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Four County High School Football Teams Still Alive as Playoffs Continue

by and on November 09, 2018 5:00 AM

Any doubts about the quality of the high school football played here in Centre County this season should  quickly have been dispelled after the first weekend of post-season games on Nov. 2 and 3. All four county teams won their opening playoff games, and one — State College — already took home a District 6 championship.

BEA, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and State College all had little trouble advancing and, in fact, combined to win by an aggregate score of 189-79. Not a bad start.

This week, everybody will be taking the next step, with Penns Valley and Bellefonte meeting undefeated No. 1 seeds, State College catching up with an old and familiar foe and BEA putting its No. 1 seed on the line against No. 2 Forest Hills. Here’s the lineup:

AAA FINAL
NO. 1 BALD EAGLE AREA (9-2) VS. NO. 2 FOREST HILLS (9-2)
NOV. 9, BALD EAGLE AREA HIGH SCHOOL, 7 P.M.

Bald Eagle Area’s offense was relatively quiet in the Eagles’ 10-9 loss to Bellefonte on Oct. 26, but it was as loud as ever in their rematch against Huntingdon on Nov. 2.

Playing in the District 6 AAA semifinal game at home, BEA spotted the Bearcats seven points on an opening kickoff runback and then ran off 28 unanswered points on the way to a 42-27 win.

Blake Roberts was the big noisemaker for BEA, running 15 times for 210 yards and a touchdown along with another 65 yards on three receptions.

In all, BEA ran up a total of 475 yards — 275 on the ground — as it built a 28-7 halftime lead and held on for the win.

Huntingdon rallied to within 28-21 after two third-quarter touchdowns, but Eagle quarterback Jaden Jones connected with Nick Turner for 37 yards and some breathing room as the third quarter came to a close. Then Turner put the game away with a 15-yard pick-6 midway through the last quarter that put his team ahead 40-21.

The No. 1 Eagles will now move into the D-6 championship game against No. 2 seed Forest Hills on Friday at BEA.

The Rangers qualified for the game with a close 30-22 victory over Westmont-Hilltop on Nov. 3 in Sidman. Forest-Hills quarterback Adam Cecere threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Forrest Wolfhope with just over five minutes in the game that proved to be the game winner.

Westmont had just tied the game at 22-22 three minutes earlier, but Cecere steadily drove his team for the decisive score.

Cecere has been the story for the Rangers all season. He’s thrown for 2,276 yards and 19 touchdowns so far and added another 671 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. In all, Cecere accounts for 266 of his team’s 358 total yards per game.

For BEA, a team that prides itself for its pass rush and overall defense, keeping Cecere relatively under control will be a key to the game. That, and keeping Roberts hot replacing the injured Gage McClenahan.

AAAA FINAL
NO. 2 BELLEFONTE (9-2) VS. NO. 1 CLEARFIELD (11-0)
NOV. 9, DUBOIS HIGH SCHOOL, 7 P.M.

The first time these two teams met back on Sept. 28 in Clearfield, things did not go well for Bellefonte.

The Raiders were well aware that they could not afford to get off to a bad start against the powerful Bison, but that unfortunately was exactly what happened in the Bison’s 49-21 victory.

Both teams came into the game undefeated, but Clearfield quarterback Isaac Rumery threw two touchdown passes in the first three minutes of the game, and then he connected for another one as the second quarter began to give the Bison a 21-0 jumpstart.

Bellefonte briefly came back after a 12-yard TD pass from Kyle Myers to Noah Badger, but two more Rumery connections before halftime essentially put the game out of reach.

Rumery for the night completed 10 of 13 passes for 253 yards and five touchdowns and led a relentless Bison offense that racked up 530 yards in the game.

Bellefonte kept at it with two touchdowns in the second half, but the Clearfield start was too much to overcome.

Looking to recover, Bellefonte fell again the next week to Penns Valley, but the Raiders are now riding a fourgame winning streak coming into the championship.

And after last week’s 58-18 demolition of Bradford in the semifinals, Bellefonte looks like it is back on top of its game.

