Around the area: Week 3

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Hunter Budman and Montgomery are looking to get to 2-1 tonight.

Montgomery (1-1) at Sayre (0-2)

The Red Raiders could be poised for their best season in eight years and could highlight that turnaround after they go on the road and beat last year’s NTL-II champions. Doing so would put Montgomery above .500 multiple weeks into the season for the first time since 2004 and would put them valuable points ahead of Sayre in the District 4 Class A standings. The Raiders dominated the line of scrimmage last Friday, defeating Cowanesque Valley, 27-6 and outgaining it, 436-136. Montgomery must cut down on the 18 penalties it received last week, but could be dangerous if it builds off last week’s performance.

Hunter Budman and Eithan Marino ran at will behind a strong offensive line and Budman finished with a career-high 192 yards and three touchdowns. Jensen Drick is a quality receiver who ran for a touchdown and Coty Steele is a valuable tight end. The defense excelled against the run but did give up some big pass plays. Drick and Thomas Shadle, though, snuffed out drives with end-zone interceptions and defensive end Hudson Werner had three sacks. Sayre edged Montgomery in a 21-20 thriller last year, stopping a potential game-winning Raider 2-point conversion.

Sayre also started 0-2 last year but won eight of its next nine games and reached the district final. The Redskins are throwing the ball more than in the past and quarterback Corbin Brown threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns at Wellsboro last week. Dominik Mazzaresse caught four passes for 99 yards and Gage Carnrike is a playmaker on both sides of the ball. Keep an eye on running back Austin Arnett who could give the run game a boost.

Athens (2-0) at Wellsboro (2-0)

Athens and Wellsboro have each won the last two NTL-I championships and the winner of tonight’s game joins Towanda as one of the favorites to capture the title this year. Athens finished 7-4 last year and has owned the line of scrimmage in wins over Cowanesque Valley and North Penn-Mansfield. Running back Zack Jayne has been a force, running for 283 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 26-12 win over NP-Mansfield. Jayne has nine touchdowns in two games while fellow running back Damien Hudson ran for 160 yards against CV. Expect Athens to try and get Jayne involved early and often and ride a defense that has allowed just two touchdowns and that has forced five turnovers.

Wellsboro is seeking its fifth straight 3-0 start and is the third game of a season-opening four-game home stand on its new turf field. The Green Hornets look as strong as they did last year and the starting defense has surrendered just one touchdown. Zach Florio has five sacks in two games and Chase Moser returned an interception for a touchdown in last Friday’s 48-14 win over Sayre. Linebackers Robert Brown and Collin Pietropola are among the best in the area and Wellsboro has 11 sacks in two games.

The offense has been as impressive as the defense with quarterback Quinn Henry accounting for eight touchdowns and looking like a player who could top both 1,000 yards passing and rushing in a season for the second time in three years. Moser is another three-year starter who ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries last week. Dalton Prough has caught three touchdowns and the offensive line has helped Wellsboro lead the area in yards and points per game, averaging 504 yards and 56 points, respectively. The road team has won the last two in this series with Athens winning a 27-26 thriller at Wellsboro two years ago.

Milton (0-2) at Lewisburg (1-1)

Milton will be trying to beat rival Lewisburg for the first time since 2006 while also trying to snap a 19-game losing streak that dates back to 2015. The Black Panthers continue to struggle defensively but are showing offensive progress and are doing a lot of damage through the air. Quarterback Phil Davis has come a long way since his sophomore season last year and trails area yardage leader by Connor Watkins by just one yard. Davis has thrown four touchdown passes and had a career-high 284 yards in the opener against Selinsgrove.

Receivers Qaylin Rice, Francisco Manzano and Alex Garcia have each had strong receiving performances and Rice caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown last week. Garcia also can do damage in the backfield and ran for 97 yards on 12 carries in last week’s loss to Warrior Run.

