Muncy at Canton

Background: Muncy and Canton have met in each of the last two District 4 Class A championships with Muncy winning each time. Canton, though, has won the regular-season contests the last two seasons. Canton is ranked No. 5 in the state rankings and Muncy is No. 6.

Muncy PPG–37.0, PPA–17.0; YPG–332.2, YPA–212.6

Muncy facts: Since Canton defeated it in Week 6 last year, Muncy has gone 11-2 and is seeking its first 6-0 start of the 2000s. The Indians have won five straight on the road and are coming off a hard-fought 21-13 win against defending Eastern Conference champion Northwest. Muncy overcame its first deficit this season and a stingy defense made repeated timely fourth-quarter stops. Linebacker Ethan Gush is having a tremendous senior season, making 38 tackles in his last two games and averaging a district-best 14 per game. Branson Eyer has interceptions in consecutive games with Chase Crawley returning a fumble for a touchdown. First-time starting linebacker Jason Shuda is averaging nearly 10 tackles per game and former soccer player Matt McCauley is part of a strong defensive line which has been strong against the run. Eyer quarterbacks an efficient offense which likes imposing its will with the run but also can make big plays in the passing game. Branson Eyer leads the area in quarterback rating, has thrown a touchdown pass in each game and has not been intercepted. Crawley is averaging 24.9 yards per catch, scoring three touchdowns, and tight end Gage Wertz caught two touchdowns against Bucktail. Eyer led a long, go-ahead scoring drive against Canton in last year’s 23-19 championship win and Gush ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Muncy player to watch–Ross Eyer: Branson Eyer’s cousin has scored on nearly half of his 28 catches, totaling 12 touchdowns. The sophomore has averaged 28.2 yards on those catches and can quickly change a game’s complexion as he did against Northwest when he caught a go-ahead 76-yard touchdown. Eyer also is giving the secondary a boost.

Canton PPG–33.5, PPA–18.5; YPG–275, YPA–252.5

Canton facts: Despite having not played in a month, Canton made a statement with a 33-9 win last Monday against previously undefeated Class AAA Athens. The Warriors have played only twice, but have been impressive, also beating preseason NTL title favorite Troy, 34-28, in their opener. Canton overcame a 16-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation before winning that game in overtime. The defense has been opportunistic, forcing six turnovers and Weston Bellows returned a fumble for a touchdown on the first-half’s final play last Monday. Quarterback Cooper Kitchen has played well in the first two starts of his scholastic career, producing six touchdowns in those games, including five through the air. Two-time all-state tight end Ben Knapp and Joel Schoonover have caught touchdowns in each game and Knapp is closing in on 100 career catches. Sophomore running back Riley Parker is an emerging workhorse and was fantastic against Athens, running for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Canton collected seven sacks from six players against Athens and Caiden Williams has three in two games.

Canton player to watch–Derek Atherton-Ely: A valuable two-way starting lineman, Atherton-Ely helps set a physical tone for this hard-nosed team. He has made an impact in each game and has sacks in each game.

Outlook: These outstanding teams are meeting for the fifth time in three years and know each other about as well any opponent can. They are mirror images in many areas with both being physical on both sides of the ball. They each run the ball well, but also have game-changing receiving options. What a game this should be.


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