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WEEK ONE PREDICTIONS: Central Mountain Football to hold their own against Williamsport

FILE PHOTO: Central Mountain RB Rocco Stark runs during a 2017 regular season high school football game against Selinsgrove. (The Express/Tim Weight)

Today is the day! High school football officially begins!

Here in week one, we have some interesting matchups to watch for — particularly the powerhouse rivalry between Bellefonte and Jersey Shore.

Another interesting game to pay attention for is the game between the improved Central Mountain Wildcats going on the road against Williamsport. I expect the Wildcats to hold their own in this one.

A very interesting campaign to watch for will also be over in Wingate at Bald Eagle Area High School. After a 4-6 season last year, but getting a playoffs appearance, they’re out to prove ‘fluke’-sayers wrong. They begin their quest in week one against Troy.

Over in Farwell, Bucktail squares off against Sayre High School — a winnable game for the Bucks.

Week one! Let’s go!

CENTRAL MOUNTAIN AT WILLIAMSPORT, 7:00 PM

ANALYSIS: Last season in the opening game against Williamsport, Central Mountain suffered a 31-7 defeat to the Millionaires at home. This year on the road, I see the game being much closer. Here in 2018, the Wildcats surround their third-year head coach James Renninger with complete unity entering the new season. Williamsport will most likely feel the height of that emotion, and you know Central Mountain would love to start out 2018 with an upset win for their skipper. I expect RB Rocco Stark to give the Millionaires’ defense problems and help the Wildcats put some points on the board. Central Mountain will be competitive and fiery in this one, but ultimately,Williamsport will just be too much of a powerhouse at home.

PREDICTION: Williamsport 27, Central Mountain 21

NEXT GAME: vs. Lewisburg; 8/31, 7:00 PM

BELLEFONTE AT JERSEY SHORE, 7:00 PM (GAME OF THE WEEK)

ANALYSIS: What was originally supposed to be a home game for Bellefonte is now a road game for them — this because of the Red Raiders’ stadium still being under construction This factor could potentially come into play, but on the other hand, it might not mean anything at all. If you remember, Bellefonte pulled the upset against the Bulldogs last year in Jersey Shore, 17-13. With both teams having high school stars and the rest of their squads being loaded with talent, along with it being a rivalry game, you can expect this contest to come down to the last second. There’s no real advantage on the side of either of these teams. When you look at Jersey Shore, make sure to keep your eyes on RB Kyle Tomb — which will be hard not to do considering the amount of workload he will carry. It’ll also be interesting to see how first-year QB Tanner Lorson will do for the Bulldogs. On the Bellefonte side, expect the QB-RB duo of Brady Myers and CJ Funk to be explosive against Jersey Shore’s defense. Due to the slight, keyword: SLIGHT, advantage that the Bulldogs have with homefield advantage and Tomb’s senior year, I have to give the edge to Jersey Shore — but it won’t be an easy victory by any stretch of the imagination.

PREDICTION: Jersey Shore 24, Bellefonte 23

NEXT GAME: Bellefonte — at Huntingdon; 8/31, 7:00 PM // Jersey Shore — at Selinsgrove; 8/31, 7:00 PM

BALD EAGLE AREA VS. TROY, 7:00 PM

ANALYSIS: Last year in Troy, Bald Eagle Area got an easy 33-13 victory against the Trojans. This year in Wingate, I see more domination from the Bald Eagles. Look for RB Gage McClennahan to shine and put up some huge numbers in this one — he had 161 yards and three touchdowns against Troy last season, as well as 44 receiving yards to go along with his rushing numbers. He should do the same this year against the Trojans. BEA gets an easy steamroll victory to start out 1-0 in their 2018 campaign.

PREDICTION: Bald Eagle Area 38, Troy 18

NEXT GAME: at Philipsburg-Osceola; 8/31, 7:00 PM

BUCKTAIL VS. SAYRE, 7:00 PM

ANALYSIS: Just like 2017, the Bucktail Bucks enter the new 2018 campaign extremely understaffed, but they also seem to have that same toughness and grit that grinded them out to the playoffs last year. But week one won’t be easy for the Bucks. They play a Sayre team that came into Farwell last season and earned a 28-14 win. But there is a bright side: This game is extremely winnable. Sayre finished 1-9 last season, and obviously their sole win was against an understaffed and banged-up Bucktail team. This season, I could see the Bucks inching it a bit closer to the Redskins since they’re healthy, but I still see Sayre squeaking it out.

PREDICTION: Sayre 23, Bucktail 20

NEXT GAME: at Columbia Montour Vo-Tech; 9/1, 1:00 PM

WEEK ONE PREDICTIONS ROUNDUP:

-Williamsport 27, Central Mountain 21

-Jersey Shore 24, Bellefonte 23

-Bald Eagle Area 38, Troy 18

-Sayre 23, Bucktail 20

SEASON PREDICTIONS ROUNDUP:

CENTRAL MOUNTAIN: 3-7, No Playoffs

BELLEFONTE: 8-2, District Champions, PIAA State Championships Appearance

JERSEY SHORE: 7-3, District Playoffs Appearance

BALD EAGLE AREA: 6-4, District Playoffs Appearance

BUCKTAIL: 3-6, No Playoffs

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