By Jason Hickman
Berwick, Pa. (2-4) at Wyoming Valley West, Pa. (6-0)
Both Berwick and Wyoming Valley West enter Friday night's MaxPreps USA Football Tour game in unfamiliar situations.
Since Berwick's last losing season in 1974, the Bulldogs have cranked out wins like no other program in Pennsylvania, going 335-58-3 during that span with six PIAA Class AAA state titles.
It would be unfair to say that Wyoming Valley West has been at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, but the Spartans don't exactly have a history of capturing titles and are just 8-22 all-time against Berwick.
The outlook has changed for both schools this fall. Berwick is fighting to avoid its first losing season in 32 years, while Wyoming Valley West is riding high with a 6-0 record.
But as much as the programs appear to be heading in opposite directions, they will be forever linked by one of the state's legendary figures - George Curry.
Curry was the architect of Berwick's unprecedented success in the 1980's and 1990's, guiding the Bulldogs to all six of their state titles and three national titles, according to the USA Today. After a tumultuous 2005 campaign at Berwick, Curry resigned, and presumably retired, only to resurface at Wyoming Valley West.
Curry, just seven wins away from 400 for his career, has won his first six games with the Spartans by an average of almost 20 points per game. Meanwhile, his former program has struggled to just two wins after a 7-3 mark a year ago.
Berwick running back Kolby Klinger is coming off a 17-carry, 110-yard rushing performance against Pittston, and the Bulldogs could use a repeat performance if they hope to knock off Wyoming Valley West. Klinger has 323 yards and four touchdowns on the year.
Junior safety Phil Dellegrotti leads the team in tackles with 35, but has also contributed offensively, averaging over 10 yards per touch with a score.
The offense has come a little easier this season for Curry's Spartans, who are averaging 32 points per game. Senior fullback Harry Reese has been a big part of that success, pacing a ground game that is producing over 250 yards per contest. Reese, a bullish, 6-2, 235 running back, has reached the end zone 13 times in six games.
Berwick will also have to keep an eye on Wyoming Valley West sophomore Jack Crossin and junior Lenny Cobb. Both have been used effectively as change-up backs to Reese.
The MaxPreps Pregame Feature predicts a 38-14 victory for Wyoming Valley West. But with all the emotion that will fill Spartan Stadium Friday night, don't be surprised to see Berwick play its best football of the season and make it a much closer game than expected.
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