By Andy Stine
Starting each football season with a home game is a privilege only about half the country enjoys. These teams can get a second home game in week 2, but more often than not everyone has toured at least once after week 3 of the season.
Altoona and Tyrone had the very rare advantage of playing all four of their first four games at home this season, and both the Mountain Lions and Golden Eagles are now finally leaving Mansion Park and Grey-Veterans Memorial Field, respectively, in Week 5.
Both sides have benefited from playing their first four games on home soil. Altoona goes to Central Dauphin East with a 3-1 record while Tyrone comes to Huntingdon with a perfect 4-0 record.
The Mountain Lions opened the season with a narrow 19-9 win over Hollidaysburg before notching up convincing victories over Allderdice and Mifflin County. Their only loss came last week to a loaded state college team that usually has aspirations of making deep runs into the PIAA 6A playoffs.
“When we saw the schedule a long time ago and how things were coming out, I was glad we had an away game (at DuBois) so at least we felt like we had to get on a bus and walk away and prepare for that play against someone else on their home turf”, Altoona head coach Vince Nedimyer Jr. said. “Playing at home four weeks in a row was very special and luckily we had some success until last week.
“We’re familiar with going to Harrisburg and playing Central Dauphin East. I think our kids will be ready to go.”
Much like Altoona, Tyrone was also on his way to take on Bishop Guilfoyle. The Golden Eagles started the year with a 27-12 Backyard Brawl win over Bellwood-Antis and have since had dominant victories over Brookville (30-0), Philipsburg-Osceola (49-0) and Bellefonte (37-0). 7).
The Brookville Week 2 game was originally scheduled to be played in Brookville, but the Raiders were forced to play the game in Tyrone due to their stadium’s lighting issues. Last week, Brookville finally played its first home game.
“I can’t even remember playing the first three straight opening games at home.” Tyrone head coach John Franco said. “We’ve done two in a row, but that’s rare. It’s definitely a nice situation to be in. No doubt. But you have to do both. It really shouldn’t make that much of a difference.”
Although it took almost half of the season to play away for the first time, both Nedimyer and Franco said there won’t be too much difference in the way they prepare.
“These kids, for the most part, have a routine of their own,” said Nedimyer Jr. “We have a group of children who have been playing for us for a couple of years now. I think we’ll keep it as similar as possible.”
Central Dauphin East start Friday night with a 2-2 record and a 45-14 loss to Cumberland Valley last week. The Panthers have victories over Reading (31-12) and Northeastern (34-7).
“They are always well trained. You are basically healthy. They’re always tough guys in this area who compete.” said Nedimyer Jr. “We’re definitely coming back to that a little bit, with some competition stuff in practice, and just letting our kids compete and trying to forget last week. You just have to keep going and prepare to play against a good team in CD East.”
Huntingdon clinched their first win since the 2019 season back in Week 2 – a 14-10 win over Philipsburg-Osceola. The Bearcats also have a close loss to Mount Union (7-0) as well as setbacks to Penns Valley (41-14) and Tussey Mountain (22-6).
“Huntingdon and Tyrone have always had a pretty decent rivalry in almost every sport over the years.” said Franco. “There’s a rivalry factor there, that you can throw the records out the window because you know they’re going to play really hard and hard.
“They will give us their best and we are preparing as well.”
Both games kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday evening.