State College linebacker Josh Ruffner thinks his team has something to prove Friday night.
The Little Lions have overwhelmed their opponents during a 5-0 start, but they have a chance to establish themselves as contender in the Mid Penn Conference Commonwealth division with a win over fellow unbeaten Cumberland Valley.
“If we win this game, that will prove that we are a force to be reckoned with,” Ruffner said.
The Little Lions will meet the Eagles (5-0) at Memorial Field at 7 p.m. Friday.
The conference showdown will be the first big test for State College this season as the team looks to make a run at the division title.
The defense has led the way early in the season.
“Honestly I think we’ve given up one touchdown with our ones (starters) on the field all season long,” State College coach Matt Lintal said. “Those guys are playing tremendous football.”
Lintal said he knew his defense had the potential to lock opponents down.
They’ve communicated well and made adjustments during the dominant start. And they’ve made plays.
Lintal’s been impressed with safety Paul Olivett, linebacker Ian Barr, cornerback Donovan Brown and defensive ends Peyton Edwards and Jackson Heasley, who have excelled alongside State College’s proven veterans.
The Little Lions have allowed just six points per game and are coming off consecutive shutout wins over Mechanicsburg and Carlisle.
But they’ll face one of the league’s top players in Cumberland Valley running back Josiah Quigley this week.
“Quigley is a fantastic football player both sides of the football,” Lintal said. “He’s their best running back and he’s their best linebacker. He is a big chunk of their team, so he’s a tough, hard-nosed kid that keeps coming play in and play out so we’ve got a lot of respect for him. Obviously we’ve got to find a way to slow him down and try to prevent him from getting 100 yards.”
Quigley is averaging more than 140 yards rushing per game to power the Eagles offense.
He’s one of “two stars” on the team along with safety/wide receiver Charlie Katshir, who has an offer from Penn State, among other schools, according to 247Sports.
Lintal knows the rest of the Cumberland Valley team will be ready to go, too.
“They play team offense, team defense, team special teams,” Lintal said. “They had two special teams touchdowns last week that really won them that football game.”
It was a 25-24 win over fellow conference power Central Dauphin.
State College earned a share of the division title with Cumberland Valley and Central Dauphin a year ago.
The Little Lions’ win over Cumberland Valley put them in position to achieve that feat.
“It was a steppingstone to kind of set the tone for the rest of the season, and it kind of showed the rest of the conference that State College was nothing to mess with, and that’s definitely what the mindset is this year,” said Edwards, who made the switch from linebacker to defensive end this year. “We’re looking to send a message.”
Lintal said he and his team aren’t content with their play so far.
They’ve been dominant, but they know they have to get better.
Tougher opponents await during conference play, starting with Friday night.
“It’s the biggest game of the year,” Edwards said. “Everybody’s pretty hyped up.”