Best of the rest for Week 4
South Williamsport at Athens
South (1-2) is looking to break out following consecutive losses against Wellsboro and Canton. The Mounties have played quality defense in both games and held undefeated Canton to 212 yards in last week’s 21-7 defeat. The offense has moved the ball well at times, too, but finishing drives has been an issue for last year’s District 4 Class AA runner-up. South will be trying to exact a measure of revenge as well tonight after dropping its only regular-season game at Athens last year.
Running backs Lane Lusk and Clayton Swarthout are running well behind a stout offensive line and each is producing more than 100 yards per game. Grant Bachman has been one of the area’s most productive receivers the last two seasons and caught six passes for 85 yards and a touchdown against Canton. Quarterback Landon Lorson has thrown touchdown passes in two of three games and is closing in on 2,000 career yards.
Lorson also is one of the area’s top defensive backs and has broken up four passes. Lusk is leading the team in tackles for a second straight year and is averaging 9.3 per game. Defensive end Jake Casella is a weapon up front and has 20 tackles as well as a sack.
Athens (2-1) was shutout against Troy in Week 2 but bounced back a week ago with a shutout of its own, thumping Towanda, 35-0. Quarterback Mason Lister ran for three touchdowns in the victory. Shayne Reid ran wild against South in last year’s game, producing 199 yards and two touchdowns as Athens erased an 11-point deficit and won, 35-18. Reid is back and ran for 110 yards against Towanda.
Wyalusing at Canton
Canton (3-0) has played in three straight District 4 Class A championships and is off to another strong start, highlighting it with an impressive 21-7 victory at South Williamsport last week. The Warriors are giving points up at a premium and surrendering just 159 yards per game, good for second in the area. The starting defense did not allow a point in the first two wins and Canton is 7-1 over the past two seasons.
Bailey Ferguson has come on strong this season and made nine tackles against South while linebacker Hayden Ward added eight and Gage Pepper forced a fumble. Wyalusing features a dangerous passing game and Canton has been effective getting to the passer, producing eight sacks in a 52-0 win against Towanda. Mason Harold had two sacks in that game and linebacker Riley Parker returned an interception for a touchdown. Canton forced four turnovers in its first two victories, outscoring North Penn-Mansfield and Towanda 73-0 in the first half.
Quarterback Cooper Kitchen has produced seven touchdowns, running for four against Towanda. Parker and Ward and combined for 786 yards and six touchdowns in five games a year ago. They scored all three touchdowns last week and Austin Allen and Weston Bellows caught long touchdowns the first two weeks. Five players have run for 93 or more yards thus far.
Wyalusing (1-2) opened its season with a 64-0 win against Montrose and held a halftime lead against North Penn-Mansfield but has struggled since then. Quarterback Blake Morningstar threw for 220 yards and four touchdowns against Montrose and Nolan Oswald caught seven passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns. Brian Arnold ran for 141 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago.
Mifflinburg at Hughesville
Hughesville (0-3) is playing its fourth straight potential district playoff qualifier and its first three opponents are a combined 8-1. It does not get any easier tonight against a surging Mifflinburg team, but a young team has shown flashes of promise and should have back multiple starters tonight after missing many in Saturday’s loss at Danville. Four quarterbacks have shown promise this season and the passing game flourished last week, so with leading rusher Brenden Knight returning, the offense may be ready to take flight.
Speaking of Knight, he returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago against Mount Carmel. Joey Swink, Tanner Wetzel and Blake Davis combined to throw for 159 yards against a strong defense six nights ago and fellow quarterback Luke Kaiser returns tonight after missing the past two games. Justin Fowler made some excellent catches against Danville, finishing with a career-high five for 77 yards. Sophomores Angelo Ferrigno and Aiden Barlett combined for seven catches and fullback JJ Gabel produced a touchdown for a third straight game.
Swink intercepted two passes in the season opener and added a sack against Danville. Gabel made 21 tackles against Montgomery while returning an interception for a touchdown. Defensive end Gabe Wagner has made four tackles for loss and Fowler, Kaiser and Mason Hoppes all have produced double-digit tackle performances.
Mifflinburg has routed Central Columbia and Midd-West the past two weeks, allowing just seven points in those victories after opening the season with a loss at Danville. The Wildcats have surrendered just 281 yards in those games and Carter Breed has intercepted two passes. Breed also had a big offensive game against Midd-West, running for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Troy Dressler is shining, too, throwing for 518 yards and four touchdowns. Mifflinburg closed the regular season strong last year and reached the District 4 Class AAAA semifinals, losing to Jersey Shore.
