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Injuries Force Flash to Pass on the Run
LORETTO — For St. Francis, there is no place like home.
Coach Dave Opfar’s football team has played four of its first five games on the road, and the Red Flash return to DeGol Field today for a two-game home stand.
The Flash (0-4, 0-2), who are looking for their first win, host Northeast Conference rival Sacred Heart 1 p.m. today.
They defeated the Pioneers in 2006 (21-14) and in 2007 (35-30). St. Francis took advantage of key mistakes by the Pioneers to earn that victory last year.
However, the Pioneers are much different from that 2007 team. Coach Paul Gorham’s squad is undefeated at 5-0, 1-0 in the NEC. That includes a 31-28 victory over Robert Morris last week.
Opfar is cognizant of the challenge that Sacred Heart brings to DeGol Field.
“Sacred Heart is playing very well right now,” Opfar said. “The win over Robert Morris surprised us.”
What makes Opfar’s job even more difficult today is the list of players who have been injured. The Red Flash’s top receiver, senior Antoine Rivera, is out for the season, along with freshman fullback Dan Conley and senior linebacker Jesse Stasko.
In addition, sophomore linebacker Tyler Gillmen, junior linebacker Chad Iachini, and junior cornerback Josh Bentley are out indefinitely.
Sophomore linebacker Steve Cardiff will miss the Sacred Heart game, and 6-foot, 6-inch, 270-pound defensive tackle Randy Kellman has left the team.
That does not mean that the Red Flash will not be ready to play.
“It is awfully good to get back home, especially with not winning one of those early games,” Opfar said. “But, fortunately, our kids have a good attitude. They continue to work hard, and we want to go out and score some points and see what we can do.”
The Red Flash became Air Opfar last week because of injuries, and junior quarterback George Little completed 32 of 58 passes for 322 yards for the Red Flash, with no interceptions, in a 42-15 loss to Monmouth. He is third in the NEC in passing with an average of 220.2 yards per game.
Junior wideout Omar Winston led the Flash last week with 119 yards on nine catches. For the season, he has a team-high 29 catches for 297 yards and a touchdown.
Opfar said that the Red Flash will continue the aerial assault today because of the injuries.
Bishop McCort graduate Scott Lewis, a sophomore linebacker, leads the defense with 53 tackles, while fellow sophomore linebacker Matt Parker has recorded 49.
The Pioneers are led by sophomore quarterback Dale Fink, who has completed 102 of 149 passes for 1,065 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Sacred Heart leads the NEC in scoring offense (33.2 points a game) and in scoring defense (19.8 ppg).
Injuries force Flash to pass on the run
By Hugh Conrad, The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat (PA)