District 9 postseason football is here.
Friday night, five games start the playoffs with the Class 3A final between Clearfield and Punxsutawney headlining the schedule.
The Chucks and Bison square off at DuBois’ E.J. Mansell Stadium while in Class 2A, Karns City and Brookville meet in Kane.
Three games in the Class 1A quarterfinals are being played at home sites with No. 4 seed Coudersport hosting No. 5 Cameron County, No. 6 Union/A-C Valley visiting No. 3 Brockway and No. 2 Port Allegany hosting No. 7 Keystone.
All games kick off at 7 p.m.
Playoff teams with byes this week are the top seeds Central Clarion in Class 2A and Redbank Valley in Class 1A.
In Class 4A, DuBois has the week off before playing the winner of Friday’s District 6 Bellefonte and Juniata matchup in Hollidaysburg next week for a sub-regional title.
In the Class 3A final, Clearfield and Punxsutawney haven’t met on the gridiron since 2015 when the Bison beat the Chucks 56-6 for the title. Clearfield has won eight of the last nine meetings dating back to 2004 with the Chucks’ lone win coming in the 2009 district final, a 34-28 win and the team’s last district title.
Last year, the Chucks dropped a 12-7 decision to St. Marys in the semifinals before the Dutch fell to Clearfield 13-7 in the final, the 16th and final crown won by the Tim Janocko-coached Bison.
Now it’s the Bison coached by former assistant Miles Caragein, whose team has played a rugged schedule that’s included Bald Eagle Area (9-1), Richland (9-1), Central-Martinsburg (10-0) and Chestnut Ridge (7-3). Those four ended the schedule, the Bison beating Chestnut Ridge (42-33) last week and dealing BEA its only loss (13-7) in Week 7. They lost to both Richland and Central by a combined margin of 13 points. In Week 2, the Bison lost to Forest Hills (22-13).
The Bison average 345 yards per game offensively — 191 rushing, 154 passing — with senior quarterback Will Domico (94-for-183, 1,535 yards, 16 TDs, 6 Ints.; 73-425, 10 TDs rushing) leading the way. Brady Collins (90-596, 3 TDs) and Carter Chamberlain (102-553, 8 TDs) lead the running game while Domico’s top receiving targets are Carter Freeland (43-828, 9 TDs), Cayden Bell (13-219) and Collins (18-172, 5 TDs).
Punxsutawney’s three losses have come to Central Clarion (10-0), Redbank Valley (9-1) and Brookville (8-2) and share no common foes with the Bison.
The Chucks go into the game averaging 405 yards per game offensively — 219 rushing, 186 passing — with sophomore quarterback Maddox Hetrick (104-for-165, 1,735 yards, 14 TDs, 6 Ints.) taking the snaps in a record-breaking season that saw him break Joe Martin’s single-season yardage record in last week’s win over Union/A-C Valley. His top receivers are Noah Weaver (26-616, 5 TDs), Beau Thomas (39-570, 6 TDs) and Zach Presolid (32-508, 3 TDs).
Landon Martz, however, is the team’s workhorse out of the backfield. He’s rushed for 1,304 yards on 197 carries with 18 TDs. Thomas (58-382, 6 TDs) will also get some carries.
Friday’s winner gets a week off before entering the PIAA playoffs. They’ll play the District 6 champion on Nov. 17 or 18 at a site and time to be determined. That bracket has three teams. Tyrone visits Penn Cambria Friday with the winner getting Central-Martinsburg next week in the final. The Bison beat beat Tyrone, 29-21, in Week 1 but did not play Penn Cambria. Central topped the Bison 27-21 in Week 10.
In the other playoff games:
Union/A-C Valley (5-5) at Brockway (7-3)
It’s the second time these teams have met. The first time came in Week 4 when the Falcon Knights scored the final two touchdowns in a 12-7 affair. Easton Wingard put the Union/ACV up for good with his 7-yard TD run with 3:54 left in the third quarter.
The Rovers outgained the Falcon Knights, 303-260, and ran 15 more offensive plays while both teams turned the ball over three times.
For Union/ACV, quarterback Brody Dittman threw for 216 yards, completing 12 of 21 passes while Max Gallagher led the running game with 35 yards on 16 carries. Brockway’s Brayden Fox was 17-for-29 passes for 157 yards and two interceptions and Jendy Cuello ran for 80 yards on 24 carries. The Rovers’ lone score came on receiver Blake Pisarcik’s 2-yard run.
Brockway averages 408 yards of offense per game, compared to Union/ACV’s 302. Fox has thrown for 2,081 yards and 19 TDs against 12 interceptions while Cuello has rushed for 1,208 yards and 10 TDs. Pisarcik is also over 1,000 receiving yards with 1,096 on 67 catches with seven TDs. Caleb Dougherty (23-571, 9 TDs), Mathew Brubaker (25-391, 5 TDs) and Isaac Crawford (20-315, 2 TDs) are other receiving targets.
Leading the Falcon Knights are Dittman (121-for-214, 1,610 yards, 10 TDs, 14 Ints.), running backs Owen Bish (56-495, 7 TDs; 13-168, 2 TDs receiving) and Logan Skibinski (59-for-382, 4 TDs), and receivers Trey Fleming (39-669, 4 TDs) and Zach Cooper (28-355, 2 TDs).
