LEWISBURG — Friday night, undefeated Montoursville travels to Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium to face Lewisburg in a key Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II showdown which will have District 4 Class AA seeding implications.
Montoursville (5-0 overall, 2-0 HAC-II ) is in second place in the standings with Lewisburg (4-1, 0-1) and Troy (4-1) tied for the third spot.
The Warriors’ have a chance to take control of the race for the top seed with a win over the Green Dragons and a victory over current top seed Danville next week.
However, back to Friday night’s showdown with Lewisburg, the two teams played a pair of instant classics in 2012.
In the regular-season meeting at Montoursville, the Warriors led 19-0 before the Green Dragons rallied for a 27-22 victory.
Montoursville earned its revenge in the first round of the District 4 Class AA playoffs. Again the Warriors jumped out to a big lead — this time 21-0 in the second quarter — before the Green Dragons came racing back with 33 unanswered points to take a 33-21 advantage. Montoursville had an answer though, scoring 16 points over the final five minutes to rally for a 39-33 victory, ending Lewisburg’s season.
“We talked about falling behind in both games, we let Montoursville get big leads in both of those games,” Lewisburg coach Jeremy Winn said. “We need to have a better opening half, but quite honestly, we talk about getting off to a good start every week.”
For Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer, getting ready for the Lewisburg game just reminds him of the amusement park ride his team’s season became last year. The loss to the Green Dragons started a two-game losing streak for the Warriors and almost cost them a district playoff spot.
“Not only were the two games versus Lewisburg last year a roller coaster, but our season turned into a roller coaster at this point last year,” Keefer said. “So, I touched on that a bit (this week).
The teams have almost reversed roles offensively this season. Last year the Green Dragons relied on fullback Brandon Smith, this year Lewisburg has spread the ball around offensively.
“It makes them a little tougher to prepare for,” Keefer said.
Quarterback Nick Costagliola has thrown for 664 yards and six touchdowns, with all six going to six different receivers. Ben Frankel leads the team with 13 catches for 238 yards and a score.
On the ground, fullback Logan Aikey leads the way with 454 yards and four touchdowns while halfback Drew Newcomb has 225 yards and three scores on the ground and nine grabs for 138 yards and a score through the air.
“I think we have to be able to line up in the Wing-T and run the ball when we need to, but it’s something we’re getting better at. You can see on film we are making less-and-less mistakes from week-to-week,” Winn said. “I’m pretty happy that we’ve been able to be multiple. We were able to throw last week when Shamokin loaded the box and the week before when Shikellamy tried to take away the pass, we were able to run the ball.”
Montoursville, which was multiple last season, has relied on Cameron Ott, who is on pace for more than 2,000 yards on the ground this season. Ott has run for 999 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
“They’ll still show some of the spread looks, but (Ott) is still the focus of their offense,” Winn said. “They don’t have complicated blocking schemes, but they get great push off the line.”
The defenses can’t be forgotten in Friday night’s game either. The Green Dragons have forced 14 turnovers this season, including eight interceptions. Newcomb leads with six picks.
The Warriors have relied on their ability to pressure the quarterback. Montoursville has sacked the quarterback 17 times this season, led by junior defensive tackle Mike Signor’s six.