PHOTO GALLERY | Undefeated Windber, Shuster cruises past Conemaugh Valley | Sports

WINDBER, Pa. — There aren’t many downsides to Windber High School’s consistent one-sided winning streak over the past two football seasons.

But after the Ramblers lost in visiting Conemaugh Valley 56-7 on Friday night, coach Matt Grohal said he sometimes regretted how often he had to limit the playing time of exceptional players, especially the senior running back John Shuster, during the second half of games.

Do not mistake yourself. Grohal is synonymous with good sportsmanship, which is why Shuster often plays just over half. But Grohal realizes there’s a lot of untapped potential on the sidelines in such scenarios.

“Outside of his freshman year, he never plays in the second half of a football game,” Grohal said after Shuster got the best of his 10 carries while gaining 243 yards and scoring four touchdowns. “He worked harder than any youngster I’ve coached. I just feel bad for him. He is usually offside at halftime.

“We have a tough time ahead,” Grohal said. “Last year it got us pretty hard not playing the lads when we had to play against Berlin (in a 20-7 road win in Week 7). Our guys just weren’t conditioned in terms of play. We need to play a little deeper in games so these guys can be conditioned.

Windber is 3-0 over opponents by a combined total of 177-15. In fact, Friday’s 56 points were a season low after the Ramblers had 57 against Fairfield and 64 against Tussey Mountain.

Conemaugh Valley slipped to a somewhat disappointing 0-3 after falling to WestPAC powerhouses Berlin Brothersvalley, Conemaugh Township and Windber, teams with a combined 9-0 record.

Windber had 421 yards on 25 carries against the Blue Jays. Junior Colin Marx had three carries for 101 yards and touchdown passes for 26 and 60 yards to give the Ramblers an early 14-0 advantage.

“It’s Windber football. It’s what they do,” Conemaugh Valley coach Matt Kent said. “Year after year it’s been a good program. They have a bunch of kids there. -low, and we didn’t. Our lack of numbers against their power was just too much. They have too many athletes where we don’t.

“We gave everything we had.”

Windber’s Ethan Brady jumped on a Conemaugh Valley fumble at the Blue Jays 24-yard line three times in the game. That set up Marx’s 26-yard touchdown run that followed Shuster’s TD dash that was nullified by a holding penalty.

The Ramblers got the ball back on a punt and Marx drove 60 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 advantage at 3:47 of the first quarter.

Windber had two touchdowns nullified on his next possession, a 50-yard dash by Shuster and a 17-yard dash by Marx. Finally, Shuster scored one that counted from 18 yards. Bryson Costa’s extra point made it 21-0 at 9:09 of the second quarter.

“We had a good plan offensively. The line has just been executed. We made a few cuts and that’s how we broke them,” Shuster said.

The Ramblers’ Brady Brothers connection produced a 38-yard touchdown pass, as quarterback Ethan Brady hit an open Evan Brady along the sideline midway through the quarter. Costa’s kick made it 28-0.

“These are big games and we’re going to have to be balanced as a team,” Shuster said. “Good thing we added that today.”

Shuster added a 29-yard touchdown at 4:17 to make it 35-0 at halftime.

“He is special. I will probably never coach another guy like him,” Grohal said. “He’s a great football player, a great boy, a great leader. He’s great in class. I have a lot of kids like that, but he steals the show because of the number of touchdowns and yards for which he is rushing.

Shuster ran the first play of the second half for 65 yards for his third touchdown of the game. His 62-yard run on his last rush put Windber up 48-0 with 3:55 left in the third quarter.

Conemaugh Valley got on the board on Eli Darr’s 3-yard touchdown run to convert a fourth-and-one.

Windber’s RJ Tallion set the final with a touchdown that was followed by Lucas Rummel’s two-point conversion run.

“I said to our kids, ‘Last year we started 0-3. This year we started 0-3,'” said Kent, whose Blue Jays went 6-6 and won a Class 1A District 6 playoff game in 2021. “‘OK, let’s take out the power plants. Every game after that is winnable.

“We’re going to start this stretch and see how we can do. We’re going to regroup. We have a week off coming up which is going to treat us well and allow us to heal.”

Jack C. Nugent