Kustanbauter leading Muncy

Each time Mike Kustanbauter carried the ball last Friday it seemed like he was delivering a sledge hammer-like blow against South Williamsport’s defense.

Each time Kustanbauter made a tackle it seemed like one could hear the truck motor revving. Nothing the Muncy fullback/linebacker does is subtle. The senior leaves his mark nearly any time he makes a play, whether offensively or defensively. That physical tone is contagious and has Muncy looking mighty strong these days.

Kustanbauter was a force on both sides of the ball last Friday against South Williamsport, making a game-high 17 tackles, running for 63 second-half yards, and scoring two touchdowns as Muncy rallied in the fourth quarter for a 32-24 win in a showdown between unbeaten teams. The Indians (4-0) beat South for the first time since 2010, came from behind in the fourth quarter for a second consecutive week, and showed why they again are a serious District 4 Class A title contender.

And Kustanbauter again was a major reason why.

“He brings a physicality to the field every game. No matter what field we step on he is one of the most physical guys on the field every game and it shows,” Muncy coach Sean Tetreault said. “It’s great to see him wearing kids down and it’s great to see him flying to the ball on defense.”

That is what Kustanbauter has done throughout his scholastic career, but he is playing better than he ever has this season. That speaks volumes, too, because Kustanbauter has been instrumental to Muncy winning district and league championships the past two seasons. A four-year starting linebacker and three-year starting fullback, Kustanbauter has helped Tetreault build a winning foundation that is growing even stronger as Muncy seeks its first 5-0 start since 1999 this Friday against Bucktail.

“Me, Coleman (Good), Dylan (Wilt) and Kolby (Moyer), we’re all team leaders,” Kustanbauter said. “We all work together, we all get the team ready and it’s all about the team.”

Muncy delivered an outstanding team performance against South, but Kustanbauter still stood out. He carried the ball 11 times for 63 yards in the second half as Muncy started wearing down South. He also was at the heart of a defense that slowed down South’s vaunted running game, allowing just one touchdown and forcing six turnovers. Nearly every time Kustanbauter carried the ball in the second half he ran over defenders and gained extra yards. His third-quarter, 1-yard touchdown run capped a 14-play, 89-yard drive. His 3-yard score in the fourth quarter put Muncy ahead to stay, 26-24.

Muncy flipped the script on South Williamsport, doing to the Mounties what they have so often done to opponents. Take Kustanbauter away and it does not happen. He played both fullback and tailback, helped open up outside running lanes for quarterback Coleman Good, and provided terrific lead blocking as well. He also went over 1,000 career rushing yards.

“It’s just hard-nosed running down the middle,” Kustanbauter said. “That’s what I do.”

“Michael is a great running back,” Moyer said after intercepting two passes and catching a touchdown. “He can make plays and he’s a hard hitter on defense, too.”

Kustanbauter’s opponents know that well. One of the area’s leading tacklers the past two seasons, Kustanbauter is swarming ball-carriers, getting after quarterbacks or dropping into coverage and taking away pass plays. He has topped 10 tackles in all four games this season, averaging 14.8 per game. Kustanbauter caused and recovered a fumble in a 17-0, season-opening win against Warrior Run. He made 16 tackles against Towanda when he also caught the game-winning two-point pass and was all over the field against South.

Even when South was moving the ball at will during the first half, Kustanbauter was making an impact. Every player the senior leader hit, he hit hard. In a game as physical as it was exciting, Kustanbauter’s tackles were like body blows which became like nasty uppercuts as the game progressed. Kustanbauter took a toll on South and helped the Indians secure, arguably, their biggest regular-season win this decade.

“He’s a guy that you have to know where he is defensively. He’s a tremendous football player and he plays with a high motor,” South coach Chris Eiswerth said. “He made a ton of tackles and plays physical. He ran physical and he’s just a great player.”

