Playoff scenarios below …
By Rich Rhoades
Will Friday’s KSAC-Small School Division showdown in New Bethlehem be a preview of this year’s District 9 Class A Championship game again?
That was the case last year as Clarion and Redbank Valley, the 1-2 finishers in the KSAC-Small, met in the final with the Bobcats notching a second straight lopsided win to win the title.
It’s a different year, but the Bobcats and Bulldogs will finish 1-2 in the KSAC-Small again. The order depends on who wins Friday as the 7-0 Bulldogs host the 7-1 Bobcats. Whether it’s the first of two matchups remains to be seen, although Union’s rout of previously unbeaten Allegheny Mountain League favorite Ridgway last week turned some heads and gives reason to believe that an all-KSAC Class A final can happen.
It’s the 90th meeting between the Bulldogs and Bobcats, who have won seven straight meetings dating back to the Bulldogs’ last win during the 2008 regular season in a 28-21 triple-overtime classic. Last year, the Bobcats blasted the Bulldogs 50-0 at Clarion in the regular season before their 55-0 win in DuBois in the Class A final.
Whether the Bulldogs can close that 50-point gap with the Bobcats depends on whether the Jake Dougherty-led Redbank Valley offense can move the ball and how the Bulldogs defense can deal with the Bobcats’ 1,000-yard rusher Ian Corbett.
Corbett has rushed for 1,176 yards and 21 touchdowns while averaging 11.2 yards per carry. He’s nearing last year’s 1,247 yards despite the “slip” in production. He averaged 15 yards per carry last year. For his career, he’s on the verge of going over 3,000 yards as he heads into Friday with 2,836 yards.
Corbett is also the team’s leading pass-catcher with 11 receptions for 289 yards. He’s not the only offensive weapon for the Bobcats, who have Colton Rapp (425 yards, 6 TDs) and Jacob Troutman (299 yards, 1 TD) producing yards out of the backfield as well.
Junior Taylor Smith took over for injured starting quarterback Brendan Miller and has completed 16 of 35 passes for 407 yards. Ten of his completions have gone for touchdowns.
The Bobcats could have Destin Strauser back in the mix as he returns from an injury. He’ll run out of the fullback spot and on defense he’ll be at linebacker where he still leads the team in tackles per game at 8.7 stops. Corbett will either play on the line or at linebacker and he’s a factor in either spot.
Clarion’s defense was thrown a little off-balance a few weeks ago in its 47-12 win over Union as Knights quarterback Lane Cicciarelli threw for over 300 yards. The Bobcats did keep the Knights out of the end zone. Still, Dougherty’s ability to throw is certainly as big or more of a concern as Cicciarelli.
Dougherty’s numbers are impressive. He’s completed 107 of 159 passes (67 percent) for 1,463 yards with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions. Against Moniteau last week, he became the ninth quarterback in D9 history to go over 5,000 career yards passing.
Three Bulldogs receivers have caught 20 or more passes — Wyatt Hetrick (31 catches, 473 yards, 8 TDs), Connor Shoemaker (29-282, 3 TDs) and Nick Shoemaker (22-352, 7 TDs) — which give the Bulldogs more weaponry.
The Bulldogs’ running game isn’t one-dimensional either as Dougherty leads the team with 411 yards and seven touchdowns. Sophomores Colten Mohney (307 yards, 4 TDs) and Curtis Mohney (287 yards, 1 TD) have had productive seasons.
The Bobcats have never lost a KSAC-Small game since the conference was split into two divisions in 2010, giving them a 26-game overall conference winning streak dating back to their last two conference wins at the end of 2009.
The Bobcats-Clarion game is one of 13 on the schedule this week, two of them on Saturday.
Here’s a closer look at rest of this week’s schedule:
Moniteau (5-3) at St. Marys (5-3)
It’s the first of two meetings in the next three weeks as these teams are locked into the No. 2 and 3 spots in the Class AA playoffs.
Both teams have similar approaches with the running games leading the way. The Warriors already have Josh McBride (1,128 yards, 11 TDs) over the 1,000-yard rushing milestone and could get Cody Skiver (902 yards, 11 TDs) over the mark as well.
