DUKE CENTER — In a flurry of maneuvering in last Friday’s regular-season finale, the Redbank Valley Bulldogs went from the possibility hosting Coudersport or Otto-Eldred and even Clarion-Limestone before landing with a long trip to play the No. 4 seed Terrors.
Failing to beat Moniteau and secure a home game in the opening round of the District 9 Class 1A playoffs, the 5-4 Bulldogs instead trek to McKean County.
“We just need to get ready, clean up our end a little bit and let the chips fall where they may,” said Bulldogs head coach Ed Wasilowski in his program’s first-ever meeting with Otto-Eldred.
“We just have to learn (from the loss to Moniteau) and there’s not much you can say,” Wasilowski added. “We had five, six plays in the game, that if we finish any of those, we literally win in regulation.”
But instead, the Bulldogs will try to beat the Terrors to earn a semifinal berth next week against top-seeded Curwensville at a site and time to be announced.
It’s the first-ever home playoff game for the AML-North champion Terrors, who finished 6-4. That includes two losses to Kane, 56-14 during the regular season and 33-0 last week in the AML Championship game. They also lost their opener to Brockway (17-6) and Bradford (27-8).
The quality of their wins is where the question comes on how good the Terrors are as they beat Elk County Catholic (32-23) from the AML-South then ran the table in the North with wins over Port Allegany (45-6), Sheffield (40-6), Cameron County (57-8), Coudersport (24-8) and Smethport (32-6).
Only Coudersport is a playoff team among the teams the Terrors beat and the combined record of those six beaten teams by Otto is 13-42.
Last year, the Terrors fell at Clarion-Limestone in their first-ever playoff game, 26-16, and finished 5-6.
Much of the Terrors’ offensive success revolves around 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Sawyer Drummond. He’s thrown for almost 2,000 yards (139-for-231, 1,985 yards, 23 TDs, 16 Ints.) while leading the team in rushing (108-433, 2 TDs).
His arm and legs have had a hand in nearly 70 percent of the team’s offense and 28 of his team’s 36 TDs.
“He’s an outstanding QB, a big, tall kid who can throw where he needs to and can run as well,” Wasilowski said. “They run a spread set like we do, but it’s more pass-heavy than ours. We have to slow down their passing game and can’t give up any big plays.”
Drummond has two 700-yard receivers in senior Dylan Close (52-769, 8 TDs) and sophomore Cameron Magee (43-720, 7 TDs). Senior Garrett Babcock (65-351, 4 TDs rushing; 16-231, 3 TDs receiving) is a two-way threat as well.
The passing game could be a challenge for the Bulldogs, who have yielded 153 yards per game in the air including four 200-yard-plus games. Teams have attacked the Bulldogs on the ground somewhat evenly, with just two total yards less for the season running.
Senior Logan Minich (7.3), junior Travis Crawford (7.1) and senior Brock Barrett (5.1) lead the Bulldogs in tackles per game. Clint Thurston has 10 1/2 sacks while Keaton Kahle has a team-best three interceptions.
Offensively, the Bulldogs weigh in at 384 yards per game — 294 rushing and 90 passing. Senior Clint Thurston (179-1,431, 25 TDs) is on the verge of breaking Mark Strothers’ single-season rushing record of 1,488 yards.
Very likely, the Bulldogs need to spring the legs of their other two 400-plus runners in Kahle at quarterback (38-439, 5 TDs) and Brock Barrett (46-403, 5 TDs).
Kahle has thrown for 684 yards, completing 60 of 133 with four TDs and six interceptions. Barrett (36-403, 3 TDs) has over half of Kahle’s completions. Chase Wiles (12-121, 1 TDs) is also in double-digit receptions.
The other side of the Class 1A bracket has C-L hosting Coudersport with the winner taking on No. 2 seed Ridgway next week. The championship game would be either Nov. 17 or 18.