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Previewing Centre County high school football games for the 3rd week of playoffs

Centre Daily Times logoCentre Daily Times 11/15/2019 By Jon Sauber, Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)

State championship dreams are still alive for three Centre County high school football teams.

Bellefonte and Bald Eagles Area both won District 6 titles last week, while State College prevailed in the District 6-10 subregional final to each move on to the first round of the PIAA football championships.

Let’s take a look at all three games this weekend.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Bedford (10-2) vs. Bald Eagle Area (9-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Hollidaysburg’s Tiger Stadium

Coaches: Kevin Steele (B), Jesse Nagle (BEA)

Last meeting: Bald Eagle 35-14 in 2018

Players to watch: RB Elijah Cook (B), QB Jaden Jones (BEA)

The Skinny: Bald Eagle Area will take on the Bedford Bison Friday night in their first game of the PIAA Championships. The Eagles defeated Westmont Hilltop, 41-13, last week to earn the District 6 Class 3A title. The Bison are the No. 9 team in PennLive’s high school football rankings for Class 3A, while Bald Eagle Area is an honorable mention.

The Bison will present a similar challenge as last week’s opponent, Westmont Hilltop, as a run-heavy team. They feature junior running back Elijah Cook as the team’s leading rusher with 918 yards and 14 touchdowns on 137 carries so far this season., according to MaxPreps. Cook has carried a heavier workload the past two weeks, toting the rock 33 times for 193 yards and two touchdowns. The junior running back has been the team’s focal point of late and will be the focus for Bald Eagle. If the Eagles can limit his production on the ground, they’ll have an excellent chance of putting this game away early.

Slowing down Cook and the Bedford offense will put the ball back in the hands of Bald Eagle Area senior quarterback Jaden Jones. Jones has been prolific when he’s at his best, and that’s exactly what he was against Westmont Hilltop. The senior quarterback lit up the Hilltoppers through the air, completing 21-of-28 passes for 391 yards and six touchdowns in the win, according to MaxPreps. Jones will have another chance to put on a show this week if his defense can halt the Bedford rushing attack.

Cathedral Prep (10-2) vs. Bellefonte (9-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium

Coaches: Mike Mischler (CP), Shanon Manning (B)

Last meeting: Bellefonte 28-19 in Week 6

Players to watch: RB Luke Sittinger (CP), RB C.J. Funk (B)

The Skinny: Bellefonte is in for a difficult matchup this week in the first round of the PIAA championships. The Red Raiders will take on the Cathedral Prep Ramblers after taking down the Clearfield Bison, 35-21, in last week’s District 6 Class 4A title game. The Ramblers enter the game as the No. 2 team in Class 4A, according to PennLive’s high school football rankings, while Bellefonte comes in at No. 8.

Both teams rely heavily on their rushing attack to generate offense, and both feature a 1,000 yard rusher. Cathedral Prep’s offense is led by senior running back Luke Sittinger. Sittinger has 1,318 yards and 19 touchdowns on 184 carries this season, according to MaxPreps. The senior running back should be well-rested for this week’s matchup thanks to three straight blowouts. Sittinger has only registered 12 total carries over the last three games for 125 total yards because the Ramblers have beaten their last three opponents by a combined score of 153-6. With the senior running back well-rested, he could be in for a massive game Friday night.

Bellefonte has its own star running back in senior C.J. Funk. Funk, the school’s all-time leading rusher, has been prolific this season and his performances have been a determining factor in the Red Raiders’ ability to win games. When Funk rushes for at least 100 yards, his team is 8-0. When he rushes for fewer than 100 yards, the Red Raiders are 0-2. The remaining win was a forfeit victory for Bellefonte over Bishop Carroll.

Funk is the centerpiece of this offense and should see the ball plenty Friday night. He has 1,444 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on 126 carries, according to MaxPreps. The senior running back will have to be at his very best if Bellefonte wants to upset the Ramblers Friday night.

Delaware Valley (11-1) vs. State College (10-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Hazleton’s Harman-Geist Memorial Field

Coaches: Keith Olsommer (DV), Matt Lintal (SC)

Last meeting: State College 56-19 in 2018

Players to watch: RB Josh Balcarcel (DV), RB Dresyn Green (SC)

The Skinny: State College is set to take on the Delaware Valley Warriors for the second year in a row. The Little Lions enter the game coming off a 42-21 win over McDowell last Friday night in the District 6-10 subregional final. Delaware Valley enters the game as an honorable mention in PennLive’s Class 6A high school football rankings, while the Little Lions are No. 10.

They’ll need to stop the Warriors’ Josh Balcarcel in order to advance this week. Balcarcel, a senior running back, has 1,503 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns this season on 147 carries, according to MaxPreps. He’s been able to pick up his yardage in chunks this season, averaging 10.2 yards per carry. Balcarcel was a non-factor in the Warriors’ lone loss of the season, a 13-0 defeat at the hands of Pennridge. The senior running back had 15 yards on 9 carries in that game, by far his worst of the season. If State High can put the clamps on Balcarcel like Pennridge did, the Warriors could be in for a long game.

State College will have to get its own rushing attack going to come away with a win in this game, and that means a whole lot of Dresyn Green. Green, a junior running back, has 1,086 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns on 161 carries this season, according to MaxPreps. He was a major factor in last week’s win over McDowell, carrying the ball 14 times for 145 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Green is a big-play threat out of the backfield, and is capable of flipping a game’s momentum with one play. State College will likely feed him early and often on Friday night.

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©2019 the Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)

Visit the Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.) at www.centredaily.com

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