No day at the beach when Penn-Trafford visits Belle Vernon

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021 | 4:40 PM


Usually when someone goes to the beach, it’s a time to relax in the warm sum and play in the ocean.

For football teams that visit the Belle Vernon beach, there is no time to relax or you might go home disappointed.

Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane knows what awaits when his team, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, tangles with one of the top teams in Class 4A, No. 2 ranked Belle Vernon (1-0) on Friday at James Weir Stadium, known as “The Beach” because of its golden turf.

It’s an intriguing nonconference battle between two Westmoreland County powers that have never played each other.

Last year’s scheduled game at Penn-Trafford was postponed because of the coronavirus.

“They are an outstanding team,” Ruane said. “They are well coached and are difficult to prepare for. There are a lot of players on film that don’t get the notoriety that the other two (Devin Whitlock and Quinton Martin) receive.

“They have guys who are capable of breaking it every time they touch the ball. We have to be patient and play sound defense. We’ll need to be able to tackle in space.”

Whitlock rushed for 132 yards on six carries and scored four touchdowns, and Martin scored twice and rushed for 78 yards on six carries in the Leopards’ 49-14 victory against Chartiers Valley last week. Whitlock also threw a touchdown pass. He completed 9 of 11 passes for 129 yards.

Belle Vernon didn’t have a Week Zero game, opting to scrimmage West Allegheny. Its first scrimmage was against Gateway and Erie McDowell.

“We’ve faced some tough competition already,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “This is another tough test. I’m pleased how well we’ve played.

“In the first game, you tend to see more penalties and procedure mistakes. We didn’t have many first-game jitters. I felt we executed well.”

Penn-Trafford (2-0) will give Belle Vernon a stern test, which should prepare the Leopards for their conference game the following week against West Mifflin. In two weeks, the Leopards will face Class 4A top team: No. 1 Thomas Jefferson.

“It’s going to be a good challenge,” Humbert said. “They are like Thomas Jefferson. They have strong offensive and defensive lines. It’s a meaningful game because it’s between two Westmoreland County teams.”

Humbert said he has been pleased with the way inside linebackers Logan Hoffman and Jack Bryer have performed, along with fullback/defensive end Ryan Hamer.

Penn-Trafford features a huge offensive line and senior running back Cade Yacamelli, a Wisconsin recruit. Yacamelli has rushed for 315 yards and scored five touchdowns. Quarterback Carter Green has rushed for 195 yards and four scores and also has completed 11 of 19 passes for 199 yards.

The passing game, according to Ruane, continues to be a work in progress.

“I saw a lot of improvement from Week Zero to Week 1,” Ruane said. “Our fitness and endurance was a lot better and we continued to get better.

“We’re getting better in every phase, and we still need to progress in the passing game.”

A couple of players Ruane said have continued to improve are defensive end Conlan Greene and Jack Jollie, as well as defensive backs Seth Dunlap and Jacob Otto.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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