Sun-Gazette football power rankings

1. Lewisburg (2-0): This is the first time Lewisburg has been ranked No. 1 since 2011 and it is seeking its first win against Mount Carmel since 2010. An improved defense has helped the Green Dragons ascend to the top spot, holding both opponents to fewer than 235 yards. The starters did not allow a point last week and this unit already has forced six turnovers.

2. Montoursville (2-0): Eight different Montoursville players have scored touchdowns the first two weeks. A year ago, Montoursville did not score its eighth team touchdown until Week 5. So many starters are back this year but a new face is Cameron Wood. The 6-foot-4 two-way starter has made an immediate impact on both sides of the ball, making an already good team even stronger. Wood is an excellent baseball player and wrestler, but do not be surprised if college football teams quickly start looking his way, too.

3. Loyalsock (1-1): This team has some excellent offensive leaders. The key now could be who steps up defensively and becomes that player teammates can rally around. The way the defense settled itself after falling behind 23-6 in the second quarter last week, however, was a positive sign. Tonight is the third straight week, Loyalsock is playing a team that reached a district final last season. Being frequently tested early could pay big dividends as the season progresses.

4. South Williamsport (2-0): As good as the Mounties have been the last few years, this is the first time since 2013 it has started the season 2-0. Since trailing 7-0 midway through the fourth quarter in its opener, South has outscored two opponents, 80-6. The Mounties are building some early-season momentum and that is an encouraging sign for a team that has so many new starters. Anyone notice that South has thrown 36 passes already? For a smash-mouth program like this that is almost like running the Run and Shoot Offense.

5. Williamsport (1-1): Every time Williamsport lost a regular-season game last year it bounced back and recorded impressive victories the following week. Two of those losses were blowouts and one of the follow-up wins came against Berwick. This is a case where Williamsport certainly is hoping history repeats itself. It is hard to get a read on where the Millionaires are right now, but tonight might provide some answers.

6. Wellsboro (2-0): The Green Hornets might be as big as they were last year, but they might be faster. In fact, this is one of the quickest teams Wellsboro has had this decade. The Hornets have scored nine touchdowns that have covered more than 20 yards, driving home that point. Silas Wagaman is one of those big-play threats and his four touchdown catches leads District 4.

7. Canton (2-0): Wyalusing stopped Canton four yards short of a game-winning touchdown in a 25-21 victory last season. Ultimately, that stand gave Wyalusing the fourth and final District 4 Class A playoff spot and knocked out Canton. Wyalusing then won that championship, so Canton might have some extra incentive tonight as it seeks its first 3-0 start since 2008.

8. Muncy (2-0): Senior Mike Kustanbauter not only leads Muncy in rushing, but also is a defensive leader. The three-year starter recorded a team-high 17 tackles in a season-opening win against Warrior Run and has been key to Muncy winning district and league championships in each of the last two seasons.

9. North Penn-Mansfield (1-1): The Panthers resoundingly answered some questions last week and showed why they look like a NTL-I title contender. Tonight they try to show that they can win outside the league as well. Senior linebacker Garrett David is one of the best that has played at North Penn-Mansfield this decade and he needs just nine tackles to reach career No. 300.

10. Jersey Shore (0-2): The Bulldogs’ first-half schedule is one of the district’s toughest. If Jersey Shore can navigate that and make steady progress, though, it has a chance to be dangerous down the stretch. This current team can look back at 2013 to see what is possible. That team started 2-6 and lost some heartbreakers along the way, but persevered and captured a district championship that November, igniting a run of five straight playoff appearances.

11. Milton (1-1): The Black Panthers have relied on their big-play offense the past two seasons so it was impressive that it rode its defense to victory last week on a night it played without its three-year starting quarterback. The 114 yards were the fewest gained against Milton this decade and the way it won is a positive step for a program that seems close to a turnaround.

12. Montgomery (0-2): This is a tough defense that has played like one of the area’s best for 3 1/2 quarters and two quarters the first two weeks. If Montgomery can spread that over four quarters it can start making its move. Do not sleep on the Red Raiders. Their start was not what they wanted, but it is the finish that matters and this team can still be a major Class A factor.

13. Bucktail (1-2): Few get as much out of their players as consistently as coach Bruce Ransom and his staff do. The Bucks constantly fight numbers problems but also do a nice job finding ways to win. Last Saturday proved that again as Bucktail dominated the fourth quarter against a team that had nearly twice as many players, rallying for a 36-24 win at CMVT. Bucktail outscored the Rams, 16-0 in the final quarter.

14. Central Mountain (0-2): The Wildcats showed a lot of promise in their opener against Williamsport. Last week, however, was a big step back. It is hard to get a read on where Central Mountain is at right now. A win against Shamokin sure would help tonight.

15. Warrior Run (0-2): Give first-year coach Chris Long and his staff time to settle in here. The Defenders have had chances in each of their first two games. Things will get better, but the next two weeks will be tough against Danville and Montoursville.

16. Hughesville (0-2): The same applies with coach Adam Gehr and his staff. The first two weeks have been rough, but do not be surprised if Hughesville puts together a strong effort in its home opener tonight. If that happens, it could be a springboard to better things moving forward.

17. Cowanesque Valley (0-2): The Indians did not fold down 28 at halftime against Muncy last week, making it competitive entering the fourth quarter. CV wants more than moral victories, but the way it fought back provides a foundation to build upon.

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

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