Sun-Gazette power rankings: Week 9
1. Montoursville (8-0): Kickers Ian Plankenhorn and Colin Gorini have made all 51 extra-point attempts this season. Plankenhorn has kicked at least one field goal in four straight games, including three that have gone 40 or more yards. Montoursville has produced some excellent kickers throughout the 2000s and both Gorini and Plankenhorn are right there near the top.
2. Jersey Shore (5-3): Give Jersey Shore’s offensive line credit. The Bulldogs have put up some super offensive numbers, but it could not happen if players like Seth Ingraham, Joe Lorson, Eddie Woodring, Colin Samar and Karter Peacock were not performing well. That group includes just one senior and four new starters so the growth has been quick and impressive.
3. Wellsboro (7-1): Critics were silenced last week as Wellsboro played its best game and stayed in the hunt for an NTL-I championship. If the Green Hornets win tonight, they will have at least eight wins for a seventh straight year. Considering some of the outstanding players Wellsboro lost from last year, this has been one of Matt Hildebrand’s best coaching jobs.
4. Warrior Run (5-3): Speaking of quality coaching efforts, Chris Long has done quite a job in his first two seasons at Warrior Run. The Defenders had the talent throughout the season’s first half, but now they have added the belief and that is a powerful combination. Warrior Run honors an excellent senior class tonight and those seniors likely would earn one more home game if they can beat Loyalsock for the first time since 2005.
5. Loyalsock (5-3): Speaking of the Lancers, they are coming on strong and are a victory from securing a seventh straight winning season. They already have clinched an eighth straight playoff berth. Loyalsock’s defense is playing as well as it has in the last few years and has held three straight opponents to 100 yards. Many often associate Loyalsock with dangerous offense, but this team is physical and hard-working as well.
6. Canton (7-1): Quarterback Uriah Bailie joined an elite fraternity after going over both 1,000 passing and rushing yards last week. Kyle Datres (twice), Quinn Henry (twice) and Von Walker are the only other area quarterbacks who have achieved that milestone during the 2000s. Bailie entered Thursday night’s game at North Penn-Mansfield 2,171 yards and 24 touchdowns.
7. Lewisburg (5-3): Nick Shedleski did not throw his first interception of the season until the second quarter of last week’s game. That reveals how good the four-year starter has been this season. The 4.0 student already has a college baseball offer from Mount St. Mary’s, but he also could make a strong collegiate quarterback.
8. South Williamsport (4-4): Tonight is the first time that South is not playing a larger school district and/or state title contender since Week 5. It was a tough stretch and South hosts Loyalsock next week, but experience could pay dividends if the Mounties nail down a postseason berth. After playing teams like Southern Columbia, Central Columbia and Mount Carmel, South could be ready for anything the postseason holds.
9. Muncy (5-3): That Muncy is hosting an NTL-II championship game tonight is a testament to how far this young team has come. The Indians are one of the area’s youngest teams and took a major graduation hit after winning last year’s District 4 Class A championship. This reporter sure did not think Muncy would have a shot at winning a league title, but this team is one that enjoys proving others wrong.
10. North Penn-Mansfield (4-4): There was a time when North Penn-Mansfield was a smash-mouth team that threw the ball as often as a politician tells the truth. Colton Litzelman, however, made it 10 for 10 this decade with the Panthers producing a 1,000-yard passer. The Panthers have evolved, built their offense around whatever works and Litzelman is the latest quarterback who has shined, throwing for 1,101 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one interception.
11. Williamsport (3-5): Delaware Valley clearly is the top District 2-4 Class 6A team right now. Tonight provides Williamsport a shot at not just snapping out of a four-game funk, but also at showing that maybe it is No. 2.
12. Montgomery (2-6): Gabe McNear has never missed a high school kick. Yes, he is a freshman, but McNear is eight games into his high school career so that is mighty impressive. McNear drilled his second field goal last week at Troy and is 22 for 22 on extra points. Montgomery returns a lot of talented players next year and McNear provides it a special teams weapon to build around the next three years.
13. Cowanesque Valley (2-6): Since the program was reinstated in 2004, CV has never won more than three games in a season. Obviously, that means there is a lot to play for over the next two weeks. Whatever happens, CV has put together one of its best offensive seasons in the 21st century.
14. Bucktail (1-6): Considering that Nativity was a week removed from pounding Class AAAA playoff contender Midd-West by 22 points, Bucktail being tied with it in the fourth quarter speaks volumes to this young team’s progress. Maybe the record does not show it, but this team that has fewer than 20 players is doing some good work.
15. Central Mountain (0-8): Peyton Johnson played quarterback in the past and with Zane Probst graduating, he could move there next year. But the way he is playing at wide receiver might make Central Mountain reconsider. The junior receiver has caught 21 passes over the last four weeks and topped 100 yards three times this season.
16. Milton (0-8): Kenley Caputo has emerged as a big-play threat, catching two touchdowns and averaging 20.9 yards per catch.
17. Hughesville (0-8): It was nice seeing senior quarterback Jacob Corson return last week at Bloomsburg. Corson has not had much injury luck, but has put together his best season. Had it not been for the injuries, Corson likely would be closing in on a 1,000-yard season.
Chris Masse may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse