Football preview: Wellsboro at Montgomery
Wellsboro facts: The Green Hornets are three wins from capping a third undefeated regular season since 2013 and have won 18 straight regular-season games going back to 2015. Wellsboro blanked Cowanesque Valley, 75-0 last week and is third in the District 4 Class A points standings. If Wellsboro finishes 10-0 it will enter districts seeded no worse than No. 2 since undefeated Southern Columbia and Central Columbia play each other in Week 9. Wellsboro has mercy-ruled every team it has played this season and will win a second straight NTL-I championship if it beats Wyalusing and North Penn-Mansfield the next two weeks. The Hornets lead the area in offense and defense and quarterback Quinn Henry has accounted for 29 touchdowns this season three different ways. Henry leads the area in passer rating and has a good shot at topping both 1,000 passing and rushing yards in the same season for a second time in three years. Aidan Hauser and Chase Moser also are dangerous runners and have combined for 918 yards and 15 touchdowns. The offensive line has been one of the area’s best and four Hornets have topped 100 yards in a game. Dalton Prough is tied for the area lead in touchdown catches with seven and had four catches for 116 yards two weeks ago at Muncy. The defense allowed minus-8 yards in last week’s win and has 24 sacks. Hunter Brown is having a big season, leading the team in tackles and adding six sacks. Robert Brown topped 100 tackles in each of his first two seasons and is second on the team in tackles. Moser has returned three interceptions for touchdowns the past two seasons and linebacker Brent English is a quality playmaker who returned an interception for a go-ahead touchdown against Muncy. Wellsboro is 46-8 since 2013.
Wellsboro player to watch–Collin Pietropola: One of the NTL’s best all-around players, Pietropola is an excellent center who helps pave the way for the team’s playmakers. He also is a standout linebacker who topped 100 tackles last season and who has four sacks this year.
Montgomery facts: Montgomery is having its best season since 2009 and is above .500 this late in the year for the first time since 2001. The Red Raiders already have doubled last year’s win total, have won four of their last six games and are second in the District 4 Class A points standings. Montgomery has nearly clinched a playoff spot and would host a first-round game if the playoffs started tonight. Montgomery has played well on both sides of the ball and dominated Canton in last week’s 34-7 win. Montgomery beat Canton for the first time since 2005, scored 34 second-half points in a near 15-minute span and forced six turnovers. Montgomery is ranked fourth among area defenses and held Canton to 172 yards. Chris McClintock, Jensen Drick, Steven Prince and Nick Pryor intercepted passes and linebacker Rhyle Strausbaugh played another strong game. Pryor is a team leader on both sides of the ball and is one of several player who has helped set a physical tone that is so key to the team’s turnaround. The offensive line controlled things up front against Canton as Montgomery ran for 328 yards. Fullback Eithan Marino is a strong blocker who also ran for a career-high 138 yards and a touchdown. Fellow running back Hunter Budman has scored 14 touchdowns and is third among area rushers with 839 yards. Montgomery can do damage through the air as well and quarterback Brayden Strouse has thrown four touchdown passes the last two weeks, including three against Wyalusing. The Raiders have a shot at recording their first winning season since 2000 and could host a playoff game for the first time since 1999.
Montgomery player to watch–Jensen Drick: A swiss-army knife type player, Drick can beat teams in a variety of ways. He has caught two touchdowns, ran for a 71-yard touchdown last week and also can throw the ball if called upon. Drick has been key to the program’s resurgence and also is a good defensive back who has a team-high three interceptions.
Outlook: Montgomery is having an outstanding season, but has to play its best game of the season by far to make this one competitive.
— CHRIS MASSE