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Montoursville at Central Columbia preview

Montoursville PPG–27.4, PPA–20.9; YPG–312, YPA–294.9

Montoursville facts: After breaking out of a funk at Midd-West last week, Montoursville has moved up to No. 4 in the District 4 Class AAAA playoff standings. The top four teams host quarterfinal games and if Montoursville could win its final two regular-season games it could move higher. Despite playing without three defensive starters at Midd-West, Montoursville was two minutes, 38 seconds from a shutout and allowed just 82 yards. Owen Kleinman intercepted a pass, Nate Fisher collected a sack and Blaise Alexander added a tackle for loss. Dylan Blackwell made five tackles and flourished as the team’s featured ball-carrier, running for a career-high 103 yards and a touchdown. Rocco Pulizzi has gone over 1,000 yards in three straight years and made the most of his one carry last week, scoring a nine-yard touchdown. Kayden Frame has flourished at linebacker and also made an offensive impact against Midd-West, catching two touchdowns and running for another score. Marco Pulizzi caught a 33-yard touchdown and Montoursville built a 42-0 halftime lead. Isaiah Fenner has 20 catches and went over 100 yards in a 26-21 comeback win against Loyalsock. James Batkowski is a versatile threat and totaled 147 yards and three touchdowns in a Week 2 win against surging Lewisburg. Mason Winslow is settling in at kicker and has made 10 straight extra points over the last three weeks.

Montoursville player to watch–Ethan Wanner: A two-way starter, Wanner helped spark the defense at Midd-West, making a career-high eight tackles, including six solos. He made seven tackles against streaking Mifflinburg, had a sack against Lewisburg and forced a fumble against Danville.

Central PPG–8.0, PPA–32.5; YPG–168.8, YPA–335.1

Central facts: The Blue Jays are in rebuilding mode after graduating most of their starters from last year’s 5-3 team which just missed reaching the postseason. Central has lost three straight games since rallying for a last-minute 27-26 win against Warrior Run. It has gone against a daunting schedule and been shutout in consecutive games against Southern Columbia and Selinsgrove. Central often is using three quarterbacks a game and Greyson Shaud is a dual threat who played his best game against Warrior Run. Shaud won a state championship last year at Southern and the sophomore ran for 181 yards and a touchdown in that victory four weeks ago. Running back Nathan Smith has topped 100 yards in both Central victories but has not played the last two weeks. Central opened the season by downing Midd-West, 21-7 as Smith ran for 108 yards. Montoursville defeated the Blue Jays, 55-3, at Central last year.

Central player to watch–Eli Book: A speedster, Book returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against Midd-West and leads the team with 13 catches. He also has run for 86 yards on 12 carries.

Outlook: Central will be back but is in a transition phase right now, so Montoursville should be able to build momentum for next week’s showdown with Class AAAA title contender Selinsgrove.

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