Rivalry week is here for NTL teams
Wyalusing (1-8) at Towanda (2-7)
Today, 7 p.m.
Neither will be going to districts but that could mean an even fiercer rivalry game between Wyalusing and Towanda today.
"For both of us coming in, after everything we've done through the season, were going to lay it on the line Friday night," Towanda coach Jamie Wecker said. "That in itself should put urgency in every kid. They have that perform now or never mentality."
"Both teams are kind of in the same boat this year," added Wyalusing coach Jim Huffman. "It hasn't been the best year for victories for either team but both played hard. Both teams are excited to see who can out last the other one."
Defensively, both teams are going to have to have find a way to stop the other's run game.
"We've just got to do what we've been doing all year," Wecker explained. "Put the kids in position to make plays. We need to keep their running to a minimum and keep them from making big plays on us throughout the game."
Despite just having three wins Huffman knows the Black Knights had a tougher than normal schedule.
"They are a lot better team than what their record is," he said. "They played some really tough games and lost to some good teams. We have to try and stop that Huff kid, he's a very talented kid."
Huffman also knows what his team is going to do come this week.
"It's kind of tough because you want to be out there and get as much prep time in as you can but I've been talking to coach Wecker and we said if it was week one or two we'd be more worried but at this point you have everything you want," Huffman explained. "It's just a matter of tweaking it. A lot of this game comes down to heart and desire."
For the Knights, they will be welcoming back senior captain Trey Sites. Sites went down early in the Lewisburg game all the way back in week one and will be making his final appearance in a Towanda uniform tonight.
"The kids are really excited," Wecker remarked. "He works so hard in the offseason and works so hard to be a leader on the field, the injury took that away from him. The kids, they get the feeling like they owe him something, they have a lot of respect for Trey. How he hung with it, worked hard in practice and mentally taught other kids. The kids are excited to have him back and don't want to let him down."
For both teams this will also set the tone for the off season.
"It gives you momentum for next year," Huffman said. "For either team it kind of wipes out the season, it doesn't wipe it out but you don't see it as much. This team would be known for bringing the helmet back, no matter what their record is that's what they're striving for.
Sayre (6-3) at Athens (7-2)
Today, 7 p.m.
Both teams come in with solid records but are coming off losses from last Friday.
"We had a disappointing game last week," Sayre coach Larry Hanafin explained about their loss to Muncy. "But we've worked ourselves into a normal state of mind."
Athens' coach Jack Young sees his team rebounding from their loss to Central Mountain well.
"They've learned you can't take anything for granted," he said. "You have to be prepared for all kinds of situations."
But he knows that Sayre brings some talent to the table.
"They've got good team speed and quickness," Young explained. "They're a physical bunch. We have to concentrate on executing our game plan and do a good job of tackling. That's the real key."
Hanafin also knows what type of skill the Wildcats bring to the field.
"There's a reason they're an elite team every year," he said. "They're well coached and they have talent. It's a formidable task to go against. But were going to focus on what we do."
That will be running the ball for Sayre.
"We're going to have to," Hanafin remarked. "That's basically what we've tried to do all year. Last week we didn't fire on all cylinders. We're going to reestablish the fundamentals in practice. We'll do what we do and if it works good and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. We're going to dance with the one that brought us."
Young will also be looking to establish the run.
"We're going to concentrate on the same things," he said. "Taking care of the little things, run the football first. Were going to run and be patient."
This is a good game for Athens before they head into districts as it has a playoff mentality to it.
"They know what the game means to the community," Young said. "It's a great opportunity for both teams to battle each other out and get after it. I think the way the Northern Tier sets up week 10 it keeps everybody interested. Everybody has to show up and play, anything can happen on any given night. Rivalry week is proof of that."
For Sayre, this season continues their upward wins projectory.
"The vast majority of us were through the 1-9, 3-7, 5-5," Hanafin said. "We always want another win, when you get six you want seven. But it feels good to have six, we have one more game to play and we want another win."
The Old Shoe
Canton (3-6) at Troy (7-2)
Today, 7 p.m.
One team is headed to the playoffs, the other looking for one final to hang their hat on.
Despite coming in with the better record, the Trojans feel like they have more to prove after last year's loss.
"They have a lot to prove after last year," Troy coach Jim Smith said. "I think they're going to be focused to do so."
