Someone is going to leave the Hegins-Valley View Metroplex this weekend in a mighty favorable mood and with some hardware.
Will it be Williams Valley or will it be Tri-Valley that claims the football scrap between fiercely competitive neighborhoods?
And for those muttering about how these remarkably successful grid programs are always playing for something meaningful — well, they usually are — this is the first season in some time the Vikings and Bulldogs will meet only once.
That’s right, just once.
While Tri-Valley (9-0, 4-0) comes into this weekend’s matchup ranked fourth in Pennsylvania’s Class 1A polls, Jeff Sampson’s Bulldogs also hold the No. 1 spot in District 11’s Class 1A power rankings.
Sampson’s Bulldogs knocked over their ninth straight victim last weekend, handling Colonial-Schuylkill League Blue Division playmate Marian Catholic by a 33-7 count. Yet even though Tri-Valley didn’t have a fantastic night offensively, a defensive unit led by Reece Huntzinger and Jake Scheib was terrific.
Although Huntzinger paced the Bulldogs with nine tackles, Scheib totaled six stops from his wide berth on the defensive front. Not only did Huntzinger share two sacks with Shawn Bowman (seven tackles), he also recorded an interception and fell on a fumble.
Jolten Flory and Layne Yoder added picks for Tri-Valley, which limited run-happy Marian to just 102 rushing yards and forced the Colts to throw.
Tri-Valley’s 20-7 halftime lead likely factored into Marian’s tactical plan as well.
Offensively, Scheib rumbled for 99 yards and one touchdown on eight attempts. Huntzinger added 34 yards and two scores on 10 totes, while Noah Porter’s five-carry night resulted in 32 yards and another Bulldog TD.
In and out of the lineup throughout the season due to injuries, the Bulldogs really hope Kameron Wetzel can be full go — particularly since the senior gives Sampson’s bunch a home-run and receiving threat.
Quarterback Kole Miller may be the X-factor, however, since he can throw the football and run it. Miller last weekend rushed six times for 28 yards, but he was 6-for-15 passing for 119 yards and two interceptions.
Flory hauled in three throws for 48 yards, while Scheib gained 60 yards on two catches. Yoder and Jake Tietsworth added one reception each.
Williams Valley (7-2, 4-0) didn’t push its front-line players last weekend and really didn’t need to in a 42-22 conquest of Shenandoah Valley. Particularly since Tim Savage’s Vikings were leading 42-0 at the halftime break.
Sophomore Kian Krzyzanowski caught a pair of touchdown passes for Williams Valley that covered 68 yards, and he pocketed an interception. Lead target Brady Evans added three catches for 81 yards and another score.
Feature back Alex Achenbach only touched the football four times, but he was extremely productive in racking up 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Starting quarterback Isaac Whiteash completed both of his throws for 57 yards and one touchdown, while freshman Brady Shomper came on in relief and was 4-for-6 passing for 135 yards and a pair of scores.
Williams Valley’s other touchdown came on a 61-yard fumble return by Cruz Banda. Senior Bryant Hoover paced the Vikings with seven stops.
Since Savage’s squad has clinched a spot in District 11’s Class 2A field — the Vikings sit third behind Palisades and Executive Education — Williams Valley will be playing someone next week as the chase for 11-2A gold begins.
What’s different is Tri-Valley isn’t blocking Williams Valley’s pursuit of 11-2A supremacy, while the Vikings aren’t in the Bulldogs’ path to 11-1A glory. Yet even though someone will leave Hegins happy, they both could be celebrating district titles in a few weeksand starting their preparations for state play.
Pine Grove hoping to close on winning note
Finally finished with Colonial-Schuylkill Red Division play, Dave Shiffer’s Pine Grove Cardinals have a solid chance to head into the offseason riding some positive waves — assuming a victory over Marian Catholic materializes.
Subjected to an efficient aerial attack orchestrated by Danny Darno, the Cardinals (2-7) were victimized by five touchdown passes and 263 yards throwing in a 48-14 loss to visiting Notre Dame-Green Pond.
While Darno’s night was highlighted by his handful of touchdown throws, he finished 27 of 36 passing for 263 yards.
That won’t happen this weekend against Marian Catholic (4-5), which prefers to run the ball down opposing defenses’ collective throats. Stan Dakosty’s Colts didn’t have much success with that run-first approach the past two weekends against Williams Valley and Tri-Valley, falling 40-7 and 33-7, respectively.
Marian, which lost to Line Mountain in Week 4, also is trying to avoid going 0-4 against teams that once called the Twin Valley Conference home.
Pine Grove only piled up 52 rushing yards last weekend, but Lane Lehman netted 43 of them on 11 attempts. Shiffer & Co. will try to get him going.
If not, the Cards will rely on quarterback Mason Kroh. Making his final appearance in a Pine Grove uniform, Kroh last weekend was 7 of 19 passing for 156 yards and one score. Owen Hannevig caught three passes for 86 yards, with his touchdown reception part of that haul.
Pine Grove also received productive efforts defensively from Brody Ibarra (11 tackles, one sack), Nick Wolff (10) and Lehman (8).