Troy at NP-Mansfield football preview
Troy facts: The Trojans are coming off a heartbreaking 27-21 loss to Towanda and need to win their last two games to have any shot at reaching the District 4 Class AA playoffs for a fifth straight year. Another loss would give Troy its first losing season since 2004. Troy snapped a four-game losing streak to weeks ago when it erased a 13-point third-quarter deficit and beat Wyalusing, 21-20. Quarterback Clark Jackson is a dual threat who is throwing more than Troy quarterbacks in the past. He has thrown for 634 yards and topped 100 yards three times. He has one of the NTL’s best receivers at his disposal in Ja Wallace. A breakout player this season, Wallace had seven catches against Towanda and had a huge game against Athens, catching 11 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. Wallace also has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Troy opened its season by scoring 88 points in its two games but the defense struggled during the four-game losing streak and allowed 292 rushing yards last week.
Troy player to watch–Zach Zimmerman: The team’s second-leading leading rusher, Zimmerman is closing in on 500 yards and averages 7.7 yards per carry.
NP-Mansfield facts: The Panthers can win their second NTL-I championship in three seasons if they win tonight and against undefeated Wellsboro next week. North Penn-Mansfield has won four straight and its defense has been dominant. The Panthers have allowed just 14 points during that stretch and have two shutouts in their last three games. Sophomore linebacker Garrett David is having a huge season, averaging 11.9 tackles per game, making three sacks and adding four tackles for losses. Wide receiver Joel Whitteker earned all-state honors last season and could do so at safety this season where he is averaging 6.1 tackles per game. He has three interceptions and has made a team-high seven tackles for losses. He, Garrett Bickhart and Brendan Hill all have three interceptions and the Panthers have forced an area-high 23 turnovers. Bickhart and whittener both broke Bryce Zaparzynski’s previous career receptions record and have 87 and 84, respectively. All but three of those catches have come during the last two seasons. All-state quarterback Brock Burleigh went over 1,000 yards for a second straight season, throwing for 172 yards in last week’s 35-0 win over Cowanesque Valley. Shane Kelly, Aaron White and Tyler Boyer all are having good seasons on both sides of the ball and are key to the Panthers clinching a third straight playoff berth.
NP-Mansfield player to watch–Casey Amaral: The outside linebacker is having a quality season and made a career-high 10 tackles, including eight solos, against Bucktail. Amaral also has two tackles for losses and a fumble recovery.
Outlook: The Panthers cannot afford looking ahead to next week’s game against Wellsboro because Troy is a desperate and dangerous team. This is Senior Night at Island Park Stadium and if North Penn-Mansfield stays focused it should be a successful one.