Lewisburg struggled without running back Max Moyers last week at Central Columbia, losing 45-6. The Green Dragons opened their season with a 19-15 win over Hughesville, but after scoring 13 points in the game’s opening 94 seconds have managed just 12 points. The offensive line struggled against Central as Nick Shedleski was sacked several times. Wide receiver Dylan Farronato was a bright spot in the game and is having another strong season. The three-year starting junior is one of the area’s top receivers and also ran for a touchdown and threw a 48-yard completion against Central. He returned an interception for a touchdown against Hughesville.

Lewisburg’s defense played a strong game against Hughesville but was run over against Central. Linebacker Drevin Doebler helps ignite the defense and was all over the field against Hughesville, making 14 tackles, including two for a loss, and adding a sack. Doebler added eight more tackles last week and two more for loss. Fellow linebacker Andrew Shedleski is the team’s top returning tackler from last year and has 15 tackles in two games.

Warrior Run (1-1) at Bloomsburg (0-2)

The Defenders should be extra motivated for tonight’s game after losing twice to Bloomsburg last year, including 56-7 in the Class AA Eastern Conference championship. Warrior Run played a strong game in last week’s 34-14 win at Milton and is a few plays from being 2-0 after losing a close opener against Muncy. Senior Pacey Howard is flourishing at running back, the fourth position he has played during his scholastic career. Howard ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns against Milton and also returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown against Muncy. Quarterback Gage Anzulavich is seeking his third straight 1,000-yard season and threw for 127 yards and two touchdowns against Milton. Sophomore Denver Beachel is a reliable target for Anzulavich and has caught seven passes the first two weeks.

Warrior Run’s defense slowed Milton for most of the first three quarters last week and forced three turnovers. Linebacker Ty Kirkner made an immediate impact after missing the opener and made 10 tackles. Sophomore Jackson Welliver is developing into a strong player and has 19 tackles in his first two starts while Jeffrey Burkhart added a sack against Milton. Austin Hampton made 10 tackles against Muncy and sophomore defensive back Riley Daubert has 18 tackles in two games.

Bloomsburg is a better team than its record indicates, opening the season against heavyweights Danville and Southern Columbia. The Panthers showed how dangerous they can be in the opener, losing 14-7 to Danville. Linebacker Mitch Reed sparks a defense that gave Danville fits and has 22 tackles, along with a forced fumble. Running backs Hunter Coulter and Joe Zola both could have strong seasons and quarterback Nick Anderson is a four-year starter. Wide receiver Eric Foust is a three-year starter who had 645 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. Bloomsburg won the battle up front in both wins against Warrior Run last year, running for 509 yards in those wins and forcing six turnovers.

NP-Mansfield (1-1) at Wyalusing (2-0)

The Panthers started strong against Athens last week as Brendan Hill ran for a 79-yard touchdown but Athens controlled the line from there and won, 26-12. North Penn-Mansfield is replacing a lot of players from last year’s 8-3 team but is loaded with promise and could reach districts for a fourth straight year if it keeps improving. The defense struggled against the run last week but shut down Northwest in a 14-10 season-opening win. Linebacker Garrett David was in on 21 tackles against Athens and the junior already has 37 tackles in two games. Safety Judson Wise made 12 solo tackles and Brendan Hill also had 12 tackles.

Hill helps spark an offense that continues to develop playmakers year after year. Hill nearly ran for 1,000 yards last season and has four touchdown runs of more than 70 yards in the past two seasons. Quarterback Brent Burleigh is learning in his first season starting and has thrown three touchdowns in his first two starts. Wide receiver Dylan Wesneski is filling a void left when current Pittsburgh wide receiver Garrett Bickhart and Joel Whitteker graduated and caught seven passes last week. Wesneski also has scored in both games and Nick Kasper gives North Penn-Mansfield another big-play threat. The Panthers and Rams are evenly matched but Wyalusing will be eager to try and win this rivalry game for the first time since 2012.

