Hampton, Greensburg Salem to meet in Greater Allegheny 1st-place showdown

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 | 12:01 AM

Greensburg Salem’s football team will try to extend a streak this week that could help end another.

The Golden Lions haven’t had a four-game winning streak since 2016, and the last time they won a conference title was in 2009. A win against Indiana last week accomplished that goal as they seek a five-game streak.

Greensburg Salem (4-1, 2-0) will look to build on that winning streak and stay in contention for a conference crown in a first-place Greater Allegheny Conference showdown Friday at No. 5 Hampton (5-0, 2-0).

“We’re really excited to be playing meaningful football games,” Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said. “We’re looking forward to it.

“Each week we talk about progressing and getting better. The key is to continue to see things we have to repair. What has been consistent is our effort. There hasn’t been a point where I thought we’ve been lethargic or lacked energy. We want to win football games.”

Greensburg Salem has missed scoring opportunities in the first half last week against Indiana and in the season opener at Hempfield. The Golden Lions were fortunate to play a strong second half to finish off Indiana, but it cost them a win against Hempfield.

Keefer said his team must capitalize on opportunities against the Talbots.

“We have to continue to progress,” Keefer said. “The thing we have to do this week is we have to eliminate some of the mistakes that we talked about (after last week’s game) because it will catch up to you when you play a team like Hampton. We have to do a better job finishing drives when we have the ability to do that.”

The Golden Lions face a stiff challenge from the Talbots, who are coming off big wins against Armstrong (21-20) and Highlands (27-7).

Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said his team is a veteran squad that makes few mistakes.

“Anytime you win, it’s a good feeling,” DeMatteo said. “We have a good group of seniors that continue to do the right things to win.”

The Talbots run a multiple attack on offense, led by DeMatteo’s son, Matt, at quarterback. They have a bevy of running backs, led by Christian Liberto (561 yards, eight touchdowns), Brock Borgo (443, seven) and Joe Mayer (225, one). DeMatteo (229, three) and Mayer split time between quarterback and slot back.

“They don’t beat themselves,” Keefer said. “Hampton is a very good football team, and it has very good team speed. But what stands out about them is their discipline in terms of what they do within their scheme. They don’t take bad penalties. They’ve had few turnovers. They control the ball well. They execute their scheme, and they have some weapons.”

Greensburg Salem features the top passer in the WPIAL in senior quarterback Hayden Teska, as well as a bevy of receivers in junior Cody Rubrecht and seniors Donavin Waller, Jayden Stevens, Matt Wallace and Christian Hostetler.

Teska has completed 60 of 123 passes for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns. Rubrecht has 18 grabs for a WPIAL-high 503 yards and six touchdowns. Waller has 15 catches for 257 yards.

One area the Golden Lions hope improve on is their running game, led by junior Rashad Canady. Keefer ran the Wildcat a few times with Rubrecht against Indiana. That could help against the steady front line for Hampton.

“Everything starts up front for us,” DeMatteo said. “We’re not the biggest, but they guys do a good job knowing their assignments. We have good continuity.”

And DeMatteo knows his team faces a difficult challenge in Greensburg Salem.

“They are well-coached, they are physical and well-balanced,” DeMatteo said. “We have to been disciplined because they are a scrappy group. They have a lot of weapons.”

Hampton has dominated the series, winning six of the seven meetings, including 42-9 in 2020. The Golden Lions’ win was a 20-10 decision in 2012. The Talbots have won the past four meetings.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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