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HS football: Can the winning continue? Here’s what’s ahead for area teams

Bald Eagle Area’s Gage McClenahan pulls away from Philipsburg-Osceola defenders earlier this season.
Bald Eagle Area’s Gage McClenahan pulls away from Philipsburg-Osceola defenders earlier this season. adrey@centredaily.com

Three local teams put their undefeated seasons on the line once again this week, with two of those teams facing difficult matchups in their pursuit of perfection. Bald Eagle takes on Tyrone at home this week and Bellefonte travels to Clearfield to take on the undefeated Bison.

State College will take on Central Dauphin East to try to reach 6-0. Penns Valley heads on the road to Beaver Springs where they’ll play Midd-West, and Philipsburg-Osceola travels to Martinsburg to try to earn their first victory when they play Central. Here’s a preview of all five matchups.

Tyrone (4-1) at Bald Eagle (5-0)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: T – Jason Wilson (fifth season); BEA – Jesse Nagle (third season)

Last meeting: Tyrone 27-19, last season

Players to watch: T – Zac Allbright, Sr. RB; BEA – Gage McClenahan, Jr. WR

The skinny: Tyrone travels to Bald Eagle coming off a loss to Bellefonte last week. The team will try to rebound against a potent Bald Eagle offense. Bald Eagle comes into the game without being seriously tested yet this season; the Eagles have won all five games by at least 21 points.

Tyrone’s attempt to rebound from its first loss of the season will rely heavily on senior running back Zac Allbright. Allbright comes into the game with 103 carries for 595 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Bald Eagle Coach Jesse Nagle said that containing Allbright and the Tyrone offense will be important if they want to win.

“We need to slow down their running game,” Nagle said. “They’re very good up front.” He added that he expects Tyrone’s best shot after their loss last week. “They’re used to winning,” he said. “They know how to come back from a loss.”

Nagle said that Bald Eagle intends to use its speed and conditioning to beat Tyrone. “We have to spread them out,” Nagle said. “We have to make them run and get them tired.”

Junior wide receiver Gage McClenahan will be an important part of the Eagle offense. McClenahan is averaging 21 yards per catch on his 18 receptions and is a big-play threat. He also contributes on the ground, carrying the ball for 36 carries for 207 yards and two touchdowns.

Bellefonte (5-0) at Clearfield (5-0)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: B – Shanon Manning (sixth season); Tim Janocko (34 th season)

Last meeting: Bellefonte 55-28, last season

Players to watch: B – Caleb Rockey, Sr., DE; C – Jake Lezzer, So., WR

The skinny: Bellefonte’s sixth game of the season comes on the road in Clearfield. The Red Raiders have gotten into a groove of late, winning their last three games by at least three possessions. Clearfield enters week six undefeated after a 49-7 victory over Central Mountain. The Bison are riding an offense that has been dominant this season. They’ve scored at least 42 points in all of their last four games.

This matchup is likely to come down to Bellefonte’s defense versus Clearfield’s offense. Leading the Red Raider defense is senior defensive end Caleb Rockey, who has been nothing short of a star this season, racking up 18 tackles for loss, 15 hurries, and 12 sacks. His ability to get to the quarterback will be vital to slowing down a Clearfield passing game that averages 18 yards per completion.

Leading that passing game is Clearfield sophomore wide receiver Jake Lezzer, who is the younger brother of former UCF and Boston College linebacker Christian Lezzer and current Western Michigan wide receiver Ryan Lezzer. The youngest Lezzer has been electric for the Bison this season, catching 26 passes for 636 yards and six touchdowns. He’s the only Clearfield player to top 250 receiving yards so far this season, and is the team’s all-purpose yards leader (with 819) by 445 yards. Lezzer will need to put on a show if Clearfield wants to stay undefeated.

Central Dauphin East (2-3) at State College (5-0)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: CDE – Aaron Blanding; Matt Lintal (fifth season)

Last meeting: State College 34-14, last season

Players to watch: CDE – Bryce Baker, Jr., RB; SC – Tommy Friberg, Sr., QB

The skinny: Central Dauphin East travels to State College riding high after a 17-16 overtime victory over Altoona last week. A victory this week would put them at .500 for the first time since week two.

