Farrell Blanks Cameron County 31-0 in PIAA QuarterfinalsWritten by: William Albright on Saturday, November 29th, 2008
By BILL ALBRIGHT
Western PA Writer
CLARION — Twelve in a row and two more to go. That is the scenario facing the Farrell football team as the Steelers remain very much alive for a possible state championship with a 31-0 win over Cameron County (12-2) Friday night at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium.
After beginning the season with a pair of frustrating losses, the Steelers (12-2) have now strung together a dozen straight wins, catapulting them into the PIAA Class A semifinals (Western finals) to face Clairton. The Bears earned the right to face the Steelers with a 26-0 win over Windber.
“I am so proud of these guys,” said an elated Farrell coach Jarrett Samuels. “They came here tonight so focused and ready to play and despite struggling a little at times, they got the job done.”
The Steelers have been getting the job done by combining tough defense, opportunistic offense and solid special team’s play, and Friday night’s effort followed that same script.
Farrell racked up 224 yards on offense, held a high-powered Red Raider offense to just 47 yards, 34 of which came against the reserves in the final minutes of the game and also set up the offense with good field position. As a bonus, the Steelers also scored a special team touchdown on a kickoff return.
“We wanted to come out and get behind those guys (the defense) because they have carried us throughout the playoffs thus far,” said Samuels. “They have posted four shutouts out of five games and you can’t beat that. If we are going to win a championship, the defense has to be the key.”
After seeing their initial possession stall at the Cameron County 30, the Steelers scored all the points they were going to need for the win and they did it with big chunks of yardage.
Runs of 16 and 17 yards by Terrell Jackson, a 19-yard pass from quarterback Dan Odem to Norman Blue and two plays later, Odem found Blue for a 7-yard scoring pass to make it 6-0 Farrell with 2:39 left in the opening period.
With the offense sputtering that resulted in three straight punts, the Steelers found themselves with good field position at the Red Raider 37. From there, it only took them four plays to reach the end zone, Odem calling his own number for the final two yards and the score.
Holding the 13-0 lead beginning the third period, Steeler return specialist Dion Eliam delivered the knockout punch to the Raiders as he scooped the ball up on his own 20 and sprinted down the right sideline 80 yards for the score just 11 seconds into the period.
“They (the Farrell coaches) kept telling me all week to catch it in the air and not let it hit the ground, so I caught it and did what I had to do,” said Eliam. “My blockers did a good job so all I had to do was to run straight up field.”
“We came out with our all-hands team prepared for an onsides kick,” said Samuels. “But Eliam got the ball, picked up a nice block and he was gone. We weren’t going for a return on that one, but as it turned out, I think it broke their backs.”
Cameron County head coach Tony Defilippi agreed that Eliam’s return was a backbreaker.
“Letting the kickoff go back (for a score) in any kind of game, but especially in a playoff game makes it tough to come back from,” said Defilippi. “But even after that return, I thought our kids played spirited football for the rest of the game. They gave up two more scores, but overall, I thought our kids played pretty well.”
Still struggling in the second half, Defilippi felt it was the Farrell defense that controlled the game.
“We tried everything. We weren’t going to keep anything in the play book,” he said. “But to their credit, they are just so quick up front. We couldn’t control them and they got up the field on us. They are by far the quickest team we faced this season and they certainly deserve the win tonight.”
Leading 19-0, the Steelers went to the airways to tally their final two touchdowns of the game, Odem hitting Blue for his second score covering 13 yards before closing out the scoring with an acrobatic 16-yard effort to Lamont Hailstock.
“Offensively, we couldn’t get much going so we had to go to the passing game,” explained Samuels. “But if we are going to be able to establish ourselves against Clairton, we are going to have to get back to our running game. But again, our defense was again the key because they controlled the ball game.”
SKIPPING THE SIDELINES
HE WAS PERFECT — While leading the Steelers to a 12-2 mark and a berth in the Western finals, quarterback Dan Odem has one remarkable stat to his credit. While leading the Steelers to the dozen wins, the lefty has not thrown a single interception.
NEAR PERFECT — During the 2008 campaign, the Steelers have recorded five shutout wins. Four of those wins have been in their last five games while outscoring their five opponents by a margin of 156-7. The only points surrendered by the tenacious Farrell defense in the five lopsided wins came in a 28-7 win over Linesville in the District 10 Class A title game.
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES — Although the Steelers have won 12 of their 14 games this season, one facet of the game has been a thorn in their side. In many of their outings, the Blue & Gold have seen a lot of little yellow flags lying on the ground. Friday night’s win was no different as they were flagged 13 times for an even 100 yards.
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