Football preview: Danville at Montoursville

Danville facts: The Ironmen are hoping to exact a measure of revenge after losing to Montoursville twice last season, including 28-10 in the District 4 Class AAA champion. And here is thinking Danville cares little that only a few starters on either side of the ball remain from that Montoursville team. In contrast, Danville returns nearly every starter, but it has survived serious scares the first two weeks, edging Bloomsburg and South Williamsport by eight combined points. The Ironmen stopped Gideon Green on the game’s final play as South tried a game-winning 2-point conversion last week. Danville’s defense shut down Bloomsburg in the opener but South ran the ball well against it. This is an experienced and athletic group that has some of the district’s premier playmakers, including Derien Yeager and Jared Mowery. Peyton Riley has intercepted a pass in each game and also ignites the offense. The versatile junior has thrown five touchdowns in two wins and has two outstanding receivers in Peyton Persing and Shane Kozick. Persing caught six passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns against Bloomsburg and Kozick had four catches for 130 yards and three scores against South. Danville’s running game has been slow to get going despite the offensive line being stout. Still, look for that element to improve. Senior Gannon Feldman is a three-year starter who ran for 1,180 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Danville player to watch–Ken Cooper: The four-year starting linebacker is one of the district’s best and has 251 career tackles, including 17 for loss. Cooper had 14 tackles last week and made a career-high 113 tackles last year. Cooper added three sacks and an interception a year ago.

Montoursville facts: The defending District 4 Class AAA champions have opened the season with the district’s toughest stretch of games and it does not get any easier with Danville tonight, Mount Carmel next week and Jersey Shore after that. Still, Montoursville is a growing team that can only improve as the season continues. If the Warriors can keep tonight’s game competitive it will be a huge step in the right direction. Montoursville is playing its home opener and slow starts have doomed them the first two weeks, falling behind by 31 and 41 points, respectively, at Shikellamy and Selinsgrove. Montoursville has come back in the second half each time and could take some momentum from outscoring Selinsgrove, 21-7 in the second half last week. Freshman Dylan Moll is a player to watch on both sides of the ball and ran for his first high school touchdown last week while fellow freshman Jacob Reeder ran for 36 yards on five carries. Quarterbacks Hunter Shearer and Dylan Bennett both have promise and Bennett found fellow freshman Dillon Young for a second-half touchdown against Selinsgrove. The defense held up against the run last week, but Selinsgrove’s air raid hurt it and the Seals produced five first-half touchdown passes. Senior defensive back Brandon Dyer made six tackles and Anthony Washington and Brian Shaffer are both three-year starters who could help the defense progress throughout the season. Defensive end Owen Hoffman earned all-state honors last year, finishing tied for the area lead in sacks with 11.

Montoursville player to watch–Dalton Tubbs: The senior linemen is one of the best in District 4. He is doing all he can to help the offensive line jell and was dominant last year when he did not allow a sack during Montoursville’s 13-game season.

Outlook: Montoursville will get better as the younger players gain more experience but through the early part of this season, that might not show on the scoreboard as much.