High School Sports

Previewing Centre County high school football games for Week 5

Week 5 of the high school football season is upon us, and one unbeaten team stands alone among Centre County teams. The State College Little Lions are 4-0 on the year, while the Bald Eagle Area Bald Eagles, the Bellefonte Red Raiders, and the Penns Valley Rams are all 3-1 this season. The Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties are 1-3 and still in search of their second win on the year. All five teams will be in action this weekend as we round out the first half of the regular season.

Let’s take a look at all five of Friday’s matchups.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

State College (4-0) at Chambersburg (3-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Matt Lintal (SC), Mark Luther (C)

Last meeting: State College 35-16 in 2018

Players to watch: QB Brady Dorner (SC), RB Keyshawn Jones (C)

The Skinny: State College will try to stay unbeaten this week when the Little Lions travel to Chambersburg to take on the Trojans in their homecoming game. The Little Lions will be led by senior quarterback Brady Dorner, who has been efficient through the air and on the ground through four games. Dorner has completed 28-of-40 passes on the season for 544 yards and three touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. He’s only averaging 10 attempts per game, but his completion percentage of 70% is impressive regardless of the sample size.

On the ground, Dorner is an even bigger threat. He’s carried the ball 29 times for 194 yards and five touchdowns through four games. His ability to make plays with his arm and legs have been vital to keeping the State College offense humming this season. He’ll have to be a dual threat again this week if the Little Lions want to maintain their No. 8 ranking in the PennLive PIAA Class 6A rankings.

Chambersburg will be led on offense by running back Keyshawn Jones. Jones finished last week’s 56-24 win over Altoona with 34 rushing yards and two touchdowns on only six carries, according to the Altoona Mirror. Jones and the Trojan rushing attack will be vital to Chambersburg’s upset bid against the Little Lions.

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State College QB Brady Dorner looks for a pass against Carlisle on Sept. 13. Mark Helbley Photo provided

Central (2-2) at Bald Eagle Area (3-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: A.J. Hoenstine (C), Jesse Nagle (BEA)

Last meeting: Bald Eagle Area 54-28 in 2018

Players to watch: Jeff Hoenstine (C), QB/WR Kaden Bittinger (BEA)

The Skinny: Bald Eagle Area is well on its way to being a fully healthy team, but will have to wait to see the team’s full potential for another week. Senior quarterback Jaden Jones has been medically cleared after suffering a shoulder injury, but will not play this weekend, according to head coach Jesse Nagle. Senior wide receiver Matthew Reese has also been cleared after suffering an injury, but also isn’t expected to play. Without Jones and Reese, the Bald Eagles are likely to attack Central with a rushing attack centered around usual starting wide receiver — and backup quarterback — Kaden Bittinger.

Bittinger has filled in well for Jones, leading the Bald Eagles to a 28-6 win last week over Bishop Carroll. The Eagles have become more run-heavy with Bittinger at the helm. He only attempted 15 passes in the win, completing six of them for 60 passing yards. The senior did most of his damage on the ground, accounting for all four of the team’s touchdowns in the win, as well as 242 yards on only 16 carries, according to MaxPreps.

Central will utilize a versatile offensive weapon of its own Friday night in freshman Jeff Hoenstine. Hoenstine plays all over the field for the Dragons, which allows him to be a threat as a passer, a runner and a receiver. He has five passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns on the season, along with 257 passing yards, 88 rushing yards and 139 receiving yards, according to MaxPreps. Hoenstine will be at the center of the Dragons’ attempt to defeat the Bald Eagles, who sit as a “team to watch” in PennLive’s PIAA 3A rankings.

