Two teams looking to bolster their positioning in the District 9 Class 1A playoffs collide Friday night at Union High school when the Union/A-C Valley Falcon Knights host the Redbank Valley.
The defending Class 1A champion Bulldogs (7-1) can also play a spoiler when it comes to the Small School South Division title race. A win over the Falcon Knights (6-1) would hand Keystone the division title presuming the Panthers beat Elk County Catholic.
A Union/ACV win claims the division title since the Falcon Knights beat Keystone two weeks ago. The only way the Bulldogs win the division comes with a win and an ECC upset win over Keystone.
All the scenarios were set into motion after both teams lost their season-opening games, Redbank Valley to Keystone and Union/ACV to Brockway. Neither team has lost since with the Bulldogs winning seven straight and the Falcon Knights six with one game — at Bucktail — lost due to COVID-19 concerns.
It’s one of 12 Friday night games with one game scheduled for Saturday afternoon. The other two South Division matchups are ECC (3-4) at Keystone (5-2) as mentioned and Brockway (3-5) at Bucktail (0-7). In the Small School North, Smethport (7-1) visits Coudersport (3-4), Port Allegany (3-4) hosts Cameron County (4-3) and on Saturday, Sheffield (0-7) hosts Otto-Eldred (2-6).
All five Large School Division games are Friday night with Brookville (6-2) hosting Ridgway (5-3), St. Marys (7-1) hosting Kane (3-5), Ridgway (5-3) traveling to Brookville (6-2), Karns City (7-1) hosting Bradford (0-8) and DuBois (5-3) visiting Central Clarion (3-4).
In the Mountain League, the district’s lone unbeaten Clearfield (8-0) hosts Bellefonte (2-6) and Curwensville (4-4) hosts Moshannon Valley (2-6) in the Inter-County Conference.
Both the Bulldogs and Falcon Knights have similar dominating numbers. The Bulldogs come in scoring 45.5 points per game while the Falcon Knights are at 38.1 points per game. Defensively, the Bulldogs are giving up 6.5 points per game and just five touchdowns since the opening loss to Keystone. Teams are netting just 77 yards per game against the Bulldogs.
The Falcon Knights are giving up 9.4 points and 145 yards per game, intercepting 14 passes.
Zeldon Fisher (5.9 tackles per game), Joe Mansfield (5.3 tpg, 16.5 tackles for losses, 7 sacks) and Brandon Ross (4.6 tpg, 12 tackles for losses, 5 sacks) lead the Bulldogs’ defense while linebacker Carter Terwint (7.0 tackles per game), lineman Mikey Card (6.0 tpg, 10 tackles for losses, 4 sack) head the Falcon Knights’ unit.
The Bulldogs average 298 yards of offense per game. Ray Shreckengost (81-477, 9 TDs in six games with carries) leads the running game. Quarterback Bryson Bain (70-for-107, 1,109 yards, 21 TDs, 4 ints.) runs the passing game. Marquese Gardlock (20-346, 3 TDs), Chris Marshall (18-289, 6 TDs), Tate Minich (17-268, 6 TDs) and Ortz (8-182, 3 TDs) are the leading targets.
Eight different Bulldogs have combined for nine interceptions on a team that has eight non-offensive touchdowns — two fumble returns, four punt returns thanks to sophomore Ashton Kahle (32.8 per return on nine punts) and one kick return from Aiden Ortz, who has two interceptions.
Union/A-C Valley averages 315 yards per game. Card (69-625, 4 TDs), Dawson Camper (39-394, 9 TDs) and quarterback Bailey Crissman (39-191, 2 TDs) account for most of the yards on the ground.
Crissman (43-for-101, 553 yards, 9 TDs, 5 Ints.) leads the passing game with Roxbury (14-249, 2 TDs) and Caden Rainey (11-123, 2 TDs) his top receivers. Rainey averages a whopping 26.8 yards per return on 13 punts. Roxbury and Ryan Cooper are threats in the kick return game, combining to average over 30 yards per return with a Cooper touchdown. Rainey has returned two punts for TDs while Roxbury has two of the team’s four interception returns for scores.
