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"BIG" Indians Pound McKeesport
By Bob Orkwis

How's this for a recipe? Take five offensive lineman who average 6-2, 255lbs, throw in a couple of tight ends who go 6-2, 205lbs, take your starting offensive guards who measure 6-2, 255lbs and 6-4, 265lbs, and place them into your offensive backfield as fullbacks. Put these nine blockers in front of your 5-9, 188lb starting tailback and what do you get? Well, if you are the Penn Hills Indians tailback Melvin Kirby, you get 182 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 28 carries.

Indians Head Coach Neil Gordon and his staff knew they had a distinct size advantage over the McKeesport Tigers and they installed an offensive package to exploit that situation. "To have two 260- pound blocking backs in front of a 5-9 tailback who is hiding behind them…that's a nice look,' Gordon said.

It's not like McKeesport didn't expect Penn Hills to exploit their size. Tigers Head Coach George Smith said they were prepared for it. "We expected them to try and run the football against us because we are so small. It worked well for them. Our defensive line averages 195-pounds, and at times no one goes over 200-pounds. They ran over-top of us and right through us. They did anything they wanted with us."

The size factor led to Penn Hills wearing down McKeesport and finishing with a 39-6 victory in the Quad-East opener for both teams. The Indians finished with 295-yards rushing and a 6.1 yards per carry average. Gordon pointed to the fact that the Indians wore their opponent down in the second half. "They were obviously smaller than us. I think in the third and fourth quarters we were really able to wear the smaller bodies down. It was just a case of big guys beating little guys."

Penn Hills is the second ranked Quad-A school in the NSN Top Ten Pole, and the Indians are now (3-0), accompanied by their Quad-East victory. McKeesport was a tough opener for Penn Hills, and Gordon was obviously happy with the results. "I'm pleased. I think our plan was to wear them down and it worked. There aren't too many times you go in with a game plan and at the end say 'It worked exactly the way we wanted it to work'," beamed Gordon.

Penn Hills has made a living as a running football team throughout its history. But, the Indians have made some headlines in the early season by unveiling a potent passing attack led by senior quarterback Glenn Hood. Hood had passed for 232-yards in the season's first two weeks, and also had a fair night throwing against McKeesport, completing 4 of 5 attempts for 68-yards. Gordon has stated again that Penn Hills has made a commitment to throwing the football this season, and he intends to stick with that game plan. But… " We'll throw it if you want us to throw it; if we can run the ball, then we'll do that also," said Gordon.

Well, all we need now is a name for the beefy Penn Hills offensive set, and I think the Indian coaching staff has hit on the obvious. "Big. The Power I, with 2 lineman as fullbacks, is our big group. We just put it in this past week because we thought we could take our big bodies against their small bodies, and it worked well, especially at the beginning of the game," said Gordon.

The "big" lineup for Penn Hills lead to a "big" victory over McKeesport, but will we see that formation again this season? Gordon smiled and said, " I don't know; I'd rather not, because we are committed to the pass this year. We'll have to wait and see what our other opponents show us."

If that's the case, the Penn Hills' Quad East opponents better beware of the "Big" Indians.