Muncy at Homer Center preview
Muncy PPG–39.5, PPA–15.1; YPG–413.6, YPA–238.1
Muncy facts: Muncy made it five straight years with either a district or league championship, capturing the NTL-II crown last week when it defeated Montgomery, 40-18. Now the Indians are hoping to make a statement while embarking on a three-hour road trip. This is one of the state’s premier small-school games this weekend with Muncy being ranked No. 3 and Homer-Center No. 7. Muncy has won seven straight games and three consecutive District 4 Class A championships. The Indians are battling Canton, ranked No. 4 in the state, for the top seed in districts. Canton leads but a win tonight and some help from Troy next week could make things interesting. All-state lineman Isaac Harris is expected back after missing last week’s game with an injury. Harris’s younger brother Eli was outstanding in his first start, combining with Xander Brown, Gavin Hillman, Ken Hampe and Adam Rosario to help Muncy run for 421 yards. The Indians lead the area in rushing with 2,489 yards and Austin Johnson, Ty Nixon and Branson Eyer all have gone over 500. Johnson has a freshman area record 16 touchdowns, Nixon ran for 168 yards last week and Eyer is the area’s highest-rated passer. Ross Eyer and Chase Crawley each are weapons in the passing game and Eyer has more than 1,100 career yards. Linebacker Bailey Hadzinikolov is having another big year and was a force against Montgomery, making 18 tackles. Linebacker Jason Shuda is building off his promising sophomore campaign and has been a difference-maker, while Jacob Fowler and Eli Weikle each were in on eight tackles last week. Matt McCauley, Xander Brown and Braydon Kamerer all played well up front and stifled the run against Montgomery. Muncy is 14-3 over the last two seasons.
Muncy player to watch–Boe Steele: The sophomore defensive lineman has enjoyed an excellent breakout season and combines with Kamerer to give Muncy two strong building blocks for the next two seasons. Steele was outstanding against Montgomery, closing off running lanes and making five tackles, including one for loss.
Homer Center PPG–35.9, PPA–17.8; YPG–371.9, YPA–209.5
Homer Center facts: Like Muncy, Homer-Center has won seven straight games since dropping its season opener. The Wildcats reached last year’s state quarterfinals, going 6-2 and losing to Bishop Guilfoyle in the District 6 championship. Despite losing its top passer, rusher and receiver, Homer-Center has continued flourishing and has scored at least 28 points in all its victories. Homer-Center’s closest call game two weeks ago at River Valley when it won, 28-22 in overtime. The Wildcats mirror Muncy in being a strong running team which can also keep defenses honest with a quality passing game. Collin Troup has run for a team-high 969 yards and 15 touchdowns, going over 100 yards four times. Fullback Landon Hill is dangerous as well, running for 518 yards and six touchdowns. He produced a career-high 111 yards in a 43-26 win against West Shamokin. Quarterback Cole McAnulty has thrown for 819 yards and run for 220, totaling 11 touchdowns. Michael Krejocic and Anthony Rowland have combined for 32 catches 756 yards and seven scores. Krejocic also is a ballhawk in the secondary, matching Ross Eyer with six interceptions. Homer-Center has produced 14 sacks and Hill has 3 1/2.
Homer Center player to watch–Justin Walbeck: A three-year starter, Walbeck may be the defense’s MVP and averages 7.9 tackles per game. He also has five tackles for loss, two interceptions and 1 1/2 sacks. Walbeck made 111 tackles as a freshman before not playing in 2019.
Outlook: On paper these teams look like mirror image. What makes predicting this game so hard is that neither has any trace of a common opponent. Still, considering their pedigrees and success, it is hard not imagining this being a heavyweight battle decided late in the contest.