Football preview: Mifflinburg at Loyalsock

Mifflinburg facts: The Wildcats are in the midst of a tough opening-stretch of games and are hoping to pull the upset a week after losing, 38-0 in their home opener against Jersey Shore. Mifflinburg moved the ball well through the air at times last week, but had no running game and was unable to finish drives. Quarterback Gary DeGroat Jr. led the team in rushing in the opener against Central Columbia when he scored on a long run and completed 22 of 45 passes for 217 yards against Jersey Shore. Sophomore Rylee Stahl was his favorite target and had a big game, catching nine passes for 98 yards. Chris Day also is a reliable receiver and caught six passes for 51 yards. Cole Laubach is a versatile threat and three-year starter who is a factor on offense, defense and special teams. Mifflinburg held a second-quarter lead against Central in its opener but the defense struggled from there and allowed 556 yards last week. The Wildcats also hurt themselves with four turnovers.

Mifflinburg player to watch–Garrett Becker: The outside linebacker is one of several promising underclassmen starting and flies to the ball. Becker has 21 tackles in two games, reaching double figures both times. He had nine solo tackles against Central and added a tackle for loss in last week’s game.

Loyalsock facts: The Lancers played tremendous defense in last week’s 27-7 win at Shamokin, not allowing any offensive points and surrendering just 64 yards. It was a big improvement from the season opener against Mount Carmel. The Lancers played well at all three levels and linebacker Dom Fischetti topped 10 tackles for a second straight week, finishing with 11. Brandon Bauman, Ian Witmer and Brad Conroy all had sacks. Witmer looks like a breakthrough player and had two tackles for loss. Carmen Barone and Gino Ginobile are playing well up front and combined for 11 tackles. The defense receives a lift tonight as well with all-state linebacker Hunter Webb returning. The offense shook off a sluggish first three quarters and dominated in the fourth quarter as the offensive line asserted itself. Quarterback Connor Watkins is flourishing in his junior year and leads the area in both quarterback rating and yards. He also has accounted for eight touchdowns the first two weeks. Running back Cole Cavanaugh ran for 109 yards and a touchdown against Shamokin and has a shot at a second straight 1,000-yard season. Brock Hepler caught a career-high six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Loyalsock’s offense surged against Mount Carmel in the opener, totaling 456 yards. The Lancers overcame a 21-point deficit in that game and tied it twice in the second half. Loyalsock could build some valuable distance between itself and Mifflinburg in the District 4 Class AAA race if it wins tonight. The top four finishers in the seven-team field advance.

Loyalsock player to watch–Dylan Armson: The senior tackle is one of the premier linemen in the area and is at the heart of the line’s success the first two weeks. Armson, a 6-6, 290-pounder, is tough to move and has made nice strides throughout his scholastic career. Armson is receiving significant college interest and Fordham offered a scholarship earlier this summer.

Outlook: If Loyalsock stays focused and does not hurt itself with mistakes it should win its second straight game.

–by CHRIS MASSE

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