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Football preview: Saturday night showdown in Coudy

Let there be one.

After Saturday night’s battle of unbeatens in Potter County, District 9 football will have one perfect record remaining after eight weeks when Redbank Valley visits Coudersport for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

(Photo: Coudersport’s Travis Gleason helps lead his unbeaten Falcons into Saturday night’s game against undefeated Redbank Valley. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)

While the Bulldogs (7-0) and Falcons (6-0) vie for playoff positioning in Class 1A in their Small School crossover showdown, this week’s 12-game schedule has several other interesting matchups.

Two key Large School Division games are Friday night. Ridgway (6-1), coming off its impressive win over Clarion last week, travels to Karns City (5-2) while Brookville (6-1) hosts Kane (5-2). In other Large School games, Clarion (6-1) hosts Bradford (1-6), Brockway (1-6) visits Punxsutawney (0-7) and Moniteau (2-5) travels to St. Marys (3-4).

In Small School crossover games on Friday, Keystone (6-1) hosts Smethport (5-1) while Otto-Eldred (1-6) visits Curwensville (1-6) and Union/A-C Valley (5-2) hosts Cameron County (0-6) at A-C Valley High School. Saturday’s other crossover game has Sheffield (2-5) hosting Elk County Catholic (3-3) with a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.

In the Mountain League, Clearfield (6-1) hosts Bald Eagle Area (6-1) and DuBois (0-7) travels to Meadville (5-2).

This will be the third meeting in two years between the Bulldogs and Falcons. Redbank Valley beat Coudersport, 41-27, at home during the regular season and then three weeks later the Falcons routed the Bulldogs, 52-7, on the same field at New Bethlehem to start their three-win run to the district title.

Coudersport is run-heavy is it was last year, averaging 309 of its 335 yards per game on the ground. Travis Gleason (86-748, 13 TDs) leads the running game out of the backfield with quarterback Hayden Keck (61-439, 8 TDs) runs the ball effectively as well. He’s thrown just 26 passes in six game, completing 17 for 457 yards and four TDs. John Minor has six catches for 233 yards and three TDs.

The Bulldogs haven’t been 8-0 since going undefeated during the regular season way back in 1996. They’re averaging 379 yards per game offensively — 264 rushing, 115 passing — as Gunner Mangiantini (67-for-111, 730 yards, 6 TDs, 3 Ints.) has been effective throwing and running the ball, gaining 371 yards on 43 carries. Ray Shreckengost (53-466, 6 TDs), Kobe Bonanno (49-387, 8 TDs) and Hudson Martz (45-272, 5 TDs) share the rest of the workload.

Ethan Hetrick (17-321, 4 TDs), Sam Hetrick (12-180, 3 TDs), Dalton Bish (14-122) and Javin Brentzel (17-117) are Mangiantini’s receiving targets.

The Falcons, who blasted Otto-Eldred 73-12 last week, average 47.2 points per game and have yielded just four touchdowns and 26 points all season with three shutouts. They’ve beaten Elk County Catholic (14-0), Sheffield (67-6), Curwensville (44-0) and Otto-Eldred last week, all common opponents with the Bulldogs.

Redbank Valley, averaging 37.1 points per game, has had nine straight shutout quarters, coming off back-to-back shutout wins over Smethport (21-0) and Curwensville (39-0) last week. They’ve beaten other common opponents Otto-Eldred (47-12), Elk County Catholic (22-6) and Sheffield (61-28), which it led 48-6 at halftime.

Saturday’s winner pretty much locks up the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class 1A playoffs while the loser still has a good hold on the No. 2 seed in what could be a five-team field with Smethport, Union/A-C Valley and Elk County Catholic.

In other games this week:


Ridgway (6-1) at Karns City (5-2)

Following its big win at home against Clarion last week, the Elkers have a road test in Butler County as they face the Gremlins who are coming off a come-from-behind 22-9 win at Kane last week. The Wolves are the only team to beat the Elkers.

