The second half of the District 9 football regular season begins Friday night.
Thirteen games, two scheduled for Saturday afternoon, dot the docket. It’s another region-heavy schedule with the District 9 League rolling through its three-region schedule setup.
So what are the main story lines?
— Two unbeaten teams remain with Central Clarion and Redbank Valley. The Wildcats have a two-game lead already in the Region 1 standings and will once again be the favorites in the Class 2A playoffs. Another Class 2A team Karns City will get a chance to measure up to them Friday night.
The Bulldogs are in a still-tight Region 2 race considering they still must play all of the contenders, starting this week with Union/A-C Valley, then Port Allegany and Brockway in coming weeks. We’ll find out who the Class 1A title favorite is soon enough.
— The blowouts. Last week we saw at least seven games — a few games may have hit the Mercy Rule 35-point margin before the final score cut into that number — reach the running clock measure.
That’s an alarming number of lopsided scores, perhaps the worst grouping of routs in one week in a long time — Central Clarion’s 86-0 win over Bradford, Redbank Valley’s 65-6 rout of Ridgway, Keystone’s 67-13 win over Smethport among the big ones.
With just looking at the final scores, that’s a season high as Week 4 (2), Week 3 (4), Week 2 (5) and Week 1 (5) had lower blowout games.
So that’s roughly 23 Mercy Rule games through five weeks. Last year, that number was 13.
The Haves vs. Have-Nots is a strong theme this year, for sure.
While the re-formatting of the District 9 football six years may have grouped teams in such a way where the Mercy Rule routs were cut down, the lopsided matchups still exist and they might be on a significant trend upward.
— Other postseason races: Class 1A was somewhat outlined above and Class 2A is Central Clarion with a battle for best of the rest. In Class 3A, it’s defending champion Clearfield, St. Marys and Punxsutawney.
Is this the Chucks’ year? Their only two losses are to Central Clarion and Redbank Valley and they were competitive in both games.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s schedule:
Central Clarion (5-0) at Karns City (3-2)
At 61 points per game, the Wildcats lead the state in scoring as per www.epasports.com‘s weekly stat report.
The Wildcats average 455 offensive yards per game in what’s about an even split between rushing and passing, led by quarterback Jase Ferguson (57-for-81, 1,119 yards, 20 TDs, 1 Int.; 41-362, 2 TDs rushing), running backs Noah Naser (30-230, 5 TDs) and Noah Harrison (25-178, 2 TDs), and receivers Dawson Smail (18-391, 7 TDs), Mason Burford (14-285, 5 TDs) and Brady Quinn (10-217, 3 TDs).
The Gremlins started out 0-2 and have won three games since the loss of Mason Martin’s serious injury in the Week 2 loss to Redbank Valley. Martin’s family continues to post updates on social media.
The Gremlins ran for 353 yards in last week’s 48-15 win over Moniteau. Hunter Scherer (48-350, 6 TDs) and Luke Cramer (54-287, 6 TDs) lead the Gremlins’ running game. Quarterback Cole Johnston (13-for-33, 207 yards, 2 TDs, 3 Ints.) is now the starter with Taite Beighley (16-227) his top receiver.
Punxsutawney (3-2) at DuBois (2-3)
The Chucks and Beavers add another game to their long rivalry with the Chucks trying to win a second straight matchup after last year’s 23-0 shutout win. They’ve beaten the Beavers two of the past three games after the Beavers had won 11 of the previous 13.
Both teams share one common foe in Bradford, which lost 44-0 to the Chucks in Week 1 and 25-6 to DuBois in Week 4. The Beavers have lost three of their last four games since losing starting quarterback Trey Wingard in the Week 2 overtime loss to Brockway.
In last week’s loss to Brookville, the Beavers lost backup Landon Schrock to an injury late in the first half and his status for Friday isn’t known. He’d completed 28 of 55 passes for 293 yards. Sophomore Samson Deeb played in his place in the second half.
The Beavers will likely lean on their leading rusher Garret Nissel (74-471, 5 TDs), who ranks sixth in the district in rushing yards.
The Chucks feature No. 2 rusher Landon Martz (97-719, 10 TDs) while quarterback Maddox Hetrick (51-for-75, 833 yards, 8 TDs, 2 Ints.) and receivers Noah Weaver (13-315, 4 TDs), Zach Presloid (13-271, 2 TDs) and Beau Thomas (20-246, 2 TDs) lead the passing game.
Brookville (3-2) at St. Marys (3-2)
The Raiders have won three straight games since starting 0-2 while the Flying Dutchmen have lost two straight since starting 3-0.
