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HS football: Two area teams aim to stay unbeaten and another could get win No. 1

Bald Eagle Area’s Kael Gardner pulls down Tyrone’s Zac Albright during the Friday, Sept. 28, 2018 game.
Bald Eagle Area’s Kael Gardner pulls down Tyrone’s Zac Albright during the Friday, Sept. 28, 2018 game.

There are only four local games on the slate this weekend, with two area teams facing off. Penns Valley takes on visiting Bellefonte, with the Red Raiders coming off their first loss of the season. Bald Eagle travels to Huntingdon in search of its seventh win this season. State College will have a rare Saturday game as it faces a very tough Harrisburg team. Finally, Philipsburg-Osceola has a fantastic opportunity for its first win of the season, playing Vincentian Academy. Here’s a look at all four matchups.

Bald Eagle (6-0) at Huntingdon (2-4)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: BEA – Jesse Nagle (third season); H – Michael Hudy

Last meeting: Huntingdon 45-0, last season

Players to watch: BEA – Kael Gardner, Sr., TE/LB; H – Ryder Kocik, Sr., RB

The skinny: Bald Eagle enters week seven riding high after a dominant 35-0 victory over Tyrone last week. The Eagles head to Huntingdon averaging 45 points per game and allowing just 14. Huntingdon is trying to string together back-to-back wins for the first time this season. The Bearcats defeated Bishop Carroll on the road last week, 21-14.

The Eagles are led on defense by senior linebacker Kael Gardner, who has a team-high 66 tackles this season, 39 of which have been solo. He also is second on the team with nine tackles for loss. Gardner’s run-stopping ability will be key this week as Bald Eagle tries to limit Huntingdon’s rushing offense.

The Bearcats’ attack is led by senior running back Ryder Kocik, who has picked up 212 yards on 49 carries. While Huntingdon leans on its passing game, it will need to keep the Eagles’ defense off balance by giving the ball to Kocik. If he can repeat his performance against Penns Valley, when he had eight carries for 67 yards, that should allow the Bearcats to keep this game within reach.

Bellefonte (5-1) at Penns Valley (3-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: B – Shanon Manning (sixth season); PV – Martin Tobias (23rd season)

Last meeting: Bellefonte 35-20, last season

Players to watch: B – Caleb Rockey, Sr., DE; PV – Cole Breon, Sr., WR

The skinny: Bellefonte will try to rebound from its first loss of the season this week against Penns Valley. The Red Raiders lost to Clearfield last week, 49-21. The Rams are also trying to prevent a losing streak after they fell to .500 last week. They were defeated in overtime by Midd-West, 30-29.

Bellefonte’s senior defensive end Caleb Rockey will need to apply pressure this week for Bellefonte to slow down the Penns Valley passing offense. Rockey recorded 11 of his 12 sacks in the first three games of the season, but has still been effective in the last three weeks. Rockey recorded 10 hurries in the first three weeks, and eight in the last three weeks. His hurries should eventually turn into more sacks and that could happen this week as Penns Valley tries to pass its way to victory.

Penns Valley will rely on big-play threat Cole Breon to take the top off the Bellefonte defense and make plays in the open field. The senior wide receiver has a reception of at least 40 yards in each of the Rams’ last four games. On the season, he has 22 receptions for 384 yards and two touchdowns.

State College (6-0) at Harrisburg (5-1)

Time: 1 p.m. Saturday

Coaches: SC – Matt Lintal (fifth season); H – Calvin Everett

Last meeting: Harrisburg 51-28, last season

Players to watch: SC – Keaton Ellis, Sr., CB; H – Andre White, Sr., LB

The skinny: State College travels to Harrisburg on Saturday looking to stay undefeated. The Cougars will be the Little Lions’ toughest test in the regular season. Harrisburg may not be undefeated, but the team has been dominant since dropping its opening game to Coatesville, 37-6. The Cougars are allowing just 6.8 points per game since that game.

This Saturday will feature a matchup between highly touted recruits. On State College’s end of the field will be senior cornerback Keaton Ellis, who will play corner at Penn State, but is also an offensive weapon for the Little Lions. He has had 21 offensive touches for 454 yards on the season and he’s made most of his plays in the passing game, with 15 receptions for 312 yards and eight touchdowns.

Harrisburg’s highly touted recruit is linebacker Andre White, a Texas A&M commit, who plays sideline to sideline for the Cougars. White has 49 tackles on the season, 26 of which are solo. His athleticism allows him to play all over the field and occasionally get into the backfield where he has tallied five tackles for loss this season.

Vincentian Academy (0-2) at Philipsburg-Osceola (0-6)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: VA – T.J. Wiley (first season); P-O Brian McGonigal (first season)

Last meeting: N/A

Players to watch: VA – Alex Khorey, So., QB; P-O – Landon McDonald, Sr., RB

The skinny: Vincentian Academy travels to Philipsburg having only played two games this season. They were forced to fold last season after not having enough players to field a team. Philipsburg-Osceola takes on Vincentian with its best chance to get a win this season. They’re coming off a 41-21 loss to Central in Martinsburg last week.

Vincentian Academy will face an uphill battle. The team’s roster currently features just 28 players, according to MaxPreps, so starting quarterback Alex Khorey will want to get the offense rolling early if Vincentian wants to earn its first victory. The Mounties should try to take advantage of the lack of depth by pounding the rock on the ground this week. Landon McDonald should be the focal point of that attack. He’s the team’s leading rusher with 75 carries for 261 yards and a touchdown. He should see plenty of carries this week and have an opportunity to surpass his season high of 79 rushing yards that he set in week one.