Muncy takes step in right direction by topping Wyalusing

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Members of Muncy’s football team run onto the field prior to a game earlier this year against CMVT. Muncy defeated Wyalusing on Friday to earn a spot in the District 4 Class A championship game against Sayre.

Look throughout the Muncy football roster and something becomes obvious. This is a young and promising team that could do some big things the next few years.

Wait, forget that. The present is looking pretty good, too. And one better believe this young team can do something special this season.

Muncy has grown up fast and is embracing its opportunity. The Indians took a huge step forward Friday night, making the 2-hour trip to Wyalusing and defeating the second-seeded Rams, 27-18 in the District 4 Class A semifinals. Muncy (5-6) won a playoff game for the first time since 2002 and will try and win the program’s first district championship since the 1980s next Friday when they travel to Sayre.

Forget the coming years. The future is now.

“It feels great to get make history and show how much hard work we’ve been putting the off season and in season,” two-way starting lineman Hunter Poust said after playing another strong game. “At the beginning of the season our main goal was to be district champs and that’s never left the minds of any of us.”

“Those sophomores aren’t sophomores anymore,” Muncy coach Sean Tetreault said. “We’ve come a long way since Week 1 and it’s exciting to see them put it together. In all three phases we’re playing well. We believe.”

It showed against Wyalusing. The Rams took an 11-0 lead into the second quarter. Any team, let alone a young one, could have easily become rattled in that situation but Muncy regrouped and scored the next 14 points. Wyalusing took an 18-14 halftime lead but Tetreault channeled his inner-Sean Payton and opened the second half with an onside kick.

The gamble paid off as Muncy recovered, mounted a time-consuming drive and took a lead it never relinquished. The second half was essentially pure power as both lines took over. Poust and fellow offensive lineman Malik Wertman, Isaac Mottern, Seth Balliet and Jacob Whitaker, as well as tight end Peyton Hulyo, were sensational and Muncy ran at will. Quarterback Coleman Good ran for a career-high 141 yards and a touchdown while Mike Kustanbauter and Colby Alpaugh combined for 97 yards.

So strong and effective were Muncy’s offensive line and backs that Wyalusing managed just two second-half offensive possessions. Kustanbauter and Good scored second-half touchdowns and Good dropped the hammer on both Wyalusing and Muncy’s playoff win drought when he intercepted a pass on Wyalusing’s final series.

“Our mindset at halftime was that we were going to be the better second half team and to not give up because we knew we could finish the game on top,” said Poust, who leads the area in tackles for loss. “The last few weeks we’ve been really emphasizing the push we need up front on offense and all the hard work has start to come together. We are really starting to buy in to what we’re being taught.”

“Our kids went in at the half and were not nervous at all. We knew it would be close from start to finish,” Tetreault said. “They showed poise. They were ready to come out and play our brand of football and make the situation better.”

Tetreault, now in his second season, is building a program built in his image. He was a dominant lineman at Hughesville and Lebanon Valley and also played some professional football. Tetreault played for one of the best Hughesville teams in program history in 2005 and now Muncy is adopting that hard-nosed, physical approach that made that team so successful.

Muncy defenders and linemen are about as subtle as a sledge hammer. This a tough team that lets opponents know when they have been hit. Even though it lost at South Williamsport three weeks ago, Muncy made a statement that night going toe-to-toe with one of District 4’s most physical teams and exchanging some fearsome hits. That game might have provided a turning point because the Indians have grown stronger, more determined and continue setting a physical tone whenever they play.

Kustanbauter, a sophomore linebacker, is quickly becoming one of the area’s top young players. Good is an excellent safety, Alpaugh has returned an interception for a touchdown and different young players keep growing and making plays. The seniors are delivering as well with Malik Wertman leading the team in tackles, Jeff Fry leading it in interceptions and receptions and Hulyo making plays on both sides of the ball.

“Our younger kids we have are becoming hammers,” Poust said. “Mike Kustanbauter is only a sophomore and he’s been a really stepping up on both sides of the ball.”

All the Indians are at this point and that is why they will be playing in their first district final since 2005 Friday night at Sayre. Muncy has navigated a tough schedule that included Class AA semifinalists South and Wellsboro who are a combined 21-1. Sayre is the only Class A team to beat Muncy, winning a 23-22 overtime thriller six weeks ago. Muncy made a last-minute rally to force overtime and took an overtime lead before Sayre scored on its overtime possession, went for 2 and earned the hard-fought win.

The loss hurt, but now Muncy has a second chance.

“It’s the best feeling in the world to get another crack at the No. 1 seed in District 4 who only beat us by a point in overtime,” Poust said. “We’re definitely coming ready to play and it’s going to be a dogfight between who wants it more.”

Muncy looks like it has a bright future. Maybe it’s best days are ahead. But nobody can predict the future, especially in sports, and when championship opportunities come, one must embrace them like they are their last.

The Indians might be young, but they are hearing that message loud and clear. And now they have a chance to put themselves in some elite Muncy company and so something that no Muncy team has done for quite a long time.

“We’re excited. We don’t want to think about next year,” Tetreault said. “We want to break that trend at Muncy. It’s been a long time since Muncy has brought home a district title and we’re bringing everything we’ve got and the kids will be ready for Friday.”