High School Sports

Previewing Centre County high school football games for Week 6

We’re halfway through the PIAA high school football regular season, and most of Centre County has been on fire of late. The State College Little Lions remain undefeated, while the Bald Eagle Area Eagles, the Bellefonte Red Raiders, and the Penns Valley Rams all sit at 4-1 on the season. The Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties are still in search of their second win and are 1-4 on the year.

Let’s look at all five teams’ matchups in Week 6.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

State College (5-0) at Central Dauphin East (2-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Matt Lintal (SC), Aaron Blanding (CDE)

Last meeting: State College 39-15 in 2018

Players to watch: WR Lokey Howell (SC), RB Bryce Baker (C)

The Skinny: State College will head on the road for the fourth time this season to take on Central Dauphin East this week. The Little Lions will be in a great position to move to 6-0 on the season when they play the Panthers. The Little Lions have had a lot of success when they get the ball into the hands of senior wide receiver Lokey Howell, and this week should be no different. Howell has been effective as a rusher and a receiver this year. He has six carries for 141 yards on the ground, and 10 catches for 219 receiving yards, as well as one touchdown on the ground and one as a receiver, according to MaxPreps.

Senior running back Bryce Baker will be the Panthers’ best chance to unseat Howell and State College, who rank No. 8 in the state in Class 6A, according to PennLive’s weekly rankings. Baker has amassed 715 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on only 80 carries through five games this season, according to MaxPreps. His performance against Altoona in week five was a dominant one. Baker carried the ball 13 times, finding the end zone on three of the carries, and tallied 269 yards in the Panthers’ 35-19 win over Altoona. That type of performance will be crucial for Central Dauphin East to get to 3-3.

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State College’s Lokey Howell cuts down the field with the ball during the game against St. Augustine on Friday, August 30, 2019 at the South Track Field. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Bald Eagle (4-1) at Tyrone (2-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Jesse Nagle (BEA), John Franco (T)

Last meeting: Bald Eagle Area 35-0 in 2018

Players to watch: WR Damon Gripp (T), QB Jaden Jones (BEA)

The Skinny: Bald Eagle Area will have its star quarterback ready for this week’s matchup with Tyrone. Senior Jaden Jones is set to make his first start suffering a shoulder injury in week three against Penns Valley. The senior made his return last week in the second half of Bald Eagle’s 29-7 win over Central, splitting time with backup quarterback Kaden Bittinger. Jones will have a shot to get back into a rhythm as soon as the game kicks this week. He’s expected to see much more action than he did against Central, and will have a chance to show he’s ready to go for the second half of the season.

If Tyrone wants to keep pace with a Bald Eagle Area team that is finally getting healthy, it’ll need junior wide receiver Damon Gripp to have a big day. Gripp did just that in the team’s week five game against Bellefonte, but it wasn’t nearly enough as they were trounced 55-10. He caught seven passes for 153 yards in the game, according to the Altoona Mirror. The Golden Eagles will need that kind of play from him, but with many more scores if they want to hang with one of PennLive’s Class 3A team’s to watch.

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Central defenders try to stop Bald Eagle Area’s Jaden Jones on the quarterback keep during the game on Friday, Spet. 20, 2019. Abby Drey Centre Daily Times, file

Central (2-3) at Philipsburg-Osceola (1-4)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: A.J. Hoenstine (C), Brian McGonigal (PO)

Last meeting: Central 41-21 in 2018

Players to watch: QB/WR Jeff Hoenstine (C), WR Jeremy Whitehead (PO)

The Skinny: Philipsburg-Osceola will try to get its second win of the season this week when the Mounties take on the Central Dragons this week, but they’ll have to do so with a banged up team. The Mounties will likely be without usual starting quarterback Ryan Whitehead, due to an injury sustained last week against Bishop Carroll. Without Whitehead, Philipsburg-Osceola could struggle on offense. They haven’t been good when they have the ball, but the production they’ve had can be attributed, in large part, to Whitehead, who has thrown for five touchdowns this season, according to MaxPreps. Without Ryan, his brother Jeremy will likely have to do most of the damage for the P-O offense.

Central will have its best offensive player available for the game in wide receiver Jeff Hoenstine. Hoenstine, who also lines up at quarterback for the Dragons, has been dynamic as a passer, runner, and receiver this season, all while being a freshman. He’s thrown for 330 yards and six touchdowns, rushed for 104 yards and three touchdowns, and caught 19 passes for 168 yards so far this season. Hoenstine should be in for a big week in all three facets for the Dragons.

Midd-West (2-3) at Penns Valley (4-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Brad Hatter (MW), Martin Tobias (PV)

Last meeting: Midd-West 30-29 in OT in 2018

Players to watch: RB Hunter Wolfley (MW), QB Aaron Tobias (PV)

The Skinny: Penns Valley will look to avenge its overtime loss to Midd-West from last season when they take on the Mustangs at home Friday night. The Rams lost a 30-29 heartbreaker in overtime in that game, but look to be a much different team this time around. They’re led by senior quarterback Aaron Tobias who has been on fire in his senior season. Tobias has thrown for 28 touchdowns through five games, and just two interceptions, according to MaxPreps. He and the Rams passing game will need to be ready to roll if they want to move into PennLive’s Class 2A top 10, where they’re listed as a “team to watch.”

Midd-West will try to once again knock off Penns Valley, after they did so last season. Last year, the Mustangs were 2-2 heading into the matchup, while Penns Valley was 3-2. This year, the Rams are 4-1, while the Mustangs have started 2-3. If they want to repeat last year’s upset, they’ll need running back Hunter Wolfley to step up. Wolfley had a big game for the Mustangs in their season opening 39-6 win against Marian Catholic, carrying the ball six times for 107 yards and a touchdown, according to MaxPreps. He’ll likely need a similar performance if the Mustangs want to head home with a victory.

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Penns Valley QB Aaron Tobias runs down the field against Central on Friday in Spring Mills. Nate Althouse Photo provided

Clearfield (5-0) at Bellefonte (4-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Tim Janocko (C), Shanon Manning (B)

Last meeting: Clearfield 49-21 in 2018

Players to watch: WR Jake Lezzer (C), RB CJ Funk (B)

The Skinny: Bellefonte will be in for a tough matchup this week, although they’ll have the home crowd in their favor. The Red Raiders will take on the Clearfield Bison in a battle of two of the Mountain League’s best teams. Bellefonte will look to record-setting running back C.J. Funk to carry the load against the Bison. Funk has been phenomenal to this point in the season. The senior has 791 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on only 53 carries, according to MaxPreps. That equates to an average of 14.9 yards per carry. If Bellefonte wants to knock off the Bison, Funk will be key.

Clearfield has relied on junior wide receiver Jake Lezzer to do most of the team’s damage this season. Lezzer already has 34 catches for 560 yards and four touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. His play-making ability on the outside has been vital for Clearfield thus far and has been a constant for the team. He has either six or eight catches in all five games this season, and it’s a smart bet that he’ll get at least six once again this week. If Lezzer can get behind the Red Raider defense, Clearfield should be in a position to earn the win.

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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
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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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