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Week 2 football: Around the area

North Penn-Mansfield (0-0) at Wellsboro (1-0)

Fierce rivals collide in Week 2 after splitting two exciting games a year ago. Wellsboro defeated North Penn-Manfield in the regular-season finale, but a week later, the Panthers went to Wellsboro and defeated the nine-win Green Hornets, 17-14, in the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals. North Penn-Mansfield reached the semifinals for a second consecutive season and returns nearly all of its starters from that team.

That experience is a blessing for North Penn-Mansfield after it had no offseason since voluntary workouts were not allowed and it did not start practicing until it was nearly September. Quarterback Colton Litzelman threw for 1,846 yards last year and three receivers who caught 22 or more passes also return, including Koleton Roupp (43 catches). Bryan Bogaczyk ran for 663 yards, Noah Spencer is a threat as a runner and receiver and the offensive line returns nearly intact.

North Penn-Mansfield stifled Wellsboro’s dangerous offense a year ago and has two of the NTL’s premier players in lineman Logyn Choplosky and linebacker Brett Harvey. Bogaczyk and Spencer are three-year starters in the secondary.

Wellsboro is 67-14 the last eight seasons and has won eight or more games in each of those campaigns. This is the youngest team Wellsboro has fielded in that time, but it started strong a week ago, downing Cowanesque Valley, 48-6. Darryn Callahan ran for 121 yards on just seven carries and Isaac Keane threw touchdowns to Zach Singer and Will Kibler. Conner Adams is a threat as a runner or receiver and totaled 82 yards while five ball-carriers averaged more than 5.0 yards per carry. Joe Brown sparked a defense which surrendered just 73 yards and made eight tackles as coach Matt Hildebrand became the program’s all-time wins leader.

Athens (1-0)

at Canton (1-0)

Canton is coming off one of the most exciting wins in recent program history, rallying past defending NTL-I champion Troy, 34-28, in overtime. The Warriors snapped Troy’s nine-game regular-season winning streak and erased a 16-point deficit in the game’s final four minutes to force overtime before winning it on Cooper Kitchen’s 5-yard touchdown. Canton did all that despite losing two-time all-stater Timmy Ward in the second quarter to a knee injury that he aggravated.

Kitchen was outstanding in his first varsity start, throwing for 165 yards and three touchdowns. Two-time all-state tight end Ben Knapp and Joel Schoonover each caught touchdowns in the last four minutes and Weston Bellows added a career-high six receptions. Expect sophomores Riley Parker and Hayden Ward to play major roles moving forward with Timmy Ward injured. Parker ran for 44 yards and a touchdown and Ward added 32 yards on eight carries.

Canton’s defense contained a powerful Troy running game and also forced a critical fumble in the final two minutes, setting up the game-tying touchdown. Canton has played in each of the last two District 4 Class A finals and is 20-4 the past three seasons.

Athens also won in thrilling fashion, beating rival Sayre for the first time since 2017, 10-7 in overtime. The Wildcats played outstanding defense, allowing just 206 yards and forcing three turnovers. Quarterback Mason Lister sparked the offense, completing 16 of 25 passes for 161 yards. He hit Karter Route for a 32-yard touchdown pass and Route caught seven passes. Caleb Nichols kicked the game-winning field goal.

Mifflinburg (0-1) vs. Lewisburg (0-1)

at Selinsgrove

Both teams are hoping to bounce back following frustrating opening-night losses. Lewisburg allowed 21 second-quarter points in a 28-7 loss against Central Columbia and struggled to get its new triple option offense going. The defense, though, did not allow any second-half points and Lewisburg has plenty of room to grow moving forward as it seeks a 13th straight district playoff berth.

Lewisburg all-state running back Max Moyers became the program’s all-time leading rusher after running for 82 yards and a touchdown. Moyers is coming off a torn ACL and has produced 3,895 yards and 48 touchdowns in just 2 1/2 seasons. Ethan Dominick led the team in rushing last year and has moved to quarterback this season. He is one of the area’s more versatile athletes and Cam Michaels is another runner capable of producing big games. Receivers Dante Sims, Simeon Beilier, Jack Landis, Logan Callison and Jay Lannert all have experience.

