Playoff implications are on the line in week five, as Redbank Valley faces Keystone, while St. Marys and Kane square off for the second time this season.
(Photo by Kyle Yates Photography.)
Central Clarion squares off with Karns City in a battle for second place in the Southern Large School Division, while Ridgway has a must-win game against Bradford.
Redbank Valley at Keystone
Redbank Valley squares off against Keystone in one of the premier contests of the weekend. Redbank Valley is a perfect 3-0 after defeating Union/A-C Valley last week. The Bulldogs’ defense has been their strong point this season, as they have only allowed 14 combined points in their first three games. Meanwhile, a trio of Bulldogs rushers in Hudson Martz, Ray Shreckengost, and Gunner Mangiantini lead an offense that averages 170 rushing yards per game. The 3-1 Keystone Panthers won a tightly contested matchup with Curwensville last week, overcoming a fourth quarter deficit to snag the victory. This week’s game is big for Keystone, as a loss could put the Panthers in danger of finishing third in the division and missing the playoffs. The Panthers have struggled a bit offensively this year, but their strong defense keeps them competitive against any opponent.
One Thing to Watch: Both teams have strong defenses, and they also frequently struggle to get momentum going on offense. Field position and turnovers will be as important as ever in what will almost certainly be a low-scoring affair.
Curwensville at Brockway
Curwensville is 0-3, but the Golden Tide are coming off of their best performance to date in a close loss against Keystone. Curwensville has done a good job of stopping the run this season, but turnovers on offense have kept the Golden Tide defense on the field, contributing to poor late-game performances. Curwensville will hope to avoid mistakes to get their first win of the season against Brockway. Brockway scored their first win of the season last week against Cowanesque Valley in a solid offensive performance from the Rovers. Brockway will strive to continue their offensive momentum as they attempt to win their first conference contest of the year.
One Thing to Watch: Both teams have the potential to effectively pass the football, but the offenses have struggled to do so consistently this season. Which team will be able to establish a stable and reliable offensive rhythm?
Union/A-C Valley at South Side
Union/A-C Valley heads to Hookstown to face South Side in a non-conference contest. The Falcon Knights will be eager to hit the field again after dropping their first game of the year to Redbank Valley last week. Union/A-C Valley will look to reestablish their strong running game and involve their depth options in the non-conference battle. South Side is 1-3 in 2020, but they have two three point losses. The Rams should provide a stiff test for Union/A-C Valley.
One Thing to Watch: Union/A-C Valley will look to win, but they will also need to be sure to avoid injuries as they look to score a playoff berth. The Falcon Knights might use their depth players in this contest, which should provide these younger players with valuable experience.
Central Clarion at Karns City
Central Clarion squares off against Karns City in a fight for second place in the Large School South Division. Last week, Central Clarion defeated DuBois via a close 15-7 decision. Central Clarion struggled to get their offense going in the win, but their high-flying offense will look to bounce back against a Karns City team who had trouble containing Brookville’s passing attack. The Gremlins pounded Punxsutawney last week, getting revenge for their loss to Brookville. Karns City will look to use their mature front five to carve holes to jumpstart their strong running game.
One Thing to Watch: The game promises to be a clash of styles, where Central Clarion’s strong passing game contrasts Karns City’s powerful rushing attack. If Karns City can dominate the line of scrimmage with their veteran line, the Gremlins could produce multiple long drives, scoring points while keeping Central Clarion’s offense off of the field.
Punxsutawney at Brookville
The Chucks have a tough matchup this week against Brookville. Punxsutawney lost to Karns City last week, but will look to put in an improved performance against the Raiders. Quarterback Kameron Falgout has been the big playmaker for the Chucks, throwing and rushing for 208 yards apiece this season. 4-0 Brookville is coming off of another dominant win, defeating Moniteau 47-14 last week. Jack Krug is putting up huge numbers in 2020, throwing for 1242 yards and 18 touchdowns in four games. Brayden Kunselman and Kyle Macbeth are Krug’s favored targets, and the Raiders have four receivers with over 100 receiving yards.