State College enters week six on a roll, with another dominant victory last week over Chambersburg. The Little Lions have won four of their five games this season by at least 19 points.

Central Dauphin East comes to State College with a run-heavy offense. The Panthers have run the ball 154 times this season, compared to only 71 passing attempts. Their rushing offense is fairly well distributed, with six players carrying the ball at least 10 times this season. Chief among those rushers is junior running back Bryce Baker, who has 32 carries for 256 yards and a touchdown this season.

The Little Lions, meanwhile, will look to get ahead with their passing offense. Senior quarterback Tommy Friberg should surpass 1,000 passing yards on the season this week, as he stands at 945 yards, even though he’s thrown just 70 passes so far. Friberg has yet to attempt more than 20 passes in a game this season. That trend is likely to continue this week in what should be a victory for State College.

Penns Valley (3-2) at Midd-West (2-2)

(Game played in Beaver Springs)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: PV – Martin Tobias (23 rd season); MW – Brad Hatter (first season)

Last meeting: None

Players to watch: PV – Aaron Tobias, Jr., QB; MW – Marc Piccioni Sr., QB

The skinny: Penns Valley will try to keep its momentum rolling when it takes on Midd-West in Beaver Springs this week. The Rams have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and will try to make it three in a row. Midd-West will attempt to win its third game of the season.

Penns Valley has ridden senior quarterback Aaron Tobias all season and that is unlikely to change this week. Tobias has thrown for 1,394 yards and 15 touchdowns, while rushing for another 168 yards and a touchdown. He’ll try to lead Penns Valley to its first real winning streak of the year.

Head coach Martin Tobias said that winning back-to-back games has helped the Rams. “It helps keep players motivated,” he said. “It certainly helps to have that extra momentum and motivation.”

The Mustangs are a brand-new program and are playing their first football season as a program. Midd-West quarterback Marc Piccioni is the key to the Mustang offense, leading the team through the air and on the ground. He most notably led the Mustangs in their 30-0 victory two weeks ago over Shenandoah Valley, running the ball 13 times for 164 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

While Piccioni has not thrown the ball much this season, he’s still a threat to do so, according to the elder Tobias. “He’s a dynamic quarterback,” Martin Tobias said. “He runs, he throws. He’s a threat. We have to take care of him.”

Philipsburg-Osceola (0-5) at Central (1-4)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: P-O Brian McGonigal (first season); C – David Baker

Last meeting: Central 55-0, last season

Players to watch: P-O – Daniel Slogosky, Sr., QB; C – Noah Muthler, Sr., QB

The skinny: Philipsburg-Osceola travels to Martinsburg after its fifth straight loss, this time to Bishop Carroll, 31-13. Central is in search of its first victory since week one, when it defeated Northern Bedford County, 32-6. The Dragons lost 54-28 last week in their matchup with Bald Eagle.

The Mounties have seemingly settled on their starting quarterback after senior Daniel Slogosky attempted 90 percent of the team’s passes last week. Slogosky regaining the starting role means that backup Ryan Whitehead will move back to wide receiver full-time and give Slogosky his best weapon.

Slogosky found him four times for 62 yards and a touchdown in week one before Whitehead started taking more snaps at quarterback the following week. If the pair can regain the connection they had week one, the Mounties will give themselves a chance to add one to the win column this week.

Central will rely on senior quarterback Noah Muthler in a different way than P-O will rely on Slogosky. Muthler does just as much damage on the ground as he does through the air for the Dragons. This season, he has 44 completions for 561 passing yards and five passing touchdowns, and 206 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.

The Dragons may have their own quarterback controversy brewing, however, if Muthler struggles this week. Junior backup quarterback Braden Kitt was highly effective in his only start of the season. That came two weeks ago, when he completed 11 passes on 20 attempts for 339 yards and four touchdowns in a two-point loss to Penns Valley.

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