Montoursville at Loyalsock
Montoursville PPG–50.2, PPA–9.0; YPG–390.6, YPA–163.8
Montoursville facts: Leading the District 4 Class AAA points standings, Montoursville could stengthen that hold if it defeats its top rival for a fourth straight time Saturday. The two-time defending District 4 champions swept two games from Loyalsock a year ago, defeating it 42-14 in the final. Since this cross-creek rivalry was renewed in 2002, however, neither team has won more than three straight in the series with it being tied 6-6 before Montoursville’s current three-game win streak. Montoursville has looked as dominant as a year ago and captured its third straight HAC-II last week, thumping Lewisburg, 45-7. The defense has flourished at all three levels and three interceptions resulted in three touchdowns against Lewisburg. Montoursville has produced four defensive touchdowns and Dillon Young has three interceptions. Dylan Moll is one of the area’s premier defensive backs and also set up a touchdown last week with a long punt return. Dylan Bennett, CJ Signor and Heath Jones form one of the district’s premier linebacking trios and Zack Schmalhofer sparks a defensive line which has stuffed the run all season. The offense has been as exciting as the defense is stingy, topping 40 points in every game. Rocco Pulizzi became the district’s first 1,000-yard rusher a week ago and Maddix Dalena threw three touchdown passes. The offensive line was a question mark entering the season after four starters graduated, but has been a strength with players like Signor, Hunter Hanna, Thad Anderson, Lane Stutzman, Jeremiah Caseman, Sam Carson and Ethan Wanner all making strong contributions.
Montoursville player to watch–Jacob Fellinger: An excellent complement to Schmalhofer on the other edge, Fellinger has made a strong impact in his first year starting. The senior defensive end has two sacks and has been a consistent disruptor, pressuring the passer and clogging running lanes. With Loyalsock effectively running the read-option, Fellinger will play a large role tonight.
Loyalsock PPG–38.3, PPA–25.0; YPG–372.5, YPA–284.8
Loyalsock facts: The Lancers are playing their third game in eight nights after beating Bloomsburg and Warrior Run in a four-night span last Friday and Monday. Loyalsock moved up to No. 4 in the district standings and the top four advance. The Lancers showed little issue with fatigue against Warrior Run, scoring on eight straight possessions and winning, 52-18. Coming off a physical and exciting 26-20 win against Bloomsburg, that was no small achievement. Loyalsock rallied from a 13-point second-quarter deficit against the Panthers, scoring 26 unanswered points and intercepting three passes. Linemen like Jeff Hamilton, Dre Taylor, Julian Wilson, Aeden Holler and Dominic Cellini helped pave the way in the last two victories and the line receives an added boost Saturday when three-year starter Aspen Stahl-Emig returns. Quarterback Chase Cavanaugh is one of the district’s most versatile weapons, going over 3,000 career passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards. He has totaled nearly 600 yards in two straight wins, topping 100 yards rushing each time. Naz Smith caught three touchdowns against Bloomsburg and Rian Glunk and JerVal Weeks-Shuler also have long scores this season. Korie Mayer has done a nice job filling in for injured Davion Hill, rushing for seven touchdowns. Mayer forms a potent edge rushing combination with Holler who has been a force this season, collecting an area-high seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Losing standout linebacker Joeb Schurer to a season-ending injury was a tough blow, but young players like Gavin Rice and Logan Bastian have played well in his absence.
Loyalsock player to watch–The offensive line: Yes, that’s five players, but the one unit has to play well for Loyalsock to have a shot at snapping its losing streak against Montoursville. The Warriors feature so many offensive weapons that it is asking a lot from a young defense to contain it so Loyalsock’s best shot might be winning a high-scoring game.
Outlook: If this game is close–and there is a good chance it will be–keep an eye on special teams. With Loyalsock kicker Brady Dowell out for the season, the Lancers are going for 2 after every touchdown and every point will be precious Saturday.