Wyalusing is 2-0 for a second straight year and won a 25-21 thriller at Canton last Saturday, breaking up a potential game-winning touchdown pass as time expired. The Rams controlled the line of scrimmage but had four costly turnovers, including two in the red zone. Wyalusing scored 25 straight points after falling behind 13-0 and has good balance after years of relying mostly on the run. Quarterback Calvin Burke is a strong overall athlete who threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns against Canton while also running for 83 yards and catching a touchdown. The Rams sometimes split Burke outside and use sophomore Shane Fuhrey at quarterback. That looked worked well with Fuhrey completing 7 of 9 passes for 57 yards and also breaking off a 49-yard run.

Bucktail (1-1) at Canton (0-2)

The Bucks look like a different team from last year when they were the district’s youngest and went 0-10. Bucktail remains young but has a good core of starters who received a lot of playing time last year. The Bucks allowed just 64 yards in a 12-0 season-opening win at St. Joseph’s and played Towanda hard in last week’s 47-20 loss. Logan Long seemed to be everywhere against Towanda, making eight tackles, intercepting a pass, recovering a fumble and catching two touchdowns. Liam Dwyer and Cody Hand also intercepted passes and Bucktail has four sacks in two games.

Quarterback Richard Perry started for the first time last season and that experience is paying big dividends. Perry accounted for three touchdowns last week, throwing for two and running for another. Running backs Gage Sutcliff, Blake Cannon and Tanner Riggle make a nice trio and all are back next year as well. Sutcliff, a freshman, ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns in his first high school game and Cannon ran for 79 yards against Towanda. Riggle added 45 yards on seven carries against St. Joseph’s.

Canton dropped a 25-21 heartbreaker to Wyalusing last Saturday, nearly rallying from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit. The Warriors scored a touchdown, forced a fumble and drove 90 yards with no timeouts in the last three minutes before a potential game-winning 5-yard touchdown pass was broken up. Sophomore Timmy Ward was spectacular, catching 13 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Michael Smithers is a dual threat, leading the team in rushing and possessing a nice arm. Camden Smith is another big-play threat in the passing game.

While Canton’s defense struggled against Wyalusing it made some huge plays at big times, forcing four turnovers. Nick May forced a fumble at the 5-yard line late in the game, giving Canton a chance at making a game-winning drive. Uriah Bailie intercepted a pass and both Dennis Saar and Kaden Martell did a nice job penetrating and getting into the backfield. The Warriors started 0-2 last year but turned things around with a Week 3 win at Bucktail. While the season is still early this is a big game for Canton. Four of the six teams in the Class A field reach districts and Canton can ill-afford to fall 200 points behind Bucktail.

Central Mountain (0-2) at Shikellamy (1-1)

The Wildcats have been in both their first two games at halftime, but have worn down in the second half each time and now are trying to avoid a second straight 0-3 start. The defense recorded a scoreless first quarter against Williamsport and allowed 10 first-half points against Hughesville but has been unable to capitalize. There are some nice playmakers on defense, including linebacker Mahlik Houtz who is going after a second straight 100-tackle season. Houtz made 12 tackles against Hughesvlle, including four for loss. Mason Campbell is tough to block coming off the edge and has a sack in each of his first two games as does Donvoan Burnell. Keep an eye on Seth Andrus as well after he made nine tackles last week.

The offense moved the ball well a times last week but did not effectively finish drives. Quarterback Austyn Carson is a dual threat who played an excellent game against Hughesville. Carson threw for 183 yards and a touchdown while also running for 97 yards and a score. Asher Corl caught eight passes and Zach Eck added four catches for 63 yards. The Wildcats have better balance than a year ago and already are almost halfway to last year’s passing total. Carson has done damage against Shikellamy in the past, throwing for 268 yards two years ago in a 34-22 loss.

Shikellamy has won both games since these two became HAC-I rivals, including 35-7 last year. The Braves have a good core back from last year’s team, but will be short-handed tonight. Running back Joe Folk will not play which shuffles the lineup. Quarterback Gabe Tilford moved to running back when Folk left last week and Tate Krankoskie moved to quarterback. Tilford and Folk helped Shikellamy run for 300 yards in last year’s win at Central Mountain. Tilford is a converted running back who ran for 1,143 yards last year and who threw for 154 yards and a score in a 44-20 season-opening win over Montoursville.