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Warrior Run at Montoursville

Last meeting: Montoursville won, 28-7, in Week 4.

Background: While Montoursville is a perennial district title contender, Warrior Run is new to this experience, but still mighty dangerous. The Defenders made history last week, winning the program’s first playoff game and thumping Lewisburg, 28-7. Warrior Run has made a four-win improvement since last season and clinched its first winning since since 2006 two weeks ago. Montoursville is seeking its first repeat district championship since 2005-06 and had one of its toughest regular-season challenges come against Warrior Run. Montoursville pulled away late in a game that was 14-7 in the fourth quarter. If Montoursville wins tonight it will head to its fifth district final in six years.

Warrior Run PPG–27.3, YPG–303.5, PPA–16.1, YPA–244.9

Warrior Run facts: A team that has been steadily trending upward has put everything together this season, building its foundation upon 19 dedicated seniors who have turned the program around. Instead of wilting following a three-game losing streak earlier this season, Warrior Run rallied and has won five of its last six games. Its seven wins are the most by a Warrior Run team since 2005 and it dominated Lewisburg a week ago in all facets. The defense did not allow any points and bottled up an explosive unit, making 13 tackles for loss and surrendering just 168 yards. This is a physical unit which held its own against Montoursville in Week 4 and that has quality playmakers at all three levels. Defensive ends Ahmahd Keyes (4) and Pete Reasner (2) swarmed against Lewisburg, combining for six sacks. Keyes played the game of his life, making 10 solo tackles, including five for loss. Linebacker Jackson Welliver is one of the district’s best and averages 11.7 tackles per game. The two-way starter has led Warrior Run in tackles three straight years, going over 100 in the last two. Kenny Newman also is tough inside and linebackers David Gearhart and Logan Smedley each average more than five tackles per game. Riley Daubert is one of District 4’s most well-rounded players and returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Montoursville. He also has five interceptions and is Warrior Run’s all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdowns. Daubert caught five passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns against Lewisburg with Tyler Pick adding a 31-yard touchdown catch. Denver Beachel and Hoyt Bower form a good running back combo and Beachel twice has scored five touchdowns in a game. Quarterback Remington Corderman threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns against Lewisburg and is 14 of 18 over his last two games with five touchdowns. He also is the program’s first 1,500-yard passer since Bryson Brooke in 2007.

Warrior Run player to watch–Garrick Grady: The two-way lineman might fly under the radar but he has been a vital part of the team’s success. Grady is part of an offensive line which has played some of its best football the last two weeks. He also helped Warrior Run stymie the run last week and had a career-high 11 tackles.

Montoursville PPG–40.2, YPG–347.5, PPA–8.3, YPA–158.1

Montoursville facts: Several starters are back from last year’s district champion and have combined with some promising young players to help Montoursville reach 10 wins for a second straight year. The Warriors had little trouble in last week’s 42-0 win against Shamokin, building a 28-point halftime lead and nearly scoring on its first two plays. The Warriors have recorded five shutouts this season, including two straight. Linebacker CJ Signor led the way against Shamokin, making 10 tackles and forcing an interception. Fellow linebacker Logan Balouris made some key plays early and linebacker Dylan Bennett added an interception that set up a touchdown. Dillon Young also intercepted a pass to set up a score and the secondary covered well. All-around threat Dylan Moll ran for a 44-yard touchdown on Montoursville’s first play and is an exciting special teams player who has kick and punt return for touchdowns this season. Young has three interceptions with Moll and Jacob Reeder adding two each. Will Carson and Cameron Wood form an imposing inside-outside duo up front and fellow lineman Ryan Keen played a solid game against Shamokin. The offensive line set the tone early against Shamokin and Montoursville averaged nearly 16 yards per play in the first half. Quarterback Hunter Shearer completed 7 of 8 passes and went over 1,000 yards for a third straight year. Rocco Pulizzi and Logan Ott combined for three touchdowns and each player has at least 500 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Wide receiver Jaxon Dalena earned all-state honors last season and has caught a touchdown in three of his last five games. Montoursville’s special teams have been outstanding all season and Ian Plankenhorn and Colin Gorini have combined for seven field goals while going 59 for 59 on extra-point tries. Gorini also is an outstanding punter who is averaging nearly 40 yards per punt.

Montoursville player to watch–Will Carson: The senior two-way lineman has been one of the team’s most valuable players this season and his contributions go far beyond his stats. Carson is part of a tough offensive line and also is an excellent run stuffer on defense. His defense frees up others to make plays and he will play a crucial role against a team that is clicking on both sides of the ball.

Outlook: Although Montoursville defeated Warrior Run eight weeks ago, it was far from satisfied with its performance. Still, this is a different Warrior Run team than the one Montoursville saw in Week 4. The Defenders now believe they can beat anyone in the district and that confidence can go a long way. This is both an interesting matchup and exciting matchup.

–By CHRIS MASSE

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