Motivated Ligonier Valley thumps Homer-Center

By: HSSN Staff
Friday, August 24, 2018 | 11:18 PM

It’s not that the Ligonier Valley football team needed any more motivation to play a game and honor a fallen teammate.

But what some of the Homer-Center players did before the game — with some derogatory remarks toward the Ligonier Valley players — added to their fire.

Instead of getting upset, the Rams got fired up.

Ligonier Valley scored on its first six possessions and showed Homer-Center why it is the team to beat again in the PIAA District 6 Heritage Conference with a 56-0 victory at Homer City.

In a battle of returning District 6 champions, the Rams (1-0) outgained the Wildcats, 388-89.

“They just got us fired up with some of their comments toward some of the young guys on the team,” Ligonier Valley senior Aaron Tutino said. “It gave us more motivation.”

Ligonier Valley played with a heavy heart and honored former teammate Joey Dubics, who died this summer in a swimming accident. Dubics, a 2018 graduate, played a key role in the success of the past two seasons. He planned to attend IUP.

A moment of silence was held before the game and while Ligonier Valley senior quarterback John Caldwell said it got pretty emotion, the players were able to respond.

“It was hard to get going,” Caldwell said. “The emotions were pretty tough, but come game time he would want us to put it to the side and that’s what we did. We made him proud.”

Caldwell had a spectacular game, completing 12 of 13 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Aaron Tutino from the 8 for the first score of the game and he tossed two third-quarter scores — Kyrie Miller for 18 yards and to Sam Sheeder for 8 yards.

Tutino, who caught four passes for 58 yards, also tossed a 27-yard end around touchdown pass to Sullivan Schueltz. Five players caught passes for the Rams.

“In terms of efficiency, the fact we had five guys catching the ball showed we’re not just focusing on 6 (Tutino),” Caldwell said. “It makes us hard to cover.”

Joe Ersick added two fourth-quarter touchdown runs (5 and 8 yards), and Miller and Sheeder had two second-quarter scores on short runs.

Homer-Center (0-1) didn’t complete pass as returning quarterback Ben Schmidt was 0 for 7. He was also called for intentional grounding twice and was sacked three times, twice by Michael Petrof.

“The good news about the game was we got Ligonier Valley out of the way,” Homer-Center coach Greg Page said. “We felt they’d be the best team coming back in the conference and they showed that.

“We have a lot of work to do. They have an outstanding team and we weren’t ready for them. We were outmatched.”

Homer-Center defeated Bishop Guilfoyle for District 6 Class A title but lost to WPIAL champion Jeannette, 42-12, in the PIAA championship game. The Wildcats graduated 15 seniors, including 1,000-yard tandem of Jesse Lee and Mike McCracken.

Ligonier Valley was the only conference team to defeat Homer-Center.

“We wanted to come out as one unit and be aggressive,” Ligonier Valley junior tackle Mike Petrof said. “We wanted to give John time to throw the ball and open up running lanes. Them making the state finals motivated us.”

Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said getting the offensive and defensive lines established was what won the football game.

“We had a lot of players contribute,” Beitel said. “The lines did a fabulous job, our backs ran hard and John had a John Caldwell night. He gets it done.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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