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HS football: Comebacks, riding the mojo, and a perfect record on the line

Bald Eagle Area’s Gage McClenahan runs for a touchdown against Tyrone.
Bald Eagle Area’s Gage McClenahan runs for a touchdown against Tyrone.

We’re closing in on the end of the regular season, and all five local teams are trying to finish strong. Bellefonte and State College are trying to come back after losing last week, Penns Valley is trying to keep its momentum rolling, and Philipsburg-Osceola is trying to win its second game.

But first, we have the last undefeated team in the area, Bald Eagle, who clashes with fellow undefeated, Clearfield.

Clearfield (7-0) at Bald Eagle Area (7-0)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: C – Tim Janocko (34th season); BEA – Jesse Nagle (third season)

Last meeting: Bald Eagle 25-22, last season

Players to watch: C – Isaac Rumery, Sr., QB; BEA – Gage McClenahan, Jr., RB/WR

The skinny: Clearfield travels to Bald Eagle riding high after dominating Tyrone, 35-7. The offense is averaging 43 points per game this season. Bald Eagle comes into the game following two dominating performances where it outscored Tyrone and Huntingdon by a combined score of 65-7. Like Clearfield, Bald Eagle’s offense has been dominant, averaging 42.7 points per game this season.

Clearfield’s high-scoring offense has been led by senior quarterback Isaac Rumery, who recently committed to be a preferred walk-on at Penn State and has thrown for 1,493 yards and 16 touchdowns on 79 completions this season. He’s also done a good job of not turning the ball over, throwing only one interception. Rumery has made a difference on the ground this season as well, rushing for 366 yards and six touchdowns on 58 carries. He’ll have to carry the load on offense if the Bison want to travel home undefeated.

Bald Eagle’s offensive attack hasn’t relied on one player, as it spreads the ball around to many weapons. Chief among those weapons is junior Gage McClenahan, the team’s second-leading rusher with 50 carries for 324 yards and three touchdowns. His best performance came last week when he ran 11 times for 87 yards. McClenahan is also the team’s leading receiver, catching 22 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll be key on offense as Bald Eagle tries to keep its perfect season alive.

State College (6-1) at Central Dauphin (5-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: SC – Matt Lintal (fifth season); CD – Glen McNamee (13th season)

Last meeting: State College 31-10, last season

Players to watch: SC – Tommy Friberg, Sr., QB; CD – Adam Burkhart, Sr., RB

The skinny: State College travels to take on Central Dauphin after its first loss of the season last week. The Little Lions were defeated by Harrisburg, 32-17. Central Dauphin is trying to put together a winning streak as it defeated Altoona last week, 49-7. One week prior, the team also was defeated by Harrisburg by a score of 20-5.

The Little Lions will need a bounce back week from senior quarterback Tommy Friberg if they want to get back on track with a win this week. Friberg threw two interceptions and had -17 yards rushing thanks to the sacks he took. He’s shown this season that he’s capable of leading the team and should be able to this week. He’s thrown for 1,308 passing yards on the season and has a 65.2 percent completion percentage.

Central Dauphin will need senior running back Adam Burkhart to have a big week if it wants to keep up with State College. Burkhart is the Rams’ leading rusher with 476 rushing yards on the season to go with six rushing touchdowns. He has twice eclipsed 100 yards, both of which came in wins, one against Berks Catholic, and the other against Cumberland Valley. If Burkhart can have a big day on the ground, the Rams will have a shot to beat the Little Lions.

Bishop Carroll (2-5) at Penns Valley (4-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: BC – Sean Billings; PV – Martin Tobias (23rd season)

Players to watch: BC – Jarrett Grove, Sr., FB; PV – Ryan Ripka, Sr., RB

The skinny: Bishop Carroll travels to Penns Valley in search of its third win of the season. The Huskies enter the game off back-to-back losses to Huntingdon and Central. Penns Valley is playing its second home game in a row, with its last being a 42-27 victory over Bellefonte. A win would clinch a .500 season for the Rams for the first time since 2012.

