By Rich Rhoades
A handful of key games in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference and the Allegheny Mountain League could help sort out some early District 9 playoff pictures as the football season heads into Week 7.
At the top of the heap are still three unbeaten teams in Class AAA Clearfield, Class AA Kane and Class A Clarion and all three 6-0 teams are at home this week. At the bottom of the pile are three 0-6 teams and two play each other this week as Keystone hosts A-C Valley.
A quick glance at the Class A playoff picture has eight teams at least 3-3 or better — Clarion (6-0), Curwensville (5-1), Sheffield (4-2), Coudersport (4-2), Smethport (4-2), Redbank Valley (4-2), Brockway (3-3) and Ridgway (3-3) and that’s how big the bracket can be. At this point, the only “bubble” teams appear to be 2-4 Union and Clarion-Limestone and they play each other this week with the loser likely having its postseason lights blown out.
Here is a capsule look at this week’s 14-game schedule that features 13 Friday night games and one Saturday night game when Sheffield visits Port Allegany under the lights:
Coudersport (4-2 overall, 2-1 AML-North) at Smethport (4-2, 3-0)
It’s one of two key games in the division this week as the Hubbers try to keep pace at the very least with fellow division unbeaten Sheffield before heading to Warren County next week for that showdown. Coudersport, which has a loss to Sheffield, needs to win to keep its division title hopes afloat.
Smethport has four players over 250 yards rushing with Ryan Stratton (382 yards, 5 TDs) and Ryan Nielson (329 yards, 2 TDs) leading the way. Quarterback Dustin Zetwick has passed for 372 yards and five touchdowns and run for 252 yards and three scores.
The Falcons’ Coy Hoffman leads the team with 604 yards rushing and 371 yards receiving with a combined eight touchdowns. Quarterback Ethan Hite has passed for 710 yards and nine touchdowns.
It’s the 106th meeting between the rivals and Coudersport has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with the exception being Smethport’s win in 2010. Prior to that, the Hubbers won seven straight from 1995 through 2001. The all-time series has Smethport leading 59-42-4.
Sheffield (4-2, 3-0) at Port Allegany (1-5, 0-3)
It’s a Saturday night affair between the Wolverines and Gators, who will try to actually play the rare recent role of spoiler against Sheffield. The Wolverines host Smethport next week and need to stay unbeaten to keep their division title hopes in check.
The Wolverines are led by running back Jereke Jackson (439 yards rushing) and quarterback Adam Higby (565 yards passing). Port’s Jordan Seefeldt has passed for 787 yards.
Otto-Eldred (1-5, 0-3) at Cameron County (1-5, 0-3)
This one has little postseason value. Otto’s Sam Colebert is sniffing a 1,000-yard rushing season, sitting at 735 yards with nine touchdowns.
Curwensville (5-1 overall, 1-1 AML-South) at Ridgway (3-3, 2-0)
The Elkers try to shake off last week’s non-conference blowout loss to Cumberland, Md., and get back into gunning for an AML-South title. With unbeaten Kane looming next week, the Elkers have to get past the Golden Tide first and they haven’t done that since 2003, a string of 10 straight losses.
Ben MacDonald has passed for 462 yards and rushed for 381 yards while Sam Delhunty has run for 361 yards. The Golden Tide’s Zack Tibbens (1,068 yards, 12 TDs) just got over the 1,000-yard rushing milestone.
Elk County Catholic (0-6, 0-2) at Brockway (3-3, 0-3)
This is the last chance for the Rovers to get a division win against the winless Crusaders before finishing the season with three non-conference games. After starting 3-0, the Rovers have lost three straight.
Alec Shaffer-Doan is coming off his second lowest passing yardage game (75) in last week’s loss to Curwensville, but he did run for a career-high 177 yards and leads the team with 535 yards for the season. With 1,484 yards passing to go along with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions, Shaffer-Doan needs 43 yards to reach the 4,000-yard milestone. His top receivers are Anthony Benson (49 catches, 669 yards, 11 TDs) and Anthony Isabella (42-476, 6 TDs).
Karns City (5-1 overall, 2-0 KSAC-Large) at Punxsutawney (3-3, 0-2)
The Gremlins haven’t been tested since they were scorched by Clarion in Week 2, scoring 49 or more points in four straight wins.
Quarterback Tyler Kepple has thrown for 815 yards and 15 touchdowns with his top receiving targets being Logan Moroney (11-256, 4 TDs) and Dakota Mohney (11-213, 6 TDs). Tristan Rhoades leads the team with 462 yards rushing in just four games.
The Chucks’ Christian Falgout is coming off a career-best 228-yard rushing effort against Clarion-Limestone last week. He’s rushed for 788 yards and eight touchdowns.
