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Chris Masse on football: Red Raiders’ Hans is huge all-around player; leader

DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Montgomery’s Coltin Hans scores a second-quarter touchdown against Cowanesque Valley on Friday.

If the ball was anywhere near him last Friday night, Coltin Hans caught it. The Montgomery wide receiver commanded the spotlight, catching a career-high 11 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown as the Red Raiders edged Cowanesque Valley, 21-20, winning it with 16 seconds remaining.

All eyes were on Hans when he caught those passes, gained extra yards and when he intercepted a pass. Those eyes might have looked elsewhere when Montgomery ran the ball or when someone else caught it. What they missed there was what makes Hans such a super all-around player and such a tremendous leader.

Whether he has the ball or not, Hans is going all-out, all the time and helping Montgomery however he can. Whether it’s catching, running, blocking or playing defense, Hans has become one of Montgomery’s most valuable players. Just as important he has become an ultimate leader. Coach Christian Diggs is in his first year at Montgomery and knows what in Hans, he has a model for how he wants all his future players approaching the game.

“Hans is the definition of a captain. He leads by example and he’s the first guy to help somebody with their position, even if he’s not playing it,” Diggs said. “He knows the playbook inside and out. Obviously, he’s a go-to target, but he does so many other things. I couldn’t be any more proud of him, along with the rest of the guys.”

A 4.0 student, Hans is a student of the game. He is ready for every situation because he has studied for just about any situation. That is how he has become such a vital cog over the last three years, starting each time and helping Montgomery elevate its program during that time. He is one of just two Raiders to go over 1,000 career receiving yards during the 2000s and Hans also leads the area in receiving with 56 catches, 811 yards and five touchdowns.

The numbers are impressive, but one cannot measure what Hans provides by statistics alone.

“He is one of the best athletes on the team,” quarterback Logan Almeida said after throwing for 238 yards and two touchdowns. “He’s a crazy hard worker.”

“The great thing about Coltin is if he’s at wideout on the left and we’re running a sweep to the right we can count on that backside corner being blocked,” Devon Deem said after igniting the defense, scoring twice and catching the game-winning touchdown pass. “Every single play, every single down he’s there.”

Hans made his final game at Montgomery especially memorable against a strong Cowanesque Valley team which had won five of its previous six games. With fellow standout receiver Maurice Walters sidelined, Hans looked unstoppable at times and his 11 catches were the second-highest produced by a Montgomery player in the 2000s. He did not drop a pass, consistently gained yards after the catch and never went down easy.

Hans ability to consistently produce helped Montgomery convert 7 of 11 third downs. His leaping 9-yard first-down catch ignited the game-winning 51-yard drive and he helped clear out the field on consecutive ensuing throws to Deem which produced 24 yards after Montgomery faced a 1st-and-20 at midfield.

“I have no problem throwing the ball his way,” Almeida said. “I’m 99.9 percent when I throw the ball his way he’s coming down with it.”

Before coming up big on the final drive, Hans produced a spark with his special teams play. The three-year starter returned the kickoff 19 yards to the 49-yard line, providing Montgomery a jolt. He did so early in the game as well, blanketing a receiver and making a leaping interception. That set up Montgomery’s first touchdown as Deem ripped off a 41-yard touchdown and gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead.

His 11 catches made Hans Montgomery’s all-time leader in catches. He passed Colton Harer for the top spot and now has 92.

It was a great performance, but last Friday also was really just Hans being Hans. It doesn’t really matter either: Whether he is catching a lot of passes or not, Hans is making a big impact.

And he has become the consummate Red Raider.

“Every time Logan throws the ball he gives me an opportunity to catch it. The line does everything they can do to put me in position and I do all I can to make plays for them. I know my team has my back and I want to have theirs,” Hans said. “I’ll do whatever I can. I’ll be there 100 percent all the time.”

COMING TOGETHER: Williamsport entered the season with high expectations after returning the majority of its starters from last year’s District 2-6 Class 6A semifinalist. A sense of complacency may have set in. Couple that with a rash of injuries that would have a M.A.S.H. unit working overtime and the Millionaires fell on hard times, dropping to 3-4.

It was a frustrating experience, but ultimately it could provide a blessing. The Millionaires rallied together instead of breaking apart. Younger players grew into roles quicker than expected and when several starters returned in Week 8, Williamsport started clicking again. The lessons Williamsport learned through the hard times helped produce a great time Saturday when it mounted a game-winning 11-play, 55-yard drive and edged Wilkes-Barre, 14-7.

