The picture is much clearer as the final weekend of the regular season in District 9 football approaches.
Redbank Valley and Union/A-C Valley are in the Class 1A playoffs. Who they play depends what happens in the battle of 4-0 teams from the IU9 Bubble teams from the North when Smethport visits Coudersport Friday night.
The winner gets Union/A-C Valley at home while the loser travels to Redbank Valley the weekend of Oct. 23-24 with times to be determined. That’s not quite how it was laid out when the playoff plans were announced a few weeks ago, but that’s how it is now.
The championship game site may be at a neutral site as well, which departs from the original plan. However, the COVID-19 situation with crowd numbers and individual schools looking at things differently perhaps might lead D9 to search for a neutral site.
So it may not matter who the “top” seed is at the end of the day when it comes to finding a site for the championship game. Stay tuned. D9 was scheduled to meet Wednesday to sort through the various odds and ends of the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs and Falcon Knights prepare for their final regular-season games on Friday. The Bulldogs travel to Curwensville to face the winless Golden Tide for the second time this year while the Falcon Knights are doing the same, hosting Brockway at A-C Valley High School.
Since the Falcon Knights have played just one home game, at Union, and lost their home game with Sheffield, they’ll relocate the game to Foxburg.
Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
In Class 2A, the field is set for that four-team setup with Brookville, Central Clarion, Ridgway and Karns City. The Raiders and Wildcats are locked in at No. 1 and 2 and their semifinal foes for the weekend of Oct. 23-24 will depend on how the other two teams fare this weekend.
If Ridgway beats St. Marys — it lost to the Dutch the first time around — it’ll lock up the No. 3 seed and face Central Clarion. If Ridgway loses again and Karns City beats Moniteau for a second time, it’ll be the Raiders vs. Elkers and Wildcats vs. Gremlins in the semifinals.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s games:
Redbank Valley (4-0)
at Curwensville (0-4)
The Bulldogs beat the Golden Tide in the season-opener, 44-0, limiting the Tide to just 61 yards on 46 offensive plays.
Since then, the Tide were routed by Union/ACV (45-0) and dropped competitive games to Keystone (26-16) and Brockway (19-14). Last week, the Rovers went ahead in the final seven minutes of the game and held on to beat the Tide.
The game basically is Curwensville’s final game playing in the District 9 League as it’ll head back to District 6’s Inter-County Conference, the league it played in prior to joining the Allegheny Mountain League at the turn of the century.
The Tide average just 146 yards per game offensively with quarterback Dan McGarry (51-for-97, 388 yards, 1 TD, 5 Ints.), running backs Duane Brady (24-91) and Thad Butler (15-112, 1 TD) and receiver Ty Terry (20-174) the leading skill players. Butler has 14 catches for 100 yards.
Bulldogs head coach Blane Gold is happy to be where his team is going into the finale, securing a playoff spot in an uncertain season.
“If you’re in the playoffs this year, you’ve earned it,” he said. “You’re going to have maybe a couple teams, Keystone and maybe Elk County Catholic, not make the postseason with winning records, so you really have to earn it this year because it’s not an open format. We’re happy to be playing in the playoffs because we legitimately earned a spot.”
The Bulldogs head into Friday at Riverside Stadium averaging 264 yards per game offensively, but giving up just 14 points defensively in four games.
The Bulldogs got a boost from sophomore quarterback Cam Wagner, who replaced Gunner Mangiantini in the second half and completed 3 of 5 passes for 37 yards and two touchdowns. He’s 7-for-15 for 82 yards and two TDs for the season. Mangiantini has thrown for 365 yards, completing 30 of 56 passes with six TDs and two interceptions.
Hudson Martz (42-231, 3 TDs) and Ray Shreckengost (40-22, 1 TD) are the leading rushers. Dalton Bish (11-114) leads the team in catches while Marquese Gardlock (9-141, 2 TDs) is tops in yardage. Six different receivers have caught TD passes.
Martz (27), Joe Mansfield (26) and Kobe Bonanno (19) lead the defense in tackles. Mansfield and Brandon Ross have 4 1/2 and 4 sacks respectively.
Brockway (2-3) at
The Falcon Knights host the Rovers at A-C Valley High School in a rematch that saw Union/ACV win the first one in the season-opener at Brockway, 37-7.
Union/ACV limited the Rovers to just 70 yards on 40 offensive plays from scrimmage. Eli Penny returned an interception for a touchdown and quarterback Tanner Merwin ran for two TDs and threw another to Karter Vogle.
Since that game, the Rovers lost to Redbank Valley (21-7) before winning two straight against Cowanesque Valley (32-14) and Curwensville (19-14) last week. In the win over the Golden Tide, Conner Ford connected with Tanner Morelli on a 22-yard TD pass from 6:55 left in the game to take the lead for good.
Ford also threw a 66-yard TD pass to Austin Schmader while Conner Ryckman added an 18-yard scoring run. Ford completed 11 of 15 passes for 152 yards while running for 83 yards on 21 carries. Ryckman added 85 yards on 11 attempts. Morelli, who returned a kick for a touchdown for the Rovers’ lone score in the first game against the Falcon Knights, caught three passes for 46 yards. Schmader caught three passes for 81 yards.
The Rovers lost one of their top playmakers, Ben Glasl, to a season-ending injury in the Cowanesque Valley win.
For the year, Ford has completed 45 of 77 passes for 561 yards while running for 190 yards on 63 attempts. Ryckman has rushed for 161 yards on 31 attempts while Schmader (14-208) and Morelli (12-237) are the leading receivers.
The Falcon Knights are averaging 275 yards per game offensively. Quarterback Tanner Merwin (38-for-79, 465 yards, 4 TDs, 4 Ints.) has also rushed for 188 yards and a team-high four TDs. Other running threats are Kylar Culbertson (43-234), Eli Penny (44-198) and Caden Rainey (25-168).
Rainey (15-201, 1 TD) and Karter Vogle (12-171, 3 TDs) are the top receiving targets.
Junior Carter Terwint continues a strong year defensively, with a team-high 50 tackles.