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D9 football: Panthers at Hubs, Bison work on shutout streak

Clearfield's Hayden Kovalick (60) and the rest of the Bison defense have strung together three straight shutout wins going into Friday's trip to Huntingdon. Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa's work here

The two teams at the top of the Small School divisions lock up Friday night as part of a 12-game schedule for Week 8 in District 9 football.

Keystone (5-1), which still shares first place South in the loss column with Redbank Valley and Union/A-C Valley, travels to Smethport (6-1). The Hubbers clinched the North title last week.

How this game plays out will impact what the Class 1A playoff standings will be in a couple weeks, of course, but right now it’s the Bulldogs (6-1, 730), Smethport (6-1, 710), Keystone (5-1, 620), Union/ACV (5-1, 600), Curwensville (4-3, 500), Cameron County (4-2, 450) and Coudersport (3-3, 310) among the teams with winning records.

Port Allegany (2-4) and Elk County Catholic (2-4) might be other D9 playoff hopefuls, so expect at least six or seven teams to go to the postseason.

The standings are based on wins and what size of school one beats and how many wins it accumulates, but D9 does not divide by amount of games played even though that appears to be a varying number among teams.

In other Small School crossover division matchups — Cameron County hosted Union/A-C Valley tonight — Redbank Valley (6-1) hosts Coudersport (3-3), Port Allegany (2-4) visits Brockway, Bucktail (0-6) visits Otto-Eldred (1-5) and Elk County Catholic hosts Sheffield (0-6).

In the Large School Division, St. Marys (6-1) heads to Moniteau (1-5) with control of its own destiny when it comes to the division title. With the Dutch up a game in the loss column against the team that beat them in the season-opener — Ridgway — and the head-to-head tiebreaker in their favor against Karns City, they can win out against the Warriors and Kane next week to take the title.

Karns City (6-1) visits Ridgway (5-2), Brookville (5-2) travels to Kane (3-4) and Bradford (0-7) hosts Central Clarion (2-4).

In the Mountain League, the district’s lone undefeated team Clearfield (7-0) visits Huntingdon (0-7) with a three-game shutout streak going strong while Curwensville (4-3) travels to Southern Huntingdon (4-3) in the Inter-County Conference.

The Panthers try to rebound from last Thursday’s 26-24 loss at home to Union/A-C Valley, their first loss of the season, although they still can claim the South Division title with help from Redbank Valley next week if the Bulldogs beat the Falcon Knights.

More important perhaps is solidifying their playoff positioning in Class 1A, which also applies to Smethport which lost its only game two weeks ago to Redbank Valley (27-6), which fell to Keystone (22-20) in the season-opener.

The Hubbers blanked Cameron County, 28-0, last week and quarterback Noah Lent continued his remarkable run through the season, accounting for all four Hubbers touchdowns with three TDs rushing and one passing. He ran for 157 yards on 16 carries while completing just two passes for 32 yards, one going for a TD to Alex Ognen.

Lent has rushed for 19 TDs while throwing for 15, which is every TD the Hubbers have scored this year. He’s rushed for 1,168 yards on 130 carries, averaging 9 yards per pop while completing 43 of 76 passes for 740 yards with 15 TDs against two interceptions. Ognen (17-311, 9 TDs) and Brandon Higley (14-231, 3 TDs) are Lent’s top targets.

Of the Hubbers’ 337 yards per game offensively, Lent accounts for 81 percent of that total.

Keystone averages 264 yards per game offensively, with Kyle Nellis (93-527, 4 TDs) leading the team in rushing while also giving them three non-offensive TDs with three on two interception returns and one kick return, two of those coming in last week’s loss to Union/ACV. 

Bret Wingard (39-for-99) has passed for 619 yards with eight TDs and three interceptions. His top receivers are Tyler Albright (13-256, 3 TDs) and Zach Mchenry (12-144, 3 TDs).

