HS football preview: Mifflin County at Williamsport
Mifflin County facts: The Huskies are making their season debut tonight and are coming off a season in which they made a three-win improvement. They have a big roster and a good core back from that team and will be eager to try and exact some revenge after being blown out in the last two games of this annual series. Mifflin County went 3-4 down the stretch after losing their first three games last year. They feature a dangerous offense that averaged 23.9 points per game last year. Quarterback Noah Wright was the backup last year but showed flashes in limited action, throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Mifflin County is hoping to improve its defense after surrendering 31 points per game last season. Williamsport gouged Mifflin County for 665 yards in last year’s, 61-25 decision.
Mifflin County player to watch–Cole Baker: The senior running back could become the team’s primary ball-carrier a season after averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Baker scored two touchdowns against Williamsport and was the team’s leading scorer in rushing touchdowns. Baker ran for 82 yards on eight carries against Greencastle-Antrim and is capable of breaking big plays.
Williamsport PPG–34, YPG–397; PPA–7, YPA–85
Williamsport facts: The Millionaires are seeking their third straight 2-0 start and overcame a rough first quarter to pound Central Mountain in last week’s opener. The Millionaires hurt themselves by compiling 110 penalty yards in the game’s opening 10 minutes. Once Williamsport settled itself, it dominated, scoring on five of its next six series and allowing just 85 yards. It was a solid opening performance for a young team trying to replace the majority of starters from last year’s 6A state quarterfinalist. Losing all-state running back Treyson Potts to a season-ending ACL injury over the summer hurt, but linemen Chance Bower, Jamaire Burget, Kurt Danneker, Tucker Kreisher and Dalton Kriner form a strong unit that can pave the way for a consistent running game. Williamsport moved the ball at will over the last three quarters a week ago as Blaze McClements, Latrelle Jackson and Alec Dickey all averaged more than six yards per carry. Quarterback Joe Fagnano was outstanding in his first varsity start, throwing for 166 yards and four touchdowns. Slot receiver Marcus Simmons is playing the role Elliott Walker performed so well last year and was a force against Central Mountain. Simmons caught six passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns, absorbing a hit in the backfield and breaking free for a 45-yard touchdown to ignite the Williamsport offense. The defense flew to the ball, bottled up the run and intercepted two passes. Linebacker Cam Dickey picked up where he left off last year, making four tackles for loss. Fellow linebacker Nathan Welch led the team in tackles, Ben Garverick had a sack and both Thomas Robinson and Welch intercepted passes. Robinson also blocked a field goal and Ethan Williams tipped the ball in the air, setting up the Welch interception and a touchdown. Williamsport will retire the jersey of former Heisman Trophy winner and Millionaire alum Larry Kelley at halftime tonight.
Williamsport player to watch–Colin Esposito: It might not have shown in the boxscore, but Esposito showed he be a strong playmaker last week. Esposito made a super catch on a 50-yard touchdown in the first quarter only to see it wiped out by a penalty. Still, Esposito showed he can be that quality playmaker that helps take pressure off Simmons and prevents teams from focusing a lot more attention on him. Watch out for tight end Ethen Stryker as well who caught a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Outlook: Williamsport showed it can still be mighty dangerous last week if it cuts down on the self-inflicted wounds. A win tonight would be a good springboard into a tough part of the schedule that starts next Friday at Hazleton.
–by CHRIS MASSE