St. Marys has T.J. Hogan (812 yards, 8 TDs) and Kyle Glatt (559 yards, 7 TDs) leading the way.
Punxsutawney (6-2) at Karns City (8-0)
The Gremlins are still No. 6 in Class AA in the latest Pennsylvania Football News rankings. They’ll try to extend their unbeaten season against the Chucks and clinch the KSAC-Large School Division title.
Tristan Rhoades (496 yards, 5 TDs) and Collin Dunmyre (435 yards, 9 TDs) are the top rushers for the Gremlins while quarterback Caleb King has thrown for 733 yards and six touchdowns.
The Chucks had quarterback Dakota Thomas (1,009 yards, 12 TDs) go over 1,000 yards passing for the season. Thomas is also the team’s second-leading rusher at 429 yards and seven TDs. Perry Arrington leads the Chucks with 672 yards on the ground with six TDs.
If the Chucks knock off the Gremlins, they can win the division outright if St. Marys beats Moniteau. If Moniteau and Punxsutawney win, it’s a three-way unbreakable tie with Karns City.
C-L (1-7) at Union (3-5)
The Knights, coming off their big win at Ridgway last week, will try to keep their postseason hopes alive in Class A at home against the Lions. Union head coach Dave Louder will go against his sons Anthony and Ryan, who both play for the Lions. Anthony is the quarterback.
Union quarterback Lane Cicciarelli has thrown for 1,535 yards and 15 TDs. He can break the team’s 30-year-old single-season passing yardage record owned by Troy Heeter (1,592).
Keystone (2-6) at A-C Valley (0-8)
The Panthers will try for a three-win season for the first time since 2011. The Falcons have now lost 20 straight games.
Cameron County (4-4) at Otto-Eldred (2-6)
It’s a big week for the Red Raiders considering that even though they have clinched the AML-North title and a date at home against Ridgway in next week’s conference championship game, they have not clinched a playoff berth in Class A. A win over the Terrors would do that.
Red Raiders running backs Caleb Burnside (690 yards, 3 TDs) and Rusty Setzer (623 yards, 3 TDs) are both over 600 yards for the season while quarterback Keith Spehalski (842 yards, 4 TDs) is closing in on 1,000 passing yards for the season. The Red Raiders haven’t had a 1,000-yard passer since Jordan Crane threw for 1,128 yards in 2007. Brandon Saline is the top receiver at 23 catches for 488 yards.
Sophomore Seth Drummond (920 yards rushing, 9 TDs; 17 catches, 240 yards receiving) leads the Terrors.
Smethport (3-5) at Coudersport (1-7)
The Hubbers and Falcons meet for the 107th time as the Hubbers lead the all-time series, 58-44-4. Coudersport has won 12 of the last 13 meetings since 2002.
Port Allegany (2-6) at Sheffield (1-7)
It’s a Saturday kickoff for the Gators and the host Wolverines.
Sheffield quarterback Adam Higby has passed for 1,366 yards and 13 touchdowns. Marquis Clark (30 catches, 624 yards) is his top receiver.
Gators quarterback Tre Garzel has passed for 594 yards and rushed for 279 yards.
Ridgway (7-1) at Curwensville (6-2)
The Elkers, headed to the AML Championship game next week at Cameron County, try to shake off their non-conference loss last week to Union with a trip to Curwensville.
Ridgway quarterback Ben MacDonald has thrown for 517 yards and nine TDs while rushing for 666 yards and 14 TDs.
Tide freshman running back Nick Stewart has rushed for 1,197 yards and 13 TDs.
Brockway (5-3) at Elk County Catholic (7-1)
The Crusaders host the Rovers in a Saturday game as Brockway can clinch a playoff berth with a win.
Rovers senior Anthony Benson has rushed for 606 yards and 10 TDs while catching 25 passes for 353 yards and four scores. Quarterback Braden Martini has thrown for 779 yards and seven scores with Anthony Isabella his leading target with 29 catches for 360 yards and four TDs.
