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Montgomery at Muncy preview

DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Muncy’s Branson Eyer runs against Sayre during a game earlier this season. The Indians host Montgomery tonight in the Old Shoe Game.

Montgomery facts: In addition to having lost four straight games, Montgomery has not won at Muncy in the 2000s, so it would love ending both those streaks in tonight’s Old Shoe Game. Montgomery snapped a 13-game losing streak against Muncy in 2017, but the Indians have won the two games since then. With all four District 4 Class A teams qualifying for districts, this could be a playoff preview as well with Muncy No. 2 and Montgomery No. 3 in the standings. Montgomery has been hard to figure out at times the last few weeks after playing South Williamsport so tough but then getting upset at Wyalusing and blown out against Canton. Maurice Walters and Coltin Hans form a strong receiving duo and Walters has scored in three straight games since returning from an early-season injury. Walters had 82 yards against Canton’s top-ranked defense and Hans leads the area with 39 catches. Quarterback Logan Almeida is Montgomery’s all-time leading passer and the only player in program history to top 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Linebacker Weston Pick is having a huge season and leads District 4 in tackles with 108. He also leads the area in tackles for loss and has a sack. Defensive end Thayden Miller is tough off the edge and linebacker Devon Deem has a team-high four sacks. Payton Hartman has developed well and Tanner Springman made eight tackles against Canton. Montgomery has returned three turnovers for touchdowns and Almeida intercepted four passes in a Week 3 win against Warrior Run.

Montgomery player to watch–Bradley Leon: A tough two-way lineman, Leon will have a major impact on tonight’s game with Muncy’s lines being among the area’s best. Leon is strong and athletic and made 11 tackles against Canton. He also forced a fumble and had a tackle for loss.

Muncy PPG–39.4, PPA–14.7; YPG–410.6, YPA–231.3

Muncy facts: Winners of six straight games, the three-time defending District 4 Class A champions are ranked No. 3 in the state and are chasing Canton for homefield advantage in districts. The Indians play two big rivalry games in the final three weeks and have a road game at state-ranked Homer Center next week, so should be an exciting three-week stretch. Muncy snapped South Williamsport’s three-game winning streak a week ago, winning a hard-fought game, 31-20. The offensive line continued shining and has helped Muncy run for an area-best 2,068 yards. Quarterback Branson Eyer ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns while running backs Ty Nixon and Austin Johnson combined for 182 yards. Johnson and Nixon are ranked among the area’s top 10 rushers and Johnson has tied the area record for touchdowns in a season (12). Wide receivers Ross Eyer and Chase Crawley stretch the field and each made big plays against South. Crawley caught a touchdown and Eyer fueled two scoring drives with big third-down catches. Nixon and Crawley scored three times in last year’s 34-17 win at Montgomery. Defensive linemen Isaac Harris, Xander Brown and Matt McCauley all played well against South and helped slow its power running game throughout the season half. Nixon made a career-high 14 tackles and Jason Shuda added 13. Ross Eyer has four interceptions this season, giving him an area-best 10 over the past two years. Ben Robinson returned an interception for a touchdown two weeks ago at Northwest and Muncy has a plus-8 turnover ratio.

Muncy player to watch–Bailey Hadzinikolov: The senior linebacker has come storming back after missing most of last season and is averaging close to 10 tackles per game. He has a nose for the football, provides steady leadership and also has emerged as a good blocking tight end who also has caught two touchdowns.

Outlook: Montgomery is a decided underdog tonight but that could provide it extra incentive. The Red Raiders have to play one of their best games this season to make this one interesting, and they have the potential to do so. It’s a rivalry game, so anything can happen tonight.

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