The Dutch feature the district’s leading rusher Matthew Davis, who’s rushed for 914 yards on 102 carries with 11 TDs. Quarterback Cameron Coudriet (37-for-70, 475 yards, 3 TDs) triggers the passing game with his leading targets Lucas Bauer (11-124, 1 TD) and Ben Reynolds (9-179, 1 TD).
In four starts, Raiders quarterback Charlie Krug (51-for-86, 675 yards, 9 TDs, 1 Int.; 171 yards rushing, 2 TDs) runs the offense. Running back Tony Ceriani (58-286, 2 TDs) is the leading rusher while Jack Pete (21-422, 5 TDs), Charlie’s sophomore brother Sam Krug (11-265, 3 TDs) and Hayden Freeman (15-185, 2 TDs) are the top receivers.
Moniteau (1-4) at Bradford (2-3)
The Warriors travel 101 miles to face the Owls. Neither team share a common foe up to this point as the Warriors have lost three straight since a 34-13 win over Moniteau in Week 2. The Owls have lost two straight since wins over Coudersport and Otto-Eldred, including last week’s 86-0 loss at Central Clarion.
Leading Moniteau are quarterback Trent Beachem (35-for-82, 539 yards, 10 TDs, 4 Ints.), running back Logan Campbell (38-200, 2 TDs; 15-165, 2 TDs receiving) and Brendin Sankey (11-127, 1 TD).
For the Owls, it’s quarterback Talan Reese (76-for-114, 846 yards, 6 TDs) and receivers Jake Franz (18-317, 4 TDs), Adam Ward (14-210, 1 TD) and Matt Perry (11-141).
Redbank Valley (5-0) at Union/ACV (3-2)
The Bulldogs visit Vidunas Stadium in Rimersburg looking to extend their unbeaten run.
As per www.epasports.com, the Bulldogs own the fourth-highest scoring average (52.6) in the state behind Central Clarion, Mercyhurst Prep (57.2) and Cambridge Springs (52.8). They’re averaging 447 yards offensively, led by quarterback Braylon Wagner (68-for-90, 1,318 yards, 18 TDs, 2 Ints.; 230 yards, 6 TDs rushjing), receivers Mason Clouse (23-527, 8 TDs), Ashton Kahle (19-389, 3 TDs) and Ashton George (12-249, 5 TDs), and running back Drew Byers (60-424, 5 TDs).
The Falcon Knights are nearly split 50/50 yardage-wise offensively at 274 yards per game with quarterback Brody Dittman (57-for-97, 672 yards, 3 TDs, 6 Ints.) and running back Owen Bish (32-285, 3 TDs) leading the way along with receivers Trey Fleming (21-255, 2 TDs), Aidan Fox (9-157), Zach Cooper (11-77) and Bish (5-114, 1 TD).
The Bulldogs have beaten the Falcon Knights eight of nine meetings since the co-operative setup was formed in 2016.
Kane (0-5) at Port Allegany (4-1), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
The Gators play a Saturday matinee against the winless Wolves.
Port, averaging 334 yards of offense per game, features the No. 4 and 5 rushers in the districts in Peyton Stiles (77-539, 7 TDs) and Aiden Bliss (60-490, 8 TDs). Quarterback Nick Wilfong (23-for-40, 465 yards, 4 TDs, 2 Ints.) also looks to those two (Stiles (9-182 and Bliss 8-160) as his top receiving targets.
Kane has been outscored 219-27 so far this year, scoring four TDs in its five games. No stats are available on www.maxpreps.com.
Brockway (3-2) at Smethport (1-4)
The Rovers head north to McKean County looking to stop their two-game losing streak in setbacks to both Union/ACV and 29-7 to Port Allegany last week.
The Rovers average 346 yards of offense, led by quarterback Brayden Fox (77-for-123, 887 yards, 6 TDs, 8 Ints.), No. 3 rusher Jendy Cuello (96-572, 4 TDs), and receivers Blake Pisarcik (41-567, 5 TDs) and Mathew Brubaker (12-187, 1 TD).
The Hubbers are coming off a 67-15 loss to Keystone, their lone win coming in a 33-26 win over Coudersport in Week 4. Brockway beat Coudersport 49-6 while the Hubbers lost 55-0 to Port Allegany in Week 3.
Smethport stats weren’t available on www.maxpreps.com.
Keystone (1-4) at Ridgway (1-4)
The Panthers head to Elk County looking to make it two wins in a row after last week’s 67-13 rout of Smethport.
