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Danville at Loyalsock preview

Danville PPG–51.7, PPA–6.7; YPG–453.7, YPA–166

Danville facts: Although some excellent starters graduated from last year’s District 4 Class AAA champion, the Ironmen (3-0) look as dangerous as ever, mercy ruling all three opponents. A state semifinalist last year, Danville wasted no time opening eyes in 2021, routing Miffilnburg, 42-7, and handing the District 4 Class AAAA title contender its lone loss. Wide receiver Carson Persing earned all-state honors last season and became Danville’s all-time leading receiver in Saturday’s 51-7 win against Hughesville. Persing’s 2,310 career yards in 25 games is second only to current Ohio State wide receiver Julian Fleming in District 4 history and he is only a junior. Quarterback Zach Gordon is doing an outstanding job replacing all-stater Peyton Riley and has completed 31 of 39 passes while throwing three touchdowns in each victory. The Ironmen also feature a strong running game with Ty Stauffer topping 100 yards in consecutive games. Aaron Johnson is a versatile threat out of the backfield and ran for 76 yards and a touchdown last week while adding five catches for 72 yards. The defense has been nasty, allowing just one touchdown in each game. Danville collected six sacks against Hughesville and all-state linebacker Mason Raup recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. The defensive line has been especially strong and Danville has surrendered just 48 rushing yards this season.

Danville player to watch–Justin Kutcher: The sophomore can play either defensive end or defensive tackle and is flourishing in his first season start. Kutcher has made nine tackles the past two weeks and seven have been for loss. He also registered a sack against Hughesville.

Loyalsock PPG–30.3, PPA–26.0; YPG–360, YPA–303.7

Loyalsock facts: It is rare that a team can lose 51-15 and reveal why it is a serious district title contender, but Southern Columbia is a rare team and that is what Loyalsock did by pushing the four-time defending Class AA state champions hard for a half last week. Loyalsock topped 200 first-half yards against a team which had not allowed a point in two games, running the ball as effectively as any team over the past two seasons. The Lancers had Southern off-balance at times and trailed 27-15 late in the second quarter. Running back Davion Hill ran for 126 yards and a touchdown while Rian Glunk caught five passes for 81 yards and a score. JerVal Weeks-Shuler, Naz Smith and Jaylen Andrews also are dangerous receivers and sophomore quarterback Tyler Gee has flourished in his first year starting. Loyalsock scored 78 points in its first two games and the starting defense did not allow a point in a 42-13 victory against Shikellamy. Linebackers Cy Cavanaugh and Gavin Rice are both averaging more than nine tackles per game and Weeks-Shuler has four tackles for loss coming off the edge. Fellow defensive end David Boring collected two sacks in an opening-night win against Bloomsburg. Smith returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago and Loyalsock is seeking its 10th straight playoff appearance. Either it or Danville has appeared in seven of the last District 4 Class AA and AAA championships, including in each of the last five years.

Loyalsock player to watch–Logan Bastian: The sophomore linebacker came on strong during his debut season a year ago, working his way into the starting lineup and finishing as one of the team’s leading tacklers. He has picked up where he left off, averaging 7.3 tackles this season. That includes a 10-tackle effort vs Shikellamy when Bastian made seven solo stops.

Outlook: These two have produced some memorable games over the years, including in the playoffs. The last time they played in 2018, Loyalsock rallied for a last-second 41-40 victory when the two teams combined for 817 yards. I don’t know if this game will be as dramatic, but I would be surprised if it is not pretty exciting.

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