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TICK, TICK, BOOM!: Redbank Valley Offense Detonates for Two Quick TDs to Start Second Half on the Way to Win Over Port Allegany and District 9 Class A Title

BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Tick. Tick.

The Redbank Valley offense is a time bomb. It can go off at any time.

Tick. Tick.

(Pictured above, Redbank Valley celebrates the District 9 Class A title)

Even when it struggles, like it did at times in the first half of the District 9 Class A championship game on a soggy Friday night against Port Allegany at Brockway’s Frank Varischetti Field.

Tick. Tick.

The opponent thinks they are safe.

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

Tick. Tick.

Then …


The boom came from the right arm of sophomore quarterback Jaxon Huffman and the speed of senior receiver Ashton Kahle. Trailing 7-6 at the half, the Bulldogs’ offensive detonated with touchdown passes of 21 and 81 yards between those two players just two minutes apart early in the third quarter as Redbank Valley wrested away the D9 trophy from Port Allegany, 26-7.

“I knew he was the fastest guy on the field,” Huffman said about Kahle, smiling. “All I had to do was look down and see him running and throw it up. I have faith in him to come down with the ball every time.”

Huffman was thrust into the starting role this week with Redbank Valley’s record-breaking quarterback, Braylon Wagner, still out with an injury.

On Tuesday, Wagner looked ready to go. But the sophomore, who has thrown for 2,541 yards and a school-record 39 touchdown passes, had a setback on Wednesday.

That’s when the Bulldog coaching staff decided to hand the reins of the offense to Huffman, who was battling his own shoulder injury. It wasn’t an ideal night for a quarterback to make his debut with a steady rain and gusty winds.

To complicate matters further, Huffman was fighting through a separation to the AC joint in his right shoulder.

“There’s definitely a lot of therapy and fighting through pain,” Huffman said. “But, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Luckily it wasn’t a big tear.”

Huffman rebounded from a shaky start and the elements to finish 11-of-20 for 344 yards and three touchdowns. In the second half, he was 4-of-5 for 192 yards.

Kahle was his favorite target.

Kahle finished with eight receptions for 247 yards and the two touchdowns. With his big game, he went over 1,000 yards receiving this season — the first Redbank player in school history to have more than a 1,000 yards receiving in a season.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for me, and I’m glad I could be the first at Redbank, but I don’t want to take all that credit because it’s all about whose number is getting called. I feel like any of the four receivers we have on the field — we’re calling their numbers all season.”

Kahle said he had complete confidence in Huffman, despite the fact the young quarterback had never started a varsity game, was just 7-of-7 for 26 yards this season, and only played junior varsity at the position this year.

(Redbank Valley’s Ashton Kahle, left, and Jaxon Huffman were named Hager Paving Incorporated Players of the Game)

“I told Jaxon as soon as we found out he was going to be our starter this week, I told him, ‘Go play ball, man. Have fun out there. We all believe in you,’” Kahle said. “There’s a high level of trust.”

In the first half, however, defending champion Port Allegany had the kind of game it wanted.

The Gators (10-3) struck first on a 49-yard run by Peyton Stiles to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Redbank Valley (11-1) responded with a 14-yard touchdown from Huffman to Mason Clouse on a post route at the back of the end zone, but the 2-point conversion failed and Port Allegany remained in the lead at 7-6.

The Gators had a couple of chances to extend that advantage, but had a drive stall at the Redbank Valley 15 and another come to an end at the Bulldog 14 on a missed field goal.

Port’s defense came up with a huge stop at the end of the first half. The Gators were simply trying to take a knee deep inside their own territory when the snap was botched and Redbank Valley recovered at the Port 11.

But the Bulldogs were not able to capitalize, a penalty forcing a 36-yard field goal attempt that missed short at the end of the half.

“Against a team like Redbank Valley, you can’t get inside the red zone two different times and not put points on the board,” said Port Allegany coach Justin Bienkowski. “That’s a fast football team, a well-coached football team. We have nothing but respect for them. They earned it. They deserve it. We wish them the best.

“If it can’t be us,” Bienkowski said, “why not them to represent District 9.”

The two quick scores to start the second half completely altered what Bienkowski and the Gators were trying to do — run the ball, run the ball, and, well, run the ball.

Redbank Valley threw an interesting look at Port Allegany with safeties in the box and corners essentially playing safety.

“We kind of got creative with our scheme this week,” said Redbank Valley coach Blane Gold. “We knew that we weren’t going to win the battle inside between the tackles, so the entire game plan was we were going to plug every gap and we were going to try to make them bounce it to Mason Clouse, bounce it to Ashton Kahle, bounce it to Owen Clouse. We knew we were going to give up chunks at times, and we brought our safeties up in the box, and we felt pretty confident that they weren’t going to be able to throw the football on us.”

Port Allegany had 36 yards passing.

Stiles had 136 yards rushing at the half and finished with 156 yards on 22 carries.

Redbank Valley largely held Aiden Bliss in check. The big sophomore bruiser of a back had 69 yards on 15 attempts.

The Bulldogs were able to put an exclamation point on their third D9 Class A crown in four years on a 2-yard run by Huffman.

That also capped his huge game in a pinch.

Next man up to light that Redbank Valley fuse.

“Jaxon is way beyond his years,” Gold said.

Huffman’s father, Jason, was the quarterback on the 1991 Redbank Valley football team that won the district title.

“Like father, like son,” Jaxon Huffman said, smiling.

Redbank Valley will play either Lakeview of Cambridge Springs in the PIAA Class A playoffs next week at a site and time to be determined.

Lakeview and Cambridge Springs will play for the District 10 championship on Saturday.

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