Playoff Positioning at Stake as Eisenhower Travels to Maplewood

Shawn Pascuzzi touchdown
Shawn Pascuzzi. File photo by Steve Younger.

RUSSELL, Pa. – While much of the District 10 football slate this week will have little impact on the playoff race, there will be plenty of intrigue in Guys Mills as Eisenhower heads to Maplewood for a Region 2 clash with plenty of playoff implications.

The Knights (5-2 overall, 4-2 Region 2) sit a game ahead of the Tigers (4-3, 3-2) in the overall standings and have an extra win in the region. An Eisenhower victory Friday would likely secure the No. 2 seed in the D10 Class 1A playoffs. Kickoff from Guys Mills is set for 7 p.m.

“They’re always tough and physical,” Eisenhower coach Jim Penley said.

Eisenhower hits the road for the first time since suffering a 34-13 loss at Cochranton on Sept. 17. The Knights are coming off an impressive 41-6 win over Iroquois in a game that featured big plays, impressive catches and punishing running.

Quarterback Shawn Pascuzzi took a big step forward a week ago as he completed 5 of 8 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. He’s now 12-29 for the season with 243 yards, two TDs and five interceptions.

Wyatt Lookenhouse has emerged as a big-play receiver and had an impressive TD catch in the back of the end zone last week. He finished last week with four grabs for 86 yards and a score and threw a 2-point conversion after a bad snap on a PAT. For the season, Lookenhouse has 12 catches for 255 yards and three scores.

Benji Bauer ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the win against Iroquois, with 20 of his 21 carries going for positive yards on his way to earning Jim Kelly Player of the Game powered by The Allegheny Grille of Foxburg honors. Bauer is up to 711 yards and nine touchdowns on 104 carries this season.

In addition to his eight rushes for 66 yards (including a 7-yard TD run), Keegan Eckstrom ripped off a 90-yard kickoff return TD as well. Eckstrom has 540 yards and six TDs on 50 carries to go along with 265 return yards and two scores. He’s had at least one 20-plus yard play in six of the Knights’ seven games this season.

As a team, the Knights are averaging 331.6 total yards (261.3 rush, 70.3 pass) and 27.4 points per game offensively, while allowing just 235.6 total yards (162.3 rush, 73.3 pass) and 18.3 points per game defensively.

The Tigers are built similarly to the Knights, but have struggled to score throughout the season. Maplewood is averaging 210.4 total yards (170.0 rush, 40.4 pass) and 15.1 points per game offensively, and 235.0 total yards (146.3 rush, 88.7 pass) and 17.9 points per game defensively.

Maplewood has scored double-digits in each of its four wins, and been held to one score or less in each of its three losses. The Tigers were shut out, 28-0, by Cochranton last week.

Both Logan Kennedy (2-14, 45 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT) and Dominick Kinney (19-47, 238 yards, 2 TD, 6 INT) have seen time at quarterback, with neither completing more than 40 percent of their passes. Connor Palmiero has been the top receiving option with 10 catches for 186 yards and two scores.

Ben Giliberto leads the Tigers’ ground attack with 120 carries for 610 yards and five touchdowns. Connor Burns has 51 rushes for 265 yards and a score, while Kinney has run it 37 times for 133 yards and two TDs.

Both defenses have had success getting in the backfield. Maplewood has 27 tackles for loss and four sacks this season, and its secondary has snagged five interceptions.

Eisenhower’s defense has 51 TFLs and 12 sacks, with the secondary picking off three passes.