Montoursville at Selinsgrove

Montoursville facts: The Warriors captured last year’s District 4 Class AAA championship but lost nearly every starter on both sides of the ball from that team. Montoursville is young and receives no respite from its schedule. Still, there are fixable mistakes from last week’s 44-20 loss at Shikellamy and this will be a team that gets a lot better as the season progresses. Montoursville was outplayed by Shikellamy but it hurt itself as much as anything. Two fumbles were returned for touchdowns that changed the game’s complexion and had Montoursville playing from behind early. Quarterback Hunter Shearer showed promise in his first varsity start, completing 10 of 20 passes for 100 yards. An offensive line anchored by Dalton Tubbs, who did not allow a sack last season, could become dangerous if it can jell as the season progresses. Oleg Bonner and Logan Ott both are capable of having solid seasons in the backfield and Bonner scored a touchdown in his first game back since suffering a season-ending injury in Week 1 of 2016. Freshman Jacob Reeder ran for a 25-yard touchdown and fellow freshman Dylan Moll averaged nearly five yards per carry while recording a team-high six tackles. Safety Brian Shaffer was one of the area’s best last season and is taking a bigger role offensively this season as is Anthony Washington who caught three passes last week. Montoursville beat Selinsgrove for the first time since 2000 last year, winning a 20-17 thriller.

Montoursville player to watch–Owen Hoffman: The senior defensive end finished tied for the area lead in sacks last year, earning all-state honors after having an 11-sack season. Hoffman had five tackles last week and is seeing time at both tight end and along the offensive line. Hoffman caught his first varsity pass last week and was part of one of the area’s best lines a year ago.

Selinsgrove facts: The Seals return most of their starters from last year’s District 4 Class AAAA finalist and made quick work of Milton in their opener, building a 48-3 halftime lead. Senior quarterback Logan Leiby completed 16 of 19 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns in the first half and is closing in on the District 4 records for passing yards and touchdowns set by Montoursville graduate Brycen Mussina last year. Leiby became District 4’s first passer to reach 3,000 yards in a season last year when he threw for 3,030. Leiby collected 389 of those yards in the Montoursville game. Receivers Jarrett Inch and Ricky Cope had big seasons in 2016 and started strong against Milton, combining for 331 yards and four touchdowns. Inch made a run at 1,000 yards last year and Cope is a game-breaker. Inch caught nine passes for 150 yards in last year’s Montoursville game while Cope added seven catches for 99 yards. Selinsgrove did not run the ball often last week but was effective when it do so with Joe Kahn gaining 62 yards and scoring twice on just six carries. Selinsgrove’s defense bottled up the run and allowed minus-12 yards but was hurt through the air. Milton quarterback Phil Davis threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns and Milton prevented the Seals from recording any sacks.

Selinsgrove player to watch–Tony Dressler: The senior linebacker is one of Selinsgrove’s defensive leaders and had six sacks last season, along with 12 tackles for loss. Dressler is a versatile player who also caught two touchdowns and returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown.

Outlook: Montoursville will play hard and features one of the area’s top coaching staffs. But Selinsgrove has too much experience and firepower to think this game will that close.

–by CHRIS MASSE