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New Castle looks to defend home field on Senior Night

Written: Oct 20, 2016
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By Clayton Sauertieg

New Castle News

New Castle High’s Taggart Stadium will be the site of another big game Friday night.

The meeting between Ringgold (5-2) and New Castle (5-3) may be a nonconference matchup, but much will be on the line nonetheless.

The Red Hurricane will look to defend its home turf on Senior Night against a Rams team that’s riding high following a 29-26 victory over previously undefeated West Mifflin.

“It’s a special night,” ‘Canes coach Joe Cowart said. It’s a privilege to play where we play with all the history, and the fact that we’re playing such a quality opponent gives it even a little more importance for the guys in our locker room.”

Cowart’s team is coming off a 42-14 victory at Knoch last Friday, but is nursing some key injuries. ‘Canes’ running back Lorenzo Gardner and quarterback Geno Stone both are dealing with ankle injuries that saw their playing time limited in the second half of last week’s victory.

“Geno being a dual-threat guy and dealing with a lower body injury makes things a bit tough,” Cowart said.

Ringgold coach Nick Milchovich said that Stone’s ability to make something out of nothing is what makes him most dangerous to opposing defenses.

“We want to keep him bottled up and keep him in the pocket. Make him throw the ball and be a drop-back passer,” Michovich said. “If he breaks contain and gets on the move he’s deadly, he can make your heart stop when he gets into the open field.”

Stone has thrown for just shy of 1,000 yards this season and has added 425 yards on the ground. He’s also found the end zone 18 times on offense, defense and special teams.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Rams’ George Martin has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the WPIAL this season. Martin is completing 58.3 percent of his passes this year while throwing for 1,291 yards, 12 touchdowns and nointerceptions.

“As good as he is, if you get people around him, you hope he’ll make mistakes,” Cowart said. “He spreads the ball around and has the arm to get it to all his weapons.”

Both offenses have been fairly evenly matched all season, with New Castle averaging 31.6 points per game and the Rams averaging 29.6. The same can be said on the defensive side of the ball, where New Castle is conceding 23 points per contest and Ringgold is allowing 21.4.

So how is Milchovich approaching Friday’s game against a ‘Canes offense that has a number of weapons at the skill positions?

“You just have to be fundamentally sound. Defensively we have to do our job and we can’t try to do more than our job,” he said. “We have to be aggressive and play the ball.”

As for the stakes? Both teams look to be headed toward a berth in the Class 4A playoffs, and a first-round matchup between the two teams is not out of the question. Milchovich says that a potential playoff encounter won’t affect how they approach this contest.

“We’re just treating this like a Week 8 game,” he said. It’s a measuring stick game for us. They’re a good team who has lost a few games to very good competition. We’re looking forward to driving up there and playing in Taggart Stadium against a good team.”

Cowart said that he feels a potential rematch in the playoffs is indicative of the quality of the two teams.

“As far as we’re concerned, we know what we’re facing,” he said. “The opportunity that we may see these guys in the future shows how good this team really is, they’re a perennial powerhouse and we know how much it would mean if we beat them.”


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