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Loyalsock’s Parlante has become dominant player

When senior two-way starting lineman Crae McCracken suffered a late-season injury three years ago, Loyalsock coaches worried. Then they watched freshman Malaki Parlante fill in and their hopes soared.

Parlante was raw, but also a physical specimen. Time and work has only made Parlante better, and the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder is now a senior leader who anchors a surging offensive line and wreaks havoc defensively. Loyalsock coaches are smiling a lot watching Parlante play these days and he is a major reason Loyalsock (6-3) has won three consecutive games.

Everything which makes Parlante so good was on display last Friday at Warrior Run. He was overpowering along the offensive line, helping Loyalsock run for 293 yards. He was a defensive menace, making 10 tackles, collecting three sacks and adding three tackles for loss. And Parlante was the consummate leader, helping Loyalsock maintain its composure through a hard-fought game between District 4 Class AAA playoff contenders which Loyalsock won, 29-21.

“Crae McCracken is one of the best players in Loyalsock history and I think back to when he went down and Malaki was a freshman and ran in and we held our breath,” Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet said. “But after he went out and performed we all said we might have something special. We thought if he works hard and if he does this and if he does that he can be really good. The beautiful thing is all those ifs came together.”

Parlante has helped Loyalsock put everything together following a 3-3 start. Loyalsock is a young team and this was expected to be a rebuilding year. Parlante has helped make it anything but that, growing stronger each week, fighting through an ankle injury and becoming one of the area’s best all-around players. The defensive tackle is averaging four tackles per game, making 12 for loss and opening up space for a talented set of linebackers to make plays.

Warrior Run (5-4) had won three straight games, but had no answers for Parlante. He had sacks in three quarters and tipped a pass which Simone Mileto intercepted to thwart a potential go-ahead fourth-quarter drive. He was just as tough on the other side of the ball. The left guard helped Chase Cavanaugh and Davion Hill each top 100 yards rushing against a defense which had allowed two touchdowns the previous three weeks.

“My gosh is he a difference-maker. He was a demon on the defensive line,” Van Fleet said. “He’s been in beast mode last few weeks.”

“We’re young and I’m just happy that we’re bouncing back. I think we’re a scary team,” Parlante said. “I just want to keep getting better every week.”

Combine that desire with Parlante’s talent and one has an all-state caliber player. A three-sport athlete, Parlante does not look like the typical lineman when he is playing baseball or basketball. He has played both third base and outfield for a St. John Neumann team which put together its best season ever last spring. He was the starting center and a consistent double-double threat last winter, helping Neumann win 20 games and reach the state tournament’s second round. Parlante played just about every sport one can think of growing up and the skills he has developed in each one complement the other.

Parlante is explosive off the ball and has some of the quickest feet around. He has bulldozing strength as well, making him a two-way weapon Loyalsock builds its lines around. With Division I players like Bam Brima and Carmen Barone up front the last two years, Parlante did not often have a chance to display those qualities defensively. Now he is picking up where those two left off and is helping the Lancers emerge as one of the area’s top defensive teams.

It helps, too, that Parlante has developed into a consummate leader. A team captain, Parlante has grown as both a player and person the last few years. His play does most of his talking, but Parlante also has been a calming influence for several young players. He is blazing the trail others before him did and is helping Loyalsock build upon its tradition.

“He’s stepping up as a leader,” Hill said. “He’s a leader on our team and does a good job keeping the linemen in check. When they get their heads down, he picks them right back up. He’s helping us a lot.”

Parlante will continue doing that as the playoffs approach. He no longer is playing in anybody’s shadow and has Loyalsock running toward the daylight.

“He put in the time, giving tremendous effort and I’m really proud of what he’s developing into, not just as a player, but as a role model for young kids,” Van Fleet said. “He’s a special person and a special player and you don’t replace kids like that. I’m just going to enjoy coaching him the last couple of months I get to work with him.”

SO CLOSE

Muncy nearly captured a second NTL-II in three seasons, but a last-second pass was intercepted and Sayre won, 21-17. The Redskins took the league crown, but these teams could see each other again in two weeks. That is what happened a year ago when Sayre won the regular-season contest, 28-14, before Muncy came back and defeated it in the semifinals, 19-7, on its way to the district championship. Sayre (7-2) is locked in as the No. 2 seed and Muncy could be the No. 3 if it beats Hughesville.

“It was a really good game and I probably will remember this for the rest of my life,” freshman quarterback Branson Eyer said after throwing for a career-high 161 yards. “I can’t wait to see them in the playoffs or next year.”

Muncy (5-4) fought back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit, pulling within 21-17 when Eyer found his cousin, Ross Eyer, for a 36-yard touchdown. Muncy hung around with an explosive team despite having 10 penalties for 80 yards.

“The group last year took the ownership of ‘I dare a team to beat us twice’, and now we are in the same position again,” Muncy coach Sean Tetreault said. “It’s hard to win a game when you have 80 yards in penalties, but the fact that we kept it close was a testament as to how much work the kids have put in.”

BREAKING OUT

Hughesville made a gusty fourth-quarter comeback, rallying past Towanda, 21-20, and snapping an 18-game losing streak. Ethan Snyder caught eight passes for 165 yards and scored on a 96-yard touchdown, Dylon Pequignot caught a 19-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown, and Jacob Corson’s ensuing two-point run gave Hughesville’s seniors a happy memory in their final home game. The defense also played well, slowing down a team which had scored 68 points in consecutive wins.

Give Hughesville credit for continuing to fight through the adversity this season. It is easy to show up and practice hard each day when things are going well. It is a lot harder when the losses pile up, but the Spartans kept showing up, kept grinding and achieved a breakthrough. Suddenly, its rivalry game at Muncy on Friday looks pretty exciting.