Going into the weekend, the Class 1A playoff point standings have Redbank Valley (7-1, 890), Smethport (7-1, 880), Union/ACV (6-1, 770), Keystone (5-2, 640), Curwensville (4-4, 510), Cameron County (4-3, 460), Port Allegany (3-4, 390) and Elk Co. Catholic (3-4, 330) among possible playoff teams. All of those teams going would make an eight-team bracket.
In other games:
SMALL SCHOOL SOUTH
Elk Co. Catholic (3-4) at Keystone (5-2)
After losing two straight games following a 5-0 start, the Panthers can win the Small School South with a win over the Crusaders and get help from Redbank Valley with a win over Union/A-C Valley. The Falcon Knights control their destiny, claiming the title with a win. A Panthers win and Union/ACV loss gives them the division while the only way the Bulldogs take the crown is to beat Union/ACV and hope the Panthers lose to the Crusaders.
The Panthers are coming off a 26-6 loss at Smethport. For the season, they’re averaging 252 yards per game. Kyle Nellis (102-567, 4 TDs rushing; 5-110, 1 TD receiving) and quarterback Bret Wingard (49-for-129, 750 yards, 8 TDs, 4 ints.) and receiver Ty Albright (16-319, 3 TDs) lead the offense.
Zach Mchenry (6.6 tpg.) leads the defense in tackles while he and Nellis give the Panthers a dangerous return game — Mchenry 23.3 and 23.0 averages on kick and punt returns with Nellis at 36.1 and 18.5 averages respectively. Nellis has returned two interceptions and one kick for a TD while Mchenry has one kick return for a score.
The Crusaders had scored 50 points in their previous six games before putting up 68 points in their shutout over Sheffield last week. Noah Cherry ran for 202 yards and Ben Reynolds for 155 yards.
Brockway (3-4) at Bucktail (0-7)
The Rovers travel to Farwell, or the Renovo area, to take on the winless Bucks looking to keep their playoff hopes alive. They’re coming off a 26-21 loss to Port Allegany and with a non-division game with Brookville next week, taking care of the Bucks is a priority.
Freshman quarterback Brayden Fox (151-for-268, 1,993 yards, 16 TDs, 16 ints.) is yards away from going over 2,000 for the season. Three receivers have 30 or more catches, led by Alex Carson (55-523, 3 TDs) along with Jalen Kosko (37-601, 8 TDs) and Blake Pisarcik (34-566, 1 TD). Carter Hickman (120-488, 4 TDs) is the leading rusher.
Bucks quarterback Dylan Cross leads the team in rushing as well. His top receivers are Braylon Fantaski and Brody Pentz. Last week, Zack Pick’s 80-yard kick return accounted for the only points for the Bucks in a 28-7 loss to Otto-Eldred.
SMALL SCHOOL NORTH
Smethport (7-1) at Coudersport (3-4)
The already-crowned division champion Hubbers look to wrap up their regular-season schedule at nine games with a matchup against their longtime rival Falcons, who will play a non-division game at Union/A-C Valley next week. So depending on how many teams get into the Class 1A playoffs, the Hubbers could be heading into a two-week break before playing a semifinal playoff game.
Coming off a big 26-6 win over Keystone last week, the Hubbers would secure at least a top-two seed with a win over the Falcons and perhaps the top seed if Redbank Valley loses to Union/ACV.
Last week, the Hubbers’ Ryan Mason ran for a touchdown, the team’s first without at least do-it-all senior quarterback Noah Lent being directly involved. He’s now rushed for 22 of the team’s 23 TDs while throwing for all 15 TD passes. For the season, Lent is up to 1,382 yards rushing on 152 carries with seven TDs while completing 44 of 80 passes for 751 yards and 15 TDs against just two interceptions. Alex Ognen (17-311, 9 TDs) and Brandon Higley (15-242, 3 TDs) are Lent’s top receivers.
Defensively, Travis Cooney (8.4 tackles per game, 7 sacks) leads the unit along with Ryan Pelchy (6.3 tpg.).
The Falcons were held to 81 yards of offense in last week’s 52-6 loss at Redbank Valley. Quarterback Gavyn Ayers (17-for-53, 251 yards, 1 TD, 8 Ints.) still leads the team in rushing with 475 yards on 91 carries and 11 TDs. James Culvey (8-214, 2 TDs) has most of the receiving yards.
Cameron County (4-3) at Port Allegany (3-4)
Both teams are likely trying to secure a .500 record, so it’s an important game as the Red Raiders close with winless Bucktail next week and the Gators host Kane. The Red Raiders lost 20-6 last Thursday at home to Union/A-C Valley, which beat the Gators 41-8 in Week 5.
Port’s Noah Archer is coming off his Jim Kelly Player of the Week where he scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter to spark the team’s 26-21 win over Brockway. He ran for 109 yards while catching seven passes for 74 yards and had an interception on defense.
For the season, Archer leads the team in receiving (35-533, 6 TDs) while rushing for 379 yards and 68 carries with four TDs. Blaine Moses (68-67, 10 TDs) is the leading rusher while quarterback Drew Evens (98-for-177, 1,437 yards, 9 TDs, 9 Ints.) runs the offense.
Maddox Baughman and Lathan Reed, both sophomores, lead the Red Raiders offense. Baughman (49-for-112, 772 yards, 8 TDs, 13 Ints.) is the quarterback while Reed (87-616, 4 TDs) is the leading rusher and receiver (10-266, 3 TDs). Dylan Baney (10-219, 4 TDs) is another receiving target while Dylan Reider ran a punt back for a TD against Union/ACV.
Otto-Eldred (2-6) at Sheffield (0-7), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
The Terrors ended their four-game losing streak last week with a 28-7 victory over winless Bucktail. They’ll end their regular-season schedule next week at Cowanesque Valley. The Bucks finish next week with Sheffield.
Ryan Love had a big game for the Terrors against Bucktail, rushing for 142 yards on 15 carries with three TDs. He’s the team’s top rusher with 448 yards and 7 TDs. Quarterback Gavin Jimerson ran for 81 yards last week. He went into the game with 521 yards passing and three TDs.
Sheffield has been outscored 424-32 in its seven losses, including a 68-0 loss to Elk County Catholic last week.
LARGE SCHOOL DIVISION
Ridgway (5-3) at Brookville (6-2)
The last time these teams met, it was on the same field in last year’s Class 2A playoff semifinals where the Raiders won, 42-15. This time around, it’s pretty much about playoff positioning as the Raiders and Elkers right now are 2-3 respectively in the point standings.
The current standings have Karns City (7-1, 910), the Raiders (6-2, 780), Elkers (5-3, 660), Wildcats (3-4, 400), Brockway (3-5, 380) and Kane (3-5, 350) as possible playoff teams. If they all go, it’ll be six-team bracket with the top two seeds getting byes. So in that case, the No. 2 seed would be a big deal as far as byes go. It’s most likely going to be less than six teams and a playoff rematch between the Raiders and Elkers could be in the making regardless of what happens Friday night.
The Raiders average 310 yards per game offensively with Charlie Krug (112-for-195, 1,494, 16 TDs, 8 Ints.), and receivers Brayden Kunselman (34-636, 8 TDs) and Noah Peterson (24-388, 5 TDs) leading the passing game. Tate Lindermuth (74-380, 3 TDs) is the team’s top rusher, coming off his career-high 159-yard game in the win over Kane last week.
The Elkers trio of Dom Allegretto (60-511, 9 TDs), Camron Marciniak (65-413, 4 TDs) and Eric Salberg (46-290) leading the running game that accounts for most of the team’s offense, but the passing game has been effective as Jonathan Hinton and Cameron Larkin have combined to throw for 1,082 yards and 10 TDs against six interceptions.
Allegretto (20-297, 2 TDs), Will Howard (19-293, 3 TDs) and Marciniak (17-246, 4 TDs) are the leading receivers.
After starting the year 4-0 with a big 27-7 win over St. Marys in the opener, the Elkers have lost three of the last four games to DuBois (21-6), Central Clarion (33-14) and Karns City (35-0) last week. The Gremlins beat the Raiders, 41-7, while the Raiders beat DuBois and Central Clarion early in the season and lost 19-14 to St. Marys two weeks ago.
Bradford (0-8) at Karns City (7-1)
The Gremlins host the winless Owls before next week’s season-finale at home against DuBois. After starting the season with four out of five games on the road, they’ll finish with four out of five at home before a possible playoff game as the top seed if they take care of business.
Last week’s convincing 35-0 win at Ridgway, the likely 2 or 3 seed, was impressive as they limited the Elkers to 198 yards in a shutout effort. Luke Garing ran for 106 yards on 16 carries and a TD while Jayce Anderson finished with 84 yards and two TDs. For the season, that duo leads the ground game with Anderson at 669 yards and 7 TDs and Garing with 620 yards and 15 TDs. Quarterback Eric Booher has passed for 763 yards with 8 TDs and three interceptions.
The Owls dropped a 38-7 loss to Central Clarion last week. While the defense has struggled significantly stopping foes, they’re passing the ball as much as any time in program history as the QB duo of senior Elijah Fitton (1,375) and freshman Talan Reese (651) have combined for over 2,000 yards in the air. Their top receiving target is Dalton Dixon (47-861, 7 TDs), who is approaching a 1,000-yard season.
Moniteau (1-6) at Punxsutawney (1-6)
It’s a battle of one-win teams as the Chucks host the Warriors. Not surprisingly, both teams beat Bradford, Punxsutawney 49-21 two weeks ago and Moniteau 44-38 in Week 5.
The Chucks were blanked 35-0 last week by DuBois. Junior running back Zeke Bennett (158-695, 6 TDs) is the workhorse for the Chucks’ offense. Quarterback Noah Weaver has thrown for 244 yards while rushing for 303 yards and 4 TDs.
Quarterback David Dessicino (58-for-120, 589 yards, 3 TDs, 8 Ints.; 61-340, 2 TDs rushing) and running backs Hunter Stalker (79-366, 1 TD) and Matt Martino (82-482, 5 TDs) lead the Warriors offense.
Kane (3-5) at St. Marys (7-1)
The Dutch clinch the Large School Division title with a win over the Wolves before playing Tyrone next week to finish out the regular season. A loss to the Wolves and a Karns City win over DuBois next week would give the Gremlins the crown. Any tiebreaker if they both finish with a loss goes of course to the Dutch, who beat the Gremlins.
The Dutch have won seven straight since an opening loss to Ridgway, including a 42-6 rout of Moniteau last week. Quarterback Christian Coudriet (164-for-249, 2,146 yards, 20 TDs, 3 Ints.) became the ninth D9 quarterback to go over 6,000 career passing yards and he passed Clearfield’s Chad Kroell (6,088) into eighth place on the honor roll. With 6,334 yards, he’s 304 shy of tying Smethport’s Mike DeFilippi for the No. 7 spot.
Coudriet’s top receivers are the junior trio of Logan Mosier (38-673, 6 TDs), Carter Chadsey (42-582, 7 TDs) and brother Charlie Coudriet (40-513, 4 TDs). Justin Dornisch (80-305, 5 TDs) and Matt Davis (44-229, 1 TD) are the top rushers.
The Wolves put up some decent offensive numbers last week against the Raiders in a 42-15 loss with Ricky Zampogna passing for 260 yards and rushing for 51 yards without an injured Harley Morris in the lineup. Zampogna has passed for 495 yards and Morris 739 yards this year while Zampogna is the leading rusher with 536 yards on 104 carries. Landon Darr (36-409, 5 TDs) had 12 catches for 169 yards against Brookville.
DuBois (5-3) at Central Clarion (3-4)
It’s a matchup of two teams recovering from slow starts to the season. DuBois, after losses to Clearfield, Brookville and St. Marys, have won five straight against Kane, Ridgway, Bradford, Moniteau and Punxsutawney. The Wildcats, similarly, after four straight losses, have won three straight against Kane, Ridgway and Bradford 38-7 last week. DuBois crushed the winless Owls 55-0 three weeks ago.
The Beavers’ quarterback duo of Austin Mitchell and Cam-Ron Hays has combined to throw for 862 yards and six TDs against six interceptions with Hays going for 483 yards and Mitchell 379. Mitchell (51-272, 5 TDs) is second on the team in rushing behind leader Austin Henery (69-370, 4 TDs). Derraick Burkett (30-329, 5 TDs), Adams (14-148, 1 TDs) and Brycen Dinkfelt (15-160) are the top receiving targets.
For the Wildcats, freshman quarterback Jase Ferguson (62-for-128, 1,111 yards, 14 TDs, 10 Ints.) went over 1,000 yards for the season. The top receiving targets continue to be Christian Simko (23-556, 8 TDs) and Ashton Rex (15-353, 5 TDs). Breckin Rex (106-626, 3 TDs) and Ryan Hummell (53-320, 3 TDs) lead the running game.
Bellefonte (2-6) at Clearfield (8-0)
It’s four straight shutout wins for the Bison, who haven’t given up a point since a 42-12 win over Tyrone in Week 4 and one of those wins came against the Red Raiders, whom the Bison beat 48-0 in Week 5. The rematch, a rare in-season rematch due largely to not being able to find another foe, will be at the Bison Sports Complex this time around.
The Bison average a hefty 382 yards per game offensively with Mark McGonigal (94-746, 11 TDs), quarterback Oliver Billotte (56-389, 9 TDs) and Jose Alban (59-367, 3 TDs) leading the running game. Billotte (62-for-117, 987 yards, 12 TDs, 2 Ints.) is on the verge of going over 1,000 passing yards with Karson Kline (34-574, 6 TDs) and Nate Natoli (14-229, 4 TDs) his top receivers.
But the defense numbers are impressive. The Bison, thanks to the shutout run, have given up just 26 points or four touchdowns all season. Opposing teams have rushed for 192 yards for the season … on 194 attempts while completing 78 of 183 passes for 652 yards and nine interceptions.
Hayden Kovalick (7.6 tackles per game, 85 sacks), Shane Coudriet (7.4 tpg), Billotte (6.4 tpg., 9 sacks), Ian Samsel (5.1 tpg., 8 sacks) and Natoli (3 interceptions) lead the unit.
The Red Raiders have wins over Philipsburg-Osceola (22-6) and Huntingdon (40-7) and are coming off a 48-0 loss to Bald Eagle Area. They’re led by running back Nolan Weaver (48-310, 2 TDs).
Moshannon Valley (2-6) at Curwensville (4-4)
The Golden Tide have lost three of the last four games, including a 45-17 loss last week at Southern Huntingdon. Also included in that stretch is a “forfeit” loss to Bellwood-Antis due to the game being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns with the Tide. That’s the opposite way of how D9 has handled its canceled games to date, so the playoff point standings are reflecting two different standards of what’s a loss and win.
The Tide meet the Knights, who have lost four straight games with losses to Glendale (15-12) and Mount Union (60-47). The Tide beat Glendale (32-29) and lost to Mount Union (54-36).
Junior quarterback Dan McGarry leads the pass-heavy Tide (142-for-240, 1,815 yards, 14 TDs, 8 Ints.) with Ty Terry (58-873, 8 TDs), Jake Mullins (36-499, 4 TDs) and Thad Butler (36-292, 2 TDs) his top receivers. Butler (71-479, 5 TDs) is the leading rusher.
Moshannon Valley feature Levi Knuth (118-921, 9 TDs), who is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards.