Latrobe Season Report #2


Richard Hillwig, Staff Writer

The Greater Latrobe Wildcats are on the final stretch of their 2020 season and have a chance to make it to the playoffs for the third straight year. Since the last report, Latrobe has played two games. Both games have been on the road, one against Connellsville and the other against Franklin Regional. The game against Connellsville was close and tight and fought till the very end, as for the game against Franklin Regional, not as much. The in-depth look at both of the Latrobe road games begins right now.

After the loss against Upper Saint Clair in the Wildcats third game, the Wildcats had a week off to prepare for a huge conference game against Connellsville next on the schedule. Latrobe was coming into the game ahead of Connellsville in the standings because of their win against Mt. Pleasant. Both teams were winless in conference games, but that would change. 

Connellsville would get off to and have an electric start to the game with an early 13-0 lead two minutes into the game. Latrobe would fight their way back throughout the entire rest of the game. 

Towards the end of the first quarter, Dylan Gustafson got Latrobe on the board with a 10-yard rushing touchdown to make the score 13-7. John McHenry later added a 32-yard field goal to close the gap in the score to three. 

But Connellsville wasn’t going to make this Wildcat comeback easy. Connellsville added a second-quarter touchdown by Ky’ron Craggette from 4 yards out and Connellsville maintained a ten-point lead. 

Latrobe continued to fight back with another touchdown run by Dylan Gustafson this time from two yards out. Latrobe trailed Connellsville at halftime, but only by four points.

There was not a lot of passing in the second half of the game, basically all the yards coming from running the ball. Latrobe got the ball to begin the second half and took advantage of it. The Wildcats went on a 13-play, 65-yard drive to begin the half and capped it off with an 8-yard touchdown run by Gustafson-(his third of the night). Latrobe had their first lead of the night. McHenry missed the extra point which made the Wildcat lead only two, 22-20. 

Connellsville quickly answered back with a touchdown run of their own by Ky’ron Craggette from 22 yards out. Connellsville took the lead right back, 26-22. 

Latrobe maintained to run the football throughout the rest of the game, which was a good thing because Connellsville couldn’t find a way to stop Gustafson. Gustafson and Bobby Fetter led a long rushing drive for Latrobe and would take it in for the game-winning touchdown by Bobby Fetter from five yards. 

Latrobe was back on top, 29-26. 

The Latrobe defense would give Connellsville chance after chance, but when the time came for the defense to make a stop, they did. Latrobe stuffed Craggette at the goal line on the game’s final play. Latrobe held on for a three-point victory on the road, 29-26. Latrobe improved to 2-2, and 1-1 in conference games. Latrobe would be on the road to face Franklin Regional the following week.

“You have to take what the defense is giving you, we kind of found a home there in the second quarter, and at the time we played keep away from Connellsville when they were moving the ball well offensively, and we were able to control the clock. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage the entire second half of the game,” said Coach Marucco on what he thought of how they committed to the run against Connellsville. “I’ve been saying it all year, this group, their resiliency, living the motto we live every day. We try to win every play but play the next play, you’re only as good as that play. I think this entire year we have done a good job of that, forgetting about the past and moving forward, and I think you saw that Friday night.” Coach Marucco thought that the team battled back when they were down 13-0 early in the game and how they never quit. 

The following week, Latrobe was on the road for the fourth time already this year, to play another conference game against the Franklin Regional Panthers. If Latrobe won this game, it would tell a lot about how far Latrobe wants to go, down the stretch toward playoffs. Unfortunately, the game didn’t turn out the way Latrobe wanted it to. Latrobe fell down 14-0 but gave the Franklin Regional Panthers everything they had. 

Right before halftime, Drake Clayton had the one offensive touchdown for the Wildcats-(a four-yard touchdown) which made the score 14-7 seven. 

Latrobe just couldn’t catch any breaks during the events in the game. 

Kyle Brewer had an 80-yard kickoff return touchdown for the Wildcats which made the score 27-14, which is the score the game would end at. 

The Franklin Regional defense made sure that Dylan Gustafson couldn’t get going early, which turned out to be a success for a Panthers win. 

“We’re always looking to learn from our mistakes, you look back at the Franklin Regional game, certainly a game of missed opportunities. We had our chances especially on the offensive end, being in the red zone three different times and not getting any points, and I thought our defense did a great job of getting stops when we needed them the most, we’ve got to build on that on the defensive side, and we’ve got to finish on the offensive side,” said Coach Marucco about his team would have to rebound. 

Coach Marucco reflected on how special teams have impacted the season and what he has liked out of Kyle Brewer on special teams, “It’s huge. It’s huge every week, that’s why we put so much time into it. You talk about one-third of the game, but there are certain nights where it shows up to be half the game, and almost the case Friday Night. Kyle is starting to pick up on finding the seams. Our unit as a whole is starting to execute a little better and we have seen that the last two weeks.” 

The Wildcats take on Woodland Hills in the final conference game of the season, Friday, October 23, 2020, at Memorial Stadium in Latrobe at 7 p.m. with a limited crowd. 

Latrobe got off to the hot start they needed after a loss against Franklin Regional. On the first drive of the game, Landon Carns got Latrobe on the scoreboard first with a one-yard rushing touchdown. 

Wildcats on top 7-0.

Although Woodland Hills’ defense gave up the first touchdown of the game, their defense came up for them on the next Latrobe drive. The Panthers forced a fumble and returned it for a touchdown while adding a two-point conversion. 

The Panthers took the lead 8-7. 

But following that offensive mistake, Latrobe responded with a 57-yard drive led mainly by Dylan Gustafson. He ran it in from 13 yards out and the Wildcats would be back on top 14-8. But Woodland Hills would add on an 85-yard kickoff touchdown to make a  back and forth half continue. 

Latrobe would continue to battle in this game but continued to come up short on each drive of the game. Latrobe would add another touchdown from Landon Carns and Dylan Gustafson, and a field goal from John McHenry. But Latrobe couldn’t keep Woodland Hills out of the endzone. 

Woodland Hills won the game 34-31.

An unfortunate way to end the season for the Wildcats, but they can use this unique season that they had a stepping stone in the right direction. Latrobe found themselves in almost every game this season led by the leaders: Tucker Knupp, Landon Carns, and Dylan Gustafson. Latrobe will be back next year, and hopefully better than ever.