EXTRA POINTS

South Williamsport thumped Milton, 49-27, and snapped a four-game losing streak while moving to third in the District 4 Class A playoff standings. Running back Luke Winner went over 1,000 yards, making it eight consecutive years the Mounties have produced a 1,000-yard rusher. Austin Nash caught a touchdown from Landon Lorson and intercepted two passes with Grant Bachman adding his fifth interception. Zack Miller and Lane Lusk also scored … Kaide Drick ran for 185 yards and Montgomery made repeated timely stops as it defeated Cowanesque Valley, 16-6. The Raiders (3-6) have allowed only nine points in their last two home games and Steve Prince (six catches) and Maurice Walters intercepted passes. Devon Deem and Colby Springman ran for touchdowns … Some teams across the state are forfeiting their remaining games as their rosters drop near, or below, 20 players. Bucktail has played with fewer than 20 players throughout the decade and continues making enormous strides. For a second time this season, Bucktail erased a 12-point halftime deficit, rallying to beat CMVT, 28-12. The Bucks scored 28 second-half points as Conner Mason ran for a career-high 141 yards and three touchdowns. Dylan Cross found Robert Devaul for a game-changing 70-yard touchdown and both also intercepted passes … Central Mountain snapped a nine-game losing streak and, for a second straight year, beat Mifflinburg in overtime, this time 35-28. Zane Probst threw for 180 yards and his 11-yard touchdown to Ronnie Pritchko won the game. Micah Walizer ran for two scores and Ryan Pentz returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown.

Dr. Masse’s Top 5 football rankings

1. Montoursville (8-1)

While Southern Columbia blanked Montoursville, 35-0, in a showdown of unbeaten teams, this loss likely will help Montoursville moving forward. The Warriors know precisely where they have to improve, generated some positives in defeat, and will be better off after going against one of the more dynamic teams in state history. Linebacker Dylan Bennett stood out, making a team-high nine tackles. The junior is a versatile weapon who has given the defense a jolt after missing the second half of his sophomore year with an injury.

2. Jersey Shore (6-3)

The offense topped 40 points for a second consecutive week, but Friday’s 42-0 statement performance at defending District 9 Class AAA champion Bald Eagle Area was all about dominant defense. Jersey Shore stifled a team averaging 30 points and 406 yards per game and never let it sniff the end zone. Defensive end Ryan Kerschner again was all over the quarterback and BEA totaled 41 rushing yards. Jersey Shore’s last two opponents have gained 75 yards on the ground and the Bulldogs have won four of their last five games. Quarterback Tanner Lorson went over 100 yards passing and rushing for a fourth time this season, Anthony Shaffer caught a touchdown and intercepted his area-best sixth pass and Stanton Westlin caught his ninth touchdown. Jersey Shore can win the outright HAC-I championship Friday against Central Mountain. A win there also could help it secure District 4 Class AAAA’s top seed and homefield advantage.

3. Wellsboro (8-1)

Keep an eye on sophomore Darryn Callahan. The sophomore cornerback has enjoyed a breakout season defensively, intercepting three passes and returning two for touchdowns. He did not allow a catch against Wyalusing’s talented set of receivers in Saturday’s 48-14 win, but it was what he did offensively that really stood out. Callahan ran for a career-high 125 yards and two touchdowns, including a highlight-reel 36-yard score. He was one of 11 ball-carriers who consistently helped Wellsboro move the ball behind a punishing offensive line as Wellsboro generated 507 rushing yards. The Hornets have won seven games in a row and are averaging an area-best 446 yards per game.

4. Loyalsock (6-3)

Quarterback Chase Cavanaugh showcased his ability last season when he replaced an injured Connor Watkins and threw for 1,000 yards in seven games. Now, he is growing into a leader as well. Cavanaugh consistently made outstanding reads in the running game and produced a career-high 167 rushing yards against Warrior Run. He also made a perfect pass on a 15-yard fourth-quarter throw to Eli Gair, splitting two defenders and putting the ball exactly where it had to be.

“We’ve been pushing that (leadership) in him the whole year,” Lancers teammate Malaki Parlante said. “He’s finally stepping into that role and he’s doing a great job at it. He’s helping us win and we love it.”

5. Canton (8-1)

Uriah Bailie ran for 208 yards, threw for 151 and totaled three touchdowns in Thursday’s 20-7 win at North Penn-Mansfield, but it was Evan Landis who was the game’s unsung hero. The junior defensive lineman made seven tackles with two for loss, and was brilliant on a third-quarter goal-line stand. Landis made two tackles on that series after North Penn-Mansfield had first-and-goal from the 1. He consistently blew up plays and also gave the offensive line a lift.

“Evan is a kid we put a lineman jersey on him because we need him there,” Canton coach Tyler Sechrist said. “He’s a kid who played tackle and a kid who will play wherever you want him to.”

Players of the Week

Jacob Corson, Hughesville and Luke Winner, South

Corson played one of his best high school games against Towanda, throwing for a career-high 261 yards and coming up under pressure in the fourth quarter. Despite missing nearly two full games, Corson still has a shot at a 1,000-yard season, having thrown for 852 yards this year. Winner ran over and around Milton defenders for a career-high 239 yards and three touchdowns. Winner scored on runs of 83, 36 and 12 yards. Oh yeah, he also returned a kickoff 77 yards for a score and threw a 20-yard pass.

Game of the Week

Selinsgrove at Montoursville

A week after hosting Southern, Montoursville has another challenging game against the Seals. Selinsgrove has won four straight and is playing outstanding defense. Colin Gorini kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired a year ago when Montoursville edged Selinsgrove, 10-7. Expect another hard-fought game this time.

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

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