Game of the Week: North Catholic (5-0, 5-0) vs. Avonworth (5-0, 4-0)

Eastern supremacy is on the line

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Avonworth? In the Post-Gazette Game of the Week?

You better believe it.

The Antelopes are 5-0 (4-0 Eastern Conference) and ranked fourth in Class A. Tonight they face their biggest test of the season when they play host to No. 2 North Catholic (5-0, 5-0).

"We're feeling good," Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said. "We're doing good things offensively and defensively. There's excitement in the school and in the locker room."

Avonworth has already matched its win total from a season ago and is yet to be held to fewer than 30 points. Its 35-27 win last week over Apollo-Ridge marked the first time all year an Avonworth opponent had scored more than a touchdown.

Today's game

• Game: North Catholic vs. Avonworth, 7:30 p.m.

• Where: Avonworth Stadium, Ohio Township.

• Check this out: The winner of this battle of unbeatens will have the inside track to the Class A Eastern Conference championship and a nice seeding for the WPIAL playoffs.

But North Catholic is a perennial power and has improved every game. After scoring 22 points in the opener, the Trojans have scored 35, 42, 56 and 60 in successive weeks.

Quarterback Adam Sharlow is the hub of the North Catholic offense, running and throwing the ball 68 times each. He's completed 37 passes for 701 yards and has 463 yards on the ground. Running back Jerome Turner is even more effective, running for 548 yards on 52 carries (10.5 yards for rush) and has scored the third-most points in the WPIAL this season with 14 touchdowns.

Containing Sharlow will be key for the Antelopes. They've seen quarterbacks who like to run, but ...

"Not like him," Johncour said. "The kid from Apollo-Ridge last week was somewhat like that, but he was more of a scrambling type, looking to get to the edge where the Sharlow kid wants to lower his shoulder and grind out tough yards, as well as big yards. He's a tough, hard-nosed kid."

Johncour's message to the defense this week has been to keep it simple.

"Try to get your key, try to get your reads and focus on what you've been coached," he said.

The Avonworth offense counters with running backs Moses Giles and Tyson Kirk. Giles, a sophomore, has 71 rushes for 342 yards and 10 touchdowns while Kirk has 200 yards and three scores on 17 carries. At quarterback, the Antelopes start Matt Donovan, who is 29 of 53 on the year for 474 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

The winner of this game has a good shot at going on to win the conference title, as both North Catholic and Avonworth have already beaten the teams in third and fourth place, West Shamokin and Apollo-Ridge.


Nick Veronica: and Twitter @NickVeronica.


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