In other games:

LARGE SCHOOL

Karns City (6-1) at Ridgway (5-2)

While both are hoping St. Marys gets upset for any chance of a Large School title, it’s also an important Class 2A playoff positioning matchup. 

Right now, it’s the Gremlins (6-1, 740), Elkers (5-2, 650), Brookville (5-2, 630), Kane (3-4) and Brockway (3-4) both with 350 points and Central Clarion (2-4, 280).

One could see that being the field in whatever order in a six-team setup considering Moniteau is 1-5. That would mean the top two seeds get a first-round bye. The Elkers visit Brookville next week.

Brookville (5-2) at Kane (3-4)

The Wolves host the Raiders looking to bolster a playoff push. They finish the regular season with trips to St. Marys and Port Allegany, so they’ll presumably need to win two of those games to put a postseason resume on the table.

Coming off a 41-12 loss to Karns City, which beat the Raiders 41-7 two weeks ago, the Wolves were fairly balanced at 292 yards per game — 158 rushing, 134 passing — although Harley Morris had done most of the passing (55-for-106, 739 yards, 7 TDs, 8 Ints.) with the second-most rushing yards at 289 on 58 carries behind Zampogna’s 394 yards on 78 carries. Morris did not play against the Gremlins with Zampogna throwing for 167 yards on 20-of-31 passing.

Landon Darr (17-260, 4 TDs), Ackley (10-176) and Zampogna (15-151) were the top receivers going into the Karns City loss.

The Raiders nearly rallied from an early 19-0 deficit in a 19-14 loss to St. Marys last week. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Krug (103-for-170, 1,406 yards, 15 TDs, 7 Ints.) went over 1,400 yards and passed for a career-high 262 yards against the Dutch despite getting sacked seven times. 

Brayden Kunselman (32-616, 8 TDs) and Noah Peterson (22-361, 5 TDs) are Krug’s top receiving targets while Jackson Zimmerman’s 263 yards and four TDs leads the running game. Tate Lindermuth (57-221, 1 TD) is the second-leading rusher.

St. Marys (6-1) at Moniteau (1-5)

The Dutch need to hold serve with their remaining division games, finishing with Kane at home next week, to win the Large School title thanks to getting help from Central Clarion in its win over Ridgway last week.

They’ve won six straight since an opening loss to the Elkers, but the last three have been nail-biters — Brookville (19-14), Karns City (35-28) and Central Clarion (42-39) — by a combined winning margin of 15 points.

St. Marys quarterback Christian Coudriet (143-for-220, 1,808 yards, 15 TDs, 3 Ints.) is four yards shy of 6,000 for his career and getting over that milestone would make him the ninth D9 quarterback to reach that total. He could pass No. 8 passer, Clearfield’s Chad Kroell, and his total of 6,088 yards.

Coudriet’s top receivers are Logan Mosier (32-574, 6 TDs), Carter Chadsey (38-517, 6 TDs) and Charlie Coudriet (34-391, 1 TD). Justin Dornisch (72-266, 5 TDs) and Matt Davis (42-215, 1 TD) are the leading rushers.

Moniteau was routed 51-7 last week at DuBois after a 39-6 loss at Brookville. The Dutch beat the Beavers 14-7 and Raiders last week.

The Warriors mostly run with Matt Martino (72-452, 5 TDs), Hunter Stalker (64-309, 1 TD) and quarterback David Dessicino (43-271, 2 TDs) the leading rushers going into last week’s DuBois loss. Dessicino had thrown for 370 yards on 79 attempts.

Central Clarion (2-4) at Bradford (0-7)

The Wildcats started the season 0-4 but have won two straight games going into their trip to winless Bradford, which owns the longest active D9 losing streak at 16 straight games.

Wildcats freshman quarterback Jase Ferguson (53-for-110, 957 yards, 12 TDs, 9 ints.) is ready to get over 1,000 yards with his top targets Christian Simko (15-323, 5 TDs) and Ashton Rex (14-320, 5 TDs) are his top receivers. Breckin Rex (89-531, 2 TDs) and Ryan Hummell (45-267, 2 TDs) lead the running game.

