WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — The Moniteau football team likes to run the football.
Lately, the Karns City football team has had to run the football.
When the two teams meet on Friday night, it will be a journey back in time to an era when the forward pass was frowned upon.
(Above, Moniteau running back Hunter Stalker follows his blockers during a game last season)
“This game could be over in an hour and 15 minutes,” said Moniteau coach Bob Rottman, chuckling.
Karns City (2-2) ran the ball 60 times last week against St. Marys in a 14-6 victory. Quarterback Eric Booher continues to recover from a hairline fracture in his right wrist which has prevented him from throwing a single pass the last two weeks, both Gremlin wins.
Backup quarterback Mason Martin is also mending from a broken finger on his throwing hand.
“They’re both close,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “They’re both on the same timetable. I’d say with in the next few weeks here.”
Rottman, though, is preparing his team in the event Booher can put the ball in the air Friday night.
“I’m still not ruling out them throwing the ball,” Rottman said.
Not that Karns City has had to put the ball in the air. Or even wants to at this point.
In the last two weeks, the Gremlins have run the ball 110 times for 582 yards.
The offensive line has gelled under the adversity of injured quarterbacks. Despite Ridgway and St. Marys knowing Karns City’s passing game is virtually non existent, it didn’t matter.
“I think it can be a springboard for the rest of the season,” Sherwin said. “It took us a few weeks to get the right guys in the right spots and so forth. We were looking at seven or eight guys on the offensive line, so we finally settled on a crew. It takes some time and luckily they were able to put it together the last few weeks and we were kind of able to turn our season around a little bit.”
Moniteau (1-3) is hoping to turn its around. And soon.
The Warriors lost a tough one, 7-0 to Brookville, last week.
Moniteau had a touchdown in that game called back by penalty and also turned the ball over at the Raider 13 on another drive.
Through four games, the Warriors have turned the ball over 17 times.
“We get something going and we shoot ourselves in the foot,” Rottman said. “I’ll be honest with you. We’ve struggled at different things over the last few years, but this is the first time I’ve dealt with the turnover bug. We’re just trying to be more disciplined and stress ball security, but I don’t want to handcuff them from being football players.”
Through it all, Moniteau has played stout defense.
Senior Matt Martino is having a stellar season with 54 tackles — 12 for a loss — in four games.
The Warriors have given up just 34 points in the last three weeks.
“The kids are playing fast on defense,” Rottman said. “They’re playing downhill. We have a lot of tackles for losses and we’ve been pressuring the quarterback. That’s helped on the back end with the passing defense this year.”
Rottman believes his team is a whisker away from breaking out.
“If there’s ever a week to do it,” he said, “this is the one.”
Here’s a look at some other key games in Week 5:
KANE (1-3) at UNION/A-C VALLEY (2-2)
It was a huge bounce-back win for Union/A-C Valley last week against Brockway.
Dawson Camper had a huge game for the Falcon Knights with 107 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Brody Dittman was efficient in the passing game, going 7 of 12 for 101 yards. Skyler Roxbury caught four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. And the defense became the first to intercept Brockway quarterback Brayden Fox this season.
Camper also completed a 44 yard pass.
Kane comes to town coming off its first win of the season, a 48-27 triumph over Ridgway.
Ricky Zampogna had a massive game for the Wolves, rushing for 174 yards and five touchdowns as Kane amassed 434 yards on the ground.
Addison Plants added 136 yards and Sam West added 123 yards rushing for Kane.
REDBANK VALLEY (4-0) at RIDGWAY (0-4)
Redbank Valley is rolling into this matchup behind and offense that has been extremely potent.
Cam Wagner is quietly having an MVP-like season, completing nearly 74% of his passes for 1,039 yards and 17 touchdowns.
He has four standout receivers to throw to in seniors Tate Minich and Aiden Ortz and juniors Ashton Kahle and Mason Clouse.
The running game has also been effective for the Bulldogs. Sophomore Drew Byers has rushed for 326 yards this season and Wagner has shown the ability to run with 127 yards.
Ridgway is coming off a loss to Kane in which it gave up 434 yards rushing.
CENTRAL CLARION (4-0) at BRADFORD (0-4)
There’s been a lot of compelling stories around the Central Clarion football team this season during the Wildcats’ 4-0 start.
Jase Ferguson has elevated his game at quarterback as a sophomore. Ashton Rex has emerged as one of the best big-play receivers in the state. And Ryan Hummell has been a force at linebacker while playing on a torn ACL.
But what has really stood out has been Central Clarion’s penchant for causing turnovers.
The Wildcats have forced teams to turn the ball over 22 times in four games. That’s a staggering rate.
They travel to Bradford to play a team that is struggling mightily.
The Owls have been outscored 176-73 so far this season and have just 18 rushing yards in four games.
One of the bright spots for Bradford has been sophomore quarterback Talan Reese, who has thrown for 1,045 yards and seven TDs.
KEYSTONE (3-1) at SMETHPORT (1-3)
Keystone is coming off its first loss of the season in a game where not much went right in a 42-7 setback to rival Redbank.
Kyle Nellis did have 91 yards on 19 carries and Tyler Albright added 55 yards on the ground a touchdown, but the defense gave up nearly 400 yards passing.
Smethport has been something of an enigma. After losing to Redbank in Week 1 in a game where the Hubbers were missing 15 players, they bounced back to beat Cameron County, 22-6. Since, though, they have been shut out in back-to-back games.
BROCKWAY (2-2) at PORT ALLEGANY (3-1)
This Saturday afternoon game is a big one for both teams.
The Gators have shut out their last two opponents, beating Smethport, 28-0, and then Cameron County, 46-0, last week.
Blane Moses leads Port Allegany’s punishing ground game with 357 yards and seven touchdowns. Noah Archer has added 252 yards and quarterback Drew Evens 124 yards.
Brockway’s two losses have come by a combined seven points, including a 26-20 setback to Union/A-C Valley last week.
Brayden Fox has completed 90-of-146 for 1,168 yards and 12 TDs.
Alex Carlson already has 45 receptions for 536 yards for the Rovers.