Lewisburg at Selinsgrove
The Green Dragons have the best player on the field in halfback Max Moyers, but will a young offensive line stand up to the Seals’ 3-5 defense? Has Selinsgrove sophomore quarterback Danny Shoch taken a step forward? Has the Selinsgrove running game improved enough to take some pressure off Shoch? There are a lot of questions for an early-season game. The winner gets a leg up in Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I.
Selinsgrove 21, Lewisburg 14
Shikellamy at Danville
This may be the most intriguing matchup of the weekend, with both teams going to back to their Wing-T roots. Danville coach Jim Keiser really likes the young skill players around returning quarterback K.J. Riley. It’s a young, smallish offensive line that has the Ironmen coach concerned. The Braves are coming off a one-win season, but insist this is a different Shikellamy team. Coach Todd Tilford feels he has six running backs he can use behind a veteran offensive line. Don’t know if it changes last year’s result, but I think the Braves surprise some people.
Danville 24, Shikellamy 21
Tamaqua at Line Mountain
The Blue Raiders laid a hurting on the Eagles in last season’s opener, and Tamaqua — along with North Schuylkill — is probably the favorite in the Schuylkill League. The season comes down to a simple question for Line Mountain. Can the Eagles take care of the ball better than they did last season? If the answer is yes, Line Mountain probably has itself a shot at the Tri-Valley League title. Still probably doesn’t change how tonight goes.
Tamaqua 28, Line Mountain 7
Marian Catholic at Midd-West
The Colts struggled through an uncharacteristic losing season last year, including a loss to the Mustangs in the opener at Men of Marian Stadium. Midd-West coach Brad Hatter is concerned about the quickness up front for Marian Catholic, but his offensive line was the key in last year’s win. Trey Lauver topped 100 yards against the Colts last season on the ground. He and new tailback Joe Rodriguez will be key to the Midd-West’s success in the veer offense. Marian is improved this season, but Midd-West is still too much.
Midd-West 14, Marian Catholic 7
Mifflinburg at Hughesville
The Wildcats have plenty of returning skill talent, a three-year starter at quarterback (Gary DeGroat, Jr.), a running back that has played since his freshman year (Mason Breed) and DeGroat’s favorite target (Rylee Stahl). The Spartans are coming off a winless season. A strong start to the season for Mifflinburg could provide a push in a wide-open HAC-II (wide open other than league favorite Montoursville, that is).
Mifflinburg 24, Hughesville 7
Milton at Shamokin
Year two for Henry Hynoski begins at home, and a wild win in the opener over the Black Panthers was huge in the Indians’ success last year. Now Shamokin has expectations in Year Two, despite having to replace quarterback Collin Bowers. Nate Grimes will be the starter. With the line and running game that Shamokin returns, Grimes just has to take care of the ball for Shamokin to be successful. The Black Panthers enter the year with plenty of question marks with the graduation of quarterback Philip Davis and favorite receiver Quaylin Rice, both playing college. Davis is at Wilkes while Rice is at Lock Haven. Losing the Rodriguez twins, who moved to Midd-West, and last year’s leading rusher Jason Valladares weren’t expected. The Black Panthers will rely on Qamar Bradley.
Shamokin 21, Milton 7
Nativity B.V.M. at Millersburg
The Indians are looking