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South Williamsport at Sayre preview

South PPG–22.3, PPA–15.1; YPG–326.3, YPA–222.6

South facts: COVID issues prevented South from playing last week. The Mounties, however, moved up to No. 4 in the District 4 Class AA standings when Sayre lost to Northwest. This is a huge game in pursuit of that home playoff game with Sayre right behind in the fifth position. Essentially, this could be the game which decides who plays at home in Week 11 and who hits the road. South had won three of four games before its stoppage, giving Muncy a battle in a 31-20 loss which was not decided until the final minute. Despite not playing last week, Lane Lusk leads all area rushers with 1,083 yards and this is the 10th straight year South has produced a 1,000-yard rusher. Although the offensive line is made up of all underclassmen, it has meshed following a 1-2 start and the Mounties are third among area teams in rushing yards per game. Quarterback Landon Lorson went over 2,000 career yards three weeks ago and Grant Bachman is a dangerous receiver who has topped 40 catches the past two seasons. Tight end/defensive end Jake Casella is a difference-maker on both sides of the ball and fellow defensive end Connor Apker played an excellent game against Muncy. South cut a 15-point halftime deficit to four against Muncy and two of its three losses are to state-ranked teams. The defense has forced 18 turnovers and has an area-best plus-13 turnover ratio. Lusk returned an interception for a touchdown against Montgomery and Lorson, Kaiser Kistner and Clayton Swarthout all have two interceptions.

South player to watch–Clayton Swarthout: Speaking of Swarthout, he is one of South’s most valuable players. The senior has run for 568 yards and five touchdowns, good for 12th in the area, while also catching two touchdowns. Swarthout is one of the team’s leading tacklers and is a quality linebacker who hits hard and sets a physical tone.

Sayre PPG–31.6, PPA–20.5; YPG–338.8, YPA–248.4

Sayre facts: The Redskins have been up and down the last two weeks, shocking Troy before losing to Northwest. Sayre features a dangerous offense and quarterback Brayden Horton is having an outstanding season, totaling 1,792 yards and 21 touchdowns. He went over 1,000 yards two weeks ago and also leads the team in rushing. Josh Arnold, Luke Horton and Jackson Hubbard all have caught at least 20 passes. David Northrup ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns against Towanda and Zack Garrity produced a season-high 89 yards in a 36-16 at Montgomery. Sayre struggled to slow the run against Northwest but was outstanding against Troy’s potent running game. The Redskins allowed 195 rushing yards that night, a week after Troy had gouged Loyalsock for 562 yards on the ground. Sayre was limited to three games last year because of COVID-19 and Brayden Horton did not play. He is a two-time 1,000-yard passer. The Redskins reached the District 4 Class A semifinals in 2018 and 2019, losing close games to Muncy each time.

Sayre player to watch–Luke Horton: Of Sayre’s three 20-catch receivers, Horton is the most explosive. He caught eight passes for 112 yards against Cowanesque Valley and also has an interception.

Outlook: This is a potential playoff preview, although Wellsboro also factors into the race for the No. 4 seed. With both teams knowing the implications, this should be a physical, entertaining contest. Sayre knows what’s coming so it will come down to how South’s young line performs.

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