High School Sports

Here’s what to watch for in Bellefonte football’s season opener

The Bellefonte Red Raiders are set to open the season at the new Rogers Stadium Friday evening for the first time when they take on the Jersey Shore Bulldogs. The two teams met in 2018 in both teams’ season opener, when Bellefonte won on a 28-yard game-winning field goal by former Red Raider Chris Persiko.

Bellefonte head coach Shanon Manning will begin his seventh season at the helm of the program and will do it with a new starter at quarterback. Junior Ethan Rossman will lead the offense along with his backfield mate, senior running back C.J. Funk. The duo is expected to be vital to the offense’s success this season, and have just as big of an impact on the other side of the ball.

Funk was the team’s leading rusher in 2018 and crucial to their 9-3 record. He ran for 1,475 yards and 18 touchdowns on 174 carries to lead a rushing attack that finished with 3,112 yards. The team lost quarterback Kyle Myers, who finished second with 800 rushing yards, to graduation. Rossman will be replacing Myers, and figures to be in a position to replicate his success on the ground. The 6-foot-2 junior is a strong part of a spread offense that features a power running game.

On defense, Funk and Rossman will be the two starting linebackers in the Red Raiders’ defense, which is a 4-2-5, featuring four down linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs. The duo will be the strength of the defense that lost Caleb Rockey and his 17 sacks to graduation. While they don’t have a pass rusher on the defensive line like Rockey, Funk and Rossman should help make up for it when they blitz.

This week, they’ll take on a Jersey Shore offense that features senior quarterback Tanner Lorson and senior running back Dawson Sechrist. Lorson threw for 1,694 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior last season. He added 308 yards on the ground as well, and should be a dual-threat for the Bulldogs against Bellefonte. Sechrist ran 86 times for 584 yards and should be at the forefront of the Jersey Shore offense alongside Lorson on Friday night. Funk and Rossman will be put to the test early with Jersey Shore’s run game, and will need to slow down Lorson and Sechrist on the ground to beat the Bulldogs.

They’ll have the chance to do just that under the bright lights of Rogers Stadium Friday night at 7 p.m.

How to follow along

Live updates for all Centre County teams: CentreDaily.com

Updates from Bellefonte vs. Jersey Shore: @cdt_sports, @JonSauber, @ADreyPhotos

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Jon Sauber earned his B.A. in digital and print journalism from Penn State and his M.A. in sports journalism from IUPUI. His previous stops include jobs at The Indianapolis Star, the NCAA, and Rivals.