Lewisburg (3-6) at Mifflinburg (2-7)
This rivalry game takes on added significance because of the playoff ramifications. The Class AAA field takes four teams and Lewisburg and Mifflinburg are the Nos. 3-4 seeds. Both, however, could be eliminated if they lose tonight. Lewisburg would be out with a loss and a Montoursville win. Mifflinburg is out if it loses and either Montoursville or Milton win. Lewisburg might be the most injury-riddled District 4 team. The Green Dragons have lost 11 players to starters and the late-season injuries keep piling up. Leading receiver Dylan Farronato and leading rusher Max Moyers are both sidelined as are other weapons like Andrew Ramirez and Brett Newcomb. All the injuries to the skill players have left Lewisburg shuffling players around on both sides and it could be up to the defense to try and win tonight’s game.
Lewisburg led Bloomsburg at halftime last week before Moyers (100 yards on 17 carries) was injured early in the third quarter. With Moyers out, look for players like Gavin Sheriff and Draven Doebler to be more involved in the running game and for players like Kameron Schreffler to try and spark the passing game. Quarterback Nick Shedleski is nine yards from recording his second straight 1,000-yard season and also could be used as a runner more.
Lewisburg’s defense has been hit hard as well, starting when linebacker Andrew Shedleski was hurt. Highlighting how much injuries have ravaged Lewisburg, four of its top five tacklers are out right now. Doebler leads the team in tackles, averaging 10.8 per game, and had 20 against Jersey Shore. Fellow linebacker Ethan Spaulding returned an interception for a touchdown in a 28-9 win against Montoursville and also has two sacks.
Milton (1-8) at Shikellamy (7-2)
Believe it or not, a week after snapping a 25-game losing streak, Milton enters its final regular-season game holding playoff aspirations. If Milton pulls off a big upset tonight and both Mifflinburg and Montoursville lose, it would qualify as the No. 4 seed. The Black Panthers have shown vast improvement the last two weeks, taking Montoursville to overtime and rallying past Mifflinburg to win, 35-28. Milton overcame two interception returns for touchdowns and a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Mifflinburg. The Panthers are becoming more resilient and will play at Nanticoke in the Eastern Conference playoffs next week if they do not qualify for districts.
Quarterback Phil Davis threw for 227 yards and three touchdowns and is closing in on a 2,000-yard season. The junior quarterback has several dangerous receivers at his disposal and Tony Manzano caught two touchdowns last week, including the game-winning 35-yarder with 24 seconds remaining. Manzano, Qaylin Rice, Alex Garcia, Jalil Garrison and Qamar Bradley all have caught at least 19 passes and topped 200 yards. Manzano is a first-time player and has 23 catches for 600 yards and seven touchdowns. Bradley caught six passes for 79 yards and a touchdown last week. The running game also came alive and Garcia ran for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Shikellamy has clinched one of the top two seeds for the District 4 Class AAAA tournament. It will be the top seed if it wins tonight and Southern Columbia defeats Selinsgrove. The Braves rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to win, 32-26 at Loyalsock last week. Quarterback Gabe Tilford returned a fumble for a touchdown, his fourth defensive touchdown this season. Shikellamy has forced 25 turnovers and returned eight for touchdowns. Linebacker Josh Kreiger has returned both an interception and a fumble for scores.
Danville (7-2) at Warrior Run (3-6)
The Defenders have won two straight, coming from behind each time, and could end their season on a huge high if they upset the Class AAA top-seeded Ironmen. Warrior Run has a nice core of young starters returning next year and rallied from a third-quarter, 13-point deficit to defeat Montgomery, 34-26 last week. The previous week, Warrior Run played its best defensive game, holding Hughesville to one touchdown in a 16-9 win. Quarterback Gage Anzulavich plays his final game tonight and will graduate as one of the school’s all-time leading passers, going over 1,000 yards for a third straight season. Anzulavich has thrown for 368 yards and three touchdowns the last two weeks while also running for a score and intercepting a pass.
Warrior Run put together one of its most complete offensive performances last week and Forrest Seybold ran for a season-high 85 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Riley Daubert continued his breakout season, catching seven passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Daubert has caught 20 passes the last two weeks. Ahmahd Keyes has emerged as a big-play threat and caught a 50-yard pass last week after having four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown against Hughesville.
