High School Sports

Here’s what to watch for in Friday’s matchup between Bald Eagle and Philipsburg-Osceola

Philipsburg-Osceola has a tall task ahead after winning its week one game against the West Branch Warriors. The Mounties will take on the Bald Eagle Area Eagles Friday night in Philipsburg. The Mountain League clash was originally slated to be a home game for the Eagles, but was moved due to track construction.

Instead, the 1-0 Eagles will head on the road to take on a Mounties team that has some added confidence after its 41-16 victory last week. To Philipsburg-Osceola head coach Brian McGonigal, the win proved to his team, which is coming off a 1-9 season, that it can win.

“It’s given us a lot of momentum, I think, to carry into this week, and it’s given the kids a lot of confidence,” he told the Centre Daily Times.

The Mounties are led by junior quarterback Ryan Whitehead. Whitehead completed 12-of-18 passes in the team’s season opener for 185 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target in week one was his younger brother, Jeremy Whitehead, who hauled in four balls for 35 yards.

The Mounties will have to rely on both Whiteheads — and their running game — if they want to earn the upset victory Friday night. The team ran the ball 43 times for 256 yards and three touchdowns against the Warriors, including seven carries for 84 yards from the elder Whitehead.

They’ll be tasked with keeping pace with a prolific Bald Eagle Area offense. The Eagles are ranked No. 3 in the state in Class 3A, according to PennLive. They’re led on offense by senior quarterback Jaden Jones. Jones is a dual-threat who finished week one with 15 completions on 28 attempts for 204 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and 16 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against Troy.

The senior quarterback has plenty of weapons around him in senior running back Tommy Snyder and versatile senior offensive weapons Gage McClenahan and Kaden Bittinger. Snyder ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns, while Bittinger and McClenahan combined for 152 receiving yards and 26 rushing touchdowns.

With a target on the Eagles’ backs, head coach Jesse Nagle said he expects the newly confident P-O to come in, ready to put up a fight.

“I think we’re going to get everyone’s best effort,” he said. “We know we were ranked No. 3 in the state, and that’s part of what comes with the territory. We just try not to pay attention to those sorts of things.”

Nagle and his Eagles will have a chance to keep a firm grasp on that position with a strong performance when they take on the Mounties Friday night.

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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.