Quarterbacks Talan Reese, a freshman and senior Elijah Fitton have combined to through for just over 1,900 yards and 15 TDs against 20 interceptions. Dalton Dixon (41-797, 7 TDs) is the top receiver.

The Owls have allowed 42.2 points per game and 392 rushing yards over the past four games, including 367 last week to previously winless Punxsutawney.

Punxsutawney (1-5) at DuBois (4-3)

The Chucks ended their winless run with a win over Bradford while the Beavers roughed up Moniteau for their fourth straight win after starting the season with three losses.

The Beavers have scored 106 points in their last two wins over Moniteau and Bradford and yielded just three TDs in their four wins.

DuBois averages a modest 264 yards per game offensively as quarterbacks Austin Mitchell and Cam-Ron Hays have combined to throw for 680 yards and four TDs against five interceptions. Mitchell is the second-leading rusher at 263 yards on 48 carries and a team-high five TDs. Austin Henery (53-285, 3 TDs) is the leading rusher while Braxton Adams (44-212, 4 TDs) will get carries. Derraick Burkett (27-266, 4 TDs) is their top receiver.

Zeke Bennett (171-948, 6 TDs) is the workhorse for the Chucks out of the backfield, coming off a 262-yard game against Bradford and now he’s close to reaching 1,000 yards.

SMALL SCHOOL NON-DIVISION

Bucktail (0-6) at Otto-Eldred (1-5)

The Bucks head to Duke Center looking for their first win of the year while the Terrors try to rebound from an unlikely loss to Coudersport last week,

The Terrors led by 22 points midway through the fourth quarter before dropping a 30-28 game to Coudersport while the Bucks lost 49-6 to Redbank Valley. The Falcons beat the Bucks 44-24 two weeks ago.

For Otto-Eldred, quarterback Gavin Jimerson has thrown for 532 yards and three touchdowns while Ryan Love (60-321, 4 TDs) is the leading rusher.

Bucktail was limited to 71 yards of offense in the loss to Redbank Valley. Quarterback Dylan Cross threw a TD pass to Braylon Frantaski for the lone score.

Coudersport (3-3) at Redbank Valley (6-1)

The game certainly doesn’t carry the same impact as their last three matchups when the Bulldogs beat the Falcons in last year’s Class 1A semifinals, or the year before when the Falcons routed the Bulldogs in the regular season then beat them in the district final. However, both teams are still trying to strengthen their playoff situation.

The Falcons are coming off an unlikely 30-28 win over Otto-Eldred thanks to a 24-0 run late in the game. The Bulldogs beat Otto-Eldred (59-6) earlier this season.

Since an opening loss to Keystone, Redbank Valley has allowed just four touchdowns in six wins while averaging 48.6 points per game. Offensively, quarterback Bryson Bain (61-for-90, 924 yards, 17 TDs, 4 Ints.) is closing in on 1,000 yards and his receiving group includes 10 different receivers who have caught passes, eight for TDs, including Marquese Gardlock (17-284, 3 TDs), Chris Marshall (15-231, 5 TDs), Tate Minich (15-223, 5 TDs) and Aiden Ortz (7-162, 2 TDs). 

Ray Shreckengost (68-340, 8 TDs) is the leading rusher while return specialist Ashton Kahle returned his fourth punt for a touchdown last week. The Bulldogs have scored eight non-offensive touchdowns this year.

The Falcons do their thing mostly on the ground at 216 yards per game. Quarterback Gavyn Ayers is the trigger man, leading the team with 467 yards rushing on 86 carries and 11 touchdowns. Dylan Kelly (72-334, 5 TDs) and Ethan Ott (41-236, 3 TDs).

