By Frank Rizzo
ELDRED October 2, 2001 Tri-Valley took a step forward in its quest for a sixth straight Class D championship game appearance on Saturday, routing host Eldred 35-0.
For the Bears, it marked the first win of the year and evened its Class D record at 11. T-V lost to Millbrook 39-16 in the Class D opener the week before in a rematch of last years Class D championship game. Tri-Valley was the Class D champion in 1996 and 1999.
Eldred, in a rough return to varsity level after a two-year absence, was victimized early and often.
The Bears took just three plays to score from the opening kickoff. Alex Pearston rambled 60 yards for a TD at 11:08 and Dave Felder ran it in for two more points and a quick 8-0 lead.
The Yellow Jackets fumbled the ball on the opening possession, and Tri-Valleys Chris Cassidy recovered at the Eldred 41. Eight plays later, Nate McCarthy scored from 15 yards and Pearston made the two-point run to up the lead to 16-0 with just 3:52 elapsed.
After forcing a punt, the Bears took over on their 38 and in six plays reached paydirt. Felder and McCarthy broke consecutive runs of 20 and 17 yards in this drive, which was capped by Pearstons 8-yard scoring run at the 3:02 mark. The PAT sailed wide.
After an exchange of punts the hosts had their best opportunity to score, taking over at their 44 with 3:54 left in the opening quarter.
A long pass play from QB Anthony Mangiameli to receiver Vinny Reilly put the ball in Bear territory. Warren Ritter carried the ball to the TV 28, and a late hit penalty moved it to the Bear 14, the best penetration of the day.
But the T-V defense stopped Ritter on two straight runs and Matt Cook then sacked Mangiameli for an 11-yard loss on third down, effectively ending the threat.
Pearston scored on a 31-yard burst around right end at 7:35 of the third quarter and followed it up with a TD run from the Eldred 3 with 21 seconds left in the quarter. Kevin Bertholfs PAT finalized the score.
They came to play and we didnt, said Eldred coach Frank Kean. Mentally, we werent ready from the start.
They beat us in the trenches and off the ball, added Kean. Everything just didnt jell today. The games over, so now weve got to prepare for the next one.
After praising his team for not quitting, Kean noted that we have to be patient. We only have three seniors and four juniors.
T-V coach Max Stolzenberg isnt discounting his teams next three games, all non-league (against Sullivan West, Liberty and Deposit) but figures theyll be a way to get his team ready for the last two weeks of the season.
Tri-Valley will host Roscoe on October 27 and travels to Livingston Manor on November 3 in Class D games which will determine who will make the trip to the Class D championship game
Its very hard to gauge how good we are right now, Stolzenberg said. We played well today. The coaching staff and (defensive coordinator) Dave Viglione did a good job of setting up the defense and the kids executed it. Our defense was impressive at times.
Stolzenberg thought Millbrook is not as good a squad as it was last season, but noted his team did not play to its potential in the September 22 loss to the defending Class D champs.
I wouldnt mind another chance at them, and Im sure (Roscoe coach) Fred (Ahart) and (Manor coach) Scott (Branning) wouldnt mind either, Stolzenberg noted.
His Bears as well as Roscoe and Manor, according to Stolzenberg are three teams which are very evenly matched.
The veteran coach, who is retiring after this season, had praise for the Yellow Jackets, saying they played very well at times and made some nice hits and tackles.
Notes: The Eldred stat sheet credited Tri-Valley with 346 rushing yards, led by Pearston (156) and Felder (109)
Ritter led Eldred with 78 yards on 14 carries and Mangiameli and replacement Brian Daboul combined to complete 6-of-9 passes for 36 yards.