As for Clearfield, the Bison ran the table in the regular season and then took out DuBois in the semifinal 45-14.

All season, Clearfield has been doing it with a combination of a balanced offense and an aggressive, ball-hawking defense. The Bison average 450 yards per game, almost evenly split between the pass and run.

Rumery runs things for the Bison, averaging 206 yards per game through the air and adding another 47 on the ground.

On defense, Clearfield has recorded 30 sacks, intercepted 15 passes and recovered seven fumbles. Only one team all season scored more than 21 points against the Bison, and that was Penns Valley in a 56-42 Clearfield win.

What was said back in September still applies to this game. Bellefonte will have to avoid a slow start and take care of the football. That done (if it’s possible), this game can go either way.

AA SEMIFINALS
NO. 4 PENNS VALLEY (8-3) VS. NO. 1 RICHLAND (11-0)
NOV. 9, RICHLAND HIGH SCHOOL, 7 P.M.

Penns Valley’s 42-27 victory over Southern Huntingdon in the quarterfinals of the District 6 AA playoffs may at first glance look like an easy win, but it wasn’t anything close to being easy.

After being down 21-14 at halftime, the Rams crept to within 21-20 going into the last quarter.

But then, Aaron Tobias and Ryan Ripka led a 22-point explosion in the fourth quarter, helping Rams pulled away for the win.

Tobias threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns for the night, and Ripka ran 29 times for 197 yards and three scores.

The Rams in all collected 580 yards of offense — 342 on the ground — and wore down Southern Huntingdon down the stretch.

Richland on the other hand did have an easier time in a 61-7 blowout of No. 8 seed West Branch. The Undefeated Rams scored at least two touchdowns in every quarter in the game, led by 28 at halftime, and coasted out from there.

Zach Vogelsberger ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Joe Hauser threw for 180 yards and two more scores as Richland kept its perfect season intact.

This season, Richland has not scored less than 24 points in any game — that was a 24-20 win over Chestnut Ridge — and has scored in the 60s twice, in the 50s once, and four times in the 40s.

Penns Valley has on offense almost as potent, featuring Tobias and Ripka, and the Rams have carved out a very successful season after beginning the year losing two of their first three games.

Richland will have the advantage of being at home in this one, but otherwise anything can happen. It will be important for Penns Valley to get off to a good start and then look to take this game into the fourth quarter.

AAAAAA PIAA QUALIFYING
NO. 1 D-6 STATE COLLEGE (10-1) VS. NO. 1 D-10 ERIE MCDOWELL (7-4)
NOV. 9, ST. FRANCIS UNIVERSITY, 7 P.M.

It was the usual suspects — Tommy Friberg, Keaton Ellis, Dresyn Green and Isaiah Edwards — all over the field again in State College’s 42-7 win over Mifflin County in the D-6 6-A championship Nov. 2.

The Little Lions coasted out to a 28-7 halftime lead and then wrapped it up with two more touchdowns in the second half.

The win improves the Little Lions to 10-1 for the season — their only loss coming to Harrisburg — and puts them into inter-district play against old foe Erie McDowell on Friday.

The game will be played at St. Francis University, and the winner will advance into the PIAA AAAAAA tournament.

McDowell comes into the game with a 7-4 overall record after a 49-14 victory over Pittsburgh’s Taylor Allderdice in the first round of the playoffs.

McDowell is a team that relies on its running game. The Trojans gain over 210 yards per outing running the ball as opposed to 129 through the air.

Senior Dominic Ferraro leads the team with 769 yards on the ground (11 touchdowns), but there are two other backs with over 400 yards, including quarterback Chris Juchno (446).

Juchno has also completed 122 passes for 1,382 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he has two receivers, Hunter Sorenson and Mike Beneski, who have a combined 830 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. These two teams last met in the playoffs in 2016 at Clarion University where State College outlasted McDowell 35-14.



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.


Pat Rothdeutsch covers Penn State football for The Centre County Gazette. Email him at [email protected]
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