“We may not be full strength physically, but we are so much stronger mentally than we were at the beginning of the season. I think we all fell victim to our press clippings and being ranked here and there and this guy is that and that guy is this, and we forgot what the team was about,” Williamsport coach Chuck Crews said. “It took some individual humbling and some team humbling for us to realize we’re doing this for each other. That’s what you saw (Saturday). It was different guys coming through at different times. Nobody was complaining and everyone was picking each other up. It was great to see.”

Williamsport never buckled despite losing three second-half turnovers and being hit with 11 penalties for 99 yards. The defense dominated, forcing five turnovers, Elijah Frierson intercepted two passes and George Whaley’s 4-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds remaining broke the tie. It may not have been the prettiest win, but it sure was gutsy and victories do not come with style points, so it showed a lot.

“It’s really nice to have each other’s backs. We have everybody’s back,” senior running back/corner back Damier Sams-Glover said. “When one person goes out, another person steps up. We bonded with each other. We’ve been playing with each other for a while, so we have built that chemistry and that helps.”

EXTRA POINTS: Loyalsock and Lewisburg set the stage for their Monday night game last night with emphatic wins last Friday. Tyler Gee threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns while going over 1,000 yards in his first season starting at quarterback as Loyalsock downed Hughesville, 41-14. Rian Glunk caught two touchdowns and JerVal Weeks-Shuler another, while Davion Hill ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns. Cy Cavanaugh made a team-high 10 tackles. Hughesville’s Brenden Knight ran for 93 yards … Lewisburg won its fourth straight and third by mercy-rule as Ethan Dominick ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-14 win against Milton. Freshman Jeremiah Davis returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown and caught a 62-yard touchdown from Derek Asche. Wade Young threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more … South Williamsport’s offensive line surged and Lane Lusk and Clayton Swarthout both went over 100 rushing yards as South Williamsport defeated Sayre, 27-12. The Mounties (5-3) never trailed while playing their first game in two weeks and Landon Lorson connected with Grant Bachman on a 41-yard touchdown while adding an interception. South is fighting Wellsboro for the No. 4 seed in the District 4 Class AA playoffs which would produce a home quarterfinal … Speaking of Wellsboro, it made a statement and won its third straight, routing Athens, 49-13. The Green Hornets (4-3) shredded a defense which allowed just 6.4 points through the season’s first seven weeks, building a 42-7 halftime lead. Isaac Keane threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns and the defense smothered Athens, allowing just three rushing yards. Ryan Sweet collected three sacks and Cameron Brought made nine tackles … Central Mountain quarterback Brett Gerlach threw for a career-high 350 yards and four touchdowns to four receivers in just a little more than two quarters as Central Mountain pounded Midd-West, 45-6. Gerlach became the first area quarterback to top 300 yards this season and Ryan Pentz ran for 106 yards with two touchdowns as Central Mountain (6-3) clinched its first winning season since 2009. Micah Walizer caught four passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, Connor Foltz added a 65-yard touchdown catch and Tyler Weaver caught a score while kicking a field goal … North Penn-Mansfield (5-4) won for the fourth time in five games, forcing six turnovers and blanking CMVT, 41-0. Cam Fabian returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown, the fourth different way he has scored this year … Warrior Run sophomore quarterback Ryan Newton threw for 196 yards and a touchdown, going over 1,000 yards this season in his team’s loss at Mount Carmel.

Chris Masse covers high school football for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached at cmasse@sungazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse.

DR. MASSE’S TOP 5 RANKINGS

1. Jersey Shore (9-0): Like it did against surging Lewisburg earlier this season, Jersey Shore blew open a close game in the second half and made a nice statement, routing Bald Eagle Area, 48-5. The Bulldogs snapped BEA’s seven-game winning streak and shredded a defense which had allowed just 37 points in its first eight games. Nick Canellos returned an interception for a touchdown, Cayden Hess picked off two passes and Brady Jordan added an interception. Jersey Shore stifled a high-powered attack, did not surrender a touchdown and blew things open with 35 second-half points. Jordan topped both 100 passing and rushing yards for a second straight week, producing 272 yards and three touchdowns. Connor Griffin is enjoying a breakthrough season and caught a 77-yard touchdown while Karter Peacock, Haydn Packer, Connor Davis and Tate Sechrist combined for 34 tackles. Dietrich Dammer collected a sack and Breck Miller kicked two more field goals, giving him a district-best 10 during his super debut season.

