Matchup with Avonworth gives Apollo-Ridge chance to prove its mettle

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019 | 4:57 PM


When Apollo-Ridge and No. 5 Avonworth meet at Lenzner Stadium on Friday night, the teams will be battling for a lot more than just another mark in the win column.

Both teams come into the Class AA Allegheny Conference matchup unbeaten. One will come out of the game with a greater chance of capturing the conference crown. Avonworth, Apollo-Ridge and Shady Side Academy stand atop the conference with undefeated section records.

Although there is a lot on the line for both teams, the game might mean a little more for the Vikings. Avonworth already has proven itself to be a contender in Class 2A. The Antelopes’ resume includes a 21-7 win over Neshannock (3-1, 3-0) and a 24-13 victory over New Brighton (3-1, 2-0).

After its first four opponents have produced a combined record of 5-11, Apollo-Ridge still is looking to prove it is a candidate for the Class 2A crown.

“We talked about it from the beginning of the year, and we broke it down to these guys before the season started, who we had coming down the pike and who was going to be the best,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said.

“We always pointed at Avonworth as the best team in our conference. We figured that just because we knew what they had coming back. We knew when we got to this point, we were going to have to be ready.”

When the teams faced off last year, the Antelopes won by 36 points in a 42-6 blowout. Over the years, though, Skiba and Avonworth coach Duke Johncour have become very familiar with each other and the product each puts on the field every Friday night.

Both teams are hard-hitting, physical in nature and have the ability to run the ball all over their opponents. That’s why on Friday night, the battle at the line of scrimmage will be critical.

“That’s going to be a huge battle,” Johncour said. “The battle up front is always big. You can’t go anywhere in high school football without a running game and an offensive line, so whoever controls the line of scrimmage Friday night is going to have the upper hand.”

Avonworth and Apollo-Ridge both have running backs who can carry the workload. Logan Harmon leads the Vikings with 409 yards and five touchdowns on 56 carries, and Jax Miller has carried the ball 73 times for 562 yards and four touchdowns behind a large Avonworth offensive line.

Defensively, both teams have been outstanding this year. The Antelopes have only allowed 34 points and the Vikings have surrendered only 39.

With their undefeated season on the line, the Vikings are looking to prove that they belong in the Class 2A conversation.

“If we can come out on top in this one, it’s going to make teams worry whenever they see us on the field,” Apollo-Ridge quarterback Jake Fello said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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