Many casual football fans might have first noticed Matt Krezmer when he scored a fourth-quarter touchdown Friday at Hughesville.
Those who know the game well noticed him all night. And they have noticed him his whole scholastic career. Krezmer might not touch the ball a whole lot but he is one of Montoursville's most valuable players.
The three-year starter at fullback and linebacker is a punishing lead blocker as well as a hard-hitting, smart defensive presence. That was on display throughout Friday's 42-7 win. He might not get many headlines, but Krezmer is a big reason his team does.
Matt Krezmer (37) blocks for Clay Stoner (43)?far more often than he touches the ball, but is still important for the Montoursville offense.
"His blocking from the fullback position is outstanding," Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer said. "I watched (New York Giants fullback) Henry Hynoski the other night and watched him leading up hard in the hole and that's what Matt reminds me of."
Krezmer's punishing lead blocks helped spring Clay Stoner for 143 yards and three touchdowns. With Krezmer leading the way, Stoner is among the district's rushing leaders and he has topped 100 yards three times. Krezmer also is an effective runner in short-yardage situations who caught two passes out of the backfield and scored on a six-yard run. Still, it his blocking that draws the biggest raves.
"Matt Krezmer is very valuable to the running game. He's almost like an extra lineman," Stoner said. "Without his blocks you can't go anywhere."
Krezmer and Stoner were part of a young Montoursville team that learned as it went in 2010. That team finished 3-7, but this duo made huge strides as the season progressed and a good relationship was built. Montoursville made a three-win improvement last year and returned to districts and now Montoursville is hoping to take the next step.
Krezmer is happy to be out in front, leading the way.
"He knows if this outside linebacker is coming, I'm either going to kick him out or hook him and he knows how to work his body and get Clay to the outside," Keefer said. "They've done it the last couple of years so they are getting pretty good at it. Matt's doing a heck of a job."
Good at opening up holes, Krezmer also is effective at closing them. The senior linebacker has a nose for the ball and made two stops for negative yards on Hughesville's first series. Krezmer's strong play sparked a dominant defensive performance and the Warrior starters allowed only 96 yards.
The frequent touchdown scorers and the players that put up big numbers often receive the most attention. Like an offensive lineman, Krezmer flies under the radar and helps those players flourish.
Observers might not notice Krezmer a lot, but opponents sure do. That is all that matters.
FOUR QUARTERS: Hughesville (0-4) is struggling, but the pieces to be successful are there. The results might not show it, but the Spartans have had some chances to be in every game. They do some things well, but then offset them with mistakes and bad plays.
Friday, Dakota Nixon scored on a 65-yard run to make it 21-7 and Hughesville then stopped Montoursville on downs before driving into Warrior territory. Just when it seemed the Spartans might make it a one-score game, disaster struck and Griffin Dunne returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown. Hughesville was never the same again.
In a way that sequence was a microcosm for a team that has promise. Right now it is all about consistency.
"We have to put four quarters of football together. We haven't done that yet. We'll play two quarters well, but haven't put four quarters together yet," Hughesville coach Andy Brown said. "We just have to keep working to do that and get some consistency and not turn the ball over and not make penalties. It's stuff we preach every week and we just haven't gotten there yet."
Hughesville will try and do so Friday when it hosts surging North Penn (2-2). The Spartans have opened the season by playing four straight playoff qualifiers from last year who are a combined 13-3 so they are ready for another challenge. Their challenge now is to eliminate the mistakes that have doomed them the first four weeks. Do that and Hughesville has the potential to turn its season around, especially with talented young players like Nixon, Logan Henry, Clint Snyder and Jacoby Foresman making strides.
"I don't want the kids to be happy with moral victories. They are nice but at some point you have to see the results," Brown said. "We're going to continue to preach that you have to play four quarters and if you play well the scoreboard should take care of itself."
FORGET THE FUTURE: Four days ago, I wrote that Loyalsock's strength was in its future and that Mount Carmel would beat it by "a few touchdowns." Can I get a do-over?
Turns out the future is now for the Lancers who shook up District 4, stunning defending Class AA champion Mount Carmel, 32-29 in the Silver Bowl. Mount Carmel has won five state championships and Loyalsock had never beaten it before Friday. The Lancers did not care. They felt right at home in an environment that has intimidated so many teams in the past. They embraced the situation, embraced being the underdog and made a major statement.
Now the present is as bright as the future. If Loyalsock can beat a team like Mount Carmel on one of District 4's most hallowed fields than anything seems possible. If the Lancers use this win the right way and stay focused on the challenges ahead, starting with Shikellamy Friday, that win could be a season changer.
Loyalsock (2-2) played undefeated Danville and Central Columbia tough the previous two weeks. Still, nobody outside its locker room expected Loyalsock to beat Mount Carmel. Not a year after finishing 1-9. Not after scoring 12 points in two losses. It all came together, though, and Loyalsock played swarming defense while having one of its most productive offensive performances the last two years. Offense, defense, the line, linebackers, defensive backs, young, experienced ... they all jelled Friday and gave Loyalsock one of the biggest wins in its program history.
