The final week of the regular season in District 9 has the most anticipated matchup and the season played out exactly perfect when it comes to a battle of unbeaten teams.
Friday night, Central Clarion travels south to New Bethlehem to face Redbank Valley as both teams feature 9-0 records. Does it mean anything in the context of the playoffs? Nothing. The Wildcats defend their Class 2A title while Redbank Valley tries to get back to the top of the Class 1A mountain after a one-year hiatus when it lost in the semifinals.
Ten other games dot the D9 schedule, perhaps a few holding some playoff-themed importance.
Brockway (6-3) visits Cameron County (7-2) with both teams headed to the playoffs, so seeding could be at stake in this one between the two Class 1A contenders. Karns City, at 4-5, might need to win its matchup with District 6’s 8-1 Mount Union at home to meet its own standard to enter the Class 2A playoffs.
From there, it’s not real clear if any games have much importance regarding the postseason.
With all of the regional scheduling taken care of, the District 9 League has other inter-region matchups with Brookville (7-2) visiting Ridgway (2-7), Port Allegany (7-2) hosting Otto-Eldred (6-3), Kane (0-9) visiting Bradford (3-6), Moniteau (1-8) visiting Keystone (3-6) and Punxsutawney (6-3) visiting Union/A-C Valley (5-4).
Like Karns City, DuBois (4-5) faces a D6 foe when it travels to Hollidaysburg (3-5).
Clearfield (6-3) plays yet another challenging foe when it hosts District 5’s Chestnut Ridge (7-2) while Curwensville (1-8) travels to District 5 territory when it faces Tussey Mountain (2-7).
In last year’s matchup also featuring two unbeaten teams in Week 10, the Bulldogs outgunned the Wildcats in a game that saw teams rack up nearly 800 yards with two big TD returns when Brandon Ross returned an interception for a score in the first half and Mason Clouse took a Wildcats late onside kick try to the end zone.
For Redbank Valley, the offensive stat leaders are quarterback Braylon Wagner (140-for-193, 2,374 yards, 38 TDs, 2 Ints.; 44-302 rushing, 8 TDs), running back Drew Byers (107-696, 8 TDs), and receivers Mason Clouse (46-843, 16 TDs), Ashton Kahle (37-701, 9 TDs) and Ashton George (29-471, 9 TDs) and Rylan Rupp (18-274, 3 TDs).
Wagner threw for five TDs and 279 yards in what was his third varsity start against the Wildcats last year.
For the Central Clarion, junior quarterback Jase Ferguson has thrown just two interceptions, or one less than he did against the Bulldogs last year. He’s completed 103 of 153 passes for 2,004 yards with 37 TDs against the two interceptions. He’s also rushed for a team-best 587 yards and seven TDs.
Ferguson threw three TD passes, ran for two TDs and completed 12 of 21 passes with three interceptions while running for 82 yards on 24 carries in last year’s loss to the Bulldogs.
Running backs Noah Naser (46-397, 7 TDs) and Noah Harrison (45-340, 6 TDs) and receivers Dawson Smail (32-699, 13 TDs), Mason Burford (25-512, 12 TDs), Brady Quinn (19-350, 4 TDs) and Tommy Smith (10-201, 3 TDs) lead a talented group of offensive threats at Ferguson’s disposal.
Central Clarion has given up just 67 points, 27 of them coming in the opening-week win over Brookville. The Wildcats, who have four shutouts, have a defensive unit led by leading tacklers Braylon Beckwith (106), Charlie Hepfl (74) and Quinn (64). Beckwith’s 5 1/2 sacks also leads the team. Ferguson has a team-high four interceptions and he’s recovered two fumbles and forced two others, returned both fumble recoveries for touchdowns.
For the Bulldogs, Caden Adams (65), Ross (59) and Mason Clouse (51) are the top tacklers. Kahle has seven interceptions while Clouse has four. The Bulldogs have allowed 108 points for the season, with a combined 55 yielded in wins over Brockway and Punxsutawney.
PLAYOFF LOOK — We’ll know for sure on what teams get in to the postseason and pairings are announced this weekend, but here’s the outlook by class. And remember, seedings are done by committee, not by any formula.
CLASS 1A: Redbank Valley (9-0), Port Allegany (7-2), Brockway (6-4), Union/A-C Valley (5-4), Coudersport (6-3) and Cameron County (7-2) are in to make it at least a six-team bracket. It appears that Keystone (3-6) will enter the playoffs with a win over Moniteau. Otto-Eldred (6-3) will make its playoff decision after its game against Port Allegany. So it could be a perfect eight-team bracket.
CLASS 2A: Central Clarion (9-0) and Brookville (7-2) are in and Karns City (4-5) will enter if it beats Mount Union.
CLASS 3A: Clearfield (6-3) and Punxsutawney (6-3) are in the two-team bracket. St. Marys (4-5) is not going to the playoffs.
