What a difference a year can make

When Philipsburg-Osceola defeated Bald Eagle Area last Friday to snap a three-game losing streak, it did more than just hike the Mounties’ record to 2-5. It also signaled how drastically things can change in a year’s time in high school football.
After Week 7 in 2004, the Mounties had suffered just one loss and were at the top of the Mountain Athletic Conference Nittany Division in every statistical category. They ran the ball effectively with a three-headed rushing attack led by Bjorn Scoggins. They passed it better than anyone behind quarterback Jeff Winters and receiver Lou LaFuria. They were also tough on the other side of the ball, ranking second only behind Tyrone in total defense.
Fast forward a year later, with many of the offensive and defensive playmakers from 2004 graduated. P-O is now at or near the bottom in nearly every offensive and defensive category, and no Mountie players rank among the top three in productivity at their positions.
P-O has surrendered more than 300 more yards this season through seven weeks than last season, while rushing for almost 600 less.
As a result, the Mounties, who in the last two seasons had molded themselves into MAC and District contenders, are out of both races. All that’s left is for them to try to string together three wins down the stretch in hopes of finishing.500.
That kind of dramatic turnaround as a result in large part to a graduating class of talented seniors sheds even more light on the jobs of Bellwood-Antis’ John Hayes and Tyrone’s John Franco, who at two of the MAC’s smaller schools consistently field teams at the top of the league.
How do you win in high school football?
Run the ball effectively.
How do you win in high school football?
Defend the run effectively.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that the MAC Nittany Division’s top teams are also the best at running and defending the run.
First place Tyrone, which has already assured itself of at least a tie for the Nittany Division championship, once again leads the league in rushing with 1,620 yards on the ground. The Golden Eagles have also limited opponents to a mere 609 rushing yards.
Second place Bellwood-Antis could well overtake Tyrone in rushing over the season’s final two weeks, and that possibility looks stronger and stronger each time leading rusher Josh Kleinfelter slices another opponent for a 100-yard game. He leads the Nittany Division with 1,182 yards, boosting the Blue Devils to the No. 2 spot with 1,585 yards on the ground. B-A is also second behind Tyrone in stopping the run, having allowed 648 yards.
Meanwhile, the two teams fighting to avoid the league’s basement – P-O and Bald Eagle Area – have each allowed more than 1,000 yards rushing through seven games, with BEA allowing a staggering 1,224 (174 yards per game). The Mounties and Eagles also rank fifth and sixth in rushing, respectively.
B-A’s Kleinfelter once again posted the Nittany Division’s best rushing performance, going for 207 yards on 35 carries in the Devils’ 35-21 win over previously undefeated Chestnut Ridge. Kleinfelter also scored four touchdowns to hike his league-leading total to 19.
In P-O’s 28-6 win over BEA, Mountie quarterback A.J. Czap and BEA signal caller Camdin Crouse each threw for 155 yards to share the division’s top honors in that category.
P-O’s Ryan Marcinko was Czap’s favorite target, hauling in nine passes for 84 yards to lead the division in receiving yards.