losses, causing the Yellowjackets to miss the playoffs entirely.

Freeport (5-1, 4-0) can atone for that finish with a strong performance in its final three games, beginning with Friday's game at Seton LaSalle (6-0, 5-0), where first place in the conference hangs in the balance.

“We have to really focus on Friday night before we move on, like we didn't do last year,” Freeport senior Matt Charlton said. “We were thinking ahead too far, so we're just taking it one game at a time, one week at a time.”

Charlton said the team's experience — the bulk of the team's starters returned — should help the Yellowjackets finish strong.

“We don't really make too many rookie mistakes,” he said.

Bellinotti at Buffalo

Burrell junior Alex Bellinotti made his first unofficial college visit last weekend, taking a trip to see the University at Buffalo. As part of the visit, Bellinotti toured the campus and football facilities and attended the Bulls' game against Western Michigan.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” Bellinotti said. “They have a lot of nice stuff up there. I just thought it was a really nice campus.”

Stadium switcharoo

Highlands' Northwest Nine game at Blackhawk this week was changed from Friday to Saturday before the season for logistical reasons.

Because Blackhawk's stadium was not completed, the Cougars are playing home games this fall at Geneva College's Reeves Field — also the longtime home of Beaver Falls. Because Beaver Falls plays at home Friday, that meant the Highlands-Blackhawk game had to move to Saturday.

Luckily enough, Geneva has a road game Saturday at Carnegie Mellon.

Valley reunion

The most successful team in Valley football history will reunite Friday at the Vikings' rivalry game against Burrell.

The 1991 Valley team, which finished as WPIAL Class AAA runner-up, will hold its 26-year reunion.

Led by first-year coach Sam Albert, the 1991 Vikings won the Greater Allegheny Conference and playoff games over McGuffey and Seton LaSalle to advance to the Class AAA championship game at Three Rivers Stadium. Hampered by injuries, they fell 23-13 to Blackhawk to finish as WPIAL runner-up.

It remains the only time in Valley's more than 50-year history that the Vikings reached the WPIAL championship game.

Logan's run

Highlands senior Logan Crise has at least one thing in common with Mario Lemieux: the ability to score in a variety of formats.

In his version of Lemieux's five goals in five ways, Crise has scored 11 touchdowns on six types of plays during his Highlands career: reception, kickoff return, punt return, interception return, fumble return and free kick return.

The senior lacks one type of touchdown — a rushing score — and three regular-season games remaining to get one.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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