CLASS 4A: This is a District 6/9 combined region tournament and the two D9 teams are DuBois (4-5) and Bradford (3-6) with three District 6 teams Juniata (5-4), Bellefonte (1-8) and Johnstown (0-9). So with up to four teams allowed to fill the bracket, it’s hard to figure that more than a couple could enter, including at least the Beavers.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s other games:
Brockway (6-3) at Cameron County (7-2)
These teams are both in the Class 1A bracket, so the result of this matchup could have bearing on seeding decisions. For instance, Cameron County beat Union/ACV earlier this year and Union/ACV beat Brockway.
The Rovers are coming off last Thursday’s 52-28 loss to Redbank Valley. They’re averaging 393 yards per game offensively with quarterback Brayden Fox (118-for-193, 1,777 yards, 16 TDs, 10 Ints.), running back Jendy Cuello (171-1,042 yards, 8 TDs), and receivers Blake Pisarcik (62, 1,009 yards, 7 TDs), Caleb Daugherty (19-450, 7 TDs) and Mathew Brubaker (21-333, 4 TDs) leading the way.
For Cameron County, it’s quarterback Maddox Baughman (65-for-126, 1,007 yards, 7 TDs, 3 Ints.; 70-374, 5 TDs rushing), running backs Malakai Zucal (124-754, 8 TDs; 22-438, 2 TDs receiving) and Lathan Reed (49-305, 6 TDs) leading the way.
Mount Union (8-1) at Karns City (4-5)
The Gremlins may need to win to make the decision to go to the Class 2A playoffs. They’ll face a one-loss Trojans team that’s won seven straight games since their lone loss to the best team on their schedule in a Week 2 38-7 loss to 8-1 Berlin Brothersvalley.
Mount Union averages 43 points and 375 offensive yards per game, much of it on the ground led by quarterback Bryce Danish (42-for-78, 609 yards, 7 TDs, 3 Ints; 71-916, 14 TDs rushing) and running back Josh Ryan (86-759, 11 TDs).
The Gremlins ended a three-game losing streak with last week’s 70-21 demolition of Bradford in which they racked up 600 rushing yards. That accounts for 27 percent of their season rushing total. But still, the Gremlins rely on the running game — now at 248 yards per game, to carry their offense. Luke Cramer (103-691, 15 TDs) and Hunter Scherer (81-501, 7 TDs) lead the running game.
DuBois (4-5) at Hollidaysburg (3-5)
Based on the above Class 4A playoff picture for the Beavers, this matchup is an important one when it comes to playoff posturing.
Sophomore Trey Wingard returned to the starting spot at quarterback in last week’s win over Moniteau, but his arm wasn’t needed much as the Beavers piled up 411 rushing yards led by Garret Nissel’s 243 yards on 23 carries and four touchdowns. For the season, Nissel is up to 948 yards on 149 carries with 11 TDs. Wingard’s numbers, in three games, are 25-for-52 passing for 390 yards and five TDs with no interceptions.
Hollidaysburg’s stat leaders are quarterback Maddox Bailey (55-for-103, 839 yards, 10 TDs, 4 Ints.), running back Drew Wyland (74-558, 5 TDs) and receiver Cole DeLattre (36-733, 8 TDs).
Punxsutawney (6-3) at Union/A-C Valley (5-4)
The Chucks are coming off a 14-7 loss to Brookville, their other two losses to Redbank Valley (50-27) and Central Clarion (41-13), teams that also beat the Falcon Knights 50-6 and 72-0. Both teams beat Kane, the Chucks 56-6 and the Falcon Knights 40-0.
The Chucks average 412 yards of offense with running back Landon Martz (175-1,162 yards, 15 TDs), quarterback Maddox Hetrick (93-for-149, 1,597 yards, 13 TDs, 5 Ints.; 29-123, 3 TDs rushing), running back Beau Thomas (53-343, 6 TDs rushing; 35-535, 6 TDs receiving), and receivers Noah Weaver (26-616, 5 TDs) and Zach Presloid (24-396, 2 TDs) are the statistical leaders.
For the Falcon Knights, it’s quarterback Brody Dittman (106-for-184, 1,500 yards, 10 TDs, 13 Ints.), receiver Trey Fleming (35-634 yards, 4 TDs) and running back Owen Bish (55-494, 7 TDs; 12-166, 2 TDs receiving).
Brookville (7-2) at Ridgway (2-7)
The Raiders look for their eighth win in a row against the Elkers, who share three common foes. The Raiders beat St. Marys (49-13), Karns City (44-14) and Keystone (42-20) while the Elkers lost to all three, 28-14, 35-14 and 35-20.
Quarterback Charlie Krug (95-for-161, 19 TDs, 5 Ints.; 78-284, 5 TDs rushing), running back Tony Ceriani (104-594, 5 TDs), and receivers Jack Pete (34-714, 9 TDs), Sam Krug (25-525, 6 TDs) and Hayden Freeman (21-284, 3 TDs) lead the way for the Raiders.
Cameron Larkin (65-for-115, 5 TDs, 8 Ints.; 114-355, 6 TDs rushing), running backs Rocco Delhunty (63-258, 2 TDs) and Eric Hoffman (38-202, 2 TDs; 15-166, 1 TD receiving) and receiver Broc Kudrick (23-280, 3 TDs) were leading the Elkers statistically through seven games.