Ridgway has been stingy as usual defensively. Outside their 25-21 loss to Kane in the second weekend of the season, the Elkers have allowed just four touchdowns in their six wins. Robert Briggs and Gabe Watts keyed the defense against the Bobcats, Briggs recording 17 tackles and two for losses while Watts had nine stops and two sacks. For the season, Briggs averages a team-high 9.7 tackles per game while Watts has 15 tackles for losses, a team-high eight of them sacks.

Offensively, the Elkers are a balanced group averaging 230 yards rushing and 157 passing. Quarterback Paul Gresco (70-for-98, 1,073 yards, 11 TDs, 2 Ints.) has completed over 71 percent of his passes while four rushers have at least 270 yards — Watts (53-373, 6 TDs), Jake Wickett (47-368, 6 TDs), Matt Dush (32-297, 5 TDs) and Tyler Watts (36-278, 2 TDs). Wickett (18-317, 3 TDs), Austin Green (18-285, 4 TDs) and Dush (18-251, 3 TDs) are Gresco’s top receiving targets.

Karns City trailed 9-0 in the fourth quarter at Kane before scoring 22 unanswered points. Quarterback Anthony Kamenski and running backs Luke Garing and Hunter Rowe all scored touchdowns. Kamenski is a big key to the Gremlins’ run-heavy approach, leading the team with 761 yards on 102 carries with seven TDs. He’s completed 21 of 56 passes for 381 yards with five TDs and three interceptions. Rowe (99-466, 6 TDs) and Garing (62-352, 7 TDs) also get carries. Kaden Scherer (6-179, 3 TDs) is the leading receiver who also has three returns for TDs, two kicks and one punt.

Kane (5-2) at Brookville (6-1)

The Raiders and Wolves haven’t played in Brookville since the Dwight D. Eisenhowser administration — yes, 1955 when they played the first night game ever in town at the old fairgrounds where the current Little League complex is — when the two played to a 0-0 tie. In fact, the Raiders have never beaten the Wolves at home, an 0-5-1 record.

The two have played in the years since of course a few times in Kane, including Brookville’s 57-38 win last year when Robert Keth threw for 424 yards and seven touchdowns. He’ll be at receiver this time around with Jack Krug running the offense. Krug, in his first start last week since suffering an ankle injury, threw for 209 yards and three TDs while running for another. He’s thrown for 1,141 yards, completing 100 of 157 passes with 13 TDs against two interceptions. He’s 73 yards short of becoming the 12th D9 passer to reach 5,000 career yards. He also leads the team in rushing with 377 yards and six TDs.

Krug’s leading receivers are Ian Thrush (50-721, 8 TDs) and Keth (30-371, 5 TDs) and Kyle MacBeth (27-302, 2 TDs).

Since starting the year 5-0 with a win against Ridgway, the Wolves have dropped two straight games, last week to Karns City in a 22-9 setback and 47-28 to Clarion two weeks ago. The Raiders beat the Gremlins, 42-41, in double-overtime earlier and lost 29-12 to the Bobcats.

Running backs Jake Alcorn (67-424, 5 TDs) and Teddy Race (53-385, 4 TDs), and quarterback Zuke Smith (50-for-120, 906 yards, 11 TDs, 7 Ints.) lead the offense. Race is having a big season statistically on defense at linebacker, averaging 13.4 tackles per game with a team-best 7.5 sacks. Alcorn has four return TDs, two punts, one kickoff and one interception.

Bradford (1-6) at Clarion (6-1)

The Bobcats look to regroup against the Owls, who won their first game of the year and ended an eight-game losing streak. Clarion was routed at 42-0 at Ridgway, playing the game without star running back Austin Newcomb whose status for this week’s game is unknown.

Newcomb (89-937, 15 TDs) is still close to getting over 1,000 yards rushing for the season while quarterback Cal German (48-89, 1,223, 16 TDs, 3 Ints.) and receiver Ethan Burford (23-758, 11 TDs) look to get things going again for a Bobcats team that’s facing an Owls defense that’s given up 44.7 points per game.

The Owls beat winless Punxsutawney, 59-34, last week and their 452 yards of offense accounts for over one-third of their season total. Running back Derek Sunafrank (333 yards, TDs) earned Player of the Week honors with his 201 yards on 19 carries and five TDs.

