‘COVID Chaos’ Leads Ike to Cochranton for Region 2 Showdown

Two separate COVID-related cancellations early in the week forced the Knights to find a third opponent.

Keegan Eckstrom TD run
Eisenhower's Keegan Eckstrom finds some space on his way to an 18-yard touchdown run during the second quarter of a game at Union City on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Eckstrom scored three TDs (two rushing and a kickoff return) and the Knights topped the Bears, 48-26. Photo courtesy Steve Younger.

RUSSELL, Pa. – Eisenhower hopes the third time is the charm as it gets set to head to Cochranton for a Region 2 football battle Friday night.

The Knights were originally slated to head to Seneca this week, but the Bobcats canceled on Monday due to COVID concerns. Needing a new opponent, Eisenhower turned its attention south and secured a game with Mercer.

The Mustangs had been originally set to face West Middlesex, but that game was scratched after Middlesex formed a co-op with Sharpsville.

By Tuesday, the game with Mercer was canceled due to COVID issues at Mercer. In the meantime, Cochranton’s game against Cambridge Springs fell through because of the extended closure at Cambridge Springs. All told, seven games have been canceled in District 10 football this week.

In an effort to get as many Region 2 games in as possible, the Knights and Cardinals moved their game (originally scheduled for Oct. 1) up to this week.

Now, the two will meet in a battle of, as Gorilla Monsoon liked to say, “the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.”

Both teams come in undefeated.

Eisenhower is 3-0 following last week’s 55-14 win over Franklin. Cochranton beat Seneca 41-8 last week to move to 2-0 (the Cardinals were scheduled to play Sharpsville in Week 2, but have said they are playing a region-only schedule due to low numbers).

Both have prolific rushing attacks and stout defenses.

The Knights are averaging 304.3 rushing yards per game offensively while allowing 169.7 defensively. The Cardinals are rushing for 300 yards per game while allowing just 68.

Their only common opponent thus far is Union City. Cochranton won its season-opener against Union City, 22-0. Eisenhower beat Union City, 48-26, in Week 2.

The Knights have used a full stable of backs to power the ground game. Benji Bauer (34-276-5), Shawn Pascuzzi (30-167-3), Keegan Eckstrom (22-318-4) and Tucker Lindell (16-67) have all carried the ball more than 15 times this season. All of them are averaging more than four yards per carry.

The passing attack has been incredibly efficient with quarterback Garrett Jensen completing more than 72 percent of his passes (13-18). The Knights started to find some explosiveness through the air the last two games with receiver Wyatt Lookenhouse hauling in five receptions for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns in that span.

Cochranton has taken the traditional workhorse approach to its running game. Jack Martinec leads the way with 35 carries for 378 yards and four TDs. He has almost double the carries as the next leading rusher, Stephen Martinec (18-137-1). Blake Foulk has seven carries for 78 yards and two scores through two games.

As a team, the Cardinals have attempted just six passes, completing three for a total of 48 yards. Gabe Cummings is 2-5 for eight yards and a TD, while Noah Cummings is 1-1 for 40 yards and a score. Jack Martinec was on the receiving end of the Noah Cummings TD pass.

Kickoff from Cochranton is scheduled for 7 p.m.