As well as Kustanbauter is playing, he is far from finished. He did not spend all this time working over the past four offseasons to rest on past achievements. It is on to the next challenge and the next game. He and Muncy are hoping the best is still coming.

Kustanbauter’s engine might just be getting warmed up.

“You can’t say enough about Mike Kustanbauter,” Tetreault said. “He’s a great leader and he does everything we ask. He’s a great kid to coach.”

OFFENSIVE SHOW

Williamsport and Hazleton have played some exciting games over the years, especially the past two seasons. But they produced something this long series has never seen before last Friday. The Millionaires outlasted Hazleton, 64-63, in the highest-scoring game these two have ever played. Williamsport (2-2) struck last when Joe Fagnano found Marcus Simmons for a 56-yard touchdown pass and ran in the two-point conversion with 1 minute, 16 seconds remaining. Simmons turned the short pass into something big, breaking tackles and maintaining his balance down the right sideline. Simmons secured the win in the final seconds, recovering a fumble at the Millionaire 44-yard line.

While Williamsport coach Chuck Crews going for two and the win could be considered gutsy, it also made perfect sense on a night his offense was unstoppable and produced 567 yards. Together, Williamsport and Hazleton totaled 1,123 yards and 47 first downs. Williamsport running back Treyson Potts and Hazleton running back Damon Horton were spectacular combining for 533 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williamsport twice held 14-point leads in the second and third quarters, but three times it trailed by seven in the second half.

This was the latest chapter in a two-year saga that has produced nothing but instant classics. Williamsport has won two of those three games that have been decided by four combined points. The road team has won each time and Williamsport avenged last year’s 28-27 district semifinal loss with this victory. These two teams make up half the four-team District 2 6A field so it would not be surprising if they cross paths again in November.

EXTRA POINTS

Loyalsock (2-2) suffered a devastating blow in the first quarter Friday at Bloomsburg when quarterback Connor Watkins was likely lost for the season after suffering a broken collarbone. The Villanova-bound senior was having the best season of his brilliant scholastic career and had thrown for 823 yards and nine touchdowns in three games and less than a quarter. Watkins was on his way to shattering every major area career passing record, throwing for 6,068 yards and 68 touchdowns, one shy of the area record. Sophomore Chase Cavanaugh played well in Watkins’ absence, throwing for 151 yards and a touchdown in the 19-8 loss. Gerald Ross recorded his third 100-yard game, catching a touchdown and Bam Brima recorded two sacks … Montgomery came alive and recorded a big win in terms of its Class A playoffs hopes, defeating Sayre, 26-12. The offensive line dominated, paving the way for 488 rushing yards and fullback Rhyle Strausbaugh ran for a career-high 123 yards and a touchdown … Canton (4-0) remained undefeated, taking a 33-point halftime lead and defeating Bucktail, 40-14. Uriah Baillie threw two touchdowns to Timmy Ward and Ben Knapp, and Michael Smithers ran for two scores. Logan Huffman sparked a strong defensive performance and had two of the team’s five sacks … North Penn-Mansfield stayed tied for first in the NTL-I as it routed Troy, 34-7. Brent Burleigh threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, running back Mikah Kolb topped 100 yards for a second time and Garrett David scored as a receiver and rusher.

Dr. Masse’s Top 5 Football Teams

1. Muncy (4-0)

Coleman Good continues playing outstanding football under pressure. The four-year starting quarterback has engineered game-winning fourth-quarter drives in consecutive weeks. He threw for 128 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 74 yards and a score against South. Good also was one of the team’s leading tacklers, made a touchdown-saving tackle and recovered a fumble that stopped a potential South go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter. He is having his best season yet, throwing for 710 yards, running for 168 and totaling seven touchdowns. Moyer and Wilt also are coming up big in their senior years. Moyer’s fourth-quarter interceptions changed the game and he also caught a 67-yard touchdown. Wilt is providing shutdown coverage in the secondary and caught a first-quarter touchdown.

