DuBOIS, Pa. — E.J. Mansell Stadium in DuBois, Pa., is the host site for Saturday’s District 9 Class 1A semifinals.
It’s a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. when second-seeded Ridgway takes on sixth-seeded Coudersport while top-seeded Curwensville squares off against fifth-seeded Redbank Valley at 6 p.m.
(Cover photo: Ridgway’s Johnny Mitchell, Curwensville’s Nick Stewart, Redbank Valley’s Logan Minich and Coudersport’s Stevie Kelly lead their teams into Saturday’s District 9 Class 1A semifinals in DuBois.)
Ridgway is the defending champion and it’s coming off a first-round bye as is Curwensville after both got to watch road teams win their quarterfinal games last week. Coudersport rallied for a 44-40 win at Clarion-Limestone while Redbank Valley won 15-8 at Otto-Eldred.
Here is a closer look at both games:
(6) COUDERSPORT (6-4) vs (2) RIDGWAY (7-3)
The Set Up
These teams met way back in Week Zero where the Elkers beat the Falcons in Coudersport, 29-8. In that one, the Elkers led 14-8 going into the fourth quarter before scoring two touchdowns to put the game away. Neil MacDonald ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Johnny Mitchell ran for 93 yards and two scores as the Elkers outgained the Falcons, 352-61, most of their yards coming on the ground.
The Falcons won their first playoff game since 2011 last week and it was an unlikely rally that saw them down 20-0 after one quarter against C-L. While most of the yards once again came on the ground, the Falcons did throw for a season-high 135 yards with quarterback Jared Green going 3-for-6 for 105 yards with a touchdown. He also caught a 30-yard TD pass from Hayden Keck.
So Coudersport will try to reverse its fortunes against a team that stuffed it the first time around. The Elkers’ defense has been stingy all season and their three losses to Brockway (24-21), Curwensville (14-11) and Kane (19-14) were by a combined 11 points.
MacDonald is the team’s leading rusher, receiver and second-leading tackler on defense.
Ridgway and Coudersport met just once before in the playoffs. Back in 1999, the Elkers won the infamous in-week play-in game, 14-0, over the Falcons before losing 40-14 to top-seeded and eventual Class 1A champion Cameron County.
Back then, it was just a four-team bracket, but an unbreakable tie between Coudersport and Ridgway resulted in a playoff game early in the week with the winner playing twice in less than a week.
However, it’s not just Ridgway anymore as it combined with Johnsonburg at the start of the 2013 season.
Team Passing: 55.8
Team Rushing: 206.1
Top Rushers: Stevie Kelly (845 yards, 9 TDs), Jared Green (493 yards, 9 TDs), Hayden Keck (361 yards, 3 TDs)
Top Passers: Jared Green (41 of 76, 506 yards, 5 TDs, 6 Ints)
Top Receivers: Derek Keglovits (15 catches, 190 yards, 2 TDs), Stevie Kelly (11 catches, 99 yards).
Top Defensive Players (stats prior to C-L game): Jared Green (8.3 tackles per game), Hayden Keck (7.1 tackles per game, 3 interceptions), Eli Ayers (6.0 tackles per game, 14 for loss)
Team Passing: 79.8 yards per game
Team Rushing: 250.5 yards per game
Top Rushers: Neil MacDonald (921 yards, 12 TDs), Johnny Mitchell (343 yards, 3 TDs), Jake Zimmerman (310 yards, 2 TDs)
Top Passers: Johnny Mitchell (54 of 103, 764 yards, 10 TDs, 11 Ints)
Top Receivers: Neil MacDonald (19 catches 235 yards, 5 TDs), Andy Breier (8 catches, 250 yards, 5 TDs), Josh Thorwart (11 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD)
Top Defensive Players: Evan Furlong (13.4 tackles per game, 2.5 sacks), Neil MacDonald (10 tackles per game), Max Cowan (9.1 tackles per game, 7.5 sacks)
(5) REDBANK VALLEY (6-4) vs. (1) CURWENSVILLE (8-2)
The Set Up
While the top-seeded Golden Tide were off with a bye, the Bulldogs had to grind out a road win in Duke Center, Pa., in a 15-8 win over Otto-Eldred. It’s the first meeting in the playoffs between the Tide and Bulldogs since 2013 when the Bulldogs won, 28-22, in the semifinals also on the turf at Mansell Stadium. They met once since then during the 2015 regular season when Curwensville won at home, 44-30.
District 9’s all-time leading rusher Nick Stewart of Curwensville played in that game and ran for 144 yards and three touchdowns. He became the all-time leader earlier this year and heads into Saturday with 6,911 yards, so he’d obviously be the first in district history to reach 7,000 with 89 more yards.
Stewart hasn’t been as much of a focal point of the offense this year with quarterback Bryce Timko over 1,300 yards passing this year. It’s about as balanced as the team has been under long-time head coach Andy Evanko, but Stewart will still be the player for the Bulldogs to stop.
The Bulldogs have a workhorse of their own in senior Clint Thurston, who’s now the team’s single-season rushing leader. He’s toted the ball 79 times over the past three games, including 28 carries for 133 yards in the win over Otto-Eldred.
The key to the game might come down to who passes efficiently enough when needed. The Bulldogs have thrown for just 90 yards per game but got a big scoring pass from quarterback Keaton Kahle to Brock Barrett last week.
Team Passing: 89.8
Team Rushing: 293.9
Top Rushers: Clint Thurston (1,564 yards, 26 TDs), Keaton Kahle (448 yards, 5 TDs), Brock Barrett (424 yards, 5 TDs)
Top Passers: Keaton Kahle (69 of 148, 757 yards, 6 TDs, 6 Ints)
Top Receivers: Brock Barrett (43 catches, 465 yards, 4 TDs), Chase Wiles (12 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD)
Top Defensive Players: Logan Minich (7.1 tackles per game), Travis Crawford (7.1 tackles per game), Clint Thurston (4.3 tackles per game, 20 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks), Keaton Kahle (4 interceptions)
Team Passing: 135.4 yards per game
Team Rushing: 211.1 yards per game
Top Rushers: Nick Stewart (1,377 yards, 21 TDs), Avery Francisco (242 yards, 2 TDs), Blake Passarelli (240 yards, 3 TDs)
Top Passers: Bryce Timko (82 of 158, 1,307 yards, 12 TDs, 4 Ints.)
Top Receivers: Josh Terry (33 catches, 618 yards, 5 TDs), Noah Von Gunden (20 catches, 330 yards, 5 TDs), Nick Stewart (10 catches, 103 yards)
Top Defensive Players: Stephen McClure (5.8 tackles per game, 6 sacks), Logan Waroquier (5.8 tackles per game), Avery Francisco (5.5 tackles per game, 14 tackles for loss, 4 sacks), Josh Terry (5 interceptions).