Springdale, Jeannette prepare for Eastern Conference battle with playoff implications

Thursday, October 8, 2020 | 3:01 PM

When Eastern Conference opponents Springdale and Jeannette meet Friday at Veterans Memorial Field, it might have a different feel compared to years past.

The situation was somewhat similar last year. The Dynamos and Jayhawks came into the matchup undefeated, but the Jayhawks were on a higher level as they cruised to a 43-0 victory.

But as the No. 3 Jayhawks (3-1, 3-1) and the host Dynamos (4-0, 4-0) enter their Week 5 matchup, Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski insists the energy and the confidence surrounding his team is not the same this season.

“I think a lot of teams come into the game thinking they are going to lose, and once you have that mentality, it’s hard to trust yourself and do all the little things,” Napierkowski said of playing a perennial power such as Jeannette.

“But I think this team is a lot different than the ones we’ve had in the past, and even though we came into this same game 4-0 last year, this one just feels different. We have a lot of guys that are a year older, and they are more experienced.”

Springdale and Jeannette are two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. They are averaging 42.8 and 47 points, respectively. Jeannette is allowing 13.5 points per game, and Springdale allows 17.

Jeannette owns a 13-0 record against Springdale dating to 1980. Despite the history, coach Roy Hall and the Jayhawks insist they can’t look past this game.

“We won’t overlook them. I hope not anyway, because they are 4-0 and they are playing pretty good ball,” Hall said. “They are a solid team. They are very well-coached, and they don’t make many mistakes.”

Dynamos junior quarterback Legend Ausk missed the Week 3 game against Leechburg but has thrown for 517 yards and six touchdowns.

Junior running back Logan Dexter has 716 total yards and nine touchdowns, and Demitri Fritch has caught 12 passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns. Fritch also took over under center while Ausk was out and threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

The Dynamos have formed a tight bond after playing together for most of their lives.

“They are more comfortable with everything on both sides of the ball. They are just able to line up and play football and not think so much now,” Napierkowski said. “One of the things we stressed this year is just getting your calls pre-snap, get yourself lined up and then just let your instincts take over.”

Jeannette is loaded with talent, as well.

For the first time in school history, the Jayhawks are starting a freshman quarterback, and Brad Birch has thrown for 800 yards, 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

“He’s tremendous. They don’t ask him to do too much, but he does more than most freshman quarterbacks do,” Napierkowski said. “They do a great job of putting him position where he can be successful, but when he’s put in those situations, he makes all the right throws and makes all the right reads. He’s sneaky good scrambling, too, so we have to be aware of that as well.”

Jeannette and No. 1 Clairton have owned the Eastern Conference and Class A, as one of the two teams have won the WPIAL title five of the past six years. But Springdale has emerged as a contender this year, and Hall said Friday’s game will have a playoff feel.

“No question that this is the biggest game next to Clairton,” Hall said. “Even with that Clairton game, it was the first game of the season, and Clairton is Clairton. This is like a playoff game because we have one loss, Clairton doesn’t have any and neither does Springdale, so if Springdale gives us a loss we’re sitting behind the 8-ball.”

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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