AA: Line Mountain at NP-Mansfield football preview

Line Mountain facts: The Eagles are making a two-hour road trip a week after nearly winning at South Williamsport in a 41-33 shootout loss. Line Mountain features a potent offense led by dual threat Kenny Boyer. The senior moved from running back in the offseason and has run for 1,295 yards and 14 touchdowns. But Boyer and the Eagles showed they can do damage through the air last week as he threw for a career-high 241 yards and three touchdowns. Brenden Cregger had four catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns and averages 20.7 yards per catch. Brent Osman is back from injury and ran for 78 yards and a touchdown last week after gaining a team-high 775 yards a year ago. The defense has been up and down at times, but played a strong game in Line Mountain’s signature win, a 28-17 Week 9 victory over Juniata. Cole Hauck has intercepted four passes while Osman has returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The Eagles have five defensive scores and Breven Derk has returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

Line Mountain player to watch–Gary Laudenslager: A versatile linebacker, Laudenslager has a team-high four sacks and also has intercepted two passes. The senior has forced two fumbles and had 10 tackles in a 20-14 loss to Williams Valley.

NP-Mansfield facts: The Panthers are seeking a third straight district championship appearance after reaching the past two Class A finals. They also want to erase the memory of last week’s day-night 32-0 loss against rival Wellsboro. NP-Mansfield had allowed no more than 20 points in a game the first nine weeks and had surrendered just 14 points during a five-game winning streak before Wellsboro gained 336 yards. The Panthers, though, are loaded with defensive talent at all three levels and linebacker Garrett David is having an excellent sophomore season, averaging 11.8 tackles per game. Safety Joel Whitteker looks like an all-state candidate and is tied for the area lead with five interceptions while also making eight tackles for loss. Aaron White, Tyler Boyer and Shane Kelly are tough up front on both sides of the ball. The offense has a lot of starters back from last year’s explosive unit but has struggled throughout the season’s second half. Quarterback Brock Burleigh has thrown for 1,274 yards and 13 touchdowns but opponents are defending the pass much better than a year ago against the Panthers. Garrett Bickhart is NP-Mansfield’s all-time leader in catches and 36 this season. Brendan Hill has run for a team-high 719 yards and had 185 yards in a season-opening win at Northwest.

NP-Mansfield player to watch–Judson Wise: Part of a strong secondary, the junior safety made a season-high nine tackles against South Williamsport and also had an important interception in an 18-6 win over Athens. Wise is a versatile offensive weapon and has caught a touchdown.

Winner plays: No. 8 Towanda or No. 1 Southern Columbia

Outlook: This looks like one of the most balanced matchups in any District 4 classification. North Penn-Mansfield lost the battle up front against Wellsboro and cannot afford a repeat performance against a team playing well.