Game of the Week: Aliquippa (7-0) vs. Beaver Falls (7-0)
Stopping Quips is no small feat
October 18, 2013 4:00 AM
Aliquippa's Terry Swanson teams with Dravon Henry to form the most lethal one-two rushing tandem in the WPIAL.
Damian Rawl leads Beaver Falls in rushing with 829 yards and 12 touchdowns on 82 carries.
By Nick Veronica Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The most recent team to beat Aliquippa in consecutive seasons was Beaver Falls, which accomplished the feat in 2008 and '09.
But since that second Beaver Falls loss Sept. 18, 2009, Aliquippa has run off 34 Midwestern Athletic Conference wins in a row, meaning no one on its roster has lost a conference game.
All the Quips know is winning -- and half the time they win before they even take the field.
Beaver Falls coach Ryan Matsook is aware most of Aliquippa's opponents are hit by the intimidation factor before they're hit by any of Aliquippa's players.
Aliquippa (7-0, 5-0) vs. Beaver Falls (7-0, 6-0), 7:30 p.m.
Reeves Field, Geneva College, Beaver Falls.
Check this out:
The winner of this gets Beaver County bragging rights, the MAC title and probably the No. 1 seed for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
And, yes, his team's two most recent games against them have been losses of 27-0 and 66-7. But as long as reporters keep calling -- as they did this week ahead of No. 2 Beaver Falls' meeting with No. 1 Aliquippa in the Post-Gazette Game of the Week -- he's not that worried about it.
"If it wasn't close, I guess it wouldn't be a big game," he said. "We've played them every year. Most years, it was a tight contest. We just treat it like any game. That intimidation factor is definitely there, but our teams are familiar with one another."
Like most big games, what Matsook remembers about beating Aliquippa is that they were close games that came down to which team made the fewest mistakes.
Playing mistake-free football will be a key again tonight, because, if a team makes a mistake against Aliquippa's Dravon Henry, it'll be eating his dust.
Henry, to whom ESPN gives the highest recruiting score in the state, has rushed for 737 yards this season -- only 31st in the WPIAL -- but he's done it on just 33 rushes, giving him a mind-boggling 22.3 yards per attempt.
Matsook's plan to stop Henry is not complicated: "Tackle him," he said, "plain and simple."
"He breaks tackles, he runs away from people. It's just going to come down to lining up and tackling on defense, which is easier said than done."
But Matsook thinks his 4-3 defense can do the job if it controls the line of scrimmage.
"It always comes down to up front between us two. Our line has had a good year thus far," Matsook said. "It's definitely a challenge for you to stop them, because no one has."
On offense, Beaver Falls is led by running back Damian Rawl and quarterback Dan Stratton. Both have compiled more than 800 yards in their respective categories.
If those two can lead an upset, the Tigers will clinch a MAC championship.