Not even the 2009 district championship team beat Mount Carmel. That squad lost, 20-0 in the Silver Bowl. The past four years, Mount Carmel blanked Loyalsock three times and outscored it, 149-7. That drives home how big this win was. Athletes dream for moments like last Friday at the Silver Bowl to come along.
This team will always know that it owned that moment.
EXTRA POINTS: Former Williamsport quarterback Michael Person led Allegheny College to one of the country's biggest Division III upsets last Saturday, as Allegheny edged No. 7 Wabash, 20-17 in overtime. Person, making his second career start, completed 22 passes to seven different receivers for 177 yards and was brilliant on a game-tying fourth-quarter scoring drive...North Penn delivered coach Tom Dickinson his 100th career win in dramatic fashion, edging Towanda, 21-20. The defense came through with 10 seconds remaining, stuffing Justin Hunsinger on a 2-point try for the win. Dickinson has built a perennial winner at North Penn (2-2) and the Panthers have a shot to make districts in what once looked like a rebuilding year...It was great receiving a voicemail from Dorothy Bingaman Friday afternoon. Bingaman, 97, is the oldest Montgomery alum living and is cheering for the Red Raider football team as hard as she cheered for Montgomery teams during her school days.
Dr. Masse's Top 5
1. Montoursville (3-1): The Warriors were able to work on their passing game Friday and were effective. Quarterback Aaron Cole completed 10 of 19 passes for 119 yards. Cameron Karschner caught six passes for 72 yards and displayed the soft hands that have made him one of the district's top receivers the last two years. Cole is a first-year starter and possesses a nice arm.
"The running game and the passing game work off each other," Stoner said. "We'll run a couple times and that opens up the pass and if we get the passing game going it opens up the run. It's a cohesive kind of thing."
2. Lewisburg (3-1): One can argue that Brandon Smith is the best player in Lewisburg history. The four-year starting linebacker also might be its most versatile. Smith is playing his third position-running back-in three years and again is excelling at it. The two-time all-state selection ran for 146 yards and a touchdown in Friday's 24-14 win over Shikellamy and former coach Todd Tilford. Smith, looking at Penn State and Princeton, was a conference all-star at tight end in 2010 and wide receiver last year. This year, he is among the area leaders in receptions and also has run for 285 yards, leading Lewisburg in both categories.
3. Loyalsock (2-2): Linebacker Mickey Haller quietly has been a quality linebacker the past two seasons. Friday, his performance spoke loud and the rest of the district now knows what Loyalsock has known for a while-this kid can play. Haller was key to shutting down Mount Carmel's outside running game, made more than 10 tackles and broke up four passes. Defensive end Cody McCracken also was outstanding while Kyle Datres returned a fumble for a touchdown, Nick DiFrancesco made a game-clinching interception and Mike Dougherty shined on both sides. Haller's post-game quote to Sun-Gazette reporter Mitch Rupert is my favorite this season: "You come down here and it's intimidating," he said. "Everyone is wearing red. Grown men are saying stuff to you. But we walked in and said, 'Hell yeah, we're going to embrace it.'
4. Muncy (4-0): The Indians might have been caught looking ahead to Southern Columbia early in Friday's 38-7 win over Warrior Run, but that is OK now. The chance Muncy has been waiting for has arrived. Muncy heads to Southern Friday for a showdown of unbeaten teams. The Indians continued rolling against Warrior Run, gaining 500 yards for a second straight week while intercepting four passes. Sophomore wide receiver Maurice Brown seems to get better every week and had five catches for a career-high 140 yards. Keep an eye on freshman running back Manuel Ramos in the future too. He has played against some backups but has shined in that role, running for 163 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries.
5. South Williamsport (3-1): The Mounties showed no quit against Southern Columbia, scoring the game's final 14 points in a 42-21 loss. South lost for the first time but has all its goals in front of it and knows that if it plays well over the final six weeks it could see Southern again in the playoffs. Quarterback Tyler House has thrown seven touchdown passes, averaging one for every three completions this season. Running backs Brandon Stonge, Matt Bartholomew and Dominick Bragalone now all have more than 200 yards. South is capable of winning any game on its remaining schedule if it stays focused and tries to take the first step Friday at Warrior Run.
player of the Week
Von Walker, Central Mountain: Walker played the best game in Central Mountain history, running for 362 yards and five touchdowns while throwing for 156 more and another score while leading Central Mountain to a 50-14 win over Bellefonte. Folks, that's 518 yards of offense from one player. That is remarkable. And oh yeah, he added two sacks. Walker might be the best player in Central Mountain history and those who have not seen him play should try and catch the Wildcats in action because Walker is worth the price of admission.
Game of the Week
Mount Carmel at Montoursville: Two of the district's most tradition-laden programs collide Friday at Memorial Stadium. Mount Carmel (2-2) could be in desperation-mode after losing its last two games, adding more intrigue to a big game in which Montoursville is trying to exact revenge after losing twice to the Tornadoes last year. This one will have a playoff feel to it. Heck, any time these perennial title contenders get together it always does.