There have been surprises in virtually every week this season, and Friday may prove to be no different.
Bellefonte is looking to keep its four-game winning streak alive against Penns Valley, State College is facing its first big test of the season in Cumberland Valley, and Bald Eagle Area is trying to end a three-game skid against undefeated Huntingdon.
In other games, one-win Philipsburg-Osceola is taking on Central and winless St. Joseph’s is set to face Halifax.
Here’s a closer look at Friday’s matchups:
Penns Valley (2-4) at Bellefonte (5-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: PV — Martin Tobias (22nd season); Bel — Shanon Manning (fifth season)
Last meeting: Bellefonte 35-7, last season
Players to watch: PV — Aaron Tobias, QB; Bel — Dylan Deitrich, QB
The skinny: The Red Raiders have been on a historic and incredible hot streak lately.
Over their last five contests, they’ve scored an average of 42.2 points per game while racking up at least 31 points every outing. Penns Valley, on the other hand, has surpassed 22 points only once this season — during last week’s 48-24 victory over Philipsburg-Osceola.
One interesting development for the Rams: Instead of a committee approach, Aaron Tobias got the nod at quarterback last Friday and impressed by going 16-of-25 passing for 187 yards and three TDs. That was different from what opponents are used to from the run-first Rams so, although Bellefonte won’t be caught off-guard this week, PV does have the potential to have a more-balanced offense.
Either way, a PV upset here isn’t going to come easy. Bellefonte has solidified itself as one of the top teams in the Mountain League, and quarterback Dylan Deitrich is a dual threat that no team has figured out this season. He’s leading the county in rushing, while throwing for its third-most passing yards. Cade Fortney has also played a huge role in moving this offense.
State College (5-0) at Cumberland Valley (4-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: SC — Matt Lintal (fourth season); CV — Michael Whitehead
Last meeting: State College 20-16, last season
Players to watch: SC — Tommy Friberg, QB; CV — Jake Palmer, RB/DB
The skinny: This is the Little Lions’ biggest test of the season so far. By far.
The Little Lions have won their average game this year by 40.6 points. They hung 70 points on Carlisle last week, 62 the week before against Mechanicsburg and 56 against Mifflin County. In fact, every week this season, they’ve scored more points than the week before.
That streak figures to stop Friday. Cumberland Valley is a solid team, one that’s coming off a close 20-14 loss to Central Dauphin. And the Eagles should provide more of a challenge. Senior wideout Charlie Katshir is a Penn State commit that has accounted for more than half of the Cumberland Valley’s yards through the air, and Jake Palmer has 513 rushing yards on the season while averaging 6.6 yards per carry.
On the other side of the field, State College’s offense has shown no signs of slowing down. There are so many weapons here — from Tommy Friberg (13 passing TDs) to Isaiah Edwards (33 carries, 381 yards) to Cohen Russell (201 receiving yards) to Tristen Lyons (322 rushing/receiving yards), and more. And it’ll be interesting to see if Cumberland Valley can contain the big plays from this crew.
Huntingdon (6-0) at Bald Eagle Area (3-3)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: H — Michael Hudy; BEA — Jesse Nagle (second season)
Last meeting: Huntingdon 30-19, last season
Players to watch: H — Ian Border, RB; BEA — Gage McClenahan, RB
The skinny: Huntingdon has beaten every team it’s played by double digits, and it’s difficult to see how this game will be any different.
The Bearcats have been nearly impossible to stop. Ian Border has carried the ball 105 times for 937 yards — that’s 8.9 yards a carry — and quarterback Andrew Hudy is completing 62 percent of his passes and averaging better than 130 yards per game. In other words, the Eagles may focus on shutting down that run game. But, even if they succeed, the Bearcats have enough talent elsewhere to make up for it. There’s not just a singular key to this game.
BEA started out 3-0, but it’s dropped its last three games. Turnovers and miscues have been a recurring theme lately and, if the Eagles want this to stay close Friday, they’ll have to play nearly perfect, turnover-free ball. A few explosive plays by Gage McClenahan wouldn’t hurt either.
Central (4-2) at Philipsburg-Osceola (1-5)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: C — Dave Baker; P-O — Mike Mann (second season)
Last meeting: Central 50-14, last season
Players to watch: C — Trystan Detwiler, RB; P-O — Daniel Slogosky, QB
The skinny: The Mounties have lost five straight games since winning the opener, and this isn’t the best game to try to get back on track with.
Central’s Trystan Detwiler is accounting for just about half the rushing offense — he has 701 rushing yards on 85 carries this season — and Philipsburg-Osceola hasn’t been able to truly dominate anyone in the trenches yet. That should be a problem on both sides of the ball because the Dragons also boast two linebackers who have the potential to wreak havoc on Philipsburg-Osceola.
Jared Smith and Benjamin Kurtz have combined for 21 tackles for loss and three interceptions this season, and P-O quarterback Daniel Slogosky has had difficulty avoiding turnovers in this offense. It won’t be easy to keep this one close.
St. Joseph’s (0-4) at Halifax (2-4)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: SJCA — Murray Fetzer (first season); H — Bob Folk
Last meeting: 56-8, last season
Players to watch: SJCA — Brendan Robinson, QB; H — Broc Grosser, WR
The skinny: St. Joseph’s doesn’t boast the depth, nor the experience, this season and it’s paid for that with several lopsided scores. Friday against Halifax should be no different.
The Wildcats actually boast more passing yards (943) than rushing yards (736) in 2017, and that’s something uncommon in the high school game. That’s not easy for a small school to prepare for and — although the Wolves’ offense finally showed some signs of life in their last game — keeping up with Halifax may prove to be a losing proposition.