Let’s start with the bad news?
Last week, Centre County’s high school football teams went 0-6. Only State College, which fell 14-12 to Central Dauphin East, was competitive. Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola and St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy all lost by four or more touchdowns.
In all, the area’s football squads were outscored by a combined total of 230-38.
With the six losses, the county teams are a combined 10-38 through eight weeks.
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Now, here’s the worse news?
With a tough slate, they’re going to have play very well to keep it from going to 10-44.
Each county team faces a squad with a better record heading into Friday’s play.
In games within the county, Bellefonte (2-6) hosts Chestnut Ridge (7-1) while Penns Valley (2-6) takes on Tyrone (7-1). State College (3-5) plays at Cumberland Valley (6-2), Bald Eagle Area (2-6) travels to unbeaten Jersey Shore (8-0) and Philipsburg-Osceola (0-8) slides over the county line to face Clearfield (6-2). St. Joseph’s (1-7) hosts Marion Center (2-6) at Bishop Guilfoyle in Altoona.
All of the games are at 7 p.m.
Bellefonte hosts a team that has carved up the Mountain League and Centre County.
In consecutive weeks, Chestnut Ridge has knocked off BEA (26-0), P-O (48-7), Central (15-12), St. Joseph’s (52-16) and Penns Valley (42-0).
To end that run, the Red Raiders are going to have to put together some offense. One week after an emotional overtime win over Penns Valley, the Red Raiders were held to 184 yards and a late touchdown in a 41-7 loss to Central. Austin Jackson, the Raiders’ top rusher and scorer, did not play against the Dragons after apparently being injured against Penns Valley.
Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning looks at the Week 9 clash as an opportunity. He still has hopes the Red Raiders can make a playoff push.
“Our goal was to win all three county games, finish above .500 in the last part of the season and qualify for the playoffs,” he said. “If we win our final two games, we will more than likely qualify for the playoffs. Chestnut Ridge is setting there at 7-1 and that would be a boatload of points and then we have Bald Eagle coming here so that is where it is at. We backed ourselves into a little bit of a corner. ... The beautiful part of football is that you always have next week until Week 10.”
The Rams, who suffered their worst loss of the season last week against Chestnut Ridge, get an opponent who blitzed a Class AAAA team by an even worse margin.
Tyrone, coming off its first loss of the season against Clearfield, absolutely demolished Central Mountain 61-0 before a regional television audience.
Led by Aleic Hunter’s 147 yards and three scores, the Golden Eagles rushed for 269 yards and quarterback Garrett Hunter was 7 for 7 for 159 yards passing.
Penns Valley played without their biggest weapon Ben Alexander, who was injured against Bellefonte, and was held scoreless for the first time this season.
“We came out and did the best we could under the circumstances,” Rams coach Martin Tobias said.
State College lost a heartbreaker with a missed extra point and two-point conversion the difference on the scoreboard against CD East.
Cumberland Valley has won three straight since falling 28-0 to CD East. The Eagles are tied with Central Dauphin, each with 4-1 records, a game behind CD East in the Mid Penn Commonwealth standings.
The Little Lions have played everyone tough and their losses have not been against slouches. The five defeats have come to teams who are a combined 32-8 this season. Three of the losses have been by less than a touchdown.
Maybe the most intriguing matchup of the evening is Bald Eagle Area at Jersey Shore. BEA’s Ron Hoover and Jersey Shore’s Tom Gravish both were assistant coaches under Gawen Stoker at BEA. Hoover, now in his second stint at BEA, and Gravish, at Bellefonte, went on to run programs in the county. They’ve faced each other three times previously, with Gravish going 3-0 against the Eagles while at Bellefonte.
In his third season, Gravish has completely turned around the Jersey Shore program. The Bulldogs are coming off a big 16-10 victory over Selinsgrove last week and appear to be headed toward a 10-0 regular season just two falls after going 0-10 in Gravish’s first year with the program.
“I see him when he comes home, run into him at Sheetz or something like that,” Hoover said of Gravish, a former BEA standout. “He’s done a nice job there. You could see them last year building a championship-type team and he has got them running on all cylinders right now.”
Coming off a 49-14 loss to Clearfield, Hoover said his squad won’t back down from facing an unbeaten foe.
“It will be nice to play them,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s a good measuring tool for us.”
Philipsburg-Osceola is in danger of going 0-10 for the second consecutive season. They’ll likely get no sympathy from their neighbors.
Clearfield, after a 1-2 start, has ripped off five consecutive wins, including the 49-14 triumph over BEA.
“It was a young team and we were really stressed and tested early on,” Clearfield coach Tim Janocko said. “… It made us better. We didn’t want to lose, but we lost two tough games early on. We’ve rebounded from that.”
“We’re gaining confidence and we’re getting better,” added Janocko, who starts three sophomores in the secondary. “I think we’re in a good place right now.”
Those young defensive backs will see some action from P-O. The Mounties have gained the majority of their yards through the air on Jake Anderson’s arm.
“Right now, we are a team that is not taking care of the little things,” P-O coach Mike Soyster said. “But what is exciting is that they come to practice and work unbelievably hard. It’s encouraging to see that because that’s part of how we’re trying to build our culture here.”
St, Joseph’s will look to end a seven-game skid with a victory over Marion Center.
The Stingers have dropped four straight, including a couple of 40-point losses. They fell 22-16 to Northern Cambria last week.
The Wolves will be looking to get their offense going early. The past two weeks, all of their points have come in the final quarter. They fell 42-12 to Line Mountain last week.