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Week Four Football Preview: 6 Unbeaten, 7 Winless Remain in D9

Going into the fifth weekend of the high school football season, 13 of District 9’s 23 football teams are either undefeated or winless.

(Redbank Valley’s Aidan Gardner (74) and Trent Bowersox (75) set up protection for their quarterback against Keystone defender Keenan Heeter (5) during their game earlier this year. Friday night, the Bulldogs take their 4-0 record to Iroquois while Keystone hosts Curwensville, looking for its best start since its 1989 state title game appearance season. Photo by Mike Maslar)

That’s six unbeaten and seven winless teams going into the PIAA’s tagged “Week 4” of the regular season. And of those two numbers, only the winless number is guaranteed to get reduced this week with 13 games on the schedule, all but one Friday night.

In the Large School Division, the two unbeatens are Clarion and Kane. The Bobcats (4-0) are home with their matchup against 3-1 St. Marys at the C-L Sports Complex, on Homecoming Night for C-L. The Wolves (4-0) are on the road at winless Punxsutawney (0-4).

Small School North co-leaders Coudersport and Smethport play opposite each other in two divisional matchups. Coudersport (3-0) hosts Port Allegany (1-3) and Smethport (3-0) visits Otto-Eldred (1-3). Saturday, two winless teams class in Warren County where Sheffield (0-4) hosts Cameron County (0-3) with a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.

The other two unbeatens are on the road for non-conference games. Clearfield (4-0) heads to winless Central Mountain (0-4) while Redbank Valley (4-0) travels to Erie County to play winless Iroquois (0-4) of District 10.

In the other Large School games, Karns City hosts Brookville in a key matchup of 3-1 teams and Ridgway (3-1) hosts winless Brockway (0-4). Someone will get a win in the battle of 0-4 games in Bradford where the Owls host Moniteau.

In the Small School South, the two division games have Curwensville (1-3) hosting Keystone (3-1) and Union/A-C Valley (3-1) visiting Elk County Catholic (2-2).

Winless DuBois (0-4) is at home in its District 9 Region 7 matchup with unbeaten Oil City (4-0).

Here’s a closer look at this week’s schedule:


St. Marys (3-1) at Clarion (4-0), at C-L

It’s Homecoming at C-L as the Bobcats host the Flying Dutchmen, who have won three straight games following a season-opening loss at Ridgway.

The Bobcats stayed unbeaten with a 29-12 win at Brookville last week. Austin Newcomb (55-617, 12 TDs) is over 600 rushing yards for the year while quarterback Cal German (24-for-44, 737 yards, 9 TDs, 2 Ints.) and receiver Ethan Burford (12-458, 5 TDs) give the Bobcats dangerous depth offensively in the passing game.

Speaking of passing, Dutch quarterback Christian Coudriet is coming off his D9Sports.Com Player of the Week performance after shredding Punxsutawney in last week’s 60-21 win. For the year, he’s thrown for 797 yards, completing 66 of 98 passes with seven TDs, and four interceptions. His top receiver is Bryce Walker (26-266) while Jacob Kline (38-344, 5 TDs) is the leading rusher.

Brookville (3-1) at Karns City (3-1)

Both teams’ lone losses have come at the hands of Clarion, the Raiders 29-12 last week and the Gremlins a 42-14 loss two weeks ago.

Much of this game centers on the healthy of Raiders quarterback Jack Krug, who left last week’s loss to Clarion in the first quarter with an injured ankle. His status for the game is unknown. What is known is that the Raiders haven’t won at Karns City in the regular season since 1972. They’ve won just one time there since, a 1998 playoff overtime win.

If Krug can’t go, it’ll likely be Robert Keth who quarterbacks. He completed 9 of 21 passes for 56 yards and two interceptions after replacing Krug last week. He threw for over 2,000 yards last year when Krug was out with a broken collarbone.

Keth leads the Raiders in receiving yardage with 260 on 21 catches while Ian Thrush has 22 catches for 257 yards. Kyle MacBeth (12-121) is another threat, but his five interceptions at cornerback is his big number.

Karns City trailed winless Moniteau 6-0 at halftime last week before scoring three times and winning 21-6. Quarterback Anthony Kamenski leads the run-oriented Gremlins offense with 393 yards on 48 carries. Hunter Rowe (47-192) will also get the ball while Kaden Scherer is a playmaker as well, returning three TDs on special teams, two on kickoffs and another on a punt return.

Kane (4-0) at Punxsutawney (0-4)

The Wolves go on the road looking to stay perfect against the Chucks.

Quarterback Zuke Smith (24-for-59, 544 yards, 9 TDs, 3 Ints.), and running backs Teddy Race (38-305, 4 TDs), Jake Alcorn (34-205, 2 TDs; 5-168, 3 TDs receiving) lead the Wolves. Alcorn is averaging 170 all-purpose yards per game to lead the team. That includes return yardage where he’s returned both a punt and kickoff for TDs. 