Keystone racked up over 500 yards in the win over the Hubbers as quarterback Dom Corcetti passed for 214 yards and a TD while Eli Nellis and Rayce Weaver both ran for over 100 yards. For the season, Corcetti has thrown for 387 yards and two TDs while Weaver (79-387, 2 TDs), Nellis (42-300, 6 TDs) and Jacob Henry (37-248, 3 TD) make up most of the running game. Drew Keth (13-200, 2 TDs) is the top receiver.
The Elkers have been outscored 182-60, their lone win coming in Week 4 against winless Kane (26-14). Quarterback Cameron Larkin (40-for-75, 412 yards, 2 TDs, 7 Ints.; 72-210, 3 TDs rushing), running back Rocco Delhunty (48-219, 2 TDs) and receiver Broc Kudrick (14-203, 2 TDs) lead the Elkers’ offense.
Bucktail (4-1) at Cameron County (3-2)
The Bucks continued one of their fastest starts in many years with last week’s 74-42 shootout win at home against Sheffield, their second of the year against the Wolverines. The Red Raiders have lost two straight, coming off a 26-14 loss at Coudersport.
Bucktail ran for over 400 yards against Sheffield, led by two 100-yard games from Tanner Pettingill and Braylon Fantaski. Season statistics aren’t available on maxpreps.com.
Leading the Red Raiders are quarterback Maddox Baughman (43-for-87, 603 yards, 2 TDs, 2 Ints.; 46-208, 2 TDs rushing) and running back Malakai Zucal (88-342, 4 TDs; 16-328 receiving).
Elk Co. Catholic (1-4) at Coudersport (2-3)
The Falcons host the Crusaders looking for their second straight win after ending a three-game slide with last week’s 26-14 win over Cameron County.
Quarterback Gavyn Ayers scored two late touchdowns to get the Falcons past the Red Raiders last week. Going into the game, he had passed for 350 yards and rushed for a team-high 244 yards and 5 TDs.
The Crusaders, who lost 42-21 last week to Otto-Eldred, don’t have available statistics on maxpreps.com.
Otto-Eldred (4-1) at Sheffield (0-4), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
The first time these teams met in what counted as a Region 3 game, the Terrors put up big numbers in a 67-27 win over the Wolverines in Week 2.
Hunter App and Michael Eaton both ran for over 100 yards as the Terrors rushed for 379 yards. For the season, App (75-572, 9 TDs) and quarterback Shane Magee (23-144, 2 TDs), who has passed for 1,019 yards, completing 76 of 115 passes with 16 TDs and three interceptions. His top receivers are Manning Splain (23-372, 7 TDs) and Ray-Shene Thomas (20-297, 5 TDs).
Sheffield quarterback Colby Barr threw for a school-record 427 yards and six TDs, completing 23 of 48 passes in last week’s loss to Bucktail that saw the Wolverines allow over 400 rushing yards. Season statistics aren’t available on maxpreps.com.
Laurel Highlands-East 2
Penns Valley (4-1) at Clearfield (4-1)
In a battle of one-loss teams, the Bison host the Rams looking for their fourth straight win. The Bison and Rams share two common foes so far — the Bison have beaten Bellefonte (26-7) and Philipsburg-Osceola (44-7) while the Rams also have wins over both teams, 20-19 and 43-32 respectively.
Quarterback Will Domico (55-for-101, 883 yards, 7 TDs, 3 Ints.; 34-286, 7 TDs rushing) leads a balanced offense with running backs Carter Chamberlain (48-331, 6 TDs) and Brady Collins (39-265), and receiver Carter Freeland (24-494, 4 TDs).
The Rams are led by quarterback Jackson Romig (59-for-88, 697 yards, 8 TDs, 1 Int.), running back Ty Watson (106-710, 7ths TDs) and receiver John Meyer (28-378, 6 TDs)
West Branch (1-4) at Curwensville (1-4)
The Tide host the Warriors in a game that have teams sharing two common foes so far. The Tide lost to Mount Union (36-15) and Claysburg-Kimmel (55-2) last week while the Warriors lost to Claysburg-Kimmel (27-19) and Mount Union (50-27).
For the Tide, quarterback Tyler Dunn (58-for-120, 840 yards, 6 TDs, 7 Ints.; 54-307, 5 TDs) leads the way. Running backs Braden Holland (58-274, 4 TDs) and Sammy Gustafson (25-221, 2 TDs), and receivers Connor Luzier (14-166, 1 TD) and Hunter Tkacik (14-184, 2 TDs) also are key performers.
West Branch’s offense revolves much around quarterback Tyler Biggans (62-for-119, 7 TDs, 9 Ints.; 75-524, 4 TDs rushing), who leads the team in rushing yards.