2. Canton (9-0): Its defense not only has been stifilng this season, but also opportunistic. Canton proved it again Friday at Hanover as Brenen Taylor and Hayden Ward returned interceptions for touchdowns in a 61-7 win. Eleven players have intercepted passes and three have returned them for scores. Canton held a team to seven points or fewer for an eighth time and the offensive line continued imposing its will, paving the way for 352 rushing yards. Riley Parker ran for 141 yards and is averaging more than 10 yards per carry. Ward scored twice and six runners produced touchdowns. Mason Nelson made a season-high nine tackles, while Ben Fitch made a career-high seven. Canton is 9-0 for the first time in the 2000s and will play rival Troy for both the Old Shoe and NTL-I championship Friday night.

3. Muncy (8-1): A showdown of state-ranked Class A teams lived up to the hype and Muncy’s defense came up big in a 17-16 victory at Homer-Center. The Indians held Homer-Center to season-lows and points and yards and Branson Eyer secured victory when he intercepted a pass near the end zone in the final minute. Eyer also threw for 106 yards and found his cousin Ross for a touchdown. Ross Eyer intercepted his seventh pass, Ty Nixon added a pick and a score and the front seven swarmed as Muncy won its eighth straight game. Special teams often make a huge difference and kicker Loudon Boring was the game’s unsung hero, drilling a 26-yard third-quarter field goal as well as both extra points. Freshman running back Austin Johnson ran for 69 yards and became just the second freshman in area history to top 1,000 yards. Linebacker Bailey Hadzinikolov dominated, being in on 26 tackles and making 13 solos.

4. Williamsport (5-4): The Millionaires moved ahead of both State College and Altoona in the District 2-6 Class AAAAAA standings following their victory Saturday. The top seed receives a bye into the championship because Mifflin County has opted out of districts. If the Millionaires win Friday, they would clinch a second straight championship appearance. Frankie Morrone has made a smooth transition from quarterback to tight end and caught three passes for 48 yards and a touchdown against Wilkes-Barre. George Whaley continues settling in at quarterback and engineered an impressive game-opening 70-yard drive while finishing with 168 total yards and two touchdowns.

5. Montoursville (5-4): Montoursville has featured some tremendous running backs over the years, but none has scored more touchdowns than Rocco Pulizzi. The senior all-stater ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns in Friday’s 35-0 win at Central Columbia, becoming the first player in program history to rush for 50 touchdowns. Pulizzi broke Keith Batkowski’s record of 49 and Montoursville made quick work of a second straight opponent, again mercy-ruling it by halftime. Maddix Dalena threw touchdowns to Marco Pulizzi and Ben Conrad while the defense formed a wall which limited Central to 72 yards. The Warriors also received a major lift with linebackers Brayden Brown and Matt Conklin, as well as defensive end Frank Schemery returning to action. Nate Fisher made two tackles for loss and Ethan Wanner a career-high nine tackles. Montoursville moved up to No. 2 in the District 4 Class AAA standings and if it can beat Selinsgrove Friday while receiving help from Southern Columbia against Danville, it would earn the top seed.

Players to Watch

Kohen Lehman, North Penn-Mansfield and Conner Adams, Wellsboro

Lehman dazzled on both sides of the ball against CMVT, scoring five touchdowns, running for 112 yards on just six carries and returning two interceptions for first-quarter touchdowns. Four of Lehman’s touchdowns covered 35 or more yards and he scored four times in the first half while going over 100 yards for a fourth time. Any time Adams had the ball against Athens, he was a big-play threat. The versatile junior produced 206 yards and five touchdowns, going for 137 yards rushing and 77 receiving. Adams rushed for three touchdowns, caught two and all five scores came from 14 or more yards, including a 74-yarder on his final carry in the third quarter.

Game of the Week

Hazleton at Williamsport

The schedule makers had no idea how things would play out, but putting these long-time rivals together in Week 10 could not have worked out any better. Friday’s game will be for the Wyoming Valley Conference championship with Hazleton and Williamsport entering undefeated in league play. Both teams are heating up the perfect time and regular-season games do not get a whole lot bigger than this.

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