Waverly, Tioga in Section IV semi-finals
It's win and go on, lose and go home for Waverly and Tioga this week as each of them play in the Section IV semifinals.
WAVERLY (8-0) VS. SIDNEY
5 p.m., Saturday, Alumni Stadium, Binghamton
The Wolverines are ready to get the sectional playoff started and hope to defend their title.
"It's a new season and you can be one and done or you win and move on," Waverly coach Jason Miller said. "It's an exciting time of the year. It's what we are playing for. I think the kids will be amped up. We are playing a Saturday night game wrapped around two other games.
"It is a great atmosphere down there in Binghamton. It's a great facility and we played there twice at the end of last year so we have a little comfort level there. I don't think the kids will be too taken back by the scene, it will be a great experience. It's a nice long week too prepare for it. WE are excited to be back in this position. All you can do is create opportunities for yourself."
Waverly knows they will face a tough opponent in Sidney.
"I think they are a talented group, they have a lot of people back from last year," Miller said. "They have some very good athletes and they run the ball very well. Their quarterback scrambles well and when he does he likes to tuck it and run. They are a good team, they have played some good competition."
For Waverly it's been since they played Tioga that they got pushed all four quarters and they know that will likely happen this week.
"It's probably a curse and a blessing that we haven't played four quarters," Miller said. "But, we are fresh and we are healthy this time of year and that's very, very important. We will have our full team with the exception of Chris (Raupers), but we had the full season to play without him.
"The main thing is we are healthy. We have continued to work on conditioning. I would expect and assume the kids will be real happy to play four quarters. They have played probably a total of two games in five games. I think the kids will be ready."
While the Wolverines are the defending sectional champions, they don't feel like they are a team with a big target on them.
"I still feel like we are the underdog in a lot of respects," Miller said. "On a certain level, I feel like we don't get a lot of respect from that end of the section. I think our kids don't feel or even understand they could have a target on their back. I think they have something to prove every time they go on the field. I would much rather be in this position than anywhere else. I think if we can get rolling and score quick and have some success early we can work that to our advantage.
TIOGA (7-1) VS. UNATEGO
1 P.M., Saturday, Ty Cobb Field, Union-Endicott
A week ago the Tigers defeated Walton in the first round of sectionals and this week they hope to carry that momentum into the semifinals.
"They are very, very excited," Tioga coach Nick Aiello said. "They were fired up about the game, it was a really exciting win for us, and we are just looking to ride the momentum into next week."
Aiello believes last week's win gave his team some added confidence.
"We knew they were going to bring hard-hitting smash mouth football," Aiello said. "We knew we had to be ready for that. I thought it was a great game and our kids walked away confident after that."
For the Tigers this will be the first time this year they will play on a Saturday.
"We haven't played on Saturday yet this year, all Friday nights," Aiello said. "It's a little change for us, but it also gives us an extra day and an extra day definitely helps."
The Tigers know Unatego will be a challenge.
"They are very fast and they have the ability to score quick," Aiello said. "Their quarterback is a good runner we will work on the things we have to."
Playing a tough game last week is something Aiello thinks can help them.
"We definitely needed a game like that, they were definitely hard hitting," Aiello said. "Our kids got four quarters of work and they hadn't had that since the Waverly game so it was nice to see our kids play well all four quarters."
MUNCY (5-3) AT SAYRE (6-2)
Today, 7 p.m.
A lot is at stake for the Redskins this week. A win will help them stay in good position to make the District 4, Class A playoffs, they enter the game 100 points behind Bloomsburg for the fourth spot, while a loss would allow Muncy to gain ground on both teams.
"They are staring to realize they are actually in the playoff hunt," Sayre coach Larry Hanafin said. "Even though we made it last year, we kind of fell into it. It's exciting, we are going to enjoy it rather than get whacked out over it."
The Redskins fan support has been good this year and Hanafin hopes for a big crowd at home.
"We are hoping so, we have had good crowds at our away games," Hanafin said. "The big thing is our band comes and they play and they are behind us. I think our crowd support has been good for home and away games."
Sayre knows that this will be a tough game.
"They are fast, they are skilled, they are well coached, they are big and tough up front," Hanafin said. "It's the same thing every week for us. We don't go into any game with really any advantage over anybody. We have to improve on what we do and focus on what we do."
Last week the Redskins won a tough game in overtime against Wellsboro and Hanafin was proud of the way they played.
"I was unbelievably proud of them, simply because there was never a time we had to call a time out and refocus them," Hanafin said. "They were more telling the coaches what we needed to do to win. It's one of the best things, I will never forget it as long as I live."
All season the Sayre offense has been a key, while last week it was the defense that came through.
"It was a role reversal and the players understood," Hanafin said. "It's like wrestling, sometimes you pin them, sometimes you score more, sometimes you ride the guy out. We had to ride it out on defense. We have come a long way."
ATHENS (7-1) AT CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (3-5)
Today, 7 p.m.
The Wildcats hit the road for a game against a AAAA school.
"They are a big school, a quad-A school, they are not bad football team," Athens coach Jack Young said. "They play a similar defense to Towanda, at least what Towanda played against us. We have that to compare to a little bit.
"Offensively they spread the field a little bit, but you have to focus on the quarterback. He rushed for over 1,000 yards already and doesn't do a bad job throwing. They have a solid fullback and tailback, they are not a bad football team. It's a great challenge for us and a great opportunity to bring everything we've got."
Athens knows this week will be a good judge of where they are as they get ready for the playoffs.
"We didn't have the opportunity of playing any heartland teams and we like to get that measuring stick and measure against another team," Young said. "This is our measuring stick right now. We played Central Columbia two weeks ago, and lost 14-6. It's a great measuring stick for us, if we can win it's big points for come district playoffs."
