By Chris Rossetti
KANE – For the first time in the 22-year history of the AML Title
Game, it won't be necessary for either team to get on to U.S. Route 6, as Cameron County travels to Kane at 7 p.m.
Friday night in a battle of unbeatens.
Both teams are in search of second AML Titles in school history and
both are making just their second appearance in the game.
Cameron County (9-0 overall, 9-0 AML North), the winner of the AML
North, beat Smethport 21-14 to win the 1999 AML Championship, while Kane (9-0 overall, 9-0 AML
South), winner of the AML South, beat Coudersport 35-19 to win the 2002 AML Title.
This year’s game features two of the top Class A teams in District
9, and the top seed and home field advantage in the first two rounds of the District 9 Class A
playoffs is up for grabs – the loser will be the No. 3 seed and a potential semifinal road game.
The contest also features two of the top offenses and defenses in
NO. 1 IN SCORING; POINTS ALLOWED IN DISTRICT 9
Cameron County ranks first in District 9 in scoring at 49.1 points
per game and first in rushing offense at 314.4 yards per game while ranking second in total offense
(401.8 yards per game). On defense, the Red Raiders are tied with Karns City for the stingiest in
D9 allowing 7.8 points per game with four shutouts.
NO. 2 IN SCORING; NO. 3 IN POINTS ALLOWED
Kane is right behind Cameron County in scoring at 42.8 points per
game while ranking fourth in total offense (364.6 yards per game). The Wolves are the No. 5 passing
offense in District 9 (162.9 yards per game) and the No. 7 rushing offense (201.7 yards per game).
On defense, Kane ranks third in points allowed behind Cameron and Karns City allowing 8.6 points
per game with three shutouts.
KEY TO RED RAIDER SUCCESS
Balance on offense has been the key to Cameron County’s success.
The Red Raiders have moved to the lead in District 9 rushing by
having eight players with at least 100 yards rushing but no one in the Top 10 in D9 in rushing.
Senior Cameron Clingan is the leading rusher with 63 carries for 658
yards and eight touchdowns. He averages 10.4 yards per carry. Fellow senior Abram Zoschg has added
50 carries for 455 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns, while Charlie Holjencin has 39 totes for
316 yards and five scores.
Quarterback Jordan Crane, a senior and 3-year starter, triggers the
offense. He has the top quarterback rating in the district (206.49) while completing 52.3 percent
of his passes (34 of 65) for 699 yards. Nearly half his completions (15 of 35) have gone for
touchdowns, and he has thrown just four interceptions this season with two of those coming in a
68-7 Week Seven win at Sheffield. Crane has also added 100 yards rushing and three scores.
Just like when it runs the ball, Cameron County spreads the ball out
in the passing game as well with three receiver having at least seven catches and eight different
receivers catching touchdown passes.
Zoschg is the leading receiver with seven catches for 181 yards and
three scores, while Sean McManigle has eight grabs for 138 yards and four touchdowns. Mike Malizia
is contributing seven catches for 133 yards.
In the trenches, Cameron County averages 6-foot-1, 226 pounds led by
6-3, 270-pound senior Shawn Ellenberger
KEY TO CAMERON DEFENSE
On defense, Cameron utilizes a 3-5-3 scheme with nose guard
Ellenberger causing plenty of havoc on the defense line opening up space for the linebacker corps
of Taylor Songer, Mike Baker, Marcus Mullens, Darrick Mason and Jarek Holjencin.
Cameron County’s pass defense has been strong this season with
nine different players picking off 17 passes. Holjencin leads the way with six picks while Crane
PLAYERS ABOUND FOR KANE
Kane will counter Cameron County’s depth with some serious depth
of its own, especially at the skill positions.
Senior quarterback Zach Anderson, who missed all of last season with
an injury, is the third leading passer in District 9 with 1,460 yards. He is completing 60.7
percent of his passes (74 of 122) and has thrown 17 touchdown passes and five interceptions.
Anderson spreads the ball around with four different receivers
catching at least 10 passes and six with at least 100 yards receiving.
Matt Mix has 17 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns, while
Deryk Smith has 17 grabs for 249 yards and a score. Six-foot-3 tight end John Bizzak has added 13
catches for 417 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns, and Dustin Moran has 11 grabs for 208 yards
and two touchdowns.
Kane’s rushing attack is led by Dustin Moran, who is the fifth
leading rusher in District. Moran has 129 carries for 851 yards and a District 9-leading 18 rushing
touchdowns. Mix is adding 60 totes for 308 yards and four scores.
Mike Punk is a wild card on offense and special teams for Kane. The
senior, who is out for football for the first time since seventh grade, has 18 carries for 268
yards and five touchdowns while catching five passes for 122 yards and three scores. He has also
returned two punts, a kickoff and an interception for scores.
Kane is smaller up front than Cameron County averaging 5-foot-11,
205 pounds, but that line has shown quickness and strength all year.
On defense, Kane uses a more traditional 4-3 alignment led by
defensive end Ross Nicholson, who has a team-high 77 tackles and eight sacks. Mix, a linebacker,
has a team-high five interceptions, while D.J. Horton has four.
HAVE SEVEN COMMON OPPONENTS
Cameron County and Kane have had seven common opponents this season
including District 9 Class A playoff qualifiers Coudersport, Elk County Catholic and Port Allegany.
Cameron beat Coudersport 28-16 in Week Three, while Kane knocked off
the Falcons 39-7 last week. The Red Raiders handed Port Allegany a 46-0 defeat Oct. 5, while Kane
handled the Gators 32-7 Sept. 21. Cameron knocked off ECC 37-0 Oct. 12, and Kane beat the Crusaders
33-7 Sept. 14.
NOTES – This is the first time since 2003 that the AML Title game
hasn’t pitted Coudersport vs. Curwensville. Curwensville won the 2003 title before Coudy took the
last two … It also marks the first time since Cameron County beat Smethport in 1999 that either
Curwensville or Coudersport hasn’t played for the AML Title and the first time since 1988 when
Port Allegany knocked off Ridgway 19-14 that at least one of the three stalwarts of the AML –
Smethport, Coudersport and Curwensville – hasn’t been in the championship contest … The last
time Kane and Cameron County met was in 2005 when the visiting Wolves came away with a 46-14 win
… The last time Cameron County traveled to Kane for a regular-season game was in 2004 with Kane
winning 40-13. The Red Raiders last victory over the Wolves came 15-10 at Kane in 2001. Since then,
Kane has won four straight and five of six from Cameron County and leads the all-time series
33-21-3 … If the game is viewed as an extension of the regular season, and in this corner it is
because it has District 9 playoff implications, Cameron County is looking for its first unbeaten
regular season since 1999 when it went 9-0, while Kane is looking for its first unbeaten regular
season since 1962 when it was 8-0 … Both teams have made dramatic turnarounds in the last four
years. Cameron County was 0-9 in 2004 and won just nine games between 2004-2006, including six last
year, and 10 games between 2003-2006. Kane, meanwhile, was 1-8 in 2004 and was 3-7 a year ago.