H.S. football preview: Wyalusing at South Williamsport

Wyalusing PPG–52; YPA–350; PPA–6; YPA–140

Wyalusing facts: The Rams captured last year’s District 4 Class A championship. Ironically, the Rams have swapped places with South in 2018. Wyalusing has moved up to Class AA and South has moved from AA to A. Wyalusing went on the road and routed Montrose in its season opener, overwhelming the Meteors with a strong running game. Senior Trent Nickeson ran for 126 yards on just seven carries. Quarterback Shane Fuhrey also topped 100 yards and Mitchell Burke and Brandon Dake combined for 89 yards with Dake scoring twice. Wyalusing ran at will so it did not need to throw much, completing none of its five attempts. Wyalusing is a new-look team that has replaced a lot of starters from last year but that showed last week why it can remain dangerous. The defense was strong as well, surrendering just 140 yards. Wyalusing was the second straight District 4 Class A team that won districts without hosting a home playoff game. The Rams won as the No. 4 seed, beating No. 1 Muncy and No. 2 Montgomery.

Wyalusing player to watch–Shane Fuhrey: A versatile threat, Fuhrey assumed the starting role last season and the junior performed well. He is a dual threat who threw for 725 yards and ran for 321. Fuhrey was outstanding in the district final last November, throwing for a career-high 191 yards while completing 14 of 23 passes for 191 yards. Wyalusing likes having the ball in Fuhrey’s hands and the quarterback has made nice strides over the last two seasons.

South PPG–25; YPG–447; PPA–7; YPA–184

South facts: The Mounties struggled offensively for 3 1/2 quarters against Montgomery but erupted when the margin for error was slim. South scored 25 points over the game’s final 6:08, turning a seven-point deficit into an impressive 25-7 win. The Mounties went ahead to stay with 3:46 when quarterback A.J. Flick found Hunter Finn for a 14-yard touchdown. Flick is a three-year starting quarterback who did damage with his arm and legs. Flick threw a career-high 26 passes and totaled 221 yards. South wore down Montgomery late and Gannon Guerrisky ran for an area-high 172 yards and a touchdown in his first varsity start. Fullback Luke Winner was effective as well, running for and catching a touchdown. Winner, Finn, Cole Lentz and Austin Nash all are reliable receivers and South might have more balance this season than in year’s past. Dakota Hill and Rion Withers are the lone returning starters from last year’s dominant offensive line, but that group performed well against Montgomery and grew stronger as the game progressed. South’s defense was outstanding last week, giving the Mounties a shot to make the late-game comeback. The Mounties bottled up Montgomery, forced four turnovers and made a series of key second-half stops. Chris Klem had a sack and a tackle for loss and the linebacker is receiving Division I interest. Flick and Lane Lusk intercepted passes and South’s defense put the game away by forcing turnovers in those last six minutes. South has won at least seven games in each season since 2012 and is trying to build on the program’s tradition despite taking heavy graduation losses.

South player to watch–Rion Withers: It helps South having a player like Withers that it can count on. He was key to the team’s success last season and is now one of the offensive line’s leaders. Withers also made a big impact up front defensively last week and was in on a team-high seven tackles. Withers made a tackle for loss and, minus one big play, helped slow down a good Raider running game.

Outlook: Both teams are eager to show they can still do big things a year after losing strong cores from championship teams. This will be a good measuring stick for both teams and should be a good game, period.