Montoursville at Hughesville football preview

Montoursville facts: The Warriors can clinch homefield advantage throughout the District 4 Class AAA playoffs if they exact a measure of revenge and win tonight. Hughesville defeated Montoursville, 28-21 on Senior Night last year. Montoursville has won three games by five points or fewer but finally had a comfortable win last week, blanking Milton 49-0. The Warriors lost the majority of their starters from last year’s district finalist but started 6-0 and their only loss is to defending Class AA state champion Southern Columbia. Montoursville also snapped a 15-game losing streak against Selinsgrove and has beaten the top three-ranked teams in District 4 Class AAAA. The Warrior defense has played well the last two weeks and held Southern to a season-low three touchdowns two weeks ago. Linebacker Torin Lewis has been one of the best in the area and defensive end Owen Hoffman has 8 1/2 sacks. Safety Brian Shaffer is among the team’s leading tacklers while cornerbacks Riley Conboy and Anthony Washington combine to form a formidable duo. Wide receiver Tommy Shea caught two touchdown passes last week and leads District 4 with 899 yards and 10 touchdowns. Quarterback Brycen Mussina needs just nine yards tonight to become the area’s third 6,000-yard passer. He is tied for the district lead in touchdowns (21) and threw four of his six completions for touchdowns last week. Tight end Mitchell Rothrock is a difference maker and nearly half of his catches have gone for touchdowns. Montoursville is playoff-bound for a sixth straight season and for the 15th time in the 2000s. Montoursville made big late-game stands in three of its first four games to preserve wins and has come from behind to win three times.

Montoursville player to watch–Bryce Ranck: The two-way starter is one of the team’s unsung heroes and plays well on both sides of the ball. He had two tackles for losses in last week’s win at Milton and had two sacks in a big season-opening win over Shikellamy.

Hughesville facts: The Spartans could all but clinch a District 4 Class AA playoff berth with a win tonight. Hughesville has won two straight and has surged to No. 6 in the standings. The top eight teams advance. Hughesville steamrolled potential playoff team Central Columbia two weeks ago but started slow last week at Warrior Run, trailing by 17 at halftime before rallying for a 21-17 win. It was the third time Hughesville overcame a second-half deficit to win. Quarterback Landon Henry went over 1,000 yards for a second straight year in the win and also is fifth in the area in rushing. He has topped 100 yards rushing and passing in four of his last five games. Running back Ryan McClain ran for a career-high 221 yards against Central as the offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. Fullback Jase Wright is a versatile threat who is second on the team in receiving and third in rushing. He made a great play on a 54-yard touchdown catch against Warrior Run, bouncing off a defender and going the final 30 yards after making a tough catch across the middle. Senior Josh Dauberman is a two-way force who consistently disrupted Warrior Run’s offense last week while recovering a Hughesville fumble at the 1-yard line that allowed Gavin Steele to run in for his fourth touchdown, the game-winner. Wide receiver Brenden Gardner is a big-play threat who had eight catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns against Central. The defense blanked Warrior Run in the second half, rushing the quarterback well and stuffing the run. Junior linebacker Dale Shrawder is having a super season and had a game-high 15 tackles in the win. Hughesville is seeking its third straight playoff berth and overcame a seven-point deficit to win at Montoursville last year.

Hughesville player to watch–Patrick Rogers: The junior wide receiver made one of the biggest plays last week, making a leaping catch and going 52 yards for Hughesville’s touchdown while providing the Spartans just the spark they needed. Rogers can run and catch and also is a solid defensive back who broke up two passes last week.

Outlook: Hughesville is trending upward and is a dangerous team moving forward. The records really do not matter here because both teams have a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball. Montoursville is the favorite entering the game but this could be a back and forth contest and should be a lot of fun.