One Thing to Watch: Brookville will almost certainly look to the air to take charge early. Will we see more of the Brookville running game if the Raiders are able to open up an early lead?
Moniteau at DuBois
Moniteau and DuBois are both looking to rebound from losses to snag their second win of the season. Last week, Moniteau lost to a strong Brookville squad. The highlight of Moniteau’s season has been their rushing game, which has been solid even in their losses. Mason Mershimer is the focal point of the Warrior offense, and he averages over 100 rushing yards per game. DuBois narrowly lost to Central Clarion last week in a game where DuBois ran the football well. The Beavers seem to have finally gained some consistency on offense, something that was lacking in their early season performances. Zach Henery has been the catalyst for DuBois’ success on the ground, rushing for 255 yards in four games.
One Thing to Watch: Both teams love to run the ball, and despite their lack of victories, both Moniteau and DuBois have run the ball well this season. The team that wins the battle in the trenches will almost certainly emerge victorious. Moniteau’s strong rushing against Brookville should be a positive sign for the Warriors, who will look to emulate their success this week.
Cameron County at Smethport
Winless Cameron County had last week’s contest cancelled, and they will face off against 3-0 Smethport. Cameron County lost to Elk County Catholic and Coudersport by wide margins. The Raiders look to get their season going as they face off against Smethport. The Hubbers have rode their relentless rushing offense to a 3-0 record. The Hubbers average 327 yards per game on the ground, and the duo of quarterback Noah Lent and running back Braedon Johnson have the vast majority of Smethport’s rushing yards.
One Thing to Watch: Having a week off could provide some added rest and a bit of extra time for Cameron County to prepare for Smethport. Will the Raiders come prepared to stuff the run, or will Smethport exert their supremacy in the trenches?
Coudersport at Otto-Eldred
Coudersport improved to 3-0 last week with another commanding win over Elk County Catholic. Quarterback Hayden Keck and running back Brandt Kightlinger continue to propel the Falcons’ offense, each rushing for over 300 yards in three games. The Falcons average 313 rushing yards per game, making them tough to reel in once they grab the lead. Otto-Eldred is 1-1 so far in 2020, losing to Smethport before defeating Port Allegany. The Terrors are led by quarterback Cole Sebastian, who averages 175 passing yards per game and has only thrown one interception in 61 passing attempts. The Terrors have 4.5 sacks and three interceptions through their first two games, and they will need to force turnovers to compete with the relentless Coudersport offense.
One Thing to Watch: Coudersport has made a habit of jumping out to an early lead, and their unstoppable running game makes it difficult for opposing teams to chip away at the deficit. Can Otto-Eldred keep the Falcons off of the board early, or will Coudersport again achieve dominance on the ground?
Kane at St. Marys
Kane will face off against St. Marys in what will be the second and final game between the two sides this season. St. Marys beat Kane 23-7 earlier this season, with St. Marys quarterback Christian Coudriet throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Kane threw the ball 43 times in the game, but only gained 132 yards through the air. Kane snagged two interceptions in the contest, but their inability to find the endzone nullified their takeaways.
One Thing to Watch: Kane was able to notch 11 tackles for a loss and two interceptions in their first battle with St. Marys, but they could not turn their defensive successes into points. This time around, the focus will be on Kane’s offense. Can Kane get the job done offensively to stick with St. Marys’ free flowing offense?
Bradford at Ridgway
Bradford had struggled with turnovers in their 0-3 start, and their first game with Ridgway was no exception. The Owls fumbled the football six times in the loss, and Ridgway rushed for 151 yards to cement a 45-14 victory. The Owls have had poor ball security in all three of their losses, and they will need to eliminate turnovers to compete with the Elkers. The Elkers have struggled to gain yards on offense, but their defense has been relentless thus far. The contest is also a must win game for the Elkers, who need the key win to stay in playoff contention.
One Thing to Watch: Turnovers have been the story of the season for both teams, as Bradford has given the ball away far too often, while Ridgway has benefitted from other team’s mistakes to score turnovers of their own. If Bradford can fall into a rhythm and avoid turnovers, they should be able to compete with a Ridgway team who utilizes turnovers to fuel their offense.