Port Allegany (2-4) at Brockway (3-4)

The Rovers won their second straight game last week against Elk County Catholic, their 34-7 win stopping a four-game losing streak. They’ll meet Port Allegany, which found and lost its game with Wellsboro 38-12. Two weeks ago, the Gators lost 41-8 to Union/A-C Valley, which the Rovers beat 28-20 in the season-opener.

Freshman quarterback Brayden Fox (131-for-233, 1,663 yards, 13 TDs, 14 Ints.), running back Carter Hickman (106-397, 4 TDs) and receivers Blake Pisarcik (30-491, 1 TD), Alex Carlson (52-479, 3 TDs), Jalen Kosko (25-395, 5 TDs) and Matt Pyne (16-251, 1 TD) lead the Rovers offense.

For the Gators, quarterback Drew Evens (86-for-144, 1,254 yards, 7 TDs, 8 Ints.), running backs Blaine Moses (99-654, 10 TDs) and Noah Archer (44-270, 3 TDs; 28-459, 4 TDs receiving), and receiver Peyton Stiles (24-279) lead the way.

Sheffield (0-6) at Elk Co. Catholic (2-4)

The Crusaders host winless Sheffield trying to end a four-game losing streak that also included a canceled game and a loss to Union/A-C Valley that lasted until just halftime.

ECC lost 34-7 last week to Brockway with Noah Cherry running for 71 yards on 28 carries. Ben Paul threw a 5-yard TD pass to Joe Tettis.

The Wolverines have lost nine straight — one game last year, and two at the end of 2019 — games and this year, they’ve been outscored 356-28 this year. Their game last week against Port Allegany was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns within Sheffield and Abraxas, which co-ops for the football program.

MOUNTAIN LEAGUE

Clearfield (7-0) at Huntingdon (0-7)

The Bison haven’t given up points since the end of their 42-12 win at Tyrone. Since then, it’s been shutout wins over Bellefonte (48-0), Philipsburg-Osceola (49-0) and Trinity (30-0) last week. For the year, they’ve allowed just four touchdowns all season while averaging 38.6 points per game.

Quarterback Oliver Billotte has thrown for 916 yards (57-for-108, 9 TDs, 2 Ints.) and rushed for 331 yards and nine TDs while leading the defense in tackles with 51, including nine sacks. Hayden Kovalick and Shane Coudriet each have 50 tackles, Kovalick second on the team with  7.5 sacks.

Mark McGonigal (86-712, 10 TDs) is the leading rusher while Karson Kline (31-513, 4 TDs) is the top receiving target.

The Bearcats have scored 34 points in their six games on the field — they’re listed as forfeiting to Tyrone — including a 7-6 loss to Philipsburg-Osceola, which fell 49-0 to the Bison two weeks ago.

INTER-COUNTY CONFERENCE

Curwensville (4-3) at Southern Huntingdon (4-3)

The Golden Tide travel to Orbisonia, just south of Mount Union in Huntingdon County, looking to get by the Rockets and keep their playoff resume improving.

Curwensville’s pass-heavy offense has led junior quarterback Dan McGarry to the most season passing yards in program history. He’s at 1,643 yards with 13 TDs and eight interceptions, passing the previous record-holder Jake Terry’s 1,526 from 2015. Receiver Ty Terry (48-817, 7 TDs) is the single-season yardage record-holder now as well.

Receiver Jake Mullins (29-445, 4 TDs) and running back Thad Butler (61-425, 5 TDs rushing; 28-265, 2 TDs receiving) also lead the Tide. Mullins is a standout kicker/punter, making all three field goals with 17 touchbacks while averaging 37.8 yards per punt.

The Rockets, with three straight wins, beat Glendale (30-21) while losing to Northern Bedford (7-2). The Tide beat Glendale (32-29) while losing to Northern Bedford (41-20). Junior quarterback Nate Myers (82-for-140, 1,181 yards, 17 TDs, 7 Ints.; 146-956, 5 TDs rushing) does it all.

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