Young knows he has to be ready for the Central Columbia offense.
"In some sense, they have a quick strike time offense with Vaughn Miller," Young said. "We want to control the game. It's not so much starting fast, but starting strong and fundamental and playing solid defense. Offensively we are not going to change. We are going to be patient, we have to try and figure out what to have success with throughout the night."
The Wildcats are happy with the way they are playing right now.
"Offensively we felt like things were clicking for us last week and we did different things like spreading the field and we'll work off that. The bottom line is we've got to come out and play physical and establish a running game, we need to do that to be successful offensively.
"We need to do a great job tackling, the whole team is very elusive. We need to be very fundamental and find the motivation to be very physical. We need to bring some intensity right from the get go, that's the key to control things."
TOWANDA (1-7) AT WELLSBORO (4-4)
After a loss at Loyalsock last week, the Black Knights are anxious to get back on the field this week.
"We've learned a lot throughout the season, we've played some good competition," Towanda coach Jamie Wecker said. "Not to say last week wasn't a disappointed, but the kids knew they could have played better. They want to get back on the field and prove we can play a better brand of football."
Last week the Green Hornets lost a tough game to Sayre in overtime.
"They are kind of looking forward to this week," Wellsboro coach Steve Boyce said. "They are still a little down with how things panned out for them Friday. WE played a heck of a game, we did the right things and dominated both sides of the ball and still came out with a loss. The Jv's just went 0-0 with them so we are evenly matched with Sayre."
Both teams know this will be a test.
"Towanda is full of athletes, they've got speed, they've got pretty decent size," Boyce said. "Their screens are a little suspect, but they are a little hard to prepare for in that aspect. As always, I think we have a pretty good shot. If we can hold them to not much in the way of scoring, I think we can take one from them when we haven't in a very long time."
Towanda also knows Wellsboro is a tough teams.
"Watching film, they run the spread pretty well, they run the pro formations and the twin formations well," Wecker said. "There's no secret recipe to stopping them, we have to play responsible football, the quarterback is good enough, he can hurt you even with his feet. He is deceptively quick."
After playing without quarterback Noah Huff last week, Huff returns this week.
"He's been the quarterback since week one," Wecker said. "When you've got to go with plan c, it eliminates a lot of weapons. We are happy to have him back for sure.
"We are going to run some power game, run some spread and get the ball out in the perimeter. We are going to run everythin we've been running with some new wrinkles."
While it's been a long time since Wellsboro beat Towanda, Boyce knows they have come closer in recent years.
"Our guys know that Towanda doesn't' play well of their field and on our muddy field," Boyce said. "We really hope it rains. It's a long trip between the two schools and to go from the facilities they have and come to the facilities we have, it's very tough. The last two years we played them very good in the first half. It's the second half that's suspect. Our guys know we have a bit of an advantage at home."
TROY (6-2) AT HUGHESVILLE
Today, 7 p.m.
The Trojans take on a Hughesville team that has struggled this year, but coach Jim Smith knows they can't look past the Spartans.
"Hughesville is, despite their record, competitive. They are big up front. They are well coached and a solid football team."
A week ago the Trojans rolled to a win over North Penn and Smith liked what he saw from his team.
"I felt like they played a complete game both offensively and defensively and never lost stride the whole game," he said.
The Trojans know that every game is important this time of year.
"I think it's real important, these last two weeks that we finish strong for confidence purposes," Smith said. "It will be an interesting matchup, they are powerful and big and we are more smaller and fast.
Troy knows wins help with district seeding.
"I think looking at it the top eight teams depending on the matchups doesn't really matter who you get, you are going to have to play your best brand of football," Smith said. "More importantly, if we finish strong, depending on what happens, we have the possibility of getting a home game. It's really important we at least set ourselves up for the possibility of that."
The Trojans are anxious to play a team from out of the league.
"I think for the most part the NTL doesn't get a whole lot of respect as far as our overall strength goes, so it's important we go down there and make a statement, mostly for our kids sake," Smith said. "They know Hughesville does play in a league that's good top to bottom and despite their record they are a formidable opponent."
WYALUSING (1-7) AT WARRIOR RUN
Today, 7 p.m.
Coming off their first win of the year against North Penn, the Rams ran into a tough test with NTL large-school champion Athens last week.
Now, the Rams are ready to get back to work.
"I think they are excited, they (Athens) are a tough team, they are sound all the way around, they seem to be clicking right now," Wyalusing coach Jim Huffman said. It's tough coming off a good win and we run into a stone wall. The kids are moving on, we have a good chance this weekend."
Huffman hopes his team can end the season strong against Warrior Run and Towanda.
"That's what has been my push," he said. "These last two weeks are very important, two wins would really give us a boost into the new year and just finishing the season the right way would be good. I think we have come a long way and we have to keep pushing."
With rivals Towanda in week 10, the key for the Rams this week will be not to look ahead.
"I can already find that's going to be the toughest point," Huffman said. "I am going to try my darndest to keep them focused. This week, it's Warrior Run and we've got to come out hard because they are big, they have some good skill kids and they have played a good schedule, so their record doesn't show the team they are."
One thing that helps with the focus this week is playing a team that is struggling for wins.
"I think that helps, that truly does help," Huffman said. "Going into last week we made it like we were going to be giant killers. This week, it's real possible. We just have to focus and play the way we can play."
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT (7-1) AT COWANESQUE VALLEY (3-5)
Today, 7 p.m.
The Indians face the small-school leading Mounties, who can clinch the small-school crown with a victory.
MONTGOMERY (0-8) AT CANTON (2-6)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
The Warriors look for their third win of the season, and second straight, as they take on winless Montgomery in an NTL small-school matchup.