Football preview: So. Williamsport at Line Mtn.

South facts: The Mounties captured their sixth straight league title two weeks ago and are hoping to end the regular-season on an eight-game winning streak. South has clinched a first-round Class AA playoff game but needs a win tonight to remain No. 3 in the field. The HAC-III champions defeated NTL-II champion Muncy, 34-8 last week as the defense continued shining. South is ranked third among area defenses and has made huge strides since early this season. The defensive line has clogged up running lanes well and South has effectively rushed the passer, something of critical importance tonight against a pass-heavy offense. Austin Nash and Luke Winner have both enjoyed breakout seasons and both had interceptions in last week’s win. Nash and Winner both have three interceptions and Nash returned one a program-record 102 yards for a touchdown against North Penn-Mansfield. Senior running back Gideon Green leads District 4 in rushing but was injured last week and missed most of the last three quarters. Still, the offense performed well with the offensive line again controlling things up front. Ashton Martin moved from fullback to tailback and scored twice while going over 2,000 career yards.

South player to watch–A.J. Flick: The junior quarterback has progressed well in his second year starting and leads the area in passer rating. Flick has thrown for 946 yards and 16 touchdowns, keeping defenses honest in the process. He will be just as important tonight on the other side of the ball. Flick has helped solidify the secondary that will be trying to contain some big-play receivers tonight.

Line Mountain facts: The Eagles have not officially clinched a Class AA berth but can do so with a win tonight. Even without a victory, they likely will advance. Line Mountain has put together a good season despite losing several starters from last year’s district semifinalist and won six of seven games before dropping a 14-6 contest to Juniata last week. Line Mountain is solid on both sides of the ball and sophomore quarterback Evan Herb is having a big year, throwing for 1,690 yards and 17 touchdowns. Herb has topped 200 yards five times and has a strong set of receivers at his disposal. Brenden Cregger and Breven Derk are both among the district’s leaders in catches, are big-play threats and have combined for 1,228 yards and 14 touchdowns. Gage Bowers also can do damage, catching three touchdowns and averaging 18.3 yards per catch.

Line Mountain player to watch–Chance Hackenburg: The junior linebacker has recorded a team-high five sacks and has 12 tackles for loss. Hackenburg was a force in a 21-0 win over Halifax, making 10 tackles, including, five for loss, and adding three sacks. He also a solid fullback who has run for 231 yards and four touchdowns.

Outlook: This is another good test for South entering the playoffs. Line Mountain showed what it is capable of against Newport and South will have to play a strong game to win again and secure the No. 3 seed.

— by CHRIS MASSE

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