BRADFORD (8-2) vs. CENTRAL CAMBRIA (7-4)
|TIME: 7 p.m.|
|PLACE: E.J. Mansell Stadium in DuBois|
|RADIO: 1490 WSEB Bradford; Air time: 6:30 p.m. with Tim Walter Coaches Show|
OWLS TO MAKE FIRST PIAA PLAYOFF APPREANCE
By Chris Rossetti
DuBOIS – The Bradford Owls make their first ever trip into the PIAA State Playoffs when they meet Central Cambria in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday night at DuBois’ E.J. Mansell Stadium.
The Owls (8-2), the champions of District 9 thanks to a 48-14 win over Clearfield last Friday night, have won eight games in a row after dropping their first two.
The Red Devils of Central Cambria (7-4) were a little bit of a surprise champion from District 6, as they entered the tournament as the fourth seed. But a 12-3 upset of top seeded Bellefonte in the opening round was followed by a 14-0 win over Penn Cambria in the District 6 Class AAA Championship game.
"Central Cambria has been playing very well lately," Rich Vetock Co-Editor of the Pennsylvania Football News, who is based out of the Central Cambria School District, said. "They have really played above and beyond expectations, and are coming into the game with a lot of confidence."
The Red Devils are led by running back/defensive back Michael Persio who has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season while making 165 tackles and five interceptions on defense.
"Persio is their best player," Vetock said. When he carries the ball over 20 times in a game he gains 100 yards. His best position may be defensive back, though. He will hit as hard as anyone around."
Central Cambria’s quarterback is Joe Kemock.
"Kemock is a first-year player with very limited experience," Vetock said. "But he does a decent job running the offense."
In the Red Devils 14-0 win over Penn Cambria last week, Persio had the big play of the game. On fourth-and-inches from its own 11-yard line, Central Cambria decided to go for it, and Persio broke free for an 89-yard touchdown run that basically put the game away with 10:07 left to play in the game.
The Blue Devils, who won their first District 6 Class AAA Championship since 1995, used defense to dominate the championship game. They held Penn Cambria to just 205 total yards including only 92 on the ground.
Bradford will have to find a way to penetrate that tough run defense, as the Owls live and die by the ground.
The Owls have only passed for 300 yards this season while rushing for 2,596 yards.
Three running backs lead Bradford’s ground attack including Jason Casey (115 carries for 673 yards and 8 touchdowns), Mike Fair (110 catches for 583 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Elliott George (72 carries for 551 yards and six scores).
The Owls’ quarterback is Kevin Rose who is 17-53 passing for 300 yards and two touchdowns. He has also rushed for 152 yards and four scores.
Last week against Clearfield, the Owls scored 34 unanswered second-half points to break a 14-14 halftime score and win the District 9 title. George led the way with 8 rushes for 184 yards and three touchdowns, while Casey had 13 carries for 173 yards and three touchdowns.