Redemption Tour 2.0 complete for Muncy
Three times in the last four years, opponents who defeated Muncy during the regular season stood between Indians and a District 4 Class A championship. All three times, Muncy has vanquished them and hoisted the championship trophy.
Muncy made it 3 for 3 last Friday when it defeated top-seeded Canton, 23-19, and repeated as district champion for the first time in program history. The Indians avenged regular-season losses against Sayre and Canton in consecutive weeks just as they did last year. It was the second time in those championship runs that Muncy has defeated the top two seeds. And Muncy is now 5-0 on the road during its last three district championship runs.
“Everybody kept their heads in it. Everybody believed. The last two years we lost to Sayre and Canton and came back and beat them in the postseason so we’re calling this Redemption Tour 2.0,” two-way senior starter Christian Good said. “It’s complete and it was great and it was fun and I loved every second of it.”
No doubt, Muncy would rather host playoff games and an easier championship path. But that does not seem to be this program’s style. That Muncy has navigated such a difficult path basically reveals everything which makes this program such a good one.
Muncy, which plays District 3 champion Millersburg on Saturday at Williamsport in the state tournament opener, started its District 4 Class A dynasty by doing things the hard way. The Indians defeated top seeds Wyalusing and Sayre on the road in 2016, avenging a Sayre defeat with a 13-0 championship-game victory. A year ago, Muncy downed Sayre two weeks after losing to it before going to top-seeded Canton and winning, 9-7, after dropping an 18-point decision six weeks earlier.
Maybe that is why Muncy did not flinch when it faced the same path this season. This is a new-look Muncy team that lost a lot of starters from last year. But the senior starters who remained welcomed the challenge. They did it before and they could do it again. Muncy overcame a six-point halftime deficit and beat Sayre, 26-20, before mounting a fourth-quarter, 17-play, 80-yard game-winning drive against Canton.
“We’re a small team, but we believe we can win big things,” quarterback Branson Eyer said. “I felt confident coming into the game, we all did, and it turned out great.”
When Muncy completed its Redemption Tour last fall it was an experienced team which featured several senior starters, two 1,000-yard passers and all-state two-way starters Mike Kustanbauter and Dylan Wilt. This year was a lot different. Many wrote Muncy off before the season started because there were so many voids to be filled. The offense frequently has started three freshmen at skill positions and, outside of the offensive line, Muncy started the season inexperienced in nearly every area.
Warrior Run defeated Muncy, 35-6, in the season opener, and losses against South Williamsport and Canton left Muncy at 3-3. What some might have missed in those South and Canton losses was the progress being made. Muncy had its chances against South, but did not finish promising drives. Canton built a 13-0 lead less than three minutes into the Week 6 contest, but it was 13-13 over the last 45 minutes. Sayre is the only team which has beaten Muncy (21-17) in the last six weeks and that was a back-and-forth contest which was not decided until the final seconds.
Whatever the scoreboard has shown, Muncy has continued moving forward. It has progressed each week and has put everything together at the perfect time. Redemption Tour 2.0 is not just about avenging previous defeats, but also about silencing the critics.
“After Week 1 a lot of people counted us out and nobody thought we had a chance. People expected us to not even go .500 and proving everybody wrong is awesome,” Good said. “At the beginning of the season I had my doubts, thinking it might be a rough season, but everyone stayed together and it has been a great season. Throughout the game all the teammates support each other and that’s the most important part of it.”
That support and trust has been evident in each of the last three weeks. Starting with a late rally against Hughesville in its regular-season finale, Muncy has come from behind three straight games after trailing in the second half. Against both Sayre and Canton, the Indians put together long and late game-winning scoring drives. When the pressure has been highest, Muncy has been at its most cohesive and best.
This is a trait which defines Muncy football. The Indians do not look back at past results. They only embrace opportunities that come their way. Following those Sayre and Canton regular-season losses, Tetreault immediately told his players they could see those teams again and change the results. They embraced that message, believed it and put words into actions.
“It’s one of those things where we had a group last year buying into the Redemption Tour mentality. This group was there except for the freshmen and they carried that mentality and are passing it on to the younger guys beneath them,” Tetreault said. “In football, the hardest thing to do is beat a team twice. We truly believe that as a team and a coaching staff and it’s great to come out here and get a win.”
Now a new challenge awaits. Again, Muncy is not looking at the past, but is keeping its focus on what is coming. The Indians have never won a state playoff game and have that opportunity against Millersburg. Few outside the locker room gave Muncy a shot at achieving postseason glory this season. How sweet for this group it would be then if it could extend Redemption Tour 2.0 and achieve something now Muncy team ever has.
“Last year we were very close to it and this year we are looking to get over that hurdle. Millersburg is going to come ready to play us and records don’t mean anything,” Tetreault said. “They are in the state playoffs for a reason. They earned their way there, we earned our way there. The best team will come out on top and we’re going to come out ready to play.”