Defensively, Race leads the team in 14 tackles per game and sacks with 5 1/2. Alcorn has two interceptions.

The Chucks gave up 60 points in a loss to St. Marys last week and are yielding an average of 54.3 per game in their four losses overall. Quarterback Kameron Falgout (26-for-62, 221 yards, 2 TDs, 4 Ints.) and running back Max London (36-203, 1 TDs) lead the Chucks.

Brockway (0-4) at Ridgway (3-1)

The Elkers host the winless Rovers as they look to stay at the top of the Large School standings. They’ve manhandled winless Moniteau and Bradford by a combined score of 97-7 since their only loss to Kane three weeks ago.

It’s a balanced look offensively as usual for the Elkers, who have four backs over 140 yards rushing, led by Gabe Watts (32-226, 3 TDs), Matt Dush (24-165, 3 TDs), Jake Wickett (29-146, 3 TDs) and Tyler Watts (18-145, 1 TD). Quarterback Paul Gresco has completed 45 of 67 passes for 642 yards with six TDs and two interceptions.

Leading the Rovers are quarterback Connor Ford (36-for-71, 443 yards, 2 TDs, 5 Ints.; 59-158 rushing) and running back Jon Wood (41-152 rushing; 10-182 receiving). 

Moniteau (0-4) at Bradford (0-4)

Something has to give as the winless Warriors trek north roughly 115 miles to take on the winless Owls.

Moniteau has losses to Kane (46-19), Clarion (42-8), Ridgway (42-7) and Karns City (21-6) after leading the 3-1 Gremlins, 6-0, at halftime. Bradford has been outscored 198-6 in losses to Brookville (51-0), St. Marys (45-0), Kane (47-6) and Ridgway (55-0).

J.D. Dessicino scored Moniteau’s lone TD last week. Quarterback Caleb Nuzzo (44-for-84, 333 yards) threw a TD pass to Austen Davis (14-151) for the Owls’ lone score against Kane two weeks ago.


Keystone (3-1) at Curwensville (1-3)

If the Panthers beat the Golden Tide, it’ll be their best start to a season since … 1989 when they reached the state final in Class 1A before losing 57-18 to Dunmore, their first loss of the season.

This version of the Panthers have won three straight games since losing their opener to Redbank Valley, including last week’s 49-12 win over Cameron County. They’re led by quarterback Isaak Jones (36-for-57, 747 yards, 8 TDs, 2 Ints.), receivers Alex Rapp (7-243, 3 TDs) and Jayden Blazosky (12-207, 4 TDs) and running backs Nick Weaver (34-264, 2 TDs) and Taylar Altman (32-227, 3 TDs).

The Golden Tide have struggled in their three losses, getting shut out against Elk County Catholic (21-0), Union/ACV (24-0) and Smethport (26-0) last week. The Tide’s only win came in their second game, a 20-0 shutout of Cameron County. Quarterback Dan McGarry (27-for-53, 251 yards, 2 TDs, 6 Ints.) and receiver Jake McCracken (14-158, 2 TDs) lead the Tide offense.

Union/ACV (3-1) at ECC (2-2)

The Falcon Knights take a three-game winning streak to St. Marys as they face the Crusaders, trying to stay unbeaten in divisional play. Since a loss to Coudersport to start the season, the Falcon Knights have wins over Sheffield, Curwensville and Otto-Eldred.

Quarterback Luke Bowser (36-for-76, 428 yards, 4 TDs, 6 Ints.) leads the team in rushing TDs with six while Kylar Culbertson (26-175) is coming off his biggest day running the ball with 150 last week against the Terrors. Sophomore Caden Rainey (15-191) and junior Tanner Merwin (13-191) are Bowser’s top receivers.

Sam Kaul is coming off a big game in the Crusaders’ 35-7 over Port Allegany, going for 216 yards on 12 carries with TD runs of 80 and 67 yards. For the year, he’s rushed for 363 yards on 34 carries for a Crusaders’ run-heavy offense even without injured 1,000-yard back Stephen Bobby.


Port Allegany (1-3) at Coudersport (3-0)

The Falcons have outscored there three foes 111-14 as they’re coming off a bye week to host the Gators. 

Coudersport quarterback Hayden Keck has thrown just 11 passes all year (completing seven for 166 yards), and he helps key the ground-first offense with 221 yards on 30 carries with three TDs. Travis Gleason (39-236, 6 TDs) leads the Falcons’ running game that averages 197 yards per game.

The Gators have lost three straight games since opening with a 14-12 win against Otto-Eldred, although they’re trying to re-set after losing leading rusher Josh Rees — he ran for 368 yards in three games and the team has 414 overall — for the season with an injury. 

