A-K Valley football notebook: Strong 2nd halves key for Freeport success

Thursday, October 26, 2017 | 9:48 PM

Freeport's playoff-clinching victory over Keystone Oaks in Week Eight followed a familiar pattern: a systematic grinding-down of its opponent in the second half.

The Yellowjackets (6-2, 5-1) are outscoring teams 156-43 in the second half this season, compared to a 73-67 margin in the first half. That included a 21-7 edge in the 28-7 victory over Keystone Oaks.

Only two teams outscored Freeport in the second half: Aliquippa and Seton LaSalle, which also happen to be the only teams to beat the Yellowjackets.

“Our coaches always tell us the second half is ours, and we wear teams down,” junior Conor Selinger said.

Freeport focused on conditioning in the offseason, contributing to the second-half success. The team's deep roster of 50-plus players, plus the tandem of a strong line and the running duo of quarterback Austin Romanchak and Selinger, also help.

“When we're inside the locker room, our coach just tells us to not give up,” senior Austin Kemp said.

Hot on the trail

Fox Chapel senior running back Micah Morris earned his first scholarship offer Thursday, from Ivy League school Brown. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound bruiser is part of a punishing rushing duo for playoff-bound Fox Chapel (5-4, 5-3). He has 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Senior quarterback Nick Gizzo also has rushed for more than 1,000 yards.

• Fox Chapel senior lineman Jesse Cohen received a preferred walk-on offer last week from Kent State, his first from a Football Bowl Subdivision school. Cohen has nine offers, including the preferred walk-on interest from Kent State. On the same day, he received a scholarship offer from Bryant of the Football Championship Subdivision. He also has scholarship offers from Dayton, Edinboro, Lawrence Tech, Saginaw Valley State, Seton Hill, Stetson and West Virginia State.

“The recruiting process has been up and down for me but a great experience so far,” Cohen said. “All I can say is I wouldn't be where I am in it right now without my parents, teammates, coaches, and trainer who has prepped me in the offseason, Darnell Dinkins.”

• Freeport senior Matt Charlton likewise picked up another offer last week, from West Virginia State. The 6-4, 302-pounder can play any position on the offensive line and has six scholarship offers, including a pair of FCS schools in Alcorn State and Indiana State.

No Nostradamus

John Gaillot might want to avoid getting into the prediction business.

With Freeport leading Keystone Oaks, 7-0, early in the second half of their Allegheny Conference matchup last week, the Yellowjackets' offensive coaches called an option play for Romanchak. The junior took the ball himself and went 56 yards for a key touchdown in Freeport's 28-7 victory, much to Gaillot's surprise.

“My offensive coordinators said to run that play, and I said we were going to get stuffed,” Gaillot said. “I lost Romanchak, and he's getting in the end zone after that. I said, ‘If you were down here now, I might kiss you.' Because I honestly thought that was a waste of play, but he found a seam and went.”

Romanchak also fooled Gaillot on a long first-down run on the Yellowjackets' final touchdown drive.

“We said give it to (wide receiver Jake) Sarver,” Gaillot said. “He ended up pulling it and taking off. I'm looking at Sarver and (thinking it's a) 3-yard loss, and I see Austin run down the sidelines. That's just really deceiving, the way he does things.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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