Leechburg, Springdale set to face off for 78th time on Friday

Thursday, September 24, 2020 | 5:06 PM

Springdale and Leechburg have a long history, and when the teams meet at Veterans Memorial Field in Springdale for a WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference battle Friday, the rivalry’s 78th chapter will be written.

Springdale holds a 42-35 lead in the series, which dates to 1932. The Dynamos have won 19 of the last 22 meetings, but the Blue Devils have won the past two matchups.

So when these teams plays, it means a little more.

“Not only are they in our conference, but we know a lot of those guys personally,” Leechburg senior quarterback Dylan Cook said. “We’ve played them in basketball, baseball, other sports, and I’ve played basketball with them in AAU and stuff like that, and so have some of our other guys. So it’s more personal than the other games, in my opinion.”

Both teams are off to solid starts.

The Dynamos (2-0, 2-0) have wins over Riverview (41-7) and Bishop Canevin (40-20). The Blue Devils (1-1, 1-1) suffered a 59-14 loss to top-ranked Clairton last Friday, but they shocked then-No. 3 Greensburg Central Catholic, 55-37, in the opener.

That win brought a lot of excitement to a program that is now led by veteran coach Randy Walters. But on Friday, the Blue Devils will be looking to get back to basics.

“I think we need to get back to playing a little bit more physical. We, obviously, weren’t too physical against Clairton, but I think we need to get back to doing a few less things,” Walters said. “I kinda threw everything I had at Clairton because we were just searching for ways to have success moving the ball. So I think we’ll scale back a little bit, and I think it will be a physical game.

“I think whoever is more physical will win it.”

The Blue Devils aren’t short on talent. Cook already has thrown for 360 yards and run for 125 while scoring four touchdowns. Sophomore running back Braylan Lovelace has totaled 290 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. They also have had two other players score touchdowns, so Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski knows his team will have its hands full.

“They have a lot of talent on the offensive side, so we certainly need to keep an eye on Lovelace and contain Cook,” Napierkowski said. “Those two guys, they can change a game for any team, and you saw that against Greensburg Central. Lovelace was dynamic, and Cook is a guy that if you don’t contain him in the pocket, he’s great with his feet and can throw on the run. He can cause a lot of headaches defensively.”

The Dynamos have talent of their own. Junior quarterback Legend Ausk has thrown for 300 yards and four touchdowns, and the trio of Cavin Kindler, Logan Dexter and Demitri Fritch has excelled, as well.

Dexter has scored three touchdowns and produced 276 yards of total offense. Kindler has rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns, and Fritch has caught nine passes for 85 yards and a score.

Every win matters in a shortened season, so Friday’s matchup is even more crucial than usual.

“We have to play every game like it is a win-or-go-home kind of game,” Napierkowski said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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