Michael Kresovich on high school football: Jersey Shore-BEA highlights slate
It’s a homecoming for Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish. The BEA graduate returns to Wingate in a battle of two strong teams.
As Gravish strolls the Bulldogs’ sideline tonight with his arms folded across his chest, he’ll be reminded of some special legends who once stood on the same field.
“It is always fun to come back to Bald Eagle Area. I have been blessed to have been a student-athlete in such a great school system as BEA,” Gravish said. “I had the best teachers, coaches, team members and classmates that you could have been associated with. I was lucky to have worked as an assistant coach there under Coach Stoker, Coach Murnyack and to have coached so many great individuals.”
Beyond Stoker and Murnyack, a familiar face will be scheming against Gravish tonight. BEA coach Jesse Nagle–who is in his sixth season as the Eagles coach–got his start in coaching after Gravish hired him during his tenure at Bellefonte.
The battle between the Bulldogs and the Eagles highlights this week’s high school football slate.
8-0 Jersey Shore vs.
7-1 Bald Eagle Area
As of the current PIAA standings, two of the state’s top teams are set to meet tonight underneath the bright Alumni Stadium lights in Wingate. The 8-0 Jersey Shore Bulldogs–winners of 19 their last 20–visit the 7-1 Eagles of Bald Eagle.
They’re separated geographically by close to 35 miles, but these two teams are close in identity.
Jersey Shore enters tonight’s game with six with wins of 20 points or more and are just 11 months removed from last season’s PIAA AAAA state final appearance. The Bulldogs may have lost 13 starters on offense and defense from the championship bound team, but you’d be challenged to find a team that knows how to “rebuild” better than Tom Gravish and Jersey Shore.
Junior quarterback Brady Jordan is the catalyst of the Bulldogs offense. Jordan–who has thrown for 11 scores and tossed eight interceptions–does most of his damage on the ground. The junior first-year quarterback, who was tasked with replacing last year’s all-state QB Brandon Wheary, has seven rushing scores on the season. Jordan is accompanied in the backfield by a pair of playmakers. First is Hayden Packer who is who responsible for 12 rushing scores this season. The junior has scampered for more than 600 yards this season and averages six yards per carry. Elijah Jordan, Brady’s brother, is another option the for the Bulldogs in the run game. Elijah has totaled 419 yards and three scores. On the outside, it’s a trio of weapons the Bulldogs have in all-state receiver Cayden Hess, Cooper Peacock and Carter Peacock. Hess has seven TD receptions on 25 catches.
Jersey Shore’s defense has collected 70 tackles for loss, 20 sacks and 12 interceptions. Luke Springman leads the team with four sacks while Cooper Peacock has a team-high three INTs for the Bulldogs.
“They’re an excellent team,” BEA coach Jesse Nagle said in regard to the Bulldogs. “I’ve known Coach Gravish for a long time and you know you’re always going to have a challenge playing against them.”
It’s a team that can take the ball away and make you pay, very much like the Eagles.
BEA’s defense have pitched five shutouts so far this season and have not allowed an offensive score since Oct. 1. It’s been 11 consecutive quarters without allowing a score for the Eagles.
The unit has 76,5 TFL, 21.5 sacks and eight interceptions on the season. Tre Greene leads the pack in sacks and Ethan Koleno’s two INTs are a team high. They’re an aggressive bunch that sets their offensive up in prime position to score.
The BEA offense is commanded by freshman quarterback Carson Nagle who is nearing 1400 yards passing already. Nagle has 14 touchdowns to eight INTs and coming off a solid game against Bellefonte a week ago. The BEA rushing attack is predicated on senior tailback Garrett Burns. Burns, a workhorse on both sides of the ball, is averaging nearly more than seven yards per touch and is closing in on 1,000 yards. The senior enters tonight’s game against Shore with 885 yards and eight TDs.
BEA’s strength might be its ability to stretch defenses out with the weapons it possesses on the outside. Cam Watkins, Owen Irvin and Kahale Burns have been nothing short of excellent hauling in passing from Nagle., Watkins has a team-high seven touchdowns and is a proven threat to linebackers and safeties.
“The Eagles have a great team with so many weapons,” Gravish said. “They have talented players all over the place. We have worked hard on defending their Wide Receiver screen game and fake screens with double moves. They use about five different fake punts with which we need to be alert for.”
Jersey Shore, 28-24
0-8 Midd-West vs. 5-3 Central Mountain
After back-to-back losses to Selinsgrove and Mifflinburg following a 5-1 start, Central Mountain enters tonight as a heavy-favorite against winless Midd-West. It’s a perfect spot to be in the for the Wildcats after allowing 360 yards and six scores on the ground last week.
