If recent history is any indication, the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic and Springdale football teams should know the significance of Friday night's game
The two teams have played early in the season five times since they began playing in the Eastern Conference in 2008. Every time, the game has been a good barometer for the teams, with the winner going on to success throughout the remainder of their season. They meet again Friday night at Lt. J.C. Stone Field in North Park.
Last season, North Catholic defeated Springdale, 25-0, in its season opener and went on to win the conference title. North Catholic running back P.J. Fulmore, who was a sophomore at the time, ran for 153 yards on 21 carries while scoring two touchdowns.
Springdale won, 14-6, in 2011, which propelled the Dynamos to an 8-3 record, while North Catholic failed to make the WPIAL playoffs.
In 2010, Springdale won, 20-6, in their first game of the season and eventually won the conference title, along with making it to the WPIAL semifinals.
The script was flipped in 2009, as North Catholic defeated Springdale, 20-14. Similar to what Springdale did in 2010, North Catholic went on to win the conference title, while making it to the semifinals as well.
In 2008 it was the first time the two teams had ever met. Springdale defeated North Catholic, 14-7, and finished the season in second place.
This season, North Catholic opened with a thriller, beating Apollo-Ridge, 22-21, in double overtime. Fulmore, a star junior running back, was injured in the first half of the game. Jerome Turner came in and stepped up for the Trojans, rushing for 93 yards on 14 carries.
"When P.J. [Fulmore] went down, we had all the confidence in the world in Turner. He's a good ballplayer and ran the ball well for us when we needed him to," North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl said.
After a scoreless first overtime, Apollo-Ridge scored a touchdown and extra point to take a 21-14 lead. Turner then scored on a 1-yard run. Rather than go for the tie and another OT, Ravenstahl went for the win and Turner ran for the winning 2-point conversion.
As for Springdale, it dropped the season opener to West Shamokin, 12-7. The Dynamos' only score came on a defensive touchdown from Adam Lock.
"We tried to run between the tackles a little bit and their guys did a great job shutting down the run game," Springdale coach Dave Leasure said. "We hope to turn it around against North Catholic.
"We have to avoid turnovers, along with controlling the ball. They have a lot of speed and talent and we have to eliminate mistakes."
Junior quarterback Daniel Franskousky will have to play well for the Dynamos if they look to knock off one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
"Franskousky's ability to run and throw the football is very good," Leasure said. "He's a young kid that is only going to get better. We don't have the type of speed that North Catholic has, but we're hoping Franskousky is able to control the game."
Fulmore is questionable for the game.
"He's a competitor, so it definitely wouldn't surprise me if he were out there in uniform ready to roll against Springdale on Friday," said Ravenstahl.
Outside of Fulmore, another player to look out for is starting quarterback Adam Sharlow.
"Look for Adam Sharlow to have a good game Friday," Ravenstahl said. "We hope he can step it up another level against Springdale.