MONSTROSITY: Andrew Powell makes his prediction on Bellefonte-Selinsgrove game

Cade Fortney (12) of Bellefonte High School runs the ball after catching it against Central Mountain High School. The Red Raiders continue postseason action this Saturday against the Selinsgrove Seals at Mansion Park in Altoona. (The Express/Tim Weight)

Cade Fortney (12) of Bellefonte High School runs the ball after catching it against Central Mountain High School. The Red Raiders continue postseason action this Saturday against the Selinsgrove Seals at Mansion Park in Altoona. (The Express/Tim Weight)

By ANDREW POWELL

apowell@lockhaven.com

ALTOONA — Last week, I predicted a close high-scoring affair between the Bellefonte Red Raiders and Greater Johnstown Trojans in favor of Bellefonte. The Red Raiders delivered on my prediction, but it was the way they did it that makes this game against Selinsgrove extraordinarily fascinating.

When I did my research into these two schools and got everything together, I eventually came around to a 45-40 victory for the Red Raiders.

Bellefonte dominated, 34-12.

Earlier in the season, I had wrote a column exposing several different examples of how Bellefonte has proved their doubters (and me) wrong this season, and this is yet another example.

Greater Johnstown is a really good football team, and I figured they would give the Red Raiders all they could handle in the district championship, even though I still had Bellefonte coming out on top – but the Red Raiders came out and made it look easy.

Bellefonte had incredible defense throughout the entire game against the Trojans, and held them to just six points in the first half. In the second half, it was more of the same only allowing a touchdown.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Red Raiders racked up 290 yards just in rushing and exploded to put 34 points on the board, winning the first district championship in Bellefonte’s history since 1999.

Just a brilliant and dominating performance from the Red Raiders in the title game.

Now, Bellefonte enters regional play, and their first round matchup is against a scary team and a powerhouse program: Selinsgrove High School.

Selinsgrove comes into this game with a 10-2 record, with their only losses coming to powerhouse Shikellamy by only a couple of points and undefeated Southern Columbia Area. Needless to say, the Red Raiders will have their hands completely full in this one.

What makes the Seals so scary is the fact that they’re so dominant on both the defensive and offensive, both passing and rushing, sides of the ball.

The biggest threat towards Bellefonte and opposing player to keep an eye on will be Selinsgrove quarterback, Logan Leiby. Leiby has put up an incredible stat line this season including 3,197 yards and 35 touchdowns, just incredible numbers in high school football. He has the ability to not only light up and steamroll a defense, but can do so very quickly.

The next biggest threat for the Red Raiders to maintain is running back Joseph Kahn. Kahn has 948 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year, but could easily have more and also rushed for over 1,000 if it wasn’t for the superstardom of Logan Leiby. If Bellefonte is able to disrupt Leiby, the Seals have a legitimate plan B at their disposal.

The last threat of the three-headed monster is the defense of Selinsgrove. This season, the Seals have outscored opponents, 388-162. So what does this mean exactly? Selinsgrove has a great defense, but it’s not unbeatable.

So, what does the game plan need to be in order for the Red Raiders to obtain a victory to continue their postseason journey?

Let’s start with the defense.

TAKING ON SELINSGROVE’S DEFENSE: Like I just mentioned, the Seals have an outstanding defense, but it’s far from untouchable. Head Coach Shanon Manning just needs to keep with the same formula: Pound the rock, and ride RB Dylan Deitrich as much as you can. If the Red Raiders can continue with the same 200-300 rushing yard games that they’ve had all season, they should be in a good position for a lead when the clock is running low at the end of the game. If Selinsgrove is able to shut down Deitrich, which I don’t see happening, it could spell blowout city for Bellefonte.

THE SEALS’ PLAN B: If Selinsgrove is forced to go to RB Joseph Kahn due to a struggling Leiby, which I also don’t see happening, Bellefonte will be sitting pretty in this one. If the Red Raiders shut down Leiby, then they’ll most likely shut down Kahn as well. This would be a beautiful scenario for Bellefonte if they can force the Seals to pull this card.

THE MAIN THREAT: When our reporter, Shareik Flowers, interviewed Manning about what his team can do in order to accomplish a win, this is what he had to say: “If Selinsgrove can throw to us a couple of times.” I concur. That’s the biggest key in this game for the biggest threat that Bellefonte will face in this one. If the Red Raiders are able to pick off Leiby at least twice, they’ll win the game. I have no doubt about that. The Red Raiders will put plenty of points on the board through their rushing attack, so this game is certain to come down to turnovers. If Bellefonte protects the ball and picks Leiby a couple of times, then you can expect a Red Raiders victory.

So, who’s going to win this game, you ask?

PREDICTION TIME: I don’t see anybody struggling in this game, as a matter of fact, I look for both stars, Deitrich and Leiby, to completely show out in this one and put up amazing statistics. That’s going to lead to a very competitive and high-scoring game, so expect some major fireworks in this one. However, even though Bellefonte has had an amazing season and has superstar talent of their own, I just see the Selinsgrove Seals being a bit too much in this one, they’re a complete powerhouse – and have a history of being one. Bellefonte will hang close until the very end, but will fall to end a classic season that no one saw coming. Whether they win or lose this game, Bellefonte High School (the team, the coaches, the students, the fans, the parents, the administration, etc.) should be proud. It’s been an incredible show to watch, and has been such an honor to cover the Red Raiders this season.

FINAL SCORE: Selinsgrove 37, Bellefonte 31

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