Sun-Gazette power rankings

1. Muncy (4-0): Things could have turned out a lot different had Mason Hillman not come off the bench and played so well last week. Hillman replaced James Yordy at guard after he was injured in the second quarter and made sure Muncy’s offense did not miss a beat. The junior has played well defensively this season and helped Muncy control the line and the clock throughout the second half as it rallied for another dramatic win.

2. Montoursville (3-1): For a program that has District 4 Class AAA championship aspirations this does not mean much, but Montoursville already has eclipsed last year’s win total. The Warriors have big goals but the 3-1 start highlights the strides this team has made. Tonight is the 10th time Montoursville and Loyalsock have met this decade. The Lancers have won the last two games, but Montoursville holds a 5-4 advantage since 2010.

3. Lewisburg (3-1): Coach Marc Persing returns to his alma mater tonight 10 years after graduating. Persing put together an excellent scholastic career and is one of the top Shamokin quarterbacks the program has produced during the 2000s. Persing was a three-year starter who topped 1,000 yards each season, finishing with 3,838 yards and 36 touchdowns. These days, Persing coaches two good quarterbacks.

4. Williamsport (2-2): If last week was an offensive launching pad, just think how dangerous Williamsport can become if the defense starts making strides. The defense does not have to be dominant, but if it can cut its points allowed per game to the 20-30-point range, Williamsport has the potential to be in every game it plays. Last week was a big step forward and Williamsport is looking like a district title contender again.

5. Wellsboro (4-0): Throughout the last five years, Wellsboro’s best offense sometimes has been its defense and special teams. Few teams in District 4 have been as successful in those facets as the Green Hornets who already have five special teams and defensive touchdowns this season. So strong has the defense been the last three years that it has allowed just two more touchdowns than it has produced.

6. Canton (4-0): This is a team that spreads the ball around well and that has done a nice job utilizing its multiple weapons. The defense also is receiving nice contributions throughout the unit and is among District 4 leaders with four sacks. Ben Knapp has a team-high four sacks and four other players have recorded two sacks.

7. South Williamsport (3-1): One will not find a tougher District 4 schedule than the one South plays the next four weeks. This is a proud program, but it also is a Class A team and it may have went overboard in terms of creating a challenging schedule. The positive side of that is that since schedule strength now is factored into the playoff standings, South will be rewarded for playing these games. A win against Bloomsburg sure would help, too.

8. Loyalsock (2-2): If Connor Watkins has played his last high school game it is a shame because he was one of the best quarterbacks this area has seen throughout the 2000s. Watkins is one of only five area passers to ever reach 6,000 yards and also one of five to top 60 touchdowns. He has thrown for 6,068 yards and his 68 touchdowns are tied for second-best. The Villanova-bound quarterback trails Brycen Mussina for the all-time lead by just one. He also topped 1,000 career rushing yards and has accounted for 90 touchdowns.

9. Jersey Shore (1-3): The Bulldogs have endured a brutal schedule throughout the first four weeks and that could be a blessing these next few weeks. This is a program that traditionally grows stronger and better throughout the season and it would be foolish to think this team is still not capable of competing for a district championship.

10. North Penn-Mansfield (2-2): This season has followed a loss-win pattern thus far and the Panthers are hoping to break that trend tonight. Everything North Penn-Mansfield hopes to accomplish rests in front of it and this looks like a team that could be ready to break out. Speaking of breaking out, Dylan Meyer did that last season in basketball and the 6-foot-4 wide receiver is doing it now in football, catching a 75-yard touchdown pass last week.

11. Montgomery (1-3): Two years ago, Montgomery traveled to CMVT and snapped a 19-game losing streak, winning 54-30. That game was a turning point and Montgomery has turned around things since then, reaching last year’s District 4 Class A championship. As tough as the first three weeks were this season, Montgomery controls its own destiny again and could be a team opponents do not want to face down the stretch if it builds off last week’s performance.

12. Milton (1-3): Quarterback Phil Davis returned last week and made an immediate impact. Milton is hoping the senior can return to full strength because he is a game-changer. Davis topped 2,000 yards last season and the offense looked lethal in the season opener against Shamokin when he threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns.

13. Bucktail (1-3): The past two weeks Bucktail has either scored on the game’s final play or nearly done so. In both games, the Bucks trailed by 20 or more points. That tenacity is what has defined this hard-working program throughout the 2000s.

14. Warrior Run (0-4): Three Warrior Run opponents have won at least three games. The Defenders have fought hard and have more winnable games the next two weeks. Warrior Run is making progress and these next two games might just reveal how far it has really come.

15. Central Mountain (0-4): Wide receiver Collin Jones has been a huge bright spot this season. The senior never played football before and already has established himself as one of the area’s most explosive players. Just imagine how scary Jones might be had he played the last three seasons.

16. Hughesville (0-4): The Spartans closed their Week 3 game strong and opened last week’s contest even stronger. If they can put everything together now they might be in business. Hughesville is showing good things in spurts and better times are coming. The Spartans could receive a major boost tonight if two-way lineman Zane Gee, a first team Sun-Gazette preseason all-star, returns up front tonight.

17. Cowanesque Valley (0-4): Kole Hurler is emerging as a nice weapon in the passing game. Hurler has nine receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks. To put that in perspective, those numbers would have made him CV’s leading receiver in catches and yards two years ago.

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