By 4th Down Staff:
WHO: Williams Valley (1-0) at Juniata (1-0)
WHEN: 7 p.m., Friday,
WHERE: Dietrick Field, Mifflintown
ABOUT THE VIKINGS: There are dozens of reasons why head coach Tim Savage is smiling ear to ear at the start of his sixth season. And it goes way beyond the return of 2,300-yard rusher Dylan Rabuck and fellow All-State LB Dylan Wolfgang. Savage owns firepower at nearly every position, and each fuse is lit from a determined set of blockers like seniors Adam Stroup, Zech Hite, and junior Spencer Dimon. These guys earned their road graders’ union card during last year’s impeccable run to District 11 title and Class A quarterfinals. The defense, well, is flat out nasty with sack artist Devon Rabuck and LB Nick Savage in tow. Simply put, this is a team destined for big things, and the Vikings know how to play the part.
ABOUT THE INDIANS: You might be tempted to believe Juniata will peddle through a rebuilding season after celebrated four-year QB Tyler Clark moved on. Clark was a sensational general that reshuffled the Indians’ record book, and RB Fletcher Hart provided added punch. But the Indians and longtime skipper Gary Klingensmith are just fine. The success of Klingensmith’s 49th season will again hinge on the running game, which features a couple of juniors in Bryson Clark and Ethan Grove. The pair helped knock out Susquenita last week. Juniata’s shutout performance was also a good sign. It’s not going to be easy to scoot by LB Bryce Leonard or DT Wade Moore all season long.
KEY STAT: 8 - Number of victories needed by Klingensmith to reach 300 for his illustrious career.
THE PICK: Add this scrap to Newport’s waltz with Tri-Valley on Friday and it’s a big week in the strong, small school TVL. We know the Indians will enjoy the home-field advantage, but Williams Valley hits town with talent and a chip on their shoulders. You see Juniata edged the Vikings 35-28 a season ago, costing Savage’s hard-chargers a shot at a league title. This is a golden opportunity to repay the favor.