Centre County high school football teams are rolling in Week 6. The county has one unbeaten in 6-0 State College, and three, yes three, 5-1 teams in Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Bald Eagle Area. Injury-riddled Philipsburg-Osceola is still struggling to find its second win of the season, now at 1-5.
Let’s look at five takeaways from Friday night’s games as we officially hit the back half of the season:
1. State College’s big playmakers put games away
While four out of State College’s six games so far this season have been blowouts, each of the Little Lions’ opponents have shown up ready to compete — hungry for chance to prove themselves. However, the bevy of State College playmakers won’t let that happen.
In State College’s 48-7 trouncing of Central Dauphin East Friday night, that playmaker was senior RB Isaiah Edwards. Edwards was on the receiving end of a 22-yard touchdown pass from QB Brady Dorner in the opening drive of the game. But then the Panthers answered right back with a touchdown of their own from talented rusher Bryce Baker.
State College, however, wasn’t about to let CD East hang around. On the next play, Edwards took the kickoff return 85 yards to the house. From there, Edwards struck again, this time from 49 yards out, and the Little Lions put up 41 unanswered points.
Last week against Chambersburg, Edwards snagged an interception on defense then scored on offense to break things open. The week prior, State College was leading Carlisle by one just minutes away from the half, when Lokey Howell popped off an 87-yard touchdown run that opened up the floodgates for the Little Lions.
So far this season, State College has shown that whenever it’s tested, it has the players and the ability to make the big plays and break things open.
2. Bellefonte not defined by early-season loss
When Bellefonte opened up its season by allowing 55 points in a 55-35 loss to Jersey Shore, some may have questioned whether the Red Raiders would be able to continue the success of the past two seasons.
RB CJ Funk has been phenomenal in his senior campaign, and is just 75 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season, with four games remaining in the regular season.
The Red Raiders, however, will be tested again next week, when they host Mountain League foe Penns Valley, a team that lost by the skin of its teeth to Clearfield in a 56-49 shootout, and has all the pieces to make a postseason run.
3. Bald Eagle Area’s buoyed by the return of QB Jaden Jones
While Kaden Bittinger filled in well for Jaden Jones at QB since the senior went down with a shoulder injury against Penns Valley in Week 3, there’s something to be said about having your three-year starter back at the helm.
“No. 12 (Jones) is the difference,” Tyrone head coach John Franco told the Altoona Mirror after BEA shut out his Golden Eagles 31-0 Friday night.
Jones had three passing touchdowns, connecting with Bittinger late in the first half, and twice with Matthew Reese in the second. He also ran one in from 8 yards out to kick off the scoring early in the first quarter. Altogether, BEA amassed 405 total yards, by the Mirror’s count.
Having a healthy Jones will serve the Bald Eagles well as they head into the tougher part of the season, will contests against Huntingdon, Clearfield, Jersey Shore and Bellefonte on tap.
4. P-O is decimated by injuries
“We’re whittled away to nothing,” P-O coach Brian McGonigal told the Centre Daily Times after his team’s 49-7 blowout loss to Central Friday night.
He’s not wrong. His team was down four players to begin the game against the Dragons, two to injuries — including starting QB Ryan Whitehead — and two to suspensions. And offensive playmaker RB Kaleb Stamm was playing with a badly injured hand.
As the game progressed, things got worse for the Mounties. Captain WR Hunter Wietoish had to be helped off the field with injury, and lineman Garrett Bloom also went down, as the group of sidelined players grew.
A healthy P-O would have a chance to secure its first multi-win season since 2011 with next week’s contest against North Penn-Mansfield. But with its slew of injuries, even that looks to be a challenge.
5. Penns Valley QB Aaron Tobias is a perpetual takeaway
It seems like every week, the Penns Valley takeaway is the same: senior QB Aaron Tobias dominates through the air. But each week, it’s hard to overlook the numbers this kid puts up.
Tobias totaled 531 passing yards and eight touchdowns in Friday’s 55-7 win over Midd-West, according to WesternPaFootball.net.
Heading into Friday night’s game, Tobias had been averaging 366.4 yards per game, including 320.6 passing, according to MaxPreps. That’s well above the national averages of 43.6 and 66.8, respectively. Tobias entered the season as the state’s top returning passer, and appears on track to end the season in that same spot.
It’ll be interesting to see how Penns Valley’s passing game compares with Bellefonte’s run game next week at Rogers Stadium.