BROCKWAY, Pa. (D9Sports) – And then there was one… Week ten has a lone playoff matchup, as Redbank Valley looks to continue their playoff run on Saturday afternoon at Frank Varischetti Field in Brockway against the Reynolds Raiders from District 10. A win would put the Bulldogs in the state semifinals.
(Watch the game live on exploreClarion.com and D9Sports.com with pregame starting at 3:30 p.m.)
The Redbank Valley Bulldogs defense came up big again, forcing five turnovers en route to a 28-15 win over Northern Bedford last Saturday. This week, Redbank Valley will face their biggest test of the season as they battle with Reynolds for a trip to the state semifinals on the line.
The tenacious Bulldogs’ defense continues to win games by shutting down opposing rushers, while forcing 17 turnovers in eight games. Kobe Bonanno has done an exceptional job clogging the trenches, and four Bulldogs’ defensive backs have two or more interceptions. The Bulldogs have not allowed more than 15 points in a game all season, and have held their last two playoff opponents to under 150 yards of total offense. Notably, the Bulldogs held Northern Bedford to -9 rushing yards last week, stuffing both inside and outside runs. Their interior and edge run defense will be tested again this week, as Reynolds uses jet sweeps to spread out their running game.
The Bulldogs’ two-quarterback system paid off immensely last week, as Cam Wagner seamlessly took over the offense after starting quarterback Gunner Mangiantini was unable to play due to injury. Wagner possesses less of a rushing threat than Mangiantini, but Wagner’s well-delivered deep ball offers a unique threat to opposing defenses. Meanwhile, the smashmouth running of Ray Shreckengost has defined the offense in the playoffs, gashing opposing defenses for chunks of yards. Shreckengost ran for 90 yards in the win over Smethport, followed by an 84 yard performance against Northern Bedford. The junior running back will need to be solid again this week if the Bulldogs hope to advance.
The Reynolds Raiders are a perfect 8-0 on the season, dominating their conference during a 6-0 regular season. Their domination continued into the playoffs with two shutout victories over Cambridge Springs and Eisenhower. Reynolds has a run-exclusive offense, rushing for over 300 yards per game while passing for a meager 35 yards per game. The Raiders jet sweep read option offense is led by Cole Toy, who has over 1000 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Dreyvin Livingston has 579 yards on the ground, while quarterback Brayden Mccloskey has 155 yards rushing. With five players registering over 150 rushing yards, Reynolds has a variety of threats on offense.
Toy has been the workhorse for the Raiders in the playoffs, rushing for over 100 yards in both playoff games and topping 150 yards in last week’s win over Eisenhower. With the defense focused on Toy, other Reynolds backs have been able to break off big runs, and the Bulldogs must be aware of Reynolds’ other rushing threats. Defensively, the Raiders are ballhawks, picking off 14 passes in eight games. Livingston and Clayton Rhoades have three picks apiece, while Luke Faber leads the way with seven sacks. Other than a close win in their first game of the season, Reynolds’ defense has kept opposing offenses out of touching distance of the Raiders. Reynolds allowed only 55 rushing yards in their first playoff game, before holding Eisenhower to a meager 15 yards on the ground. Both defenses are equally strong at stopping the run, setting up an interesting and grueling battle in the trenches during this week’s contest.
One Thing to Watch: Both teams run the ball with skill and power, and this matchup will certainly be a test of both teams’ work in the trenches. The team that dominates inside will be able to control the matchup and effectively move the football. It will be interesting to see what Reynolds does if they were to fall behind, as their passing game has been non-existent this season. On the flip side, Redbank Valley’s passing game could provide them with an out if they are struggling to ignite the running game.