High school football action is heating up
Central Mountain and Bellefonte went back-and-forth in an epic battle that went right down to the wire, and saw the underdog Wildcats come away with their first win of the season.
Bald Eagle Area kept the upsets rolling in with a gritty, 3-0, edging of Chestnut Ridge in a struggle between two stringent defenses.
Jersey Shore’s offense once again showed off its big time playmaking ability in a 38-21 romping of Lewisburg.
And though Bucktail dropped its fourth straight game to CMVT to remain as the area’s only winless team, the Bucks still brought their gutty brand of football and put forth a solid effort.
We can only hope that this week teams carry that same fire and intensity out onto the gridiron.
Here’s what to look for:
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN AT CLEARFIELD
In their win over Bellefonte, the Wildcats finally managed to put together a full team effort that saw major contributions on both sides of the ball from a bevy of different players.
It was the first time all season that senior quarterback Justin Neff hadn’t been relied on to carry the whole offense’s point production, as Tanner Weaver and Austyn Carson also put scores on the board for CM.
Though, Neff did come up big time for his team when it needed him the most.
Despite jumping out to a quick, 17-0, lead over the first 1 quarters, the Wildcats saw their advantage get squandered when the Red Raiders battled back with 21 unanswered points.
But with the help of his offensive linemen – who are really starting to come into their own and played maybe their best game of the season last week – Neff managed to snap off a 45-yard touchdown run with only 1:29 remaining in regulation, which sealed up the win.
It was the type of victory that lets fans know their team is headed in the right direction.
The Wildcats showed explosive offensive production. There was a strong defensive effort. But, most importantly, the squad took on some adversity and managed to overcome it.
All of that should have provided a good test for what Central Mountain will see this week, when it takes on tough Clearfield (3-1).
The Bison enter the game on the heels of three straight victories, most recently over Huntingdon last week.
They are a group that has seen a balanced attack, with an ability to both put points up and shut offenses down.
Like the Wildcats, Clearfield has also seen the bulk of its offensive production come in the first half, especially in the second quarter, where the team has averaged 10.5 points per game.
But unlike the Wildcats, the Bison have been able to continue scoring in the second half with regularity, which is something CM still hasn’t done much of, as the team went yet another game without scoring a point in the third quarter last week.
For Central Mountain to hang tough with Clearfield, it will need to focus its defensive efforts on shutting down the Bison passing attack, where quarterback Isaac Rumery has averaged more than 200 yards per game.
The team’s running game is also pretty stout, as starting RB Seth Caldwell has been good for around 100 yards and a touchdown per contest.
Though the Wildcats’ defense showed major improvement last week against Bellefonte, seeing a repeat performance against Clearfield could be a tall order.
PREDICTION: Clearfield 27, CM 24
BUCKTAIL VS. ST. JOEPSH’S
It was another week and another tough, double-digit, loss for Bucktail last week when the team fell to Columbia Montour Vo-Tech, 34-6.
Still, you have to admire the way the Bucks play their hearts out every game knowing they are almost always under-manned as the smallest team in the state.
Things could get a little easier for the Bucks this week when the team takes on St. Joseph’s (0-3), in game that was moved to Central Mountain’s Don Malinak Stadium on Saturday, at 1 p.m.
This season, the Wolves have only scored 28 total points and have given up 145 points to opposing offenses.
Those numbers are almost identical to what Bucktail has seen, which means fans could be in for a close game between these two teams.
The only reason St. Joseph’s might have the slight edge in this one is because it has had a whole extra week to prepare for the Bucks, after having a bye last week.
PREDICTION: St. Joseph’s 14, Bucktail 13
BELLEFONTE AT TYRONE
Bellefonte’s close loss to Central Mountain last week felt eerily similar to its week one loss against Jersey Shore.
The Red Raiders went down by multiple scores early, battled their way back into contention, and then gave up a late score to see the win slip through their hands.
But even though it was a loss, you have to appreciate the never-say-die attitude Bellefonte plays each game with.
That attitude could go a long way in keeping the Red Raiders close as the group takes on a powerful Tyrone (3-1) team that hasn’t lost at home yet this season and is on a two-game winning streak.
This is a game Bellefonte really needs to keep its head above the water and maintain a record above .500, but taking the victory is going to be a tall order.
So far, Tyrone has done its most damage scoring in the first quarter, which is also when Bellefonte’s defense has seen its biggest blunders. Because of that, there is some chance Bellefonte will be playing from behind in the second half once again.
PREDICTION: Tyrone 24, Bellefonte 21
JERSEY SHORE VS.
It will be a battle between HAC-I rivals on Friday night when Montoursville (4-0) heads to Jersey Shore (3-1) for a game that has a lot of area fans really excited.
This will be a contest that will likely see a ton of scoring, as the offenses of both groups are averaging around 30 points per game, and show no signs of slowing down.
Many of those touchdowns will likely be coming through the air, as each team comes into the game with a very capable quarterback who has aired it out quite a bit this season.
For the Bulldogs, it will once again be first-year starter Elijah Shemory under center.
Shemory has averaged 241 yards per game (964 yards on the season), and has hit his favorite target – Todd Sanford – 40 times for 566 yards and six touchdowns.
On the other side, perennial starter Brycen Mussina, who has 900 yards this year and averages 17 yards per completion, will be leading the charge.
Though I expect this game to be a close one, I don’t know if this younger Bulldogs team can hang with all of the experience Montoursville brings to the table.
PREDICTION: Montoursville 42, Jersey Shore 30
BALD EAGLE AREA AT
In a Mountain League showdown, BEA (3-1) will head to Central (3-1) on Friday night for what will likely be a tight game.
The Bald Eagles showed their toughness last week by sticking out a close upset over Chestnut ridge, taking the win with an overtime field goal.
The game was a testament to the terrific defense the Bald Eagles have enjoyed this season. To date, the team has only surrendered 44 collective points in four games, with 41 one of those coming in the team’s only loss (to Penns Valley).
Though the Dragons will have the advantage of playing the Bald Eagles at home, the confidence gained from last week’s close win should hopefully carry over for BEA.
PREDICTION: BEA 17, Central 14