St. Marys (4-2, 2-1) at Moniteau (0-6, 0-2)
The host Warriors have lost nine straight games and they’ll try to end the slide at home against the Dutch, who are coming off a 45-0 loss to Clarion.
Warriors quarterback Cody Skiver has passed for 581 yards and run for a team-best 331 yards. St. Marys running back Alex Feldbauer (973 yards, 9 TDs) is closing in on a 1,000-yard season.
Redbank Valley (4-2 overall, 3-0 KSAC-Small) at Clarion (6-0, 3-0)
In the fourth year since the KSAC split into Large and Small Divisions, Clarion hasn’t lost a division game and takes an 18-game division-winning streak into Friday’s game with the Bulldogs in what will basically decide the champion.
The Bobcats lead the state in scoring at 58 points per game and they’ve only given up 26 points with four shutouts. They beat Moniteau, 62-0, in Week 4. That’s the same team Redbank Valley just edged 29-26 last week thanks to the 39-yard field goal by Zane Watson.
Clarion quarterback John Katis became the team’s all-time leading passing yardage leader in last week’s win over St. Marys. He’s completed over 61 percent of his passes for 703 yards with seven touchdowns.
On the ground, the Bobcats have several weapons with four different players over 200 yards for the year. Damien Slike leads the team with 680 yards and 15 touchdowns while Ian Corbett has 553 yards despite just 30 carries for a whopping 18.4-yards per carry average. He’s also scored 11 TDs.
Mark Strothers leads the Bulldogs with 764 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Quarterback Jake Dougherty has passed for 829 yards and eight scores.
It’s the 88th meeting between the longtime rivals. The Bobcats lead the series, 46-36-5.
Union (2-4, 1-2) at Clarion-Limestone (2-4, 2-1)
It’s survival mode for either team in a battle for what’s likely going to be a third-place finish in the division. Regardless, the winner of this one will need to keep winning to keep their Class A playoff hopes alive.
Union head coach Dave Louder and his sons, junior Ryan and sophomore Anthony, are in a rare situation this Friday night. They’re on opposite teams. Louder’s boys play for the Lions and head coach Dave Eggleton. The Louders live in the C-L school district.
Knights quarterback Lane Cicciarelli has passed for 795 yards and 10 touchdowns with Dylan Shirey rushing for 363 yards and three touchdowns. For C-L, Chase Alcorn has rushed for 667 yards and quarterback Christian Bakewell has thrown for 888 yards and seven touchdowns.
A-C Valley (0-6, 0-3) at Keystone (0-6, 0-3)
Something has to give in a game that has two teams suffering a combined 19 straight losses. Keystone owns an 11-game losing streak, the longest active streak in the district.
Tyrone (5-1 overall, 4-1 ML) at Clearfield (6-0, 4-0)
The Bison are the lone unbeaten in the Mountain League and a win over the Eagles will go a long way in securing a league title. Tyrone’s lone league loss is a 25-12 loss to Central-Martinsburg in Week 2. Clearfield beat the same team one week later, 35-20.
Clearfield quarterback Christian Lezzer has rushed for 885 yards and 16 touchdowns while passing for 419 yards. Tyler Stratton, coming off a 196-yard rushing performance last week, is up to 664 yards rushing and leads the team with 218 yards receiving.
For Tyrone, James Oliver has rushed for 828 yards and 14 TDs while quarterback Erik Wagner has thrown for 750 yards and seven touchdowns.
DuBois (3-3) at Brookville (5-1)
The former District 9 League foes won’t be playing each other in the foreseeable future after this meeting with any scheduling commitment going beyond Friday.
The Beavers are coming off a 52-21 loss at West Virginia power Morgantown. Junior quarterback Gabe French went over the 3,000-yard career yardage milestone in the loss and he’s up to 1,393 yards and 15 touchdowns for the season. His top receiver is Bryson Paulinellie (35-763, 10 TDs).
Brookville’s Zach Vroman is the district leading rusher with 1,262 yards and 14 touchdowns. With 3,239 career yards, He’s also 26 yards away from passing the team’s all-time leading rusher Joe Galbraith.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy (2-4) at Kane (6-0)
The unbeaten Wolves host St. Joe’s, a private school near State College, which is playing the fourth of six District 9 teams this year. St. Joe’s is 1-2 so far against the district with a 44-12 win over Elk County Catholic, a 25-7 loss to Curwensville and a 38-14 loss to Coudersport.
Kane quarterback Kevin Cleer continues to throw up very sharp numbers, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 1,144 yards with 20 touchdowns and just one interception. Jeff Kocjancic is Cleer’s top receiver (33-523, 10 TDs) while John English has rushed for 620 yards and nine touchdowns.
General McLane (4-2) at Bradford (2-4)
The Owls host the Lancers in a non-conference game. Junior Kyle Langdon (492 yards) and sophomore Alex Colosimo (389 yards) are the Owls’ top rushers.