A-K Valley high school football notebook: Riverview, Springdale set for rivalry game
By: Doug Gulasy
Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 11:03 PM
Riverview and Springdale played in separate football classifications during Todd Massack’s high school days, so the rivalry played out mostly on the court during basketball season.
Nowadays, the gridiron can get just as hot as the hardwood, as the teams will prove when they meet for their annual Class A Eastern Conference grudge match Friday at Springdale’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“I think every year it’s an exciting game,” said Massack, in the first year of his second tenure as Riverview’s coach. “Every year, and I think they do the same thing, when you look at the schedule when it comes out, (you look at) when do we play Springdale? It’s fun for us, and I’m sure it’s fun for them. It’s always something to look forward to, and it’s always a high-spirited game.”
This particular meeting won’t mean much for the playoff picture, with Riverview (1-5, 0-4) and Springdale (1-5, 0-3) effectively eliminated from contention. Then again, as with most rivalries, the teams follow the old adage of “throw the records out.”
“It doesn’t really matter what the records are,” Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski said. “Both teams come out and are motivated and wanting to win. This year’s going to be no different. Especially for us, as young as we are, we’re building for the future and a win against a rival is going to go a long way towards getting us to where we want to be in the future.”
Both teams are coming off their first wins of the season last week, Riverview a 19-8 victor over Jefferson-Morgan and Springdale a 14-11 winner over Northgate.
This will mark the 36th all-time meeting. Riverview holds an all-time series lead of 22-13, but Springdale claimed 10 of the last 11 meetings, including 42-13 last season.
“We talk about this is the game they’re going to remember, and we want to make sure it’s a positive memory,” Massack said. “Looking back into the early days in the ’90s, probably Riverview had the upper hand. As of late, Springdale has the upper hand. We want to try to change that a little bit.”
Don’t look now, but Leechburg is having one of its best seasons in years — and more success in the last three weeks can make it the best in decades.
A 21-14 come-from-behind win over Frazier last week gave Leechburg (3-4, 1-3 Eastern Conference) its first three-win season since 2010. Another victory would give the Blue Devils their first four-win campaign since 2000. Two would make it the first five-win season since 1992, and three would give them their first winning season since 1991, the last time they made the WPIAL playoffs.
Leechburg hosts Imani Christian on Friday, travels to Bentworth in Week 8 and closes the regular season at Springdale in Week 9.
Freeport’s Conor Selinger has a penchant for coming through in big moments, as the senior RB/LB proved again last week against Deer Lakes.
Selinger scored the go-ahead touchdown with under 2 minutes remaining, then intercepted a tipped Aris Hasley pass on the next possession to secure the Yellowjackets’ 14-10 victory.
Despite missing time earlier this season with ankle and foot injuries, Selinger leads Freeport (3-3, 3-3 Class 3A Big East) with 40 tackles (2 tackles for loss) and has 300 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Last season, he finished second on the team with 84 tackles and had two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns.
“Him and (QB/DB Austin Romanchak), for three years, when we need something, one of those two just would pop one for a big performance,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “I’m very proud of Conor. He really works, he’s a student of the game, old-school type.”
Bang for the Bucs
Burrell gets more headlines for its wide-open offensive attack, which features frequently changing formations and motion and often includes a bevy of trick plays, but the defense stole the show last week.
The Bucs forced six turnovers in a 35-7 win over Mt. Pleasant, including an interception senior Luke Kastelic returned for a touchdown.
“That was phenomenal,” coach Shawn Liotta said. “We played excellent defense. We put a lot of time into defense last week, and that was probably the most rewarding thing. Our kids really worked hard. They watched a lot of film last week defensively. We had a really good gameplan in place. They had some tendencies I think we were able to exploit and kind of take away. … When you can do that to a team, now you’re forcing them to be outside their comfort zone.”
It marked the second time in four weeks Burrell (2-5, 2-4) held an opponent to seven points or fewer, the other coming in a 61-6 win over Uniontown on Sept. 14. Before this season the Bucs hadn’t accomplished that feat since 2015.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.