Athens at Canton football preview

Athens facts: The Wildcats have all but clinched a District 4 Class AAAA playoff spot, but can make it official with a win tonight. Athens has won two straight and four of its last five and thumped Wyalusing, 42-22. The offense is clicking and had its best game last week, gaining a season-high 480 yards. Running back Zack Jayne ran for a career-high 251 yards while quarterback Justin Reagan threw for 219 yards and four touchdowns. Both players also went over 1,000 yards rushing and passing. Wide receiver Kalen Keathley is one of District 4’s premier all-around players and the offense has come to life since he returned from injury in Week 4. Despite missing a game and a half, Keathley still is among the district’s leading receivers, still has a shot at a 1,000-yard season and caught nine passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns against Wyalusing. The defense has been up and down at times, but is opportunistic, forcing 21 turnovers. Athens, which won 10 games last year, forced four turnovers against Wyalusing.

Athens player to watch–Mitch Kerrick: Keathley demands a lot of attention which can open up the middle of the field for Kerrick. The tight end is second on the team in receptions and has caught at least three passes four times.

Canton facts: The Warriors are a win and/or Montgomery loss from clinching the fourth and final District 4 Class A playoff berth. Canton has played the field’s top two seeds tough and led top-seeded Sayre 7-0 in the second quarter last week. Losing leading rusher Jimmy Bowman to injury, however, crippled the offense which managed just one first down over the final three quarters after his departure. If Bowman is lost for the season the Warriors will have to adapt quick on the fly and develop some more weapons. Camden Smith showed he could be one of those threats after catching a touchdown pass against Sayre last week. Smith also intercepted two passes against Sayre and leads the area with five interceptions. Quarterback Ridge Moore looked strong early last week and had a big game against Wyalusing in Week 2, throwing for 165 yards and two touchdowns. The defense has six interceptions the past two weeks and has forced four turnovers in each game, the first a 33-15 win over Montgomery that bolstered Canton’s playoff hopes.

Canton player to watch–Kaden Martell: No name was heard more often last Saturday than Martell’s. The talented linebacker was all over the field and seemed to be in on every play. Martell made 15 tackles and also recovered a fumble.

Outlook: Athens is starting to roll and Canton is banged up, also losing lineman Ryan Croft last week. All signs point to a convincing Athens win.