Brockway (1-6) at Punxsutawney (0-7)

The Rovers travel to the winless Chucks, who scored season-high 34 points in their 59-34 loss to previously winless Bradford last week. They had scored 46 points in their first six games. Brockway, meanwhile, lost 14-7 at Moniteau. They’ve scored 58 points in their six losses to go along with a 53-13 win over Bradford two weeks ago.

The Rovers are led by Jon Wood (80-549, 7 TDs rushing; 10-182, 1 TD receiving; 82 yards, 2 TDs passing) and Conner Ford (82-255, 3 TDs rushing; 443 yards, 2 TDs passing).

The Chucks’ Max London (79-527, 3 TDs) and Kameron Falgout (79-329, 2 TDs) lead the Chucks’ running game. Falgout has thrown the most passes from the quarterback spot (28-for-67, 225 yards, 2 TDs, 7 Ints.), but freshman Peyton Hetrick has made two straight starts there, going 6-for-15 for 144 yards and two TDs against four interceptions last week. London ran for 171 yards and two TDs against the Owls.

Moniteau (2-5) at St. Marys (3-4)

The Flying Dutchmen host the Warriors looking to stop their three-game losing streak while Moniteau is coming off its second win in three games in a 14-7 win at home against Brockway last week.

St. Marys, which lost 42-22 at Brookville last week, averages 358 yards offensively — 240 passing and 118 rushing — with quarterback Christian Coudriet (117-for-188, 1,583 yards, 12 TDs, 8 Ints.), running back Jacob Kline (77-590, 8 TDs) and receiver Bryce Walker (39-510, 2 TDs) leading the way.

Moniteau is run-heavy as usual in recent years as J.D. Dessicino (104-556, 4 TDs) is the leading rusher. Nick Martino (53-210, 2 TDs) will be a factor as well for the Warriors, who lost two weeks ago to Brookville, 21-8.


Otto-Eldred (1-6) at Curwensville (1-6)

The Golden Tide host the Terrors in a game between two one-win teams. The Tide have lost fie straight, scoring just one touchdown over that span with four shutout losses. The Terrors own a four-game losing streak with three of those losses coming by 14 points or less. Last week, the Terrors lost 73-12 last week to unbeaten Coudersport.

Curwensville is led by running back Duane Brady (98-257, 1 TD) and quarterback Dan McGarry (37-for-87, 344 yards, 2 TDs, 9 Ints.).

Otto-Eldred quarterback Cole Sebastian (113-fo-196, 1,577 yards, 17 TDs, 8 Ints.; team-high 257 yards rushing) and his top receivers Ethan Smith (36-676, 8 TDs) and Cameron Magee (36-529, 4 TDs) lead the Terrors offense.

Smethport (5-1) at Keystone (6-1)

It’s another one of the intriguing games on the schedule as the Panthers, in Class 2A, look to solidify their spot in the playoff standings. They haven’t lost since a season-opening 29-8 decision at still-unbeaten Redbank Valley, which beat Smethport 21-0 two weeks ago for the Hubbers’ lone loss.

Although the Panthers stuck mostly to the ground in last week’s 44-14 rout of Union/ACV, they’ve had some balance offensively with quarterback Isaak Jones (50-for-84, 1,015 yards, 13 TDs, 5 Ints.; 53-202, 6 TDs rushing), and running backs Nick Weaver (81-609, 6 TDs) and Taylar Altman (68-518, 5 TDs), and receivers Alex Rapp (12-311, 5 TDs) and Jayden Blazosky (15-265, 4 TDs) leading the way.

The Hubbers beat winless Cameron County last week, 39-7, and haven’t beaten a team with a winning record so far. Quarterback Noah Lent (34-for-777, 417 yards, 7 TDs, 2 Ints.; 110-595, 7 TDs rushing) and Braedon Johnson (69-430, 3 TDs rushing; 15-192, 3 TDs receiving) lead the team’s offensive attack.

