South Williamsport at Hughesville
South PPG–40.0, YPG–374; PPA–6.5, YPA–198.5
South facts: The Mounties have controlled this rivalry throughout the decade, winning five of the last six in the annual series. South lost most of its starters from last year, but has started strong again and is seeking its first 3-0 start since 2013. South rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit against Montgomery in its opener, but made quick work of Wyalusing, building a 35-6 halftime lead. Gannon Guerrisky is second among area rushers and set the game’s tone when he returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a score. Guerrisky has topped 100 yards in both games and fullback Luke Winner has scored three touchdowns. South is making it hard for defenses to gang up against the run with quarterback A.J. Flick throwing for 225 yards and four touchdowns. Flick shined against Hughesville last season when he threw for 105 yards and three touchdowns in a 54-13 win. The defense has been outstanding thus far and linebacker Chris Klem is a big reason why. The three-year starting senior is receiving Division I interest and has two tackles for loss, a sack and two pass breakups while also leading the team in tackles. South has been as opportunistic as it has been stingy, forcing nine turnovers. The secondary has shut down the pass thus far and has intercepted six passes. Flick and Lane Lusk have each intercepted passes in both games and South forced critical turnovers over the final six minutes of the fourth quarter against Montgomery when it turned a 7-point deficit into a 25-7 win. South tops the early District 4 Class A playoff standings, edging out fellow two-win Canton. The top four teams advance to districts and South is seeking its seventh straight playoff appearance.
South player to watch–Cole Lentz: The senior is a terrific two-way threat who showed what makes him so dangerous last week. The wide receiver/cornerback caught two touchdown passes, intercepted two passes and even completed a pass. Lentz has a good chemistry with Flick and made a big impact in last year’s Hughesville game, catching two touchdowns as South rallied from an early deficit.
Hughesville PPG–3.5, YPG–121.5; PPA–32.0, YPA–310.5
Hughesville facts: An already young team has been hit hard by costly injuries, including to standout lineman Zane Gee and starting quarterback Jacob Corson. The Spartans are hoping to turn things around in their home opener which also is Military Appreciation Night at Hughesville. They played solid defense in their opener against Mifflinburg and allowed just two offensive touchdowns and held Montoursville to a three-and-out on the first series last week. That was one of the few bright spots, however, as Montoursville blanked Hughesville, 42-0. Linebackers Jase Wright and Caleb Dixon each had 12 tackles against Mifflinburg and Dixon recovered a fumble against Montoursville. Sophomore Dylon Piquenot made some big plays against Mifflinburg, intercepting two passes. The Spartans are back to using the Wing-T offense that it featured during the 2000s when it frequently was in the district championship hunt. Hughesville has struggled early, but also has had to shuffle its line, put in a new quarterback and adjust to both the new offense and a new coaching staff. Wright is a nice weapon in the backfield and is one of the area’s best pass-catching running backs. He was off to a good start against South last year, scoring the game’s first touchdown before injuring his shoulder on the second series. Sophomore Colton Yocum also could be poised for a breakout season, running for 74 yards last week and topping 100 yards in a season-finale win against Muncy last week.
Hughesville player to watch–Jordan Artley: The two-way lineman is a valuable asset for Hughesville and can make a difference on both sides of the ball. Artley made a team-high six tackles last week, including five solos, and that could be a sign of good things to come.
Outlook: Do not forget that South mirrors Hughesville in youth. The point being that it, too is learning on the job and that could make this an interesting game. Do not be surprised if Hughesville gives South a good challenge tonight.