This is the sixth time these teams have met with the Falcon Knights owning a 4-1 advantage, including a 26-20 win last year.
Keystone (4-6) at Port Allegany (8-2)
It’s the fourth time in two seasons the Panthers and Gators have met. Two weeks ago on the same field as Friday, the Gators routed the Panthers 50-13. Last year, the Gators swept the Panthers on their way to the D9 title, 20-10 in the regular season and 18-6 in the playoffs.
In their meeting on Oct. 20, the Gators led 31-7 at halftime and 50-13 after three quarters, piling up 345 rushing yards. They got big games from both Aiden Bliss and Peyton Stiles who ran for 181 and 153 yards respectively and combined for five touchdowns with Stiles scoring three.
Bliss (131-1,082, 18 TDs) and Stiles (133-1,050, 15 TDs) are both over 1,000 yards this year with the two playing a role in the passing game led by quarterback Nick Wilfong (48-for-82, 811 yards, 11 TDs, 6 Ints.). Stiles (19-299, 3 TDs), Tristan Kiser (12-249, 4 TDs) and Bliss (13-246, 2 TDs) are the leading receivers.
Keystone started the season 0-4, but won four of its final six games, its other loss in the final stretch coming to Brockway. The Panthers average 325 yards per game offensively, led by quarterback Dom Corcetti (63-for-125, 932 yards, 10 TDs, 11 Ints.), running backs Eli Nellis (117-824, 11 TDs; 19-313, 3 TDs receiving), Rayce Weaver (125-594, 3 TDs) and Jacob Henry (71-462, 7 TDs), and receivers Drew Keth (29-441, 5 TDs) and Drew Slaugenhaupt (18-278).
Cameron Co. (7-3) at Coudersport (7-3)
The first time these teams met in Week 4 in Emporium, it was the visiting Falcons notching a 26-14 win in a game that was scoreless at halftime and 6-6 going into the fourth quarter.
Falcons quarterback Gavyn Ayers ran for 122 yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns while passing for 124 yards, 109 of those yards on four receptions going to Jackson Moss. For the Red Raiders, quarterback Maddox Baughman threw for 263 yards with Malakai Zucal catching eight passes for 166 yards while rushing for 72 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown.
Those players pretty much have towed the most of the luggage for both teams this year. Ayers had a hand in over 61 percent of the team’s offensive yards from scrimmage, completing 57 of 146 passes for 812 yards with nine TDs and six interceptions while leading the team with 746 rushing yards on 103 carries to go with a team-leading 18 TDs. Danny Vanvladricken (17-337, 4 TDs) and Moss (14-304, 2 TDs) are his top receiving targets.
Baughman (77-for-148, 1,102 yards, 7 TDs, 4 Ints.; 75-366, 5 TDs rushing) and Zucal (137-796, 9 TDs; 26-449, 2 TDs receiving) have a hand in the majority of the Red Raiders’ offense as well. Running back Lathan Reed (54-316, 6 TDs), and receivers Koby Shepard (14-252, 1 TD) and Jake Narby (19-203, 2 TDs) are other playmakers.
This is the first playoff meeting between the teams since the Red Raiders’ 21-7 win over the Falcons in 2008. The Falcons, however, have won eight of the last nine games in the series.
Brookville (8-2) vs. Karns City (5-5), at Kane HS, 7 p.m.
It’s the seventh meeting between these teams since 2020 and the third time they’re playing each other in the same season.
Earlier this year, the Raiders pulled away for a 44-14 Week 8 win at home. Last year, they swept the Gremlins 34-7 and then 31-7 in the playoffs to earn a trip to the finals against Central Clarion. That’s the same setup this year with the winner getting the top-seeded Wildcats next weekend at a site and time to be announced.
Karns City lost its starting quarterback Mason Martin to a serious injury in its Week 2 loss to Redbank Valley — the family continues to give updates on social media on his recovery — and went to freshman quarterback Cole Johnston, but he was injured in the loss to the Raiders.
Since then, the Gremlins have been even more run-oriented as they ran for 604 yards against Bradford in a 70-21 win without throwing a pass and needed running back Luke Cramer to throw just four passes in last week’s 34-19 win over Mount Union.
Cramer (122-815, 17 TDs) and Hunter Scherer (98-614, 8 TDs) get the bulk of the carries.
The Raiders feature some good balance offensively with quarterback Charlie Krug (107-for-182, 1697 yards, 22 TDs, 6 Ints.; 78-284, 5 TDs rushing), running back Tony Ceriani (117-709, 6 TDs), and receivers Jack Pete (36-732, 10 TDs), Sam Krug (26-574, 7 TDs), Hayden Freeman (28-492, 5 TDs) and Easton Belfiore (28-492, 4 TDs).
In the Raiders’ Week 8 win over the Gremlins, they outgained Karns City 448-162 as Krug threw for 235 yards and three TDs while rushing for 63 yards and two more TDs. Pete and Sam Krug both had over 100 receiving yards. The Gremlins were held to 119 yards on the ground with Cramer running for 48 yards on nine carries.