Football preview: Mount Carmel at South Williamsport

District 4 Class AA Quarterfinals

No. 6 Mount Carmel (6-4) at No. 3 South Williamsport (9-1)

Mount Carmel PPG-33.7, YPG-367.5; PPA-23.7, YPA-298.1

Mount Carmel facts: The Tornadoes are one of the most dangerous lower-seeded teams in recent years and will be itching for revenge tonight after South blanked it, 40-0 in last year’s quarterfinals. Mount Carmel, though, played that game without its MVP, John Ayres who was out with an injury. Ayres ignites Mount Carmel’s strong running game, rushing for a career-high 1,132 yards and 14 touchdowns. Four other players have run for more than 200 yards and Shane Weidner is a big-play threat who ran for 166 yards and three touchdowns against Milton. Mount Carmel also throws the ball well and sophomore Tommy Reisinger has thrown for 1,163 yards and 11 touchdowns. Reisinger threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns against Montoursville and a career-high four touchdowns against Lewisburg. The Tornadoes allowed 36 points in a comeback win at rival Shamokin last week, but have a physical unit that held Danville to one offensive touchdown in Week 6. Manus McCracken is one of the district’s premier linebackers, averaging 9.7 tackles per game and recording 16 for loss. McCracken was a force in a hard-fought Week 3 loss at Southern Columbia when he had five tackles for loss and two sacks. Sophomore linebacker Jack Chapman also is a good playmaker who has 11 tackles for loss and four interceptions, one that he returned for a touchdown. Keep an eye on Logan Wills as well. The sophomore defensive end has 18 tackles for loss and four sacks. Mount Carmel defeated HAC-I champion Shikellamy, 31-14 in Week 2 and its four losses are to teams who are a combined 34-6.

Mount Carmel player to watch-CJ Reichard: The versatile senior is a big-play threat who has caught 26 passes for 533 yards and five touchdowns while running for 264 yards and two more scores. Reichard has good speed and turned his three catches against Lewisburg into 144 yards and three touchdowns. Counting his 72 yards rushing in that game, Reichard scored four of the five times he touched the ball. He also intercepted two passes in last week’s 43-36 win at Shamokin.

South PPG-42.5, YPG-396.6; PPA-18.0, YPA-206.2

South facts: The HAC-III champions are hoping to reach a fifth district final in six seasons but have the first-round’s toughest matchup. South has won eight straight games since dropping a 34-33 overtime heartbreaker to Danville in Week 2. Like Mount Carmel, South has played a tough schedule and handed Central Columbia its first loss in Week 8. The Mounties also defeated No. 7 Line Mountain, 27-12 last week, gaining more yards against them than any other opponent. South’s offensive line has been outstanding and Reilly Barnes, Ben Johnson and Griffyn Metzger have 10 years of starting experience between them. Rion Withers and Dakota Hill also have played well in their first seasons starting and South ran for 325 yards against Line Mountain. Gideon Green went over 2,000 yards with last week’s 262-yard performance and has topped 100 yards in nine of his 10 games. Ashton Martin has shined at fullback and has scored four touchdowns the past two weeks while continuing to provide strong blocking. The defense is physical like the offensive line is and South has done a good job this season containing the run and rushing the quarterback. South allowed just 20 rushing yards at Line Mountain and slowed down a potent passing game. Barnes, Johnson and Martin each have two sacks and Martin has returned a fumble for a touchdown. Outside linebacker Chris Klem also is having another good season and has helped spark the defense with his all-around play. The secondary has made big improvement as the season has progressed. A.J. Flick (989 yards passing) has three interceptions as does Austin Nash who returned one a South-record 102 yards against North Penn-Mansfield. Defensive back Cole Lentz is among the team’s leading tacklers and also is one of several playmakers in the passing game that includes Nash, Hunter Finn and Chevy Bolay.

South player to watch-Luke Winner: The sophomore linebacker is having a big breakout season and leads South in tackles. Winner has a nose for the ball, keeps improving and has both three sacks and three interceptions. He also has played well when called upon at fullback. Winner is a good blocker who could become the team’s primary ball-carrier next year, running for 45 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in a 56-28 win over Loyalsock.

Outlook: This will be a heavyweight battle and could go back and forth. Both teams share similar mentalities and both are hard-nosed and physical. This could be tonight’s best game.

Winner plays: No. 2 Wellsboro or No. 7 Line Mountain