High School Sports

High school football: Curtin Bowl highlights final weekend of regular season

It’s “Curtin’s” for two of Centre County’s high school football teams Friday night and also “curtains” for four of the five in action.

Bald Eagle Area (2-7) will travel to Bellefonte (2-7) for the annual Curtin Bowl clash. Those two teams plus Philipsburg Osceola (0-9), which travels to Bellwood-Antis (7-2), and Penns Valley (2-7), which plays at Mount Union (9-0), will see their seasons end. State College Area (3-6) will host Mifflin County (1-8) before advancing to the District 6-9 playoffs.

All of those games are scheduled for 7 p.m. St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy (3-6) finished its season last week because its schedule opponent Ridgway/Johnsonburg is involved in playoff action.

After two seasons of playing each other twice, Bald Eagle Area and Bellefonte are back to just its season-ending matchup.

Both teams have suffered from the same woes this season — offense.

Bald Eagle Area has been held to a touchdown or less six times this season. It’s happened five times for Bellefonte.

Both teams enter this matchup coming off of shutout losses against exceptional teams. The Eagles fell 33-0 at unbeaten Jersey Shore, while the Red Raiders dropped a 31-0 decision at Rogers Stadium.

Both BEA’s Ron Hoover and Bellefonte’s Shanon Manning remain upbeat about their programs, even though the seasons have been rough.

“It has been really frustrating for us down the stretch, “ Hoover said after Friday’s loss “I just told the team I was proud of them because in the last three or four weeks they could have packed it in, but they didn’t. That was a brutal stretch for us, but it was good to see the way the kids fought and battled. It could have been 50-0, but they hung in there, battled and showed some of the things they can do. We close out the season against Bellefonte so they will be ready to go.”

Manning endured an 0-10 season last fall and is seeing progress. “ I don’t think our kids ever rolled over and gave up on this game at any point,” he said last week. “This program wasn’t competitive last year. This is a program that is now competitive every week.”

Bald Eagle Area has dominated recent matchups. The Eagles rolled to 49-7 and 57-12 triumphs last season and 42-17 and 41-0 in 2012. They’ve won five straight and seven of the last eight matchups.

State College is looking for a little payback.

The Little Lions won 26-21 thriller over Mifflin County in the regular season, but two weeks later the Huskies won the one that counted more. Taking advantage of some kicking woes, Mifflin County ended State College’s season with a 27-26 triumph in the District 6-9 playoffs.

The two schools will play for the newly created Seven Mountains Bucket, designed to promote the rivalry between the Mid Pen schools. The seven-sided wood bucket was crafted with the seven woods native to Pennsylvania.

Both teams are struggling heading into this matchup. State College is “O-fer October,” having lost four straight. Mifflin County is in even worse shape, having lost seven straight.

Unlike the Huskies, the Little Lions have been in each of games in their current skid with two of the four losses by a field goal or less. The defeats have come against strong teams — Central Dauphin (7-2), Harrisburg (6-3), CD East (8-1) and Cumberland Valley (7-2).

Mifflin County has been blitzed in their skid. Their opponents have outscored the Huskies 280-48.

State College, without injured running back Jordan Misher (ankle), was blanked 13-0 last week by Cumberland Valley. The Little Lions had just 206 yards of total offense in that loss.

State College coach Matt Lintal said he saw “positives” in the contest and his team must build from them.

Penns Valley faced once-beaten Tyrone last week and fell 41-7. The Rams get to conclude the season with a team that has an even better record than the Golden Eagles.

Mount Union has been and offensive juggernaut, averging more than 411 yards per game. The Trojans have seven games of at least 40 points and have three games of more than 50 points.

They’re coming off a wild 44-41 comeback win against Tussey Mountain last week in which they rallied from 41-21 down in the fourth quarter to triumph on B.J. Loner’s 90-yard touchdown run. Loner had 338 yards on 12 carries.

Penns Valley will likely be without starting quarterback Ben Alexander for the third straight game. Alexander had a cast on his left (non-throwing) hand last week. The Rams have scored seven points in his absence.

“You can only play with the kids you have,” Penns Valley coach Martin Tobias said. “That what we do. It’s a next-man up mentality.”

Philipsburg-Osceola is looking to avoid its second winless season in three years. Over that span, the Mounties are 1-28.

To avoid an 0-10 season, P-O will have pull a major upset. Bellwood-Antis has won four straight. The Blue Devils’ only losses this season have come to Tyrone and Mount Union, the only two teams to score more than two touchdowns against them.

The Mounties have given up 30 or more points in every game this season, including a season-high in a 50-3 loss at Clearfield last week.

P-O also had just 19 healthy bodies after that loss.

“It gets interesting, trying to find the right people to go in,” Mountie coach Michael Soyster said. “We’re a work in progress.”