Montoursville at Milton
Montoursville facts: The Warriors lost their first game last week, 42-21 to defending Class AA state champion Southern Columbia. Montoursville nearly equaled Southern’s yardage but a kickoff return and two interception returns for touchdowns made the difference. Still, Montoursville leads District 4 Class AAA by 270 points over Loyalsock and controls its own playoff destiny. Montoursville has been maybe the district’s most resilient team, frequently coming back to win and winning four games by five points or fewer. The offense has produced at least 20 points per game and quarterback Brycen Mussina leads District 4 with 1,749 yards while being second in touchdowns with 17. Tommy Shea leads the district in yards and is second in receptions while Riley Conboy is third. Tight end Mitchell Rothrock is a difference maker and caught four passes for 86 yards and a 55-yard touchdown against Southern. Nolan Ott has returned from injury and Montoursville now has two strong running backs it can feature as primary ball-carriers after Torin Lewis shined in Ott’s absence and topped 90 yards three times. The defense has struggled at times but played Southern better than any previous opponent. The Warriors allowed the district’s highest scoring offense to just three offensive touchdowns. Ott and Conboy both intercepted passes. Shea and Rothrock combined for 17 tackles and Bryce Ranck added a sack. Montoursville already has clinched its 12th playoff berth in 13 seasons and a win tonight would assure it at least one home playoff game.
Montoursville player to watch-Anthony Washington: The junior cornerback is having a strong season and combines with Conboy to give Montoursville one of the area’s best cover tandems. Washington returned a fumble for a touchdown in a Week 3 win over Jersey Shore and set up a touchdown two weeks ago against Lewisburg with a long punt return.
Milton facts: The Black Panthers are young and have been beset by injuries as well, dressing only 24 players two weeks ago. Milton also is in the middle of a difficult stretch of games that started with Southern and continued with Mount Carmel last week. The Panthers were shut out for a second straight week at the Silver Bowl but did show some offensive progress. Sophomore quarterback Phil Davis threw for a career-high 153 yards and Xavi Rodriguez had a big receiving game. Eric Wilt is the team’s leading rusher and returned a kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown in a Week 2 loss at Warrior Run. The defense has struggled mightily but played its best game in Week 3 when it held Lewisburg to 17 points. Milton made three straight playoff appearances from 2011-13, but has gone 2-25 since.
Milton player to watch-Xavi Rodriguez: A two-way starter, Rodriguez has emerged on both sides of the ball the past two weeks. After making an interception in the end zone against Southern, Rodriguez caught six passes for 102 yards against Mount Carmel. Rodriguez was Milton’s first 100-yard receiver in three years.
Outlook: Every week has been a challenge for Montoursville which has been in battles every week. For the first time, the Warriors should cruise and pick up a seventh win.
-by CHRIS MASSE