Freshman quarterback Drew Evens has completed 39 of 80 passes for 382 yards. Last week, senior Howie Stuckey emerged as a playmaker, catching four passes for 108 yards and a touchdown in the 35-7 loss to Elk County Catholic.

Smethport (3-0) at Otto-Eldred (1-3)

The Hubbers head to Duke Center looking to stay unbeaten, coming off a 26-0 shutout win over Curwensville. They’ve also beat Sheffield (40-0) and Port Allegany (27-15).

Quarterback Noah Lent is a dual-threat out of the backfield. He’s rushed for 309 yards and four touchdowns the past two games. Braedon Johnson ran for 137 yards and two scores last week along with returning a punt for a score.

Otto-Eldred, which lost 14-12 to Port in its season-opener, tries to bounce back from a 32-26 loss at Union/Rimersburg. Most of the offense runs through junior quarterback Cole Sebastian (73-for-122, 1,088 yards, 12 TDs, 3 Ints.), who just went over 3,000 career passing yards with his 286 last week against the Falcon Knights. He sits at 3,171 yards with 34 TD passes.

Sebastian’s top receivers are Ethan Smith (21-460), 6 TDs) and Cameron Magee (26-377, 2 TDs). The Terrors have rushed for 268 yards in four games with Sebastian’s 174 leading the way.

Cameron County (0-3) at Sheffield (0-4), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Something has to give as both the Red Raiders and Wolverines lug in losing streaks looking for their first wins of the year. For Cameron County, it’s seven straight losses since beating Sheffield, 6-0, last year. The Wolverines are up to 23 straight since their last win over Youngsville in the final game of 2016.

Cameron’s first TDs of the season came last week in a 49-12 loss to Keystone. Ebon Jackson threw a 15-yard TD pass to Connor Nolan and Nick Peters scored on a 60-yard run.

Sheffield trailed Redbank Valley 48-6 at halftime before scoring three TDs in the second half of a 61-28 loss. Quarterback Slappy Washington completed 12 of 26 passes for 216 yards and two TDs. Mirahn Price caught seven passes for 191 yards and both TDs.


Oil City (4-0) at DuBois (0-4)

The Beavers host an Oilers team that has wins over Conneaut Area (28-24), Franklin (27-16), Girard (36-6) and General McLane (26-13). The Oilers, who have thrown just 19 passes, average just over 300 yards per game on the ground, led by senior Noah Petro (63-431, 9 TDs) and junior Cameron Russell (63-473, 4 TDs).

DuBois has two common foes so far, losing to General McLane (39-12) and Franklin (42-35) last week. Most of the Beavers offense goes through quarterback Alex Kovalyak (55-for-97, 844 yards, 6 TDs, 5 Ints.). His top receivers are Nick Dilullo (17-350, 4 TDs) and Zach Shilala (15-186, 1 TD).


Clearfield (4-0) at Central Mountain (0-4)

The Bison head to Mill Hall to play a winless Wildcats team coming off a 41-14 loss to a 3-1 Bellefonte squad that hosts Clearfield next week in Mountain League action.

Central Mountain also has losses to Shamokin (12-7), Lewisburg (48-18) and Williamsport (28-0). Going into last week’s game, the Wildcats moved the ball mostly through the air with quarterback Zane Probst completing 36 of 68 passes for 521 yards with four TDs and an interception. They had rushed for just 100 yards in the first three games.

Quarterback Oliver Billotte continues to run the bulk of the offense for the Bison. He’s completed 47 of 80 passes for 822 yards with eight TDs and two interceptions. Billotte was leading the team in rushing (51-193, 8 TDs) with all eight of its rushing TDs, but Brett Zattoni (45-215) leads now while Jason Plubell and Mark McGonigal ran for scores in last week’s 28-16 win over Huntingdon. Jake Lezzer (28-499) is Billotte’s top receiving target.

Redbank Valley (4-0) at Iroquois (0-4)

The Bulldogs may be unbeaten taking on the winless Braves, but the schedule played so far by the D10 Class 2A school might be misleading when calculating how this one might go.

The Braves have lost to four teams with a combined record of 12-3 compared to the Bulldogs’ combined opponents’ record is 6-11. Iroquois has lost to Harbor Creek (4-0) 48-0, Sharpsville (2-2) 21-0, Greenville (3-1) 56-14 and Conneaut, Ohio (3-0), 62-6. It’s a run-heavy offense for the Braves. Antonio Rodriguez had 201 yards on the ground going into last week’s loss to Conneaut.

For the Bulldogs, it’s mostly a running game as well with Ray Shreckengost (33-272, 5 TDs), Kobe Bonanno (31-253, 5 TDs) and Hudson Martz (28-192, 3 TDs) getting most of the carries with quarterback Gunner Mangiantini (21-122, 2 TDs) showing some threat with the ball. He’s thrown for 451 yards, completing 41 of 68 passes with three TDs and three interceptions. His top threat is Ethan Hetrick (10-220, 2 TDs).