KANE, Pa. – No quarterback? No problem for the Redbank Valley football team.
With its top two (three if you listen to head coach Blane Gold) in street clothes, top-seeded Redbank Valley didn’t miss a beat on its way to a 46-13 win over fourth-seeded Coudersport in the District 9 Class 1A semifinals Friday night at Paul R. Miller Stadium in Kane.
Rewatch the game
Playing without record-setting quarterback Braylon Wagner, who suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago in the regular-season finale against Central Clarion, backup QB Jaxon Huffman, who has hurt a shoulder in the Central Clarion game, and Owen Clouse, who Gold said is the “emergency” QB, who was out with an ankle injury suffered in soccer, the Bulldogs turned to Mason Clouse, Owen’s twin brother and a 900-plus-yard wide receiver, to run the show.
“We made the decision last night that we were going to sell out and go with Mason,” Gold said. “Mason is one of the greatest human beings I have ever coached. You are talking about a kid with 907 yards receiving, and we’ve never had a 1,000-yard receiver at Redbank. And he didn’t blink for a second when asked him to play quarterback. That takes a level of unselfishness for him to be able to do that.”
Clouse wasn’t asked to run the same offense as Wagner, who has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 39 touchdowns this season.
And while the senior did throw for 88 yards (5 of 8 passing) and a touchdown, Redbank Valley turned to its offensive line and running back Drew Byers to lead the way.
Byers answered to the tune of 125 yards on 16 carries with a pair of touchdowns, and the Bulldogs ran for 175 yards and three touchdowns on their way to the victory.
“We put a lot of emphasis on the offense line and the defense had to carry us,” Gold said. “The offensive line just did a phenomenal job. The last two single A games we have had against Brockway and Coudersport, the offensive line has done a very good job up front.”
The offensive line push was evident from Redbank Valley’s first drive when Byers ran five times for 59 yards including an ice-breaking 6-yard touchdown run just under five minutes into the game.
Byers added a 4-yard scoring run midway through the second quarter, as Redbank Valley had a 46-0 lead with 7:06 left in the second quarter.
“We tell the offensive line that if you get Drew to the next level, Drew can make stuff happen. What we have to make sure is we don’t have defensive tackles and defensive ends getting to Drew, because that is not his strength. If we can get him to the linebacker level, Drew can make plays.”
Byers, who ran for 121 yards on 14 carries in the first half, had three touchdowns thanks to a 57-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.
The junior was named the Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Game and talked about his performance on the Cole Orthodontic Associates postgame interview.
“We put in a contingency plan for the quarterback situation,” Byers said. “I was told we might have to go to me. The line step upped and really did a heck of a job tonight, and I just got the job done and did what we needed to do to win a football game.”
Byers showed what Redbank Valley’s offense was going to look like on the second offensive play for the Bulldogs when he scampered through a hole for 32 yards.
“The holes were opening up really well,” Byers said. “The line was doing a great job. I just found them and go.”
While the offensive line was dominating on that side of the football, Redbank Valley’s defensive front was doing the same limiting Coudersport to 19 total yards of offensive in the first half including negative 29 rushing.
For the game, the Falcons finished with 10 yards rushing and 141 total yards with most of that coming from the Coudy regulars in the second half against the Redbank JVs.
“It’s all started by Brandon Ross up front,” Gold said. “Brandon Ross is a phenomenal player. We basically a lot of times ask him to sacrifice his body. We put him in positions this week where we were hoping to get one-on-one matchups getting him into the backfield. Him and Christian Clinger, Russ Plyers, and Jonathon Slack did a good job of that.”
The defense also forced four turnovers scoring on two of them with Ashton Kahle also returning an interception 55 yards for Redbank Valley’s third touchdown of the game.
“The defense really showed out,” Byers said. “And the JVs did a pretty decent job, too. Ashton’s pick-6, my pick-6, we all did a heck of a job.”
Watch Byers’ full postgame interview with Larry Wiser.
Kahle’s interception return was the first of two straight touchdowns for him, as he has had a 69-yard catch-and-ran from Clouse that went for six and put Redbank Valley ahead 30-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Clouse had made it 14-0 on a 27-yard touchdown run, as he ran for 46 yards on four carries.
Coudersport got a pair of touchdown passes from Gavyn Ayers in the fourth quarter with the senior finding Colby Lewis from 14 yards out and Dylan Howard from 15 yards away.
Ayers finished the night 7 of 23 passing for 131 yards, two scores, and two interceptions.
He found five different receivers with Howard picking up two grabs for 57 yards and Lewis catching two passes for 34 yards.
Redbank Valley returns to the District 9 title game for the fourth time in five years having missed out of the game last year after a 7-3 semifinal loss to Brockway. The Bulldogs won D9 titles in 2020 and 2021 and reached the PIAA title game in 2021.
“It’s the kids that set the standard,” Gold said. “We basically ask those seniors every year to take the program one step further, take the program one step further. Last year, we made some bad decisions that put us in a situation where we weren’t able to compete to our fullest strength and get there. I can’t say enough about the senior class. The Mason Clouses, the Caden Adams, the Ashton Kahles, they are just phenomenal kids. We have had no off-the-field issues and great leadership. A credit to them basically saying alright, we came up short last year, but we are going to get back this year.”
NOTES – The game started 25 minutes late because one of the light banks at Kane went out and the lights had to be turned back on … The second half was played entirely under the PIAA Mercy Rule … Redbank Valley is now 10-1 on the season while Coudersport finished the season 8-4.
REDBANK VALLEY 46, COUDERSPORT 13
Score by Quarters
Coudersport 0 0 0 13 – 13
Redbank Valley 30 16 0 0 – 46
RV – Drew Byers 6 run (Austin Easlick pass from Mason Clouse), 7:13
RV – Clouse 27 run (Pass failed), 4:07
RV – Ashton Kahle 55 interception return (Easlick pass from Clouse), 3:46
RV – Kahle 69 pass from Clouse (Clouse run), 1:14
RV – Byers 53 interception return (Carson Gould pass from Clouse), 11:46
RV – Byers 4 run (Clouse run), 7:06
C – Colby Lewis 14 pass from Gavyn Ayers (Kick failed), 8:55
C – Dylan Howard 15 pass from Ayers (Howard kick), 5:36
25-10 Rushes-Yards 26-175
131 Passing Yards 83
7-23-2 Comp-Att-Int 6-9-0
141 Total Yards 258
2 Fumbles Lost 0
RUSHING – Coudersport: Gavyn Ayers 6-negative 5, John Wright 8-negative 20, Jackson Moss 3-negative 5, Owen Deutschlander 5-31, Viggo Brown 1-8, Jeff Finch, 1-6, Coleman Freeman 1-negative 5. Redbank Valley: Drew Byers 16-125, Mason Clouse 4-46, Brock George 5-5, Team 1-negative 1.
PASSING – Coudersport: Ayers 7-for-23, 131 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions. Redbank Valley: Clouse 5-for-8, 88 yards, 1 touchdown. Sean Yeany 1-for-1, negative 5 yards.
RECEIVING – Coudersport: John Wright 1-1, Jackson Moss 1-5, Dylan Howard 2-57, Colby Lewis 2-34, LT Myers 1-34. Redbank Valley: Ashton Kahle 3-87, Rylan Rupp 2-1, Peyton Kennemuth 1-negative 5.
INTERCEPTIONS – Redbank Valley: Kahle (1), Byers (1).