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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Schuylkill League News and Notes

The first meeting was just a warmup

When the discussion centers on the backyard rivalry between Tri-Valley and Williams Valley, these guys haven’t been satisfied just playing once every season — at least not recently. And come Friday night at North Schuylkill High School in Ashland, these fiercely competitive programs will meet with the District 11 Class 1A championship on the line for the fourth time in five years.

They would have met last year as well, but a COVID-19 outbreak scotched those plans so Jeff Sampson’s fourth-ranked Bulldogs and Tim Savage’s No. 9 Vikings wound up sharing district gold — since District 11 didn’t send any squads to the state tournament. If it seems as if these clubs just met, it’s because they did two weeks ago in the regular-season finale, with Tri-Valley claiming a 14-0 decision in the slop between the pines in Williamstown. Grabbing the lead immediately as Levi Murray went yard with the opening kickoff, the Bulldogs increased their lead to 14-0 on Kam Wetzel’s rushing TD.

That’s where it stayed, however, as a Tri-Valley defense led by Reece Huntzinger (15 tackles, 2 sacks), Josh Reho (12 tackles), Jonas McGrath (11 tackles) and Mason Boltz (9 tackles) limited the Vikings to 131 yards from scrimmage. While the artificial playing surface may give everyone terrific footing throughout — in good or bad weather — these sides will get after one another. Tri-Valley (9-1) ran its winning streak to six games last weekend by pounding Mahanoy Area 47-0 behind Wetzel’s 203 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

McGrath only attempted four passes, but completed all four for 90 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown heave to Devin Wertz. It’s also worth mentioning that Tri-Valley registered six sacks en route to its fourth consecutive shutout. Meanwhile, at Williams Valley (8-2), Savage’s Vikes rebounded from their loss to Tri-Valley by eliminating Nativity BVM 35-25. Brady Evans caught six passes for 162 yards and three scores — two from QB Isaac Whiteash and one on a halfback option from Alex Achenbach — as the Vikes rallied from 6-0 and 12-7 deficits. Achenbach added 159 yards on 32 carries, but also reeled in a 53-yard TD reception from Whiteash (9-16-0-186). The Vikings also received a 27-yard interception return from Logan Williard and a pick from Evans that closed out the semifinal victory. Williard added 10 stops ­— three fewer than Jackson Yoder — while the Vikes banked five sacks. Whichever side prevails will get the survivor between District 2 champ Old Forge (9-0) and District 12 winner Belmont Charter (8-1) in the opening round of states.

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