Mifflinburg will see a completely different look this week after going against Danville’s spread offense. Freshman Troy Dressler made an immediate impact with a team-high seven tackles and Emmanuel Ulrich added two tackles for loss against Danville. Sophomore Andrew Diehl intercepted two passes in last year’s 17-14 win against Lewisburg and is one of the team’s go-to players, along with Tyler Foltz and quarterback Jacob Reitz.

Selinsgrove (1-0) at Central Mountain (1-0)

Central Mountain won its first opener since 2014 in convincing fashion last week, thumping Shikellamy, 33-6. Now the Wildcats are hoping to move to 2-0 for the first time in the 2000s. The Wildcats put in a lot of offseason work and it showed as they scored the first 33 points against Shikellamy, controlled the line on both sides and matched last year’s win total. All five starters are back on the offensive line and that unit paved the way for an offense which produced 362 yards.

Quarterback Brett Gerlach played well in his first start, throwing two touchdown passes to Peyton Johnson who produced 103 yards. Ryan Pentz ran for an area-high 132 yards, also scoring twice. Both Johnson and Pentz led the team in receiving and rushing last year with Johnson topping 40 catches and 700 yards. The defense was outstanding, not allowing a point until the fourth quarter. Jason Rinker was all over the field, making 13 tackles, while sophomore Ben Herrick added 10. Micah Walizer and Tyler Weaver combined for 15 tackles and Anton Stratts had seven tackles and a sack.

Selinsgrove has played in eight straight District 4 Class AAAA finals and appears strong again. It romped past Milton, 42-6, with the defense allowing just 156 yards. Nate Aument intercepted a pass and returned a kickoff for a touchdown while Teague Hoover made eight tackles. Selinsgrove may have to play without standout defensive end Nate Schon after he was injured last week. The Seals have won six of their last eight games going back to last year.

Cowanesque Valley (0-1) at Wyalusing (1-0)

Wyalusing looks like it may be one of the district’s more improved teams after blanking Towanda, 25-0, in last week’s opener. That presents Cowanesque Valley with another challenge after facing perennial NTL power Wellsboro in its opener. CV kept Wellsboro scoreless until the second quarter, but struggled from there. The offense was stymied, although quarterback Tucker St. Peter did find Tanyan Brown for a long touchdown.

CV made big strides last season when it won three of its last seven games so it knows how to rebound. The Indians are fairly young but Michael Sipps made a career-high 16 tackles against Wellsboro and Jacob Schmitt added nine tackles and an interception. St. Peter also intercepted a pass. Elliott Good finished 10th among area rushers last season and Brown caught 22 passes, giving CV some nice offensive building blocks.

Wyalusing lost its final nine games a year ago, but dominated Towanda. The Rams limited Towanda to 159 yards and forced five turnovers. The offense produced 25 points over the final three quarters and quarterback Mitchell Burke is back after topping 1,900 yards last year. Burke threw for 135 yards, ran for 53 and a score and has some excellent receivers at his disposal in Isaiah Way and Kashawn Cameron. Alex Mosier added 67 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Milton (0-1)

at Shamokin (0-1)

One team will get a bad taste out of their mouth tonight. Milton and Shamokin opened against District 4 Class AAAA’s premier teams and both lost lopsided decisions. Milton is coming off a winless season and is young again, but does receive a lift with 2018 leading rusher Jason Valladares back. He ran for 69 yards on 30 attempts last week. Quarterback Ethan Rowe, running back/receiver Ashton Canelo and Xzavier Minium all had quality seasons a year ago as well so Milton could be forming a strong foundation as it gains more experience.

Shamokin has reached districts in each of coach Henry Hynoski’s first two seasons, but struggled to contain Jersey Shore’s high-powered offense. The Indians lost some weapons to graduation, but Max Madden has been one of its top rushers the past two seasons and Ian Paul is another threat who ran for 38 yards on eight carries against Jersey Shore. Quarterback Brett Nye received experience last season and threw for 66 yards and a touchdown last week.

–By CHRIS MASSE

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