Midd-West has been outscored, 67-354, this season and is ranked near the bottom of the state. The Mustangs have been mercy-ruled in five of their eight games played this season and have yet to closer than 14 points since week one. Midd-West’s closest loss is a 14-pt defeat in its opener to, now 2-6, Central Columbia.
For Central Mountain coach Shanon Manning, it’s all about execution tonight.
“The record of our opponent does not impact our preparation or season goals. The focus will remain on making progress each week and working to become 6-3. We will continue to work on what we can control and how we respond to adversity,” Manning said.
Senior Christian Regester quarterbacks the winless Mustang. Regester has completed 39 percent of his passes and tossed five touchdowns to go with 11 interceptions. He’s topped 100 yards passing just twice this season. From a personnel perspective, it’s an experienced backfield the Mustangs are bringing to Malinak. Senior Ethan Schliet has ran for 175 yards on 59 carries and is responsible for both of Midd-West’s rushing scores. Behind Schliet in production is junior Austin Dorman with 127 yards and Regester with 126. In terms of receivers, senior Corey Reinard is responsible for more than half of Midd-West’s total receptions. Reinard has 21 grabs for 358 yards and all five of Midd-West’s TD receptions. If Ryan Pentz or Noah Grenninger can contain Reinard, it would potentially eliminate Midd-West’s passing attack.
The Mustang defense has allowed 40 or more points in seven of their eight games this season which makes this game an even more of a “get right” game for the Wildcats. It’s a chance to the team’s offense clicking again.
Central Mountain has scored just 36 points in its last two games after scoring 93 in its previous two before.
“We want to establish the run game early and continue to develop our pass concepts and have no turnovers. Defensively, we want to get back to consistent run defense and limit explosive plays of over 25 yards,” Manning said.
Central Mountain, 42-6
2-6 Bellefonte vs.
Bellefonte has already played undefeated Clearfield one time this season and is set to play them for the second time tonight. Just a week after suffering a, 48-0, loss to Bald Eagle Area in last week’s Curtin Bowl, the Raiders have their hands full with another talented team. The Bison play exceptionally well on both sides of the ball and have allowed scores in just three of eight games this season.
The Raiders managed just seven yards in last week’s loss to Bald Eagle Area and will need much more offensive production tonight if they want to pull the upset on the road. During the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season on Sept. 24 Bellefonte gained 57 total yards. Unfortunately, the experienced Clearfield offense totaled more than 400 in the win.
Raiders coach Vaughn Donmoyer has seen improvement since the first meeting.
“I think that as a team we have improved. Since playing Clearfield we have seen improvement on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Some players are learning different positions,” Donmoyer said. “The understanding of the game of football, offensive philosophy and defensive philosophy is being enhanced within the players. We did take a step back last week against Bald Eagle Area. As always, we as a team need to know our responsibilities, play game speed and be physical.”
Clearfield has been dominant since these two teams first met. The Bison have outscored their opponents, 126-0, while the Raiders have been outscored by close to 75 points. It’s a meeting of two teams trending in opposite directions. The stars who Bellefonte had to contain earlier this season are still the ones shinning.
At quarterback senior Oliver Billotte is just 13 shy of 1,000 for the season. Billotte has thrown 12 touchdowns to just two INTs and completed more than 50% of his passes this season. Billotte’s biggest strength on the offensive side of the ball is on the ground as he has ran for 389 yards and 9 scores. Clearfield’s run game stretches much farther than Billotte. Tailback Mark McGonigal has more than 700 rushing yards and 11 scores. On the outside wide receiver Karson Kline has continued to be a force by tallying 574 yards and six touchdowns.
To have a shot to beat the Bison, Donmoyer believes his team needs to play mistake-free football.
“We need to ramp up the excitement,” Donmoyer said. “Limiting the mistakes, big plays on defense or negative plays on offense, having no or very few turnovers and having few penalties is what we are looking at from the players.”
0-7 Bucktail vs.
Bucktail is 0-7 after a 21-pt loss on the road a week ago to Otto-Eldred. Now, the Bucks face a strong passing attack in the Rovers of Brockway.
Brockway is 3-5 with wins over Allegheny-Clarion, Otto-Eldred and ECC. The Rovers are winners of two of their last three and rely on the arm of Brayden Fox to lead the way.
Fox has completed an impressive 56% of his passes for nearly 2,000 yards through the air. The freshman gunslinger has 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions on the season. Carter Hickman is Brockway’s leading rusher with 488 yards on 120 attempts and four touchdowns. Fox looks to Alex Carlson, Blake Pisarcik and Jalen Kosko on the outside to haul in passes. The trio has been responsible for 12 of Fox’s 16 touchdowns through the air. Defensively, the Rovers have tallied nine interceptions as Kosko leads with three of his own. Peyton Maurer is the team’s leader in sacks with four. Brockway has 12 sacks in total.