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Big 8 showdown highlights week seven action in area football

The showdown everyone around the Big 8 Conference has been waiting for has arrived, and the matchup couldn’t be staged more perfectly.
Undefeated Huntingdon and equally clean Indian Valley will square off tonight at War Veterans Memorial Field in Huntingdon in a game with major ramifications in the conference and in District 6.
Valley currently leads the District 6 standings with 670 points, while Huntingdon rests in second with 620. The ‘Cats and Warriors will most certainly hold the 1 and 2 spots in the upcoming District 6 AAA playoffs, but the game means more to both teams than just a seeding in a playoff bracket.
Valley, which is averaging over 400 yards in total offense per game, needs a win over the Bearcats, who last season had the Warriors snake-bitten. Huntingdon won the regular season matchup 17-14 at Mitchell Field to secure the Big 8 championship, and then won the rematch in November in the District 6-AAA finals.
The Warriors are averaging nearly 40 points per game, but have lacked high quality performances over high caliber teams. They topped Bellefonte last week 15-14 and in Week 4 allowed 30 points to Bald Eagle Area in a 45-30 win.
The ‘Cats offense has been equally effective and only in recent weeks has it begun to open things up for quarterback Geoff Kozak.
What’s just as intriguing as the match-up on the field – Valley running back Derrek Weaver against Huntingdon running back Jon Riley, Valley’s vaunted offense against Huntingdon’s stingy defense – is the coaching battle.
Valley’s Gawen Stoker is no stranger to big-time games, having won five Big 8 titles and three District 6 crowns. Huntingdon’s Jim Zauzig has won two Big 8 championships and three District titles.
Expect a competitive game. Expect a playoff atmosphere in Week 7 of the regular season. But if Huntingdon can get its running game in gear, expect a Huntingdon blowout at Memorial Field.
Big 8 Killers
Big 8 Conference schools have fared well against non-conference opponents this season posting a .500 record against teams away from the league.
The one thorn has been Clearfield.
The Bison have confounded Big 8 schools, going a combined 2-1 against schools from the conference, with their wins coming in runaway fashion.
Clearfield topped Bellefonte 45-13 two weeks ago, and stomped Philipsburg-Osceola last week 48-21. This week, they square off at home against lowly Bald Eagle Area, and the result may well be the same.
The one exception was the Indian Valley Warriors, who in Week 3 handed Clearfield a 45-13 defeat while rolling up 422 yards in total offense.
Top Performers
Tyrone quarterback Tyler Mertiff posted the conference’s best passing numbers by completing 13 of 25 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns against Pius X last Saturday. Mertiff was also picked off five times.
Golden Eagle receiver Aaron Jeffries was the Big 8’s top receiver with 163 yards and one touchdown on six receptions.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s Adam White led the conference in rushing, gaining 204 yards on the ground while scoring once in a loss to Clearfield.