Bishop Carroll will have to maintain possession and keep Penns Valley’s offense off the field if it wants to upset the Rams on Friday night. To do that, the Huskies likely rely on their run game, which is led by senior fullback Jarrett Grove, the Huskies’ leading rusher with 444 yards and two touchdowns on 79 carries. His ability to gain tough yardage and keep the clock moving will be key to the Huskies’ chances of an upset.

For Penns Valley, senior running back Ryan Ripka will likely be the key to its offense. Ripka is the team’s leading rusher and second leading receiver. On the ground, he has 116 carries for 589 yards and eight of the Rams’ 11 rushing touchdowns and he also has 37 receptions for 514 yards and seven touchdowns. Ripka’s ability to affect the game on all three downs has made him an important cog to an impressive offense. He should be in store for another big game this Friday night.

Huntingdon (2-5) at Philipsburg-Osceola (1-6)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: H – Michael Hudy; P-O – Brian McGonigal (first season)

Last meeting: Huntingdon 61-6, last season

Players to watch: H – Andrew Miller, Jr., WR; P-O – Daniel Slogosky, Sr., QB

The skinny: Huntingdon heads to Philipsburg trying to keep the chance at a .500 season alive. The Bearcats were defeated by Bald Eagle last week, 30-7. Philipsburg-Osceola is trying to string together back-to-back victories in the same season for the first time since 2012. The Mounties defeated Vincentian Academy last week, 49-0.

Huntingdon’s offense has struggled this season, scoring just 18.3 points per game. The Bearcats generally have a difficult time moving the ball on the ground, but through the air they’ve been able to rely on junior wide receiver Andrew Miller for some production in every game. Miller has at least 50 receiving yards in five games this season, including a big performance in week four when the Bearcats were defeated by Clearfield. In that game, Miller caught six passes for 135 yards. He’ll need another performance like that for Huntingdon to get their offense rolling.

Philipsburg-Osceola is coming off its first victory of the season thanks to an offensive onslaught. The Mounties were paced by senior quarterback Daniel Slogosky, who had his first three-touchdown game of the season in the win. He completed 10 of his 16 pass attempts for 198 yards, leading to a season-high completion percentage of 62.5. Slogosky needs to stay hot for the Mounties to win back-to-back games and end the season strong.

Central (3-4) at Bellefonte (5-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: C – David Baker; B – Shanon Manning (sixth season)

Last meeting: Bellefonte 49-22, last season

Players to watch: C – Zach Parks, Sr., WR; B – Kyle Myers, Sr., QB

The skinny: Central heads to Lock Haven University to play Bellefonte this week, with the hope of bringing its record to 4-4. The Dragons haven’t been .500 since they were 1-1 in week two. Bellefonte, on the other hand, is trying to stop a two-game losing skid. That skid saw the team lose to Clearfield in week six, and Penns Valley in week seven, both of which were on the road.

Central wide receiver Zach Parks has been a focal point of the Dragons’ offense in recent weeks. Parks has 341 receiving yards and four touchdowns in their last four games. During that span, Central has gone 2-2, and one of the losses was a tight two-point loss against Penns Valley. Parks has become more of a focal point during that time, reeling in 15 receptions. In Central’s first three games of the season, he only had six receptions. He’s likely to remain the Dragons’ best receiving threat and top target this week.

If Bellefonte wants to snap its losing streak, senior dual-threat quarterback Kyle Myers will have to play at a high level. Myers has been good through the air this season, throwing for 10 touchdowns and 705 yards. and completing 57 of his 100 passing attempts. More importantly, he has protected the ball, throwing zero interceptions thus far.

His ground impact has been important, too, as he’s rushed for 378 yards and two touchdowns on 97 carries. His ability to run and pass has helped open the ground game for leading rusher C.J. Funk, who will pair with Myers to form a duo that should help lead the Red Raiders back into the win column this week.