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Spartans Sports

Montour vs Highlands

Varsity vs Highlands SHS on 9/5/2008
Posted Friday, September 05, 2008 by Damon Rosol

Highlands-Montour matches QBs

Highlands-Montour is one of Friday night's marquee matchups for a number of reasons.

But one reason, in particular, makes it the game to see.

It features two of the top quarterbacks in WPIAL Class AAA in Highlands' Jeff Sinclair and Montour's E.J. Banks.

Sixth-ranked Highlands will take on No. 2 Montour 7:30 Friday in Robinson Township.

Most fans have heard of Banks, a versatile Notre Dame recruit, but Sinclair is still warming up to the recruiting landscape.

"Here's what puzzles me," Highlands coach Sam Albert said. "Banks is exceptional. Any time he touches the ball he can break one. He has 35 Division I offers. But Jeff is just as exceptional. And he has no offers.

"I quit trying years ago to try and figure out colleges."

Banks, who led Montour to 11 consecutive victories last season before the Spartans were stopped by Thomas Jefferson, 34-0, in the WPIAL championship at Heinz Field, had a huge opening game last week.

He ran for four touchdowns, passed for another, and accumulated 283 yards of total offense -- 166 passing -- in a 35-27 win over Pine-Richland.

"He is fast and he can throw the ball," Albert said. "He will really present some problems for us. We hope to use this game as a learning experience."

Sinclair, who led Highlands to the quarterfinals last year, was just as thrilling in a 24-16 Week 1 win over Fox Chapel.

He passed for 159 yards and rushed for 98 with a touchdown for the Golden Rams.

"We've seen Sinclair on film," Montour coach Lou Cerro said. "We're impressed with his arm and the way he moves in the pocket. He is definitely a player who will give us fits if we don't contain him."

The quarterbacks' stats from last season are similar.

As a junior, Banks passed for 1,300 yards and ran for 990. Sinclair threw for 1,310 yards and rushed for 500.

The team with the better supporting cast likely will win. One of the keys will be the play of the offensive lines and roster depth.

Highlands right tackle Nate Hargraves is a Division I prospect. Montour right guard Serafino Caliguire is getting attention from some MAC schools and Pitt.

"We had a really nice first half (last week) and we were clicking on all cylinders," Cerro said. "But in the second half, for about a five-minute period, a bunch of guys went down with cramps. So we had a bunch of backups in there, which will help them down the line."

Said Albert: "We were able to play a lot of younger guys (in Week 1). We're excited about playing someone of this caliber."

Highlands and Montour have not played each other since 1996, but Albert and Cerro coached against one another in 2003 when they were with different teams.

Albert's Freeport team played Cerro and Seton-La Salle in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals. Seton-La Salle won, 28-21.

The '96 meeting between Highlands and Montour came in the first round of the playoffs. Montour won, 14-13.

Bill Beckner Jr. can be reached at bbeckner@tribweb.com or 724-224-2696.

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