Shikellamy at Loyalsock

Shikellamy PPG–3.5, YPG–146.5; PPA–30.5, YPA–327

Shikellamy facts: The Braves captured the HAC-I championship, went 9-3 and reached the District 4 Class AAAA final last year but have a much younger and newer look this season. Shikellamy struggled in its first two games against Class AAA title contenders Danville and Central Columbia, but was down just 6-0 at halftime last week. The defense played well in the first half of that game before Central controlled the line in the second half and pulled away. Lucas Tilford is taking on the swiss army knife-role his brother Gabe did last year and will likely line up as a quarterback, running back and receiver at different times. Tilford missed most of the opener against Danville, but broke free for a long touchdown before being injured. He returned last week and ran for 32 yards on 17 carries. Tilford caught two passes for 68 yards and a touchdown at Loyalsock last season when Shikellamy rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit and won, 32-26. Shikellamy allowed 381 yards in that game but also forced four turnovers, including a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

Shikellamy player to watch–Darrell Lyles: The Braves have not had a lot of success yet throwing the ball, but the 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end makes an enticing target. An all-star basketball player, Lyles does have a team-high four catches, averaged 19 yards per reception in last year’s Loyalsock game and could be especially tough if Shikellamy gets red zone opportunities.

Loyalsock PPG–31.0, YPG–358; PPA–41.0, YPA–451

Loyalsock facts: The defending District 4 Class AAA champions were staring at an 0-2 start after Danville opened a 17-point second-quarter lead last week. Loyalsock then stormed back, mounted a last-minute, game-winning drive and won the championship rematch, 41-40. That comeback could provide a turning point this season. The Lancers now know they can overcome quite a bit of adversity, proving it against a strong title contender. The defense has struggled, but the offense has shined and quarterback Connor Watkins was brilliant last week, totaling 275 yards and five touchdowns. The Villanova-bound quarterback leads the area in both passing yards and touchdowns. Loyalsock did suffer a potentially costly blow, however, when senior Derek Gee was injured. Gee was outstanding the first two weeks, catching 10 passes and a touchdown. He is part of a strong trio of receivers that includes all-state senior Gerald Ross and Jaiden Cioffi. All three receivers caught touchdowns last week and Cioffi has three in the first two games. The running game came alive as well as the offensive line jelled and Aidan Gair produced 77 yards and a touchdown. Defense remains a concern, but Loyalsock did force four turnovers that helped change the game’s complexion. Pittsburgh-bound defensive end Bam Brima made nine tackles and added a sack and leads Loyalsock in tackles through two games. Watkins made a career-high 10 tackles and intercepted a pass, while Eli Holler and Micai Henriquez combined for 15 tackles. Kicker Quinn Deitrick drilled the game-winning extra point with 50 seconds and has provided Loyalsock a steady weapon in close games like that, converting 60 of 68 extra-point tries the past two seasons.

Loyalsock player to watch–Chase Cavanaugh: His older brother Cole was a standout on both sides of the ball the past three seasons and it appears Chase might be ready to follow in those footsteps. The sophomore defensive back/wide receiver was outstanding against Danville, making a career and team-high 14 tackles. Cavanaugh also caught two passes for 23 yards and could be one of the young players who helps fill the void if Gee is out long-term.

Outlook: Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford is one of the district’s best, helping Lewisburg and Shikellamy achieve much sucess so the Braves can never be counted out. Still, if Loyalsock builds off last week’s performance it can help decrease the stress levels on its staff and fans tonight.

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