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Keystone, Redbank Valley Football Teams Ready for Week 1 Exams

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Blane Gold subscribes to the notion that if you have two quarterbacks, you really don’t have one.

But, what about three?

(Photo by Shelly Atzeni)

The Redbank Valley football coach was blessed this camp with a three-headed quarterback battle between incumbent Gunner Mangiantini, last year’s backup Cam Wagner — who filled in for an injured Mangiantini and won a state playoff game — and newcomer, Senior Bryson Bain.

The decision on a starter was an incredibly difficult one for Gold — and one he hasn’t made yet going into the season-opener on the road against Keystone at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“All three of them have done everything we’ve asked them to do and done it pretty well,” Gold said.

Gold may use all three at times in certain packages. Each of the quarterbacks has a particular set of skills that make him dangerous.

But, Gold isn’t going to go to a rotation at QB. There will be a clear starter — who that is remains a mystery.

“We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in a dual-quarterback rotation,” Gold said. “Even from game one last year, though, we were running packages for Cam with Gunner as the starter. And three years ago, actually, as crazy as it sounds, we played (all-state defensive end Joe Mansfield) at quarterback for two series a game; it was a Wildcat variety. We’ve always used multiple quarterbacks, but I wouldn’t call it a dual-quarterback system.”

There’s only one quarterback at Keystone.

Bret Wingard begins his second season as the starter and will face a challenge in the Redbank secondary.

Of course, the Bulldogs will also be challenged by Wingard and his athleticism.

“Their quarterback is good,” Gold said. “We always go into each game trying to break down the ways that teams can beat us, no matter who it is. This week was no different. Their quarterback is gifted, and he throws the ball well, but he can also make things happen with his feet, and that can be dangerous.”

Wingard looked sharp and got a lot of help in the scrimmage against Cochranton. His receivers made a number of big plays and the defense was stout Saturday.

“We had a couple of big catches and runs,” said Keystone coach Ryan Smith. “The secondary picked a ball off and had a couple of nice breakups. I think maybe they completed one pass against us on Saturday, so the secondary really stepped up and played well. They’re going to have to do that again, especially against Redbank with as many (deep) balls they throw.”

For Keystone, the opener against Redbank Valley is the ultimate litmus test.

“It’s like instead of a quiz right off the bat, it’s kind of like a midterm exam,” Smith said. “The guys are focused. We like to be the sleeper, you know.”

It’s also a test for Redbank Valley.

The Bulldogs are widely regarded as one of the best teams in Class A in the state. Gold has preached to his team throughout the offseason and camp that teams will be bringing their best to try to topple them this season.

As Gold says, no one cares what Redbank did last year, and no one cares where they are ranked among the best in the commonwealth.

“We expect to get everything and the kitchen sink from every team that we play,” Gold said. “We’re starting off with a Small School South game right off the bat. You know, this could 10 weeks from now be a game we look back on as a decider.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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