Dominant Ligonier Valley clinches fourth straight conference title
Friday, October 4, 2019 | 11:15 PM
Pretty, it wasn’t.
But it didn’t need to be.
Even when Ligonier Valley doesn’t play its best, it still can be dominant.
The Rams (7-0), the third-ranked team in the state by the Tribune-Review, clinched a share of the PIAA District 6 Heritage Conference title with another mercy rule win, defeating Marion Center, 46-0, Friday at Weller Field.
And thanks to Saltsburg’s win against Homer-Center, the Rams tied Blairsville’s record of four consecutive conference titles.
“The scoreboard shows we won handily, but we made mistakes early that could cost us,” senior captain Michael Petrof said. “I felt we played well defensively. All our mistakes are fixable. We’ll be OK.”
Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said that the team prepared to slow down Marion Center’s vaunted running attack led by senior Garrett Wells.
Instead, Marion Center coach Adam Rising had his team passing the ball. Wells was limited to 9 yards rushing on five attempts. The Stingers rushed for a yard and their quarterback duo of Ty Ryen and Gaven Palko completed 12 of 28 passes for 120 yards.
The Rams defense intercepted three passes, two by Sam Sheeder, who returned his second 86 yards for a touchdown.
“They showed us a lot of different things,” Beitel said. “It took us a while to adjust. But we still had a few mental mistakes that we’ll correct this week at practice.”
Ligonier Valley senior running back Kyrie Miller had another big night. He rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns on runs of 4, 45 and 26 yards.
His three rushing touchdowns also broke Collin Smith’s rushing touchdown mark. Miller now has 48.
Sheeder wasn’t as sharp throwing the ball, completing 6 of 16 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns — a 13-yarder to John Beard and an 18-yarder to Ethan Boring. Freshman quarterback Haden Sierocky tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Marinchak in the fourth quarter.
Marinchak had six catches for 85 yards. Ligonier Valley also had two touchdowns called back because of penalties.
“The first quarter, we were very jumbled,” Sheeder said. “We were getting mixed up. We weren’t playing as a team like we should have been.
“As the game went on, we started to mesh more and we closed our mouths. It’s something we need to do moving forward. We have to just play our game.”
Ligonier Valley’s starting defense has not allowed a point this season and it was the team’s 35th consecutive conference win.
“We went against the kid who was the best back in the conference,” Beitel said. “The defense was phenomenal. We just do it on the field.”
And while it wasn’t their best played game of the season, the Rams were still superior.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .