SCRANTON — Wyoming Area had the task of testing two of the top teams in District 2 in the first two weeks of the last two high school football seasons.
Using the Warriors as a barometer, Wyoming Valley West and Scranton Prep are teams of similar caliber.
Using the opponents as a measuring stick, Wyoming Area has seen progress despite an 0-2 start in which it has been outscored by 54 points.
“We’re working to get there. We’re looking to close the gap,” Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer said after his Warriors fell, 42-13, to the Cavaliers Saturday afternoon. “It was a different first half of football to a certain point with Scranton Prep, just as it was a different first half against Wyoming Valley West.”
A year ago, the then-defending Lackawanna Football Conference Division 1 champion Cavaliers opened a 21-point lead in the first 10 ½ minutes and played the entire second half under the Mercy Rule in a 42-14 victory.
This time around, the Warriors were within a touchdown until the final 3:15 of the first half and the game did not arrive at the Mercy Rule until 17 seconds remained in the third quarter against the LFC Division 1 favorites.
There’s still work to be done at Wyoming Area, which bounced back from an even tougher start last year to win three games.
“We’ve got to go week-by-week, go back and evaluate the film,” Spencer said. “We know what our potential is. We’ve got the size, we’ve got the skill sets.
“We just have to be ready to consistently compete for 48 minutes of football.”
The Warriors, who let Wyoming Valley West run away last week with three touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the second half of a 42-17 loss, made it through almost 21 minutes in good shape.
Scranton Prep scored twice in the final 3:15 of the second quarter for a 28-7 halftime lead.
Braden Burrier ran 12 yards up the middle after the Cavaliers made the most of a field position advantage through the punting game.
Quarterback Jake Ryan then broke a 60-yard run and Tyler Stafursky went four yards for a touchdown on the next play with 11.8 seconds left in the half.
Ryan finished with 128 yards and a touchdown on seven carries while turning 11 passes into 119 yards and another touchdown.
Stafursky, an all-star linebacker, made the move from fullback to tailback when the Cavaliers lost their top two players at that position. In his first start there, Stafursky carried 15 times for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
“It wasn’t real clean in the beginning,” Scranton Prep coach Nick Donato said of an offense that was hurt early by a 28-yard loss on a bad shot gun snap. “But, as the game went on, we got better.”
Stafursky’s third touchdown run and Ryan’s touchdown pass, a 47-yarder to David Horvath, made it 42-7 after three quarters.
While Wyoming Area struggled to gain just 30 yards on 26 carries, it did find a deep passing game.
P.J. Angeli threw a 30-yard pass to Marc Anthony Minichello on fourth-and-10 from the 34 early in the second quarter. Brian Miles scored from there on the next play to cut the early Scranton Prep lead to 14-7.
Angeli went deep again to Donovan O’Boyle for 33 yards in the third quarter before being intercepted on the next play.
Steve Homza took over at quarterback for the last possession and found Jeff Urban behind the Scranton Prep defense for a 36-yard touchdown with 46 seconds left.
“Now, we need to really focus in up front and get that combination of running with that effective passing,” Spencer said.
Thor Balavage, a senior center/defensive end and team captain from Avoca, had a big game for the Scranton Prep defense. Balavage had five tackles and two assists, with three of the tackles coming for 16 yards in losses and one of the assists coming on a loss. He spent plenty of time in the Wyoming Area backfield, rushing Angeli into two incompletions and an interception.
Scranton Prep 42, Wyoming Area 13
SP – Jake Ryan 6 run (Biago D’Appolonia kick), 1:42
SP – Tyler Stafursky 48 run (D’Appolonia kick), 10:36
WA – Brian Miles 4 run (David Klaproth kick), 9:47
SP – Braden Burrier 12 run (D’Appolonia kick), 3:15
SP – Stafursky 4 run (D’Appolonia kick), 0:11
SP – Stafursky 8 run (D’Appolonia kick), 8:51
SP – David Horvath 47 pass from Ryan (D’Appolonia kick), 0:17
WA – Jeff Urban 36 pass from Steve Homza (kick failed), 0:46
RUSHING — WA, Brandon Charney 7-22, Miles 5-14, Urban 1-2, Donovan O’Boyle 2-minus 2, Team 1-minus 2, P.J. Angeli 10-minus 4. SP, Ryan 7-128, Stafursky 15-122, Burrier 4-55, Ivan Balavage 3-21, Will Mulligan 2-9, Jimmy Tierney 1-0, Cullen Chesnick 3-minus 10, Team 1-minus 28.
PASSING — WA, Angeli 11-20-2-95, Homza 2-3-0-45. SP, Ryan 6-11-1-119.
RECEIVING — WA, Marc Anthony Minichello 4-51, Miles 3-minus 8, O’Boyle 2-40, Urban 1-36, Homza 1-10, Mitchell Higley 1-9, Dylan Kostak 1-2. SP, Kevin Holmes 2-41, Chris O’Brien 2-29, Horvath 1-47, Stafursky 1-2.
INTERCEPTIONS — WA, Miles 1-0. SP, Horvath 1-38, Holmes 1-18.
MISSED FGs — None.