Milton at Towanda
The Black Panthers are one of District 4’s most improved teams, starting 3-0 for the first time in the 2000s. This also is the first time Milton has won three games in a season since 2013. Milton leads the area in rushing and freshman Chris Doyle is District’s leading rusher with 616 yards and five touchdowns. Doyle ran for an area-high 271 yards in last week’s 35-12 win against Holy Redeemer. Quarterback Xzavier Minium is tied with Montoursville’s Rocco Pulizzi for an area-best eight rushing touchdowns and also run for 240 yards, topping 100 in the season opener.
Milton’s offensive line has been outstanding, helping the Panthers average 344 rushing yards per game while going over 300 each time. Milton has not thrown the ball often, but Minium has made some key third-down throws which have extended scoring drives. Peyton Rearick is another running threat and ran for 82 yards against Warrior Run. Minium and Luke Goodwin returned interceptions for touchdowns in that win and Trey Locke recovered a fumble for another score.
Towanda (0-3) is one of the district’s youngest teams and has struggled thus far. Freshman Riley Vanderpool is a player to watch the next few years and leads the team in both rushing and receiving. The defense is allowing 401 yards per game, including 272 on the ground, so expect Milton to test that unit early and often.
N.P.-Mansfield at Troy
North Penn-Mansfield (1-2) is one of the area’s youngest teams but revealed its promise in a comeback win against Wyalusing two weeks ago. The Panthers blanked Wyalusing in the second half, scoring 14 straight points in the 28-18 victory. Running backs Cam Fabian and Kohen Lehman each scored twice in the game and Lehman scored again in last week’s loss at Bald Eagle Area. Fabian also is an excellent receiver and caught an area-high nine passes last week. He is tied for the area lead with 19 receptions.
Quarterback Karson Dominick is playing well in his first year starting and the sophomore has completed 65 percent of his passes. Sammy Lawerence and Eli Shaw have combined for 13 catches. Linebacker Gaven Sexauer made 23 tackles in the first two games and North Penn-Mansfield collected four sacks against Wyalusing. Lehman, Shaw and Lawrence also intercepted passes.
This will be the third time North Penn-Mansfield has played Troy (2-1) in its last eight games since its season was reduced to four games last year and the rivals played twice. Troy won both games, and while younger this season, remains dangerous. The Trojans have surrendered just seven points in wins against Athens and Central Columbia and the offense came alive in last week’s 35-7 victory against Central. Senior running back Damien Landon, a 2,000-yard rusher two years ago, ran for 123 yards last week and Clayton Smith 98 against Athens. Smith scored twice against Central and the defense forced four turnovers.
Warrior Run at
Warrior Run (0-2) gave Montgomery a battle for a half last week and was down by just eight at halftime before allowing 26 third-quarter points in a 46-13 loss. The Defenders have shown sparks in each game and will try to fan those flames tonight against a team which also has lost consecutive games. Derek Thomas has provided a bright spot, catching three touchdowns in his first two games. The senior wide receiver also has 11 receptions for 172 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Newton gained valuable experience last season and has shown promise in his first two starts, throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns. Warrior Run has been unable to get the run game going but has potential there with experienced starters like Justin Blair and Logan Smedley. Thomas Royles also showed promise at Montgomery, running for 31 yards and a score on six carries.
Smedley and Derek Hiner each are averaging six tackles per game and Smedley has finished among the team’s top tacklers the past two seasons. Ethan Carper has a sack and linebacker Austin Confer made eight tackles against Milton.
Central (1-2) has lost consecutive games and is replacing several starters from last year’s team. The offense has struggled in both games, scoring seven points. Central is using two quarterbacks with both Logan Welkom and Greysen Shaud seeing significant time. Shaud is a mobile threat and ran for a team-high 50 yards in last week’s 35-7 loss at Troy. Running back Nathan Smith ran for 108 yards in a 21-7 season-opening win against Midd-West.
Smethport at Bucktail
Bucktail’s game was canceled last week, so it hasn’t played in two weeks. The Bucks (0-2) dropped a 22-20 heartbreaker against Cameron County in that game. Quarterback Dylan Cross is having a strong season and the four-year starter and has totaled 274 yards in two games. He leads the team in rushing and passing and threw twotouchdowns against Cameron County.
Brody Pentz and Zach Pick each caught touchdowns in that last game and Pick is one of the area’s premier linebackers. Sophomore Braylon Fantaski added a 45-yard catch and the team received a boost with running back Conner Mason returning to the lineup.
Smethport (3-0) is off to an excellent start and features and explosive offense which is averaging 39.7 points per game. It is coming off a 35-14 win against Port Allegany and quarterback Noah Lent is a dynamic playmaker. Lent threw for 284 yards and five touchdowns the first two weeks while also running for a team-high 292 yards and four touchdowns. He ran for 192 yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago in a 35-19 win against Brockway. Smethport went 6-1 last year, losing to Red Bank Valley in the playoffs. Lent totaled 1,430 yards and 24 touchdowns a year ago.
–By CHRIS MASSE