Watching film of Glenwood City has given players on the Pittsville football team confidence.
Not overconfidence, just a reassuring feeling that they can compete with the defending Division 7 state champions when they face the Hilltoppers tonight in a state semifinal.
“They saw that they could play with them, and where they might be able to take advantage of a few things,” Pittsville coach Dan Hahn said. “It’s never even been brought up that they are playing the defending champs. I think it helped to see game film, rather than just read about them. They feel like they can be successful against Glenwood City.”
Added quarterback Brad Wesely, “We’re getting ready for the biggest game we’ve ever been in. We’ve seen enough film of Glenwood City that we know we can be successful against them. It will come down to who executes better.”
The Panthers have been shown offensive balancein the playoffs. The Panthers showed they have more than just one weapon on that side of the ball.
In last week’s win over New Lisbon, sophomore Alec Kolar hit the spotlight with a 143-yard, four touchdown performance, taking over the Panthers ground game when the Rockets bottled up Nathan Dupee.
Dupee has been the go-to runner this season — with an impressive 1,805 yards and 23 touchdowns — and when he wasn’t effective as usual, the Panthers were able to go in other directions.
“With Alec, we can go up the middle and Nathan gets outside,” senior wide receiver Kyle Kolar said. “And Jake (Allind) and I can catch the ball so we have a lot of weapons on offense. We’ve had guys step up each game in the playoffs and that’s been a big part of our success as a team.”
Glenwood City has effective weapons as well, namely running backs Isaac Tuttle and Jeff Kopacz, who have combined for more than 3,100 yards and 40 touchdowns. Quarterback Nick Mrdutt is the No. 3 rusher on the team and an efficient passer with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
“They have two good running backs and we’ll have to slow Tuttle down like we did to Cullen Pedersen last week,” Hahn said. “He’s a lot like Pedersen, only bigger and stronger. He also plays defensive end and is athletic enough to be a pass rusher or drop back into coverage.
“Glenwood City runs the same offense as Eau Claire Regis, the double wing,” Hahn added. “It’s a different offense than we’re used to seeing so we’ll have to keep their running backs from getting outside.”
The Hilltoppers won the Division 5 state title in 1997 and the D6 crown in 1985 to go along with last year’s championship. Pittsville is making it’s second semifinal appearance in school history, the other in 1990.
“We’ve been enjoying the ride,” Kolar said. “Hopefully we can get another victory and make it 10 wins and head down to state.”