Montgomery at Wellsboro
Montgomery PPG–6.5, YPG–133.5; PPA–26.5, YPA–388
Montgomery facts: The bad news for Montgomery is that it lost its first two games against Class A rivals South Williamsport and Canton. The good news is that it could see both those teams again if reaches the District 4 Class A playoffs. The Raiders reached last year’s final when they made a four-win improvement and had chances to win both games this season. They led South with less than five minutes to play in the opener and were tied 6-6 at halftime last week. The defense has played outstanding at times but has been left on the field too much in those games and has worn down late. Linebacker Rhyle Strausbaugh has played like an all-stater the first two weeks, making 33 tackles, including six for loss, while adding two sacks. Strausbaugh was a force against Canton, also blocking a kick for a second straight week, forcing a fumble and breaking up a pass. He also scored the team’s lone touchdown, scoring on a 28-yard second-quarter run. Offense has been the biggest problem thus far, especially since three-year starting quarterback Brayden Strouse was injured against South. The line has struggled and Canton stuffed the box last week to limit 1,400-yard rusher Hunter Budman to 25 yards on 10 carries. Steve Prince made his debut at quarterback and showed promise and that is an encouraging sign for the Raiders moving forward. Chris McClintock set up the Strausbaugh’s touchdown last week when he caught a 31-yard pass. Montgomery is seeking its first win against Wellsboro since 2010.
Montgomery player to watch–Dan Beckley: The senior two-way starter has been key to the program’s resurgence and played a strong defensive game up front against Canton. Beckley made six tackles, including two for loss and helped the defense allow no first-half offensive points. He also is a key member of the offensive line that will try and give the offense a spark tonight.
Wellsboro PPG–42.5, YPG–369; PPA–7.0, YPA–169
Wellsboro facts: Only Southern Columbia has a longer regular-season winning streak than Wellsboro which increased it to 23 after downing Troy, 36-8 a week ago. Wellsboro took a big graduation hit, but looks strong again as it seeks a third straight NTL-I championship. The starting defense has surrendered just one touchdown and forced six turnovers against Troy. That defense helped Wellsboro overcome a sluggish offensive performance and break things open after it was 13-0 at halftime. Two-way starting lineman Hunter Brown is one of the area’s best on both sides of the ball and has been outstanding the first two weeks. Brown on the edge and four-year starter Robert Brown inside makes the defensive line especially difficult to play against. Tyler Hancock also was outstanding against Troy, making a career-high 13 tackles. Wellsboro has led the area in defense in each of the past two seasons and is ranked third this year. The offense features a lot of speed and running back Aidan Hauser is one of the district’s fastest players. Hauser is third among area rushers and also is a receiving threat. Silas Wagaman and Tanner Button have made a series of big plays the first two weeks and Button scored three times a week ago, including twice on punt returns. Each of his touchdowns covered at least 37 yards. Quarterback Karter Witmer has performed well in his first two varsity starts, throwing four touchdowns. Keep an eye on freshman Isaac Keane as well after he totaled 74 yards and two touchdowns against Troy.
Wellsboro player to watch–Alex Burrell: One of many talented underclassmen Wellsboro starts, Burrell has made 18 tackles the first two week and had a career-high 10 against Cowanesque Valley. Burrell has a nose for the ball and also could see some offensive touches after running for 208 yards and a touchdown last season.
Outlook: Montgomery seemed beat before it took the field against Wellsboro last season and it cannot allow that to happen again. Montgomery is an underdog but if the line shows improvement and the defense remains strong, it could make this one interesting.