Last updated: February 17. 2013 12:24AM - 142 Views

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From the cozy confines of home and into the jaws of mayhem head the Dallas Mountaineers.

And they have no choice but to slay the Wyoming Valley Conference's biggest dragon thus far to get back into the District 2 Class 3A playoff picture.

The task is a difficult one for Dallas (0-2) as it heads to Berwick (2-0) for a WVC Division 3A game at 7 p.m. today at raucous Crispin Field.

"Berwick is a fundamentally strong football team," Dallas first-year coach Bob Zaruta said. "They don't make mistakes to beat themselves. We've got to be like them. We have to be able to not beat ourselves."

Yet another difficult job.

Berwick is fresh off a 41-0 pounding of Pottsville. The victory was the 415th in George Curry's career. And while Pennsylvania's all-time victory leader has also lost 90 games, Zaruta is correct. It would take plenty of digging to find instances where Curry-coached teams blundered to a loss.

The Dawgs are clicking on offense. New starting quarterback C.J. Curry, the coach's grandson, has thrown for 401 yards and five touchdowns through two games. By comparison, Berwick threw for 721 yards and five touchdowns during the entire 2011 regular season.

Then there is new running back Matt Cashman, who leads the entire WVC in rushing with 395 yards. His 9.4 yards-per-carry average also tops the conference. His three rushing touchdowns have him tied with several others for the WVC lead. Versatile receiver Jake Pecorelli had caught three TD passes and rushed for three TDs.

The Berwick defense posted its first shutout in its last seven games last Friday. The unit Curry wanted to repair in his first year back at Berwick has allowed just 2.8 yards per carry and 198.5 yards per game.

Meanwhile, Dallas has a lot to repair after consecutive home losses – 28-14 to Wyoming Valley West and 28-7 to Abington Heights.

The Mountaineers haven't played well along the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Ryan Zapoticky, an All-WVC selection last year, has been sacked 11 times for 87 yards. His scrambling ability had avoided several more as the pressure has been consistent.

Zapoticky has two very good receivers in veteran Jason Simonovich and newcomer Darik Johnson. But without time, it's immaterial who the wideouts are.

"We're struggling up front with sustaining the blocks," Zaruta said. "We have to go back to fundamentals to make that happen. I've very surprised about it, so we have work to do."

The running game hasn't been much help. Toss out running back Kris Roccograndi's 59-yard TD versus Valley West and yardage lost via sacks, and the Mountaineers are averaging 2.5 yards per rush. Even adding Roccograndi's run barely makes the needle move toward positive.

"There is a lot of character and heart in this team," Zaruta said. "They just have to get that early success and then carry it through.

"You'd like to have a little bit of that before you go to Berwick, right? So that makes it a little more challenging come Friday night."


Today's Games

(7 p.m.)

Coughlin at Western Wayne

Crestwood at Pittston Area

Dallas at Berwick

Delaware Valley at Hazleton Area

GAR at Carbondale

Holy Redeemer at Old Forge

Lackawanna Trail at Meyers

Lakeland at Hanover Area

Scranton at Wyoming Valley West

Susquehanna at Nanticoke

Tunkhannock at Montrose

Wyoming Area at Lake-Lehman

Saturday's Games

Northwest at Holy Cross, 1 p.m.

Williamsport at Abington Heights, 1 p.m.

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