By Michael Bullock:
Each week during the 2020 season we’ll offer some news, notes, tidbits and opinions from each of the five divisions in the Mid-Penn Conference.
Juniata’s state tournament debut awaits
About to return to Altoona’s Mansion Park — the same venue at which Juniata downed Bellefonte 24-21 in last weekend’s District 6-9 Class 4A championship game — Kurt Condo’s surging Indians (5-1) will put their five-game winning streak on the line against District 10 winner Oil City (8-0) in a PIAA Class 4A opener. Juniata emerged in last weekend’s D6-9 final on Ben Wagner’s 24-yard field goal with just less than four minutes to play, points set up by the second of Zach Harr’s interceptions. QB Jacob Condo rushed for 103 yards, but he also threw for 62 yards and TD passes to Yaniel Ortiz and Jace White. Caleb Seeger added a long touchdown run for the resourceful Indians, who will be appearing in their first state tournament game. On tap is an explosive Oil City unit that wheeled past Harbor Creek 51-14 behind Sean Stack’s 208 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Cameron Russell added 137 yards on the ground for the Oilers, while QB Holden Stahl fired TD passes to Dakota Cole and J.T. Stahlman. Russell (117-1,483, 20 TDs) and Stack (59-666, 12) are both averaging 11 yards per carry or more, while Stahl has completed 28 of his 41 passes for 779 yards and 10 touchdowns. Cole and Stahlman have each logged five TD receptions, while averaging 22.1 and 37.2 yards per catch.
Upper Dauphin and Newport to meet … Monday
Victimized by the stop-and-start tempo that has impacted the 2020 regular season, Newport (2-2, 1-1) and Upper Dauphin (2-3, 2-1) will finally play their Mid-Penn Liberty contest Monday night at Katchmer Field. Todd Rothermel’s Buffaloes will be looking to halt a two-game skid that occurred in a span of four days — losses to Line Mountain (44-21) and Susquehanna Township ( (29-7) — but the ‘Port’s loss at Line Mountain was especially painful since the visitors were up 21-10 late in the opening half. What was troubling was the Buffs yielded more than 500 rushing yards to the Eagles, then conceded 400-plus offensive yards to Susquehanna Township. UD, which is skippered by former Newport DC Kent Smeltz, dropped a heartbreaking 43-42 contest to Fleetwood. Christian Snyder rushed for 180 yards and one score, while QB Tyler Cleveland and WR Hayden Harner each authored touchdown passes. Harner’s bomb to Kyle Casner (3-80) covered 70 yards. UD also played that game without versatile senior back Chance Crawford, who was injured against Halifax.
District championship hopes may be gone, but Line Mountain still at it
While Line Mountain’s bid for a District 4 Class 2A title may have been stopped cold by perennial hammer Southern Columbia, Brandon Carson’s Eagles (4-2) will try to bounce back when Boiling Springs (4-2) visits Ressler Field. Yielding 400 offensive yards to the powerful Tigers, Carson’s Eagles also found themselves trailing 49-0 until Garret Laudenslager ripped off a 23-yard touchdown run. Laudenslager wound up with 41 yards on eight carries, while QB Jacob Feese ran 22 times for 67 yards. Boiling Springs also will be trying to rebound following a 47-7 loss to Wyomissing in the District 3 semifinals. Joey Menke and De’Von James combined for 121 rushing yards, while QB Colin Lunde added 92 yards through the air. One pertinent note: Boiling Springs blanked Camp Hill 35-0, the same Camp Hill squad that downed Line Mountain 35-28 in late September.
Susquenita hoping to run winning streak to four
Upbeat after surviving a 13-12 tussle with Trinity, Susquenita will ride its three-game winning streak into Newville for a scrap with Big Spring (3-3). Freshman QB Derek Gibney totaled 130 offensive yards — 86 came on the ground — and scored on short runs of 1 and 4 yards lead Scott Acri’s Blackhawks. Susquenita also goes into Friday night’s scrap having yielded just one offensive touchdown during its three-game streak — Trinity’s scores came on a pick-six and a fumble return — with that score posted by James Buchanan in a 40-6 reversal. Big Spring eased past Halifax 35-7 behind 155 rushing yards and one touchdown from Dillon Wakefield. … Other games on the schedule include: Trinity (0-6) at Halifax (0-5) and Northern Lebanon (0-7) at James Buchanan (0-4).