Six local teams will take the gridiron Friday — and several are heading into the night with quite a bit of momentum.
Bellefonte and Penns Valley both rallied in the fourth quarter last week and are looking to start off the season at 2-0. Philipsburg-Osceola and Bald Eagle Area, both undefeated, will square off in a heated rivalry game. State College will open its season at home against J.P. McCaskey. And St. Joseph’s will aim to reverse its fortunes after an offensive struggle last week.
Here’s a look at all of the matchups:
Huntingdon (1-0) at Bellefonte (1-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: Hunt — Michael Hudy (sixth season); Bel — Shanon Manning (fifth season)
Last meeting: Bellefonte 21-20, last season
Players to watch: Hunt — Andrew Hudy, QB; Bel — Stephen Kutches, LB
The skinny: Huntingdon returns eight of its 11 starters on defense this season — but the departures tend to play to the Red Raiders’ strengths.
The Bearcats’ secondary is experienced and tenacious, but Bellefonte threw for just six yards last week. It’s a run-first team — as evidenced by the fact the Red Raiders ran on 75 percent of their plays a week ago. And it just so happens that Huntingdon’s line is is the sore point of this defense.
That means it could once again be a big week for Raiders RB Dexter Gallishaw, who accounted for nearly half of the offense last Friday. Teammate Stephen Kutches will also be in prime position to produce on both sides of the ball.
Penns Valley (1-0) at Clearfield (1-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: PV — Martin Tobias (22nd season); C — Tim Janocko (33rd season)
Last meeting: Clearfield 21-7, last season
Players to watch: PV — Cole Breon, WR; C — Isaac Rumery, QB
The skinny: The Bison are coming off a season in which they finished as the runner-up in the Class 4A District 5-6-9 championship, and they’re considered a strong contender again this season to win the title.
In other words, it’s very fair to say the Rams defense is going to face an incredibly stiff test Friday night — especially considering QB Isaac Rumery compiled more than 2,400 total yards last season.
To hang with Clearfield, Penns Valley will need strong performances from dual-threat QB Justin Sands and RB Ryan Ripka. WR Cole Breon came up big last week by accounting for 73 percent of the Rams’ offense through the air, and he’ll need to turn in a few more big plays for the small-school underdog to triumph.
P-O (1-0) at Bald Eagle Area (1-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: P-O — Mike Mann (second season); BEA — Jesse Nagle (second season)
Last meeting: Bald Eagle Area 55-0, last season
Players to watch: P-O — Daniel “Bubba” Slogosky, QB; BEA — Gage McClenahan, RB/WR
The skinny: Forget last season’s thumping by Bald Eagle Area. Both coaches certainly have.
Nagle and Mann know these are two different teams and, although BEA might be favored this game, this Mounties squad isn’t the same as years past. They proved that last Friday.
Philipsburg-Osceola opened the season with a 32-14 win over West Branch, the same team that beat it by nearly four touchdowns last year.
Both local teams have some impressive firepower on offense. The area’s top-2 rushers right now are BEA’s Gage McClenahan (161 yards) and P-O’s Matt Johnson (150 yards). So this certainly has the potential to be a dynamic offensive game.
J.P. McCaskey (0-0) at State College (0-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: JP — Eric Spencer (second season); SC — Matt Lintal (fourth season)
Last meeting: State College 24-13, last season
Players to watch: JP — Ray Godwin, RB; SC — Keaton Ellis, DB/WR
The skinny: The Little Lions will have a new quarterback under center this season, but they’ll still have plenty of weapons — such as burners Cohen Russell and Keaton Ellis.
The problem for State College is that J.P. McCaskey will also show a few new looks compared to last season. The Red Tornado are running a new spread offense, and they have some speedsters. According to Lancaster Online, track star Jemal Henry is even expected to contribute this season. And Spencer has said time and time again that his team will win with its speed — with screens, traps and more.
That’s why this should be an especially intriguing game for State College’s Ellis. The Penn State recruit is moving from safety to cornerback this season, and his speed will be in full view Friday night.
State College was the better team last season, but it’s a much more interesting matchup this time around. J.P. McCaskey returns 15 starters, while State College returns no more than 11. The maturity and discipline of the Little Lions’ defense will be challenged immediately.
St. Joseph’s (0-1) at Fairfield (0-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: SJCA — Murray Fetzer (first season); F — Darwin Seiler
Last meeting: Fairfield 47-15, last year
Players to watch: SJCA — Jared Stormer, RB/DE; F — Darian Mort, QB
The skinny: QB Brendan Robinson is the heartbeat of St. Joseph’s, and he’s expected to sit out Friday after an injury last week.
That won’t be easy to overcome. With limited depth, St. Joseph’s doesn’t have the luxury of having another quarterback with Robinson’s ability. Few teams do. So it will have to adjust quickly after compiling just 64 total yards last week.
Complicating matters is the fact Fairfield has an above-average air attack, and the Wolves’ secondary wasn’t tested much the week before. SJCA played well on defense in its opener, and it’ll have to set the tone early again Friday.