Troy (2-7) at Canton (3-6)
The Warriors are hoping to beat Troy for the first time since 2011 and reclaim The Old Shoe Trophy. More importantly, Canton needs a win tonight to reach the District 4 Class A playoffs. Canton is No. 5 in the points standings and the top four advance. Canton will qualify if it wins and Towanda defeats Wyalusing. Canton has shown promise and will return all but two starters next season so it looks like a strong foundation is being built and a playoff appearance could only bolster that.
Canton features a big-play offense that produced 618 yards two weeks ago in a 33-0 win at Sayre. The Warriors also gained 310 yards against 4A Athens in last week’s 37-19 loss. Quarterback Michael Smithers has thrown for more single-season yards than any Canton quarterback since 2008 and has 1,359 yards and 11 touchdowns. Smithers also leads the team in rushing and threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns against Athens. Sophomore Uriah Baille also is a talented quarterback who has played well the last two weeks, throwing for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Timmy Ward is having a huge breakout season and has broken program records with 45 catches for 834 yards. Ward had eight catches for 185 yards and a touchdown against Athens. Levi Gaiotti also is a talented receiver who caught three passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns against Sayre, scoring on a 99-yard touchdown.
Penns Valley (2-7) at Cowanesque Valley (2-7)
Cowanesque Valley lost the majority of its starters from last year’s three-win team, but defeated both Sayre and Wyalusing for the first time since the program was reinstated in 2004. Those performances and two close losses show why the future looks bright for this team. Most of this year’s starters will return in 2018 and give CV its best shot at a .500 or better season in the 2000s.
Quarterback Seth Huyler has thrown for more yards than any CV quarterback in the 2000s and is 142 yards from reaching 1,000. The sophomore is a dual threat who is second on the team in rushing and who has totaled nine touchdowns. Junior running back Matt Barber leads CV in rushing and receiving. He is fifth among area receivers with 35 catches and ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 26-19 loss against Bucktail. Barber also has returned a fumble for a touchdown, totaling 10 touchdowns three different ways.
Gruver helps ignite the defense and has eight tackles for loss. Thomas Shadle leads the team in tackles, averaging more than 10 per game, and also has four interceptions. Magnus Swimley had a big game last week, making 12 tackles and three for loss
Both Montgomery and Bucktail have clinched District 4 Class A playoff spots and enjoyed big-time turnaround seasons. Barring a Wyalusing upset of Towanda tonight, this game will be Round 1 and the main event will be next week in the district semifinals. Tonight’s game would determine who hosts that game. Montgomery and Bucktail have split their last two games with the home team winning each time.
Montgomery has lost two straight but can finish 5-5 in the regular season for the first time since 2009. The Red Raiders are district playoff-bound for just the second time since 2000 and could host their first district playoff game since 1999. Running back Hunter Budman is having a big junior season, running for 1,148 yards and 17 touchdowns while also leading the team in receiving. Budman has topped 200 yards twice and fullback Eithan Marino ran for 138 yards in a 34-7 win at Canton. Quarterback Brayden Strouse has thrown for more than 1,500 yards over the last two seasons and Jensen Drick and Trevor Kennedy each have caught two touchdowns.
The Montgomery defense is vastly improved this season but is trying to compensate for the loss of leading tackler Rhyle Strausbaugh. Senior linebacker Nick Pryor is having a strong season as is Noah Eshenaur up front. Drick has four interceptions and Chris McClintock has added two.
Bucktail is the surprise team of the year, winning four games despite having just 14 players the last few weeks and going winless last year. The Bucks are starting five freshmen, but seniors like Cody Hand and Aaron Lucas have come up big as well. Bucktail has twice overcome deficits on the road against CMVT and Cowanesque Valley, wearing those teams down late. Running back Tanner Riggle topped 200 yards for a second time last week and is among the area rushing leaders with 821 yards. Kenny Winkleman moved from guard to running back and has run for touchdowns in each of the last two games and tight end Logan Long has 30 catches while topping 100 yards three times. Hand made 11 tackles in last week’s 26-19 win at CV and Billy Yednak had two more sacks, giving him eight. Liam Dwyer intercepted two passes and is tied for the area lead with six. Bucktail will be making its fourth playoff appearance since 2010.
— CHRIS MASSE