2. Montoursville (3-1)

The Warriors unleashed the latest weapon in their ever-expanding arsenal during a 47-0 win at Warrior Run as sophomore CJ Signor caught two long touchdowns totaling 81 yards. Those first-half scores helped Montoursville built a 27-0 halftime lead and the defense took it from there, recording its second shutout in three weeks. Signor became the ninth Montoursville player to score this season, highlighting what makes this offense especially dangerous. Defenses cannot key on one or two players and think they can disrupt Montoursville. The Warriors feature a diverse set of athletes and are utilizing all their strengths. Quarterback Hunter Shearer continued his strong season, throwing a career-high four touchdowns, Wyatt Nettling caught his second score and Logan Ott ran for 101 yards behind an offensive line that dominated things up front.

3. Lewisburg (3-1)

Sophomore running back Max Moyers dazzled again, totaling 187 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-7 victory against Milton, but Lewisburg might be most pleased with how it threw the ball despite losing standout wide receiver Dylan Farronato for the season. Starter Nick Shedleski and backup Ethan Spaulding split time and completed 16 of 18 passes for 254 yards. Spaulding was especially outstanding, allowing Shedleski to ease back into things after injuring his ankle in Week 2. The junior quarterback completed 11 of 12 passes for 129 yards while running for 72 more yards. Tight end Dakotah Snyder caught three passes for 105 yards and Romale Brown hauled in a career-high five receptions. Before last season, Lewisburg had struggled up front for a few years. Now, the Dragons feature one of the area’s top offensive lines and that unit paved the way for 530 yards against Milton.

4. Williamsport (2-2)

How Williamsport beat Hazleton was as big as that Williamsport beat Halzeton. After losing two straight games, the Millionaires stayed together, trusted each other and remained poised through all the wild twists and turns this game produced. This game could be a launching pad if Williamsport builds off it and keeps progressing. Fagnano was brilliant, orchestrating his fourth fourth-quarter comeback over the past two seasons, totaling 334 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Nassir Jones caught a 43-yard touchdown, Simmons made a spectacular play that produced the final touchdown, Dallas Griess intercepted a pass and the offensive line played its best game. Williamsport desperately needed a big win and delivered. Now it turns its attention toward Crestwood and hopes to start making a second-half push.

5. Wellsboro (4-0)

Aidan Hauser returned the opening second-half kickoff for a touchdown for a second straight week as Wellsboro again dominated the second half, scoring 30 straight points in a 30-3 win at Towanda. The Green Hornets have been tied and trailed at the half the last two weeks and have outscored those opponents, 56-0 in the second half. Hauser also ran for an 81-yard touchdown and is up to 521 yards this season. Defensive lineman Robert Brown sparked a dominant defensive performance, making 14 tackles and going over 300 for his career. Freshman Isaac Keane returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown and Zach Florio added two sacks. Wellsboro has scored five special teams and defensive touchdowns this year while extending its regular-season winning streak to 25 games.

Players of the Week

Hunter Budman, Montgomery and Treyson Potts, Williamsport

Both players erupted and showed what has made them two of the top players for their respective programs in the 2000s. Budman was a machine, running for a career-high 331 yards and three touchdowns of 79, 79 and 67 yards while helping will Montgomery to a big win. Potts produced more than 400 all-purpose yards, showcasing the skills that have him headed to Minnesota next fall. The senior ran for 251 yards and four touchdowns, returned a kickoff 76 yards for another score and caught two passes.

Game of the Week

Loyalsock at Montoursville

Without Watkins playing, it is tempting to say Friday’s game has lost some luster. But this is Loyalsock-Montoursville. This is still a great game and still will be fiercely fought. Loyalsock has won the last two Battle of the Bridge Games and ended Montoursville’s season a year ago. Both teams have this one circled on the schedule well in advance and it could possibly be the first of two games this year since both are in the District 4 Class AAA field. Regardless of whether that happens, Friday night will sure feel like a playoff game.

Masse may be reached at cmasse@sungazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse.

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