Division I linemen clash as No. 2 Central Catholic visits No. 4 Seneca Valley

Thursday, August 29, 2019 | 2:20 AM

Ron Butschle apologized for using what might sound to some like an old coaching cliché.

“We have to win the majority of battles on the line of scrimmage,” the Seneca Valley coach said.

But it’s not just coach-speak when he says Friday night’s game between No. 4 Seneca Valley and No. 2 Central Catholic will be decided on the line. Each team has multiple Division I linemen for a Week 1 matchup that should showcase the big guys up front.

“We’re all aware of all the Division I scholarships they have,” Butschle said. “They’re the same guys we lined up against last year. I’m sure they’re a better group because they’re a year older. But every week, we have to win up front. I like our guys.”

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Seneca Valley.

Butschle’s Raiders return senior Josh Kaltenberger (6-5, 280) at center and senior Kevin Meeder (6-4, 280) at left tackle. Kaltenberger committed to Purdue in June. Meeder holds more than a dozen Division I offers including Colorado State and a number of Mid-American schools.

Junior guard Don Kreisberg (6-3, 270), a part-time starter last season, also returns. They made an impact a year ago when Seneca Valley reached the WPIAL Class 6A finals at Heinz Field.

Central Catholic counters with twin brothers A’maar Allen (6-2, 240) and A’meer Allen (6-3, 255) at tackle, center Thomas Hartnett (6-3, 275) at center. All three are seniors with Division I offers. The Vikings also have North Carolina commit A.J. Beatty (6-5, 255) and Elliot Donald (6-2, 230), one of the state’s top juniors.

That line strength should give Central Catholic an edge most weeks this season, but Seneca Valley could be the team’s toughest test up front, Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said.

“I would think so, with their size,” he said.

The teams played twice last season and split their two games. Central Catholic won 20-14 in Week 1, and Seneca Valley won the rematch 15-14 in the WPIAL playoffs.

Central Catholic held an 11-point halftime lead in the playoff rematch before Seneca Valley scored twice in the second half. That season-ending loss cause some self-reflection for a Vikings team that saw its high expectations cut short.

“I feel a sense of urgency with this football team,” Totten said. “Maybe that’s what was lacking last year. But it was a good football game and credit them for coming back.”

The two teams had much different Week Zero experiences last Friday.

Central Catholic defeated York’s William Penn, 42-7, with three short rushing touchdowns from quarterback Dom Pieto. Junior running back Eddy Tillman also rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

“The guys played with a lot of energy,” Totten said.

Seneca Valley lost last week to McDowell, 35-14, in a sluggish effort that included 11 Raiders penalties. Senior quarterback Gabe Lawson completed 11 of 23 attempts for 238 yards but was intercepted twice.

“We have to get out of our own way,” Butschle said. “Part of that is just a lack of experience in some places. Last Friday was the first live action for a lot of guys. We hope we got some of the rust off, some of the kinks out and some of the nervousness out.”

It’s only Week 1, but this matchup could have playoff implications. A year ago, Central Catholic earned the four seed and Seneca Valley was fifth. That paired the two head-to-head in the first round.

“It is big,” Butschle said. “After the playoff game last year, I’m sure that’s something that they don’t forget. Our kids, we’re anxious to get to Friday.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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