WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — While a disturbing number of schools in District 9 and around the state have had to deal with COVID issues, game cancelations and general tumult, the Karns City football team has so far remained relatively unscathed.
The teams the Gremlins have played so far, well, not so much.
Karns City has beaten Punxsutawney and Central Clarion a week after those two programs had games canceled.
(Photo by Kathy Sutton)
The Gremlins (3-0) will play another team with a gap in their schedule this week when they take to the road to clash with rival Moniteau.
“We’re just interested in playing football on Friday nights,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “Every game we want to win and cherish and make the most of it.”
Moniteau (0-2) has had a rough start to the season — on and off the field.
This will be the Warriors’ first home game of 2021 after two-hour bus rides to Kane and Ridgway sandwiched around a bye because of their own virus quarantine, which is still ongoing to a lesser extent.
Moniteau did a lot of things right even in a 21-6 loss to Kane in Week 1. But the rust and missing players showed last week in a 42-14 loss to Ridgway.
“It’s hard to get into rhythm when you’re missing players,” said Moniteau coach Bob Rottman. “We had that whole week off when we couldn’t do anything as a team, it was all online. And then, you know, you come back for a day and you lose a couple of seniors for another week of quarantine.”
Rottman, though, expects everyone back Friday.
Moniteau will need all hands on deck to contend with a Karns City team that is clicking right now.
The Gremlins fell behind Central Clarion 6-0 early last week, but then rolled to a 37-13 win. Karns City battered the Wildcats with a punishing ground game that produced 325 yards on 59 carries.
Senior fullback Luke Garing had 144 yards on the ground despite a sprained left ankle.
“Every year you can count on Karns City being in the mix at the end of the year,” Rottman said. “The challenge is the same challenge every year with them. We have to match their intensity and sustain that for an entire game for our guys a chance to win it at the end.”
Karns City has also been buoyed by the play of quarterback Eric Booher, who threw two touchdown passes against Central Clarion last week.
Booher has been efficient this season.
“Eric has been progressing well,” Sherwin said. “He had a nice week of practice this week. I look for bigger and better things from him in our passing game. We want to continue with our running game, but want to be able to blend the two better than maybe we have in the first few weeks of the season.”
Karns City’s defense has also played well.
The Gremlins’ first unit has only given up two touchdowns in three games so far.
Moniteau is hoping to put a dent in that statistic with its group of fast, talented — and inexperienced — skill players.
Cooper Boozel caught 10 balls in Week 1, but the passing game sputtered at Ridgway.
Quarterback David Dessicino has shown vast potential, however, Rottman said. The 6-foot-4 sophomore has a strong arm and also has deceptive quickness.
“I like him a lot,” Rottman said. “He’s going to be a great player for us, not only in the future, but going forward this year. Last week, you don’t want to look at that too much because he was missing some guys around him in quarantine. Those guys will be back this week.”
Of course, when two rivals meet, sometimes records and talent levels become moot.
Both teams have had a history of upsetting the other. That’s what happens in rivalry games sometimes.
“They’re right next door,” Rottman said. “They’ve played against each other since youth football. They know each other quite well. We’ve been able to play them tough, even when our record hasn’t been as good.”