Backyard Brawl Preview

What to expect on both sides of the football

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Terry McCaulley

Both teams have talent and holes to fill, which is why tonight's game may be about who makes the fewest mistakes.

Blair Poorman, Staff Writer

The backyard brawl is the biggest rivalry in all of central Pennsylvania, and just as last year’s Brawl was a closely contested game, with Tyrone winning 18-14, you can expect this year to be no different.

Tyrone comes into the game with a terrific line returning four of its five starters from last year.  But they are losing a lot of key pieces from their District 6 championship team.  They will be missing their starting quarterback from last year, Garrett Hunter, who passed for 1,769 passing yards last year.  Senior Drew Hunter will come into the season as the starting quarterback, and will have the tough job to try and replace Garrett. Drew Hunter looked good in his limited time in varsity, passing for 108 yards and a touchdown on four of seven passing in 2014.

Also star running back, Aleic Hunter who rushed for 1,932 yards on the ground last year, also graduated.  Junior Gary Weaver last year excelled as a backup last year and will try and replace Aleic. Weaver ran well last year, with 231 yards on 46 carries. Look for Tyrone to run the ball early to get Drew Hunter more comfortable in his first varsity start before they start passing the ball.

Tyrone also lost key pieces in the offense in Nick Getz (724 receiving yards), Eli Sleeth (281 rushing yards and five touchdowns), Silas Crawford (394 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions), and Duane Boone (248 receiving yards and 5 touchdown receptions).  But Tyrone has the players who can step up and fill these holes in senior Cullen Raftery, sophomore Parker Mitchell, and junior Michael Lewis.

Tyrone will need a lot of first year starters to step up to even come close to having the offensive firepower that they had last year.  But running the ball will be made much easier by the great starting line that they are returning from last year.

B-A is in the same situation in a lot of ways. There is talent returning, but the Devils are replacing some very good talent that graduated.

But they have the personal that can step in and fill the holes.  Bellwood has two returning starters on their line in junior Jarryd Kissel and sophomore Chris Wertman. The Devils also return starting tight end Zach Taylor.

The excitement for B-A’s offense centers around the return of three-year starting quarterback Jake Burch, who threw for 2,066 yards over his sophomore and junior seasons.  Burch also returns a prime target in sophomore Ethan McGee, who had five catches for 164 yards last season.

Duke Brunner, Jake McCaulley and Sawyer Kiline, who ran for 250 yards in 2014, will receive the bulk of the carries. McCaulley will also help to anchor the defense, returning the season at linebacker after a junior season where he recorded eight tackles for loss, 1 interception and three fumble recoveries.

The potential for big plays is there on both sides of the ball, just like there is potential for solid defense. But both Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis are young, and there will be a lot of first-year varsity starters playing in tonight’s game, which means there will be a lot of opportunities for game-changing errors, like fumbles, missed assignments, and penalties.

As it usually does, the 2015 Brawl will most likely come down to which team blinks first, who makes the big mistake, and who can rebound from a mistake and keep battling.