Otto-Eldred (6-3) at Port Allegany (7-2)
The Terrors, who haven’t decided on their playoff fate despite the winning record, visit the Gators coming off a 38-8 loss at Cameron County last week. Port blanked Cameron, 37-0, in Week 4.
The Gators weigh in at 336 yards per game offensively, most of it from their running game led by two 900-yard rushers Aiden Bliss (121-969, 16 TDs) and Peyton Stiles (127-950, 13 TDs). Quarterback Nate Wilfong (45-for-77, 738 yards, 9 TDs, 5 Ints.) keys the passing game with his top targets Stiles (19-299, 3 TDs), Bliss (13-246, 2 TDs) and Tristan Kiser (12-249, 4 TDs).
For the Terrors, it’s quarterback Shane Magee (144-for-232, 1,915 yards, 25 TDs, 10 Ints.; 35-213, 4 TDs rushing), running back Hunter App (106-724, 10 TDs) and receivers Manning Splain (40-713, 10 TDs) and Ray’Shene Thomas (39-563, 6 TDs) leading the way.
Kane (0-9) at Bradford (3-6)
The Owls host the winless Wolves looking for their first 4-plus win season since going 6-5 in 2018. The Owls have lost three straight games since beating Moniteau, 40-21, in Week 6.
For the Owls, it’s quarterback Talan Reese (143-for-237, 1,842 yards, 15 TDs, 4 Ints.) and receiver Jake Franz (38-710, 10 TDs) lead the offense.
Kane’s statistics are incomplete on maxpreps.com.
Moniteau (1-9) at Keystone (3-6)
The Panthers host the Warriors no doubt looking for a good effort to finish the regular season and enter the Class 1A playoffs. Keystone and Moniteau both played Brookville this year, the Warriors losing 47-26 in Week 4 and the Panthers dropping a 42-20 decision in Week 3.
For Keystone, it’s quarterback Dom Corcetti (57-for-111, 810 yards, 8 TDs, 10 Ints.), running backs Eli Nellis (101-637, 9 TDs; 17-251, 2 TDs), Rayce Weaver (116-514, 2 TDs) and Jacob Henry (68-432, 7 TDs), and receiver Drew Keth (28-418, 5 TDs) leading the way.
Moniteau hasn’t won since its Week 2 34-14 win over Elk County Catholic. The Warriors are led by quarterback Trent Beachem (46-for-102, 703 yards, 11 TDs, 7 Ints.), running back Logan Campbell (73-313, 2 TDs) and receiver Ashton Grossman (16-377, 3 TDs).
Chestnut Ridge (7-2) at Clearfield (6-3)
The Bison host the Lions to continue quite a run of scheduling to finish the schedule. It’s the fourth foe in a row that has combined for a record of 33-3 with Bald Eagle Area (8-1), Richland (9-0) and Central-Martinsburg (9-0). The Bison lost to Central 27-21 last week and dealt BEA its only loss (13-7).
With Chestnut Ridge, the Bison share three common foes. Last week, Richland beat the Lions, 28-10. The Lions beat Forest Hills (38-31) in Week 4 and Bellefonte (34-6) in Week 2. The Bison lost to Forest Hills (22-13) in Week 2) and beat Bellefonte (26-7) in Week 4.
Quarterback Will Domico (91-for-177, 1,482 yards, 15 TDs, 6 Ints.; 65-409, 8 TDs rushing) keys the Bison offense along with running backs Brady Collins (76-472, 1 TD; 18-172, 5 TDs receiving) and Carter Chamberlain (89-468, 7 TDs), and receiver Carter Freeland (41-793, 8 TDs).
Leading the Lions are quarterback Nate Whysong (84-for-134, 1,192 yards, 10 TDs, 4 Ints.; 111-642, 13 TDs rushing), running back Jeb Emerick (148-1,027, 13 TDs) and receiver Chase Whysong (27-464, 4 TDs).
Curwensville (1-8) at Tussey Mountain (2-7)
The Golden Tide head 77 miles and nearly two hours south to Saxton to face the two-win Titans. The teams share four common foes — Meyersdale (39-20 Tide loss, 41-21 Titans loss), Windber (42-7 Tide loss, 49-16 Titans loss), Mount Union (36-15 Tide loss, 35-6 Titans loss) and Southern Huntingdon (54-13 Tide win, 45-0 Titans win). The Titans’ other win came against Everett (28-26) two weeks ago.
Curwensville’s stat leaders through eight games were quarterback Tyler Dunn (83-for-179, 1,276 yards, 9 TDs, 13 Ints.; 90-448, 6 TDs rushing), running back Braden Holland (107-480, 4 TDs; 14-278, 2 TDs), and receiver Connor Luzier (26-325, 1 TD).
The Titans are led by quarterback Landon Myers (70-for-118, 1,223 yards, 12 TDs, 5 Ints.; 85-361, 2 TDs rushing), running back Isaiah Sosak (138-908, 9 TDs) and receiver Kyler Coffman (27-509, 4 TDs).