No. 4 OLSH ready to challenge top-ranked Jeannette in Class A showdown
The defending WPIAL and PIAA Class A champion Jeannette Jayhawks are no strangers to big games.
When undefeated Our Lady of the Sacred Heart steps into Jeannette’s McKee Stadium Friday evening, the No. 4-ranked Chargers will be the next in a long line of hopefuls to try for an upset victory over the top-ranked Jayhawks.
“It’s a beautiful stadium,” third-year OLSH coach Dan Bradley said. “I’ve never gone there as a coach of a team. I’ve been there to watch games.
“We’ll have them primed up and know what to expect before we get there. We want to do our best to play to the best of our ability and have the ability to make it a game.”
Both teams are at the opposite end of the football spectrum with the one common thread being undefeated records.
That’s about it.
Jeannette (6-0, 3-0) has more WPIAL championships (9) than OLSH (6-0, 5-0) has years of existence. OLSH fielded its first team in 2010, and the Chargers have taken their licks and paid their dues along the way. Friday night’s game will be the first matchup between the two schools.
“We’ve never seen them before. They never played us and I’m sure they know our tradition,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “We have the target on our backs being the defending WPIAL and PIAA champions. I’m sure they want to come in here and knock us off.”
That’s exactly what the Chargers have in mind. In addition to looking for a signature win to propel the program to the next level, OLSH brings more than just an undefeated record.
The Chargers are representing the entire Big Seven Conference.
Teams from Jeannette’s Eastern Conference have won nine of the last 10 WPIAL Class A championships. Over the past three seasons, the Eastern Conference has included both WPIAL finalists.
“I think we have a pretty good conference, too,” Bradley said. “For both teams, it’s big. I think to this point, we’re both on top of our conferences, and it’ll be a playoff atmosphere-type game.”
There’s no better way to quiet a crowd on the road than to score touchdowns. It is no secret the Chargers will ride the arm of the WPIAL’s most prolific passer through the first six weeks of the season. Tyler Bradley has passed for 1,780 yards and an eye-popping 24 touchdowns, while throwing just two interceptions.
The OLSH offense exploded last week in a 56-13 win over Laurel. Bradley put up big-time numbers connecting on 24 of 34 passes for 459 yards and seven touchdowns.
″(Bradley) is a great quarterback,” Hall said. “He’s very intelligent. He gets rid of the ball really quick and has key receivers. We got to limit the big plays and try and pressure as much as we can.”
One thing Hall noticed while watching film was Bradley hasn’t seen much pressure this season. He said it’s imperative his defensive line gets pressure to slow down the Chargers passing attack.
When Bradley drops back to pass, he will be looking down the field at a quartet of receivers, beginning with team yardage leader Andrew Schnarre (448 yards), along with Richard Banks (420), Ricco Tate (333) and touchdown leader Austin Wiggley (9). Wiggley leads OSLH in rushing with 316 yards on 55 carries.
“They got a nice-sized line,” Hall said. “In some of the film I’ve seen, I haven’t seen a whole lot of pressure put on (Bradley), and I haven’t seen him get sacked that many times.”
Jeannette rolled past Brownsville, 44-0, in a nonconference game last week. While Bradley might be gaining some college interest for his play this season, the Jayhawks rely on the talent of wide receiver/defensive back Marcus Barnes, who has a team-high 299 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Quarterback Seth Howard has thrown for 709 yards and 11 touchdowns but is just as dangerous running the ball. Howard ranks second (311) on the team in rushing behind Imani Sanders (379). The Jayhawks are averaging about 42 points.
“I think we need to stay disciplined on defense,” Bradley said. “I think we played well so far on that side of the ball.”
The Chargers defense has given up an average of 5.5 points.
“With good teams, you have good defenses, and we both have good defenses,” Bradley said.
But even with all of the gaudy stats OLSH and its passing game will bring into McKee Stadium, the Jayhawks have heard and seen it all before. It’s just another Friday night in Jeannette.
“I’m sure they’re pretty excited about coming up here to McKeee Stadium, and they’re aware of our tradition and we’re aware of what they’re doing there,” Hall said.