Sayre at Muncy
Sayre PPG–37.3, YPG–349.9; PPA–21.4, YPA–290
Sayre facts: Tonight’s game is for the NTL-II championship with both Sayre and Muncy 4-0 in league play. These league rivals split two games last year with the home team winning each time. Sayre won the regular-season matchup, 28-14, before Muncy exacted revenge in the District 4 Class A semifinals and won, 19-7. These teams also are fighting for the No. 2 district seed and a first-round home game with Sayre at No. 2 and Muncy No. 3. Sayre features a potent offense and totaled 466 yards in last week’s 55-28 win at Cowanesque Valley. Sophomore quarterback Brayden Horton took over late last season and has built off that promising campaign, going over 1,000 yards by Week 6. Horton threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns last week and ran for 112 yards and four scores in a dramatic 38-34 Week 2 win at Towanda in which Sayre won on the final play. Isaiah Firestine is making a run at a 1,000-yard season and ran for 104 yards and three touchdowns a week ago. Corbin Brown switched positions with Horton last season and is one of three players who has caught at least 15 passes. Sayre allowed 443 yards against CV but also forced five turnovers. Sayre’s defense has been opportunistic all year, forcing 26 turnovers. Since starting last season 1-3, Sayre has gone 11-4. The Redskins are seeking their second league title in four years.
Sayre player to watch–Luke Horton: The quarterback’s cousin is an exciting freshman playmaker. Horton dazzled with the ball in his hands last week, catching three passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. He also totaled 102 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening win against Bucktail.
Muncy PPG–25.9, YPG–323; PPA–21.4, YPA–279.3
Muncy facts: The defending District 4 champions are hoping to win their second league title in three seasons and have won two straight, scoring 81 points in those games. A young team that lost many starters from a year ago, Muncy has made big strides throughout the season and scored on its final eight possessions in last Saturday’s 54-28 win against CMVT. The offensive line has jelled well and is playing some of its best football. The running game has come alive and Ethan Gush and Paul Pepper have formed a good combination. Both have topped 500 yards and Gush has gone over 150 yards in consecutive victories, scoring six touchdowns in those games. Freshman quarterback Branson Eyer has grown more comfortable with more experience and his cousin Ross, also a freshman, is averaging 29.9 yards per catch with eight of his 14 catches going for touchdowns. Sophomore linebacker Bailey Hadzinikolov became the area’s first 100-tackle player last week and is averaging nearly 13 tackles per game. Defensive end Cael Hembury had four tackles for loss against CMVT and fellow lineman James Schoonmaker played one of his best games, collecting a sack and six tackles. Two-way starting lineman Dakota Haueisen was an all-state offensive selection last year and his return from an injury two weeks ago has provided both lines a powerful jolt. Nate Palmatier also is playing well on both sides of the ball, catching a career-high four passes for 68 yards in a 27-7 Old Shoe win against Montgomery and making some big defensive plays against CMVT. Muncy is 5-0 when it reaches 20 points and 0-3 when it does not.
Muncy player to watch–Christian Good: One of the area’s premier defensive backs, Good and the secondary will be tested often by Sayre’s dangerous passing game. The Redskins are balanced, but Muncy struggled against the pass a week ago and must improve in that area if it hopes to win a league title. Good is a three-year starter and also has caught more than 50 passes the last three seasons.
Outlook: The Class A playoff field is looking mighty good and these teams could see each other again soon. Whatever the case, tonight’s game looks like it should be an outstanding. A winner-take-all showdown for a league title is the kind of game that makes all that offseason work worthwhile. Expect both teams to empty the barrel going after that championship.