Last season the Warriors were able to control possession to pull out a win at Alparon Park.
"We do know this year we've got to get our defense off the field every once and a while or the same thing's going to happen," Smith explained. "Despite being decimated by injuries they've been in multiple nail biters with good teams, we're not taking them lightly. They're settling in, starting to peak. I think they're going to show up ready to play."
After some early season offensive troubles Canton has been rolling the past few weeks and are excited to test it against Troy.
"They players are very excited about playing Troy," Canton coach Miller Moyer said. "Whenever you have a chance to play such a quality opponent you should be excited. It gives you a chance to see how much you have improved."
However, the Trojans have a very good offensive of their own.
"We somehow have to control the clock," Moyer explained. "Their offense is so explosive we have to do our best to keep the ball out of their hands. The best way to do this, obviously, is to run the ball. I don't think you can stop their offense. We have to try and slow it down. We can't afford to get in a shoot out with them."
For the Trojans, they plan on running their option attack behind Jed Wright.
"That's what we do for a living," Smith said. "We have to continue to do that until we prove that we can't. I think we will take what the defense gives us, there are going to be other things that will be open."
Smith sees this as a chance to give his young kids a good test before districts.
"It's a big game, another challenge," he explained. "It's another football team that gives us a challenge. Despite being young the kids are very athletic, I think they're football intelligence has continued to grow. The more they see the more they learn. After being beaten by young mistakes a lof the kids are learning and are smarter football players for it. That's important that the kids play smart, they're learning as they go and that's always a positive."
Bob Jones Trophy
North Penn (4-5) at Wellsboro (4-5)
Today, 7 p.m.
This year the Bob Jones Trophy is also the battle to .500 for these teams.
And the two coaches would be happy to finish even on the year.
"For us to finish .500 would be a nice successful year," North Penn coach Tom Dickinson said. "It doesn't matter what their record is, it's what we want to finish at but we are just taking it one step at a time. If that should happen that would be great but were not even looking at that right now."
It would have also help with momentum for next year.
"If you leave the season with a win that's what everybody will remember," Wellsboro coach Steve Boyce said. "Climbing to .500 would free up some of those disappointing losses, winning your final game is always important going into the offseason."
Right now North Penn is hot when playing the Hornets.
"We have won three in a row on them and no other team has beaten them four in a row," Dickinson explained. "These kids could be the first team here not to lose to Wellsboro."
Despite their recent success, Dickinson isn't taking this team lightly.
"They are a much improved team," he said. "They are doing some good things. We have to be well prepared for them. We are slowly getting healthy except for one. We'll see what happens."
Yet, both teams know that record doesn't matter in this match up.
"I've seen an underdog team come in at 0-9 and walk away with the win," Boyce said. "With the distractions of this week, off for two days, whatever team can put together the mental toughness."
And after the wet week Boyce believes it might give them an advantage.
"Maybe the field conditions may favor us more because I think our run game is a little solid," he explained. "If it rains might make it harder for their pass game."
Otto-Eldred at Cowanesque Valley (2-7)
Today, 7 p.m.
After a couple tough weeks the Indians are looking to finish the season on a high note today.
"Really, were just trying to come together," CV Coach James Burns said. "We lost some kids here and there so were building for next year. The last couple weeks we've gone with some younger guys. We're trying to see where were at there and how important it is to send seniors out on a positive not."
Playing Otto-Eldred will be a lot like taking on themselves.
"They are almost carbon copies of what we do offensively," Burns explained. "It's good because our scout guys can just run the offense. We have to focus on stopping their quarterback. They have one running back that's good but their quarterback is their star both ways. Basically, if we can contain their QB we should have a pretty good chance."
The Indians have also made some changes recently to kick start their own offense, such as moving Brandon Whitsell from quarterback to running back.
"That gives us a chance to have two running backs," Burns remarked. "Brandon, it gives him more chances in the back field with our other senior Luke Plummer."
They've also brought some younger kids into fold, including two sophomores on the offensive line, one at quarterback and a freshman at wide receiver.
"Starting a lot of younger kids will help build for next year," Burns said.
While the Indians started the senior 2-1 they've lost six in a row since. However, Burns believes they've done well in all their games.
"I really think every week there has still been a positive," he explained. "We really feel were going in the right direction. The kids are learning and having the mindset that we can hang with these guys."