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Week 2 football: Montoursville at Central Columbia

Montoursville PPG–56, PPA–7; YPG–379, YPA–94

Montoursville facts: After romping past Midd-West, Montoursville faces its first significant challenge in its District 4 Class AAA title defense. The two-time defending district champions face a well-rounded team which reached last year’s district semifinals and thumped a tough opponent. Montoursville’s young offensive and defensive lines performed well against Midd-West as the Warriors outgained the Mustangs, 406-94. The offensive line building off that performance is crucial since Montoursville possesses several exciting playmakers. Quarterback Maddix Dalena can stretch the field and threw for 179 yards and two scores in his first start, while Rocco Pulizzi ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Dylan Moll is one of the area’s most versatile players and produced 132 yards and two touchdowns on six touches. Dillon Young, Dylan Bennett and fullback C.J. Signor all caught multiple passes with Signor scoring as a rusher and receiver. Montoursville’s young defensive line swarmed and played a major role in forcing six turnovers. They also freed up others to make plays and Zach Schmalhofer picked up where he left off following last year’s breakout season. Isaiah Fenner and Marco Pulizzi made big plays in the secondary, each returning an interception for a touchdown, while Young intercepted two passes.

Montoursville player to watch–Heath Jones: The senior linebacker played well in a reserve role last season and is now a valuable starter who combines with Bennett and Signor to give Montoursville formidable linebacking trio. Jones made six tackles against Midd-West, has good instincts and is one of several first-time starters eager to show how good he can be.

Central PPG–28, PPA–7; YPG–286, YPA–216

Central facts: Central wasted no time showing why it is again a serious district title contender, thumping Lewisburg, 28-7, on the road. The Blue Jays featured an outstanding defense a year ago and took a shutout into the fourth quarter, playing tough and disciplined against a triple option offense headlined by all-state running back Max Moyers. Central scored 21 second-quarter points and went up by 28 early in the third when Dylan Devlin returned a fumble for a score. Central controlled the line on both sides of the ball and last year’s leading rusher, Troy Johnson, ran for a game-high 118 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Garrett McNelis is coming off a 1,000-yard season and threw for 106 yards and a touchdown while also showing his mobility, running for 43 yards on six attempts. Devlin caught three passes and Eli Morrison caught a 31-yard touchdown after being one of the team’s top receivers last year. Central assistant coach Jason Hippenstiel will be the head coach tonight with Scott Dennis dealing with some health issues. Dennis is feeling better and should return next week.

Central player to watch–Garrett Carter: The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker is one of District 4’s best and helps anchor the defense. Carter is fast, strong and experienced and flies to the football. He also can make an offensive impact either at tight end where he is a receiving and blocking threat or as a runner in short-yardage situations.

Outlook: This probably is the best game on the District 4 schedule tonight. Both these teams appear capable of winning district championships and this is an early-season heavyweight showdown. Expect a physical game in which the first team to likely will be the winner.

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