Cameron County (0-6) at Union/ACV (5-2), at ACV HS

At Foxburg, the Falcon Knights host the winless Red Raiders after their five-game winning streak was snapped in last week’s loss to Keystone. Cameron County’s overall losing streak is now up to 10 straight games.

Running back Kylar Culbertson (53-385, 3 TDs), quarterback Luke Bowser (59-for-124, 746 yards, 8 TDs, 12 Ints.) and receivers Tanner Merwin (20-312, 3 TDs) and Caden Rainey (22-313, 2 TDs) key the Falcon Knights.

The Red Raiders have been outscored 218-39, with 20 points coming in a 31-20 loss to Sheffield. Last week, Nick Peters scored their lone touchdown in a 39-7 loss to Smethport.

Elk Co. Catholic (3-3) at Sheffield (2-5), 1:30 p.m., Saturday

The Crusaders look to get over the .500 mark with their Saturday afternoon trip to Sheffield. They’re coming off a bye week while Sheffield won its second game of the year in a 22-14 win at home against Port Allegany. The Crusaders beat Port, 35-7, earlier this season.

Sam Kaul (77-683, 6 TDs) has worked well into his role as the feature back for ECC since the loss of Stephen Bobby to an injury. Raivis Bobby (41-181, 2 TDs) will also get carries.

Sheffield broke a 14-14 tie with Aujamier Slappy-Washington’s 17-yard TD pass to Mirahn Price with just over two minutes to go against Port. Slappy-Washington threw for 128 yards and two TDs while Jahid Bennett ran for 154 yards on 20 carries.


Bald Eagle Area (6-1) at Clearfield (6-1)

The Bison and Eagles are two of the four teams at the top of the Mountain League standings with one loss. Clearfield’s lone loss is a 28-19 setback to Bellefonte two weeks ago while BEA’s lone loss came in its third game to Penns Valley in a 42-7 decision. The Bison beat Penns Valley 56-49 the week before BEA’s loss.

For the Bison, it’s an offense that averages 397 yards per game. Quarterback Oliver Billotte (81-for-152, 1,323 yards, 12 TDs, 5 Ints.), however, won’t have his top receiver Jake Lezzer (40-619, 4 TDs) available as he’s apparently out for the season with a knee injury. Brett Zattoni (109-586, 5 TDs) and Billotte (85-364, 11 TDs) are the leading rushers. Matt Pallo (14-259, 3 TDs) looks to be Billotte’s top remaining receiving target.

BEA has blanked its past two foes — Huntingdon (34-0) and Tyrone (31-0) — teams that Clearfield beat Huntingdon (28-16) and Tyrone (28-14). The Eagles average 404 yards per game offensively, 241 of it on the ground led by quarterback Jaden Jones (54-for-93, 747 yards, 13 TDs, 2 Ints.; 53-361, 3 TDs rushing), running backs Kaden Bittinger (55-410, 7 TDs rushing; 15-275, 4 TDs receiving) and Tommy Snyder (66-321, 3 TDs), and receiver Gage McLanahan (27-244, 3 TDs).


DuBois (0-7) at Meadville (5-2)

The Beavers will finish the season without their injured starting quarterback Alex Kovalyak, who came into the week with a district-leading 1,593 yards passing. They search for their first win on the road against the Bulldogs, who had their four-game winning streak stopped in a 34-33 loss at Oil City last week. The Oilers beat the Beavers, 55-54, three weeks ago.

Adian Castro (40-228, 5 TDS) and Michael Eisman (40-202, 3 TDs) are the Beavers’ leading rushers. Nick Dilullo (25-474, 4 TDs), Zach Shilala (33-348, 3 TDs), Chase Husted (23-339, 2 TDs) and Dale Kot (23-332, 3 TDs) were Kovalyak’s top receiving targets.

Meadville averages 362 yards per game rushing with quarterback Landon Beck throwing just 39 passes all season. Aryan Cotterman (127-1,166, 14 TDs) is over 1,000 yards rushing with Hayden Parks (66-591, 3 TDs) and Chandler Edwards (61-423, 6 TDs) also getting carries.