By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
BLOOMSBURG — For Bloomsburg first-year head coach Mike Kogut, there have been two major challenges that his team has faced this year.
The first was a learning curve in a new system and new coaching staff.
The second was fighting back from trailing in multiple games.
Heading into Week 6 of the season, the Panthers are 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the Heartland Athletic Conference Division III.
“It’s been a challenging year, but overall I feel great and the kids are great to work with,” Kogut said.
The Panthers are 3-1 in their last four games. The lone loss came on the road in overtime at Jersey Shore.
“The play of our younger kids might be a surprise to others as we have had a number of underclassmen step up,” he said. “Our defense has come along as well. These kids are tough.”
Bloomsburg is eight points away from having an undefeated season.
“We don’t want to forget our basics as we go into the second half of the season,” Kogut said. “It is easy to do so in the middle of the year.”
One area where Kogut wants to see an improvement is in special teams.
“I have not been happy overall with special teams,” he added. “We worked really hard on that this week as we have had some punts and PATs blocked.”
Friday’s game against Muncy is quite important, according to Kogut.
“It is a playoff game, it will have a playoff atmosphere and it is our homecoming,” he said. “They are 4-1 and they look a lot like us on film. They are big on both sides of the ball. We’re not trying to look ahead, but Southern Columbia, South Williamsport and Wellsboro pretty much have the top three playoff spots locked up. On paper, it looks like it is coming down to us and Muncy for the final spot.”
Kogut said the team is going to treat it like a playoff game and that Muncy has very talented kids at skilled positions.
The Indians’ (4-1, 2-1 HAC III) only blemish on their record is last week’s 55-13 loss to Southern Columbia.
In Muncy’s four wins, they have given up 36 points while scoring 116.
Junior Dakota Nixon leads the team in rushing with 320 yards on 45 carries.
Junior Maurice Brown has eight touchdown catches.