Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

This Rivalry Strikes Close to Home

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

This Rivalry Strikes Close to Home

Article excerpt

If familiarity breeds contempt, consider the atmosphere in the Bowen household this week as the Norwin football team plays host to Hempfield Area at 7:30 Friday night.

Rich Bowen is the head football coach of the Hempfield Spartans. But because the family lives in the Norwin school district, his son, Sean, is a senior at Norwin and is the backup quarterback of the Knights.

"Over the last two years we don't talk much about it during the week," Rich said.

The Bowen household even hosted Norwin star running back Peyton Deri on Saturday morning when he stopped over to take Sean to the Pitt-Delaware football game at Heinz Field.

It wasn't the first time. The senior Bowen coached many of the Norwin players, including Deri, in midget football.

Norwin coach Dave Brozeski also insists he will not try to pick the brain of his quarterback/holder the way a professional team that picks up a player from a division rival would.

But if "mum's the word" to keep peace in the Bowen house, the importance of the game speaks much louder. While Hempfield vs. Norwin isn't necessarily the top rival of either program, the recent history of the game suggests a bit more importance than just Westmoreland County bragging rights.

Norwin last beat Hempfield in 2010, which coincides with the Knights' last playoff appearance.

Beating Norwin, meanwhile, helped propel the Spartans into the playoffs in both of Bowen's two seasons as the team's head coach. In 2011, when Hempfield beat Norwin, 24-14, it was the only game either team won all season.

This year's game offers pregame optimism for the Knights, however. They are coming off an impressive 16-0 victory against Greater Latrobe while Hempfield comes off a surprising 45-19 loss to Plum.

It also figures to be a classic match-up of Norwin's rushing against Hempfield's passing.

Deri enjoyed the fruits of his offseason workout regimen by breaking numerous tackles en route to rushing for 111 yards against Latrobe, including runs of 40 and 29 yards.

Meanwhile, junior quarterback Daniel Walters threw for 212 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another in his first start for Hempfield last week. …

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