Hughesville at Muncy football preview

Hughesville facts: The Spartans have won three straight in this rivalry and 14 of 15 games, going back to 2001. Hughesville can clinch a third straight District 4 Class AA playoff berth with a win tonight. The Spartans are No. 7 entering tonight and the top eight teams advance. Hughesville has won two of its last three games and came within a Hail Mary completion of beating one-loss Montoursville Saturday, dropping a 38-35 heartbreaker. The Spartans have rallied for three wins after trailing in the second half and nearly overcame an 11-point deficit in the final minute against Montoursville. Ryan McClain returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, intercepted a pass and caught a touchdown in defeat. Quarterback Landon Henry threw for 199 yards and four touchdowns and is among the area’s leading passers and rushers. Julian Brehm is a player to keep an eye on. A defensive factor, Brehm also is an emerging offensive weapon and the junior tight end caught a 66-yard touchdown against Montoursville. Linebacker Dale Shrawder is having a huge junior season and had 14 tackles, as well as a sack last Saturday. Gage Avery also has been a big defensive factor and has a team-high six sacks. The offensive line has played well during the season’s second half and paved the way for 1,105 yards of offense in a two-week span against Bloomsburg and Central Columbia.

Hughesville player to watch–Brenden Gardner: The senior wide receiver is a big-play threat who has two 100-yard games and who had eight catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns in a season-changing 47-28 win at Central Columbia. Hughesville spread the ball around well to other players last week and that could take some pressure off Gardner.

Muncy facts: The Indians are District 4 Class A playoff-bound for a second straight season, earning the No. 3 seed and will play at No. 2 Wyalusing in the semifinals. South Williamsport snapped a two-game winning streak last week, but the Indians showed lots of promise, playing the Mounties tough and delivering some big hits. The defense has performed well down the stretch and the starters allowed no points in those last two wins. Defensive end Hunter Poust is having an outstanding season and has made a team-high 16 tackles for loss. He is part of a good, young core returning next year. Sophomore linebacker Mike Kustanbauter also is at the heart of that nucleus and was outstanding against South, making three tackles for loss, flying to the ball and scoring a touchdown. Tylor Rupert has a team-high 3 1/2 sacks and has surged during the season’s second half and Adam Dietrick intercepted a pass last week. Sophomore quarterback Coleman Good has made big strides after starting last season and has a shot at having a 1,000-yard season. Senior receiver Jeff Fry caught five passes last week and twice has topped 100 yards in a game this season. Running back Colby Alpaugh leads the team in rushing and touchdowns and Dylan Wilt caught a crucial 31-yard touchdown pass on fourth down against South, setting up Kustanbauter’s touchdown.

Muncy player to watch–Donovan Diehl: A two-way starter, Diehl helped set a physical tone with some hard hits early last week. Diehl is another up and comer on this improving team and made seven tackles against district top seed Sayre.

Outlook: Muncy showed last week that it is going in the right direction and cannot be overlooked. Hughesville is the favorite, but this should be a tough one.

–by CHRIS MASSE

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