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Philipsburg-Osceola’s Kaleb Stamm tries to run past Bald Eagle Area defenders during the game on Friday, August 30, 2019. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Bishop Carroll (2-2) at Philipsburg-Osceola (1-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Sean Billings (BC), Brian McGonigal (PO)

Last meeting: Bishop Carroll 31-13 in 2018

Players to watch: RB Jake Zazvrskey (BC), RB Kaleb Stamm (PO)

The Skinny: Philipsburg-Osceola is still in search of its first multi-win season since 2011 after a difficult loss to Tyrone last week. The Mounties fell to the Golden Eagles, 22-16, after holding until the fourth quarter. This week, P-O will take on another team that lost to Tyrone by one possession. Bishop Carroll fell to the Golden Eagles, 28-20, the week prior to the Mounties’ loss. Philipsburg-Osceola has found its most success when relying heavily on junior running back Kaleb Stamm.

Stamm led the Mounties with 128 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in their Week 1 win over West Branch, according to MaxPreps, and helped the team dominate on the ground in the 41-16 victory. Stamm also led P-O against Tyrone last week, carrying the ball 31 times for 132 yards and a touchdown. In the team’s two losses, a 32-7 loss to Bald Eagle and a 55-7 loss to Bellefonte, Stamm had 18 total carries for 29 rushing yards. He’s been the key to Philipsburg-Osceola’s offensive success on offense.

The Huskies will feature Jake Zazvrskey at running back, and as the team’s best offensive weapon. Zazvrskey has 52 carries for 225 yards and a rushing touchdown, but has been just as big of a threat as a receiver. The senior has 272 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 12 receptions through four games, according to MaxPreps. If Stamm can outperform Zazvrskey, the Mounties could be looking at their second win of the 2019 season.

Penns Valley (3-1) at Huntingdon (1-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Martin Tobias (PV), Shane Thomas (H)

Last meeting: Penns Valley 35-18 in 2018

Players to watch: QB Aaron Tobias (PV), QB Nick Troha (H)

The Skinny: Penns Valley has been white hot since losing to Clearfield on a last-second touchdown, 56-49, in Week 2. The Rams have relied on their prolific passing attack, led by senior quarterback, and son of head coach Marty Tobias, Aaron Tobias.

The youngest Tobias has already thrown for 24 touchdowns this season, good for an average of six per game, according to MaxPreps. He’ll have a chance to maintain his performance against a Huntingdon defense that’s given up 117 points in its last three games. Tobias has completed 87-of-120 passes for 1,324 yards, and that kind of efficiency should be expected once again this weekend.

Huntingdon will have to rely on senior quarterback Nick Troha to keep this game close. He completed 14-of-25 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown in the Bearcats’ lone win of the season, an 8-0 victory over Mount Union in Week 1. Troha will have to be at his best to keep pace with a Penns Valley passing attack that has made the Rams a “team to watch” in PennLive’s PIAA 2A rankings.

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Central Mountain defenders can’t stop Bellefonte’s C.J. Funk as he runs down the field for a first down during the game on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Bellefonte (3-1) at Tyrone (2-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Shanon Manning (B), John Franco (T)

Last meeting: Bellefonte 31-14 in 2018

Players to watch: RB CJ Funk (B), QB Brandon Lucas (T)

The Skinny: Bellefonte has rolled through its last three opponents after a week one 55-35 loss to Jersey Shore and should do the same Friday night against Tyrone. The Red Raiders are led on offense by record-setting running back CJ Funk, the school’s all-time leading rusher. Funk will have plenty of opportunity to add to his record, beginning this week.

The senior has only carried the ball 42 times through four games, but that hasn’t slowed his production. Funk has 645 yards on the ground, along with nine touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. The school’s all-time leading rusher has at least 160 yards in all three of the Red Raiders’ wins, including 224 yards in the team’s win over Huntingdon in Week 2.

Tyrone will have to hang onto the ball to win this one. The Golden Eagles will need to keep Funk on the bench as long as possible, and that means a game plan centered around ball control for quarterback Brandon Lucas. Lucas will have to make smart decisions and take care of the ball against the Bellefonte defense. He and Tyrone can’t afford to turn the ball over and give Funk and the Red Raiders extra possessions. If they do, Funk will have a chance to rush for 200 yards for the second time this season.

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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.
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