Matt Humbert

Holly Tonini/Observer-Reporter

Belle Vernon head coach Matt Humbert

There is no time to fear Thomas Jefferson.

If that happens, Belle Vernon football coach Matt Humbert knows how quickly it can get out of hand.

So as Humbert prepares his team, he makes sure to consistently preach that it’s about withstanding the initial blow.

“That’s kind of the mindset of it,” Humbert said. “(Thomas Jefferson) wants to get out, score quick. They have a storied program, a storied coach. We have to be able to throw haymakers when our backs are against the wall. We have to be resilient enough to gather ourselves.”

Belle Vernon’s backs will be against the wall at some point tonight when the Leopard and Jaguars meet in a Big Eight Conference showdown. The kickoff in Jefferson Hills, where Thomas Jefferson has been close to unbeatable, is at 7:30 p.m.

Since 2005, Thomas Jefferson is 77-1 in home games. The only loss the Jaguars suffered in that time was when they fell to Belle Vernon, 31-24, in 2015. Take that loss away and TJ (1-0, 2-0) hasn’t suffered a home setback since Oct. 8, 2004, when the Jaguars lost to Gateway.

“Who doesn’t want to play in a game like this?” Humbert asked. “There are pros and cons of it being right off the bat, but I like it right off the bat. It’s a meaningful game early on with a lot of notoriety and what should be a good atmosphere.”

Belle Vernon (0-0, 1-0), which opened its season with a Week 1 thumping of Ambridge last week, has had more success against the Jaguars than any team of late. After 12 consecutive losses against TJ from 2003-2014, Belle Vernon has won two of the last five games.

The winner tonight will be in the driver’s seat for a conference championship.

“I think the key thing is what team will prevent the big play,” Humbert said. “They have the capability of making splash plays with their pass game. They can also break off big runs. The defense that can prevent those big strikes, and the offense that can work methodically enough throughout, will come out on top.”

Instead of trying to disrupt history, Washington is trying to join an elite group of programs when it plays Summit Academy in a non-conference game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

If victorious, the Prexies will become only the fourth WPIAL football program to reach 700 wins. New Castle, Aliquippa and Jeannette are the others.

“It’s definitely going to be special to be in that class of programs (whenever it happens),” Bosnic said. “It’s something we are really excited about. The kids realize the tradition we have here.”

Summit Academy (0-1, 0-2) has lost to Western Beaver and Apollo-Ridge to begin its season. Washington (1-0, 2-0) has eclipsed 40 points in wins over Laurel Highlands and Charleroi.

“We just have to keep focusing on getting better every week,” Bosnic said. “The biggest week is this week. That’s the approach we’ve been taking.”

Staff Writer

Luke Campbell has been handling a multitude of tasks since joining the Observer-Reporter in 2015, following his graduation from Waynesburg University. He graduated from Waynesburg with a bachelor’s degree in sports broadcasting and information.

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