For the Crusaders, three runners are over 500 yards with Mitchell Smith (571 yards, 10 TDs), Noah Wagner (523 yards, 3 TDs) and Dan Singer (511 yards, 3 TDs). Smith has thrown for 643 yards and 13 TDs. Ryan Seelye (22 catches, 322 yards, 5 TDs) is the top receiver.
Philipsburg-Osceola (0-8) at Clearfield (6-2)
The Bison host the winless Mounties, who are coming off a 42-13 loss to Huntingdon last week. The Bison beat Huntingdon, 30-14, in Week 4.
Cody Spaid (809 yards, 9 TDs) is closing in on 1,000 yards passing for the year while Erik Sellers (802 yards, 15 TDs) and Seth Caldwell (759 yards, 5 TDs) lead the ground game.
General McLane (4-4) at DuBois (6-2)
The Beavers host the Lancers from District 10 in what could be an interesting matchup based on common opponent results.
General McLane has lost three straight games — Cathedral Prep (56-21), Slippery Rock (34-0) and McDowell (24-14) — to teams with a combined 20-4 record. Prep and Slippery Rock are both 8-0. In Week 5, McLane beat Conneaut Valley (56-28), a team DuBois lost to in a 36-35 Week 3 thriller. Cathedral Prep beat DuBois, 51-21, in Week 4.
Beavers quarterback Gabe French, coming off a Player of the Week performance last week, has passed for 2,594 yards and 32 touchdowns. French has completed an absurd 75.3 percent of his passes.
French moved into third place on the “Jim Kelly” District 9 all-time passing yardage list and sits at 6,963 yards behind Port Allegany’s Matt Bodamer (10,948) and Brockway’s Derek Buganza (9,752). French’s 78 TD passes trail Clearfield’s Chad Kroell (79), Buganza (95) and Bodamer (137).
French’s top receivers are Cole Kriner (35-749, 10 TDs), Dante Dawson (33-612, 9 TDs) and Kevin Foley (23-503, 6 TDs). Bryson Paulinellie, who had 1,250 yards receiving last year, has been injured since Week 6. He has 26 catches for 376 yards.
Here’s the latest, by classification:
These teams are in (6 of 8 spots): Clarion, Redbank Valley, Elk County Catholic, Curwensville and Kane.
Teams still in hunt: Brockway, Cameron County and Union.
— Cameron County is in with a win over Otto-Eldred this week or a Union loss to Clarion-Limestone
— Brockway is also in with a win over Elk County Catholic or a Union loss to Clarion-Limestone.
— Union is on life support. The Knights need to win out against Clarion-Limestone and Moniteau and have Cameron County to lose Otto-Eldred this week or Brockway lose to both Elk County Catholic and Mercer in Week 10.
It’s most likely a three-team playoff bracket with Karns City as the top seed.
St. Marys and Moniteau will be the other two teams in some order. A big part of determining who will get home field advantage in the semifinal is the result of their game this week in St. Marys.
Moniteau can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win over St. Marys, but the Dutch cannot clinch the No. 2 seed outright with a win because of Week 10 combinations that could still give the Warriors the edge if certain results happen.
Clearfield and Punxsutawney will meet in two weeks in the District 9 title game at a site and time to be announced.
As far as the District 5-6-8-9 sub-regional playoff goes, Clearfield and Somerset have clinched berths in the four-team bracket that begins Week 11. Three teams — Punxsutawney, Johnstown and University Prep — are vying for the final two spots.
If University Prep loses to Brashear in the Pittsburgh City League (District 8) semifinals Thursday, Prep is eliminated. If Prep wins, then it’s a scramble between the Chucks and Johnstown for the final spot. The schedule doesn’t look favorable for the Chucks with unbeaten Karns City and Clearfield remaining while Johnstown finishes with winless Bishop Guilfoyle and one-win Cambria Heights.
The District 6-9 sub-regional bracket can have up to four teams — there are only four teams — but only DuBois at this point has a winning record at 6-2. State College is 3-5 while Central Mountain and Mifflin County are both 1-7.