TYRONE, Pa. (WTAJ) — As we enter week five of the season, our SportsBeat Game of the Week is a heated Blair County rivalry that is usually the season opener — The Backyard Brawl.
For only the second time in 75 years, Bellwood-Antis and Tyrone face off outside of week one. However, moving the game later in the season doesn’t remove the matchup’s importance.
“It doesn’t lessen the importance of the game,” Nick Lovrich, Bellwood-Antis Head Coach, said. “You know, our kids are fired up. Bellwood and Tyrone is such a great rivalry that no matter what you’re playing, it’s always going to be big.”
“If you are in this area and you have not attended a Bellwood and Tyrone football game, this would be the night to do it,” John Franco, Tyrone Head Coach, said.
Both teams are not off to the start they imagined through four weeks. Tyrone is just 1-3 and lost last week to Bald Eagle Area 41-22. Coach Franco said their early season struggles are “uncharacteristic” for a Golden Eagle Team.
“We have as many turnovers now as we had in nine games last year and that’s just not like us,” Franco said. “That has cost us at least two games.”
On the other hand, Bellwood-Antis sits at 0-4 and has given up 30 or more points in three games thus far. Coach Lovrich is optimistic though and said the young team is making progress and saw growth in last week’s matchup against Central.
“You know, making sure we’re not having untimely penalties, making sure we’re taking care of the football and just basically going and doing those common things uncommonly well,” Lovrich said. “We want to focus on those fundamentals and if we do those things well, a lot of times that takes care of success in a play or a game.”
Records aside, the focus of The Backyard Brawl is for bragging rights between the two towns that are separated by just eight miles.
“As usual, Bellwood always has really good offensive and defensive linemen,” Franco said.” Their linemen are always big and strong. They always find a great running back, and now they have one in a freshman. And that kid is as good as anybody I’ve seen so far this year.”
Franco is talking about freshman running back Alex McCartney, who has 575 rushing yards and four touchdowns through four games. He’s also averaging just over six yards a carry.
Coach Lovrich says the Blue Devils will have try to contain the Golden Eagle’s Quarterback Ashton Walk.
“They have a very good quarterback with Ashton Walk,” Lovrich said. “He’s been playing since he’s been a freshman and he’s still only a junior, so there’s still one more year of him. He throws the ball well, his legs, he runs very well. Makes the defense try to contain him in the pocket so it’s kind of hard to keep him contained.”
Last season, Tyrone won the brawl 27-12 but the Blue Devils had won three straight before that and are looking to reclaim the trophy.
Catch full highlights and post-game interview with the winning team on SportsBeat on Friday at 11:10 p.m., on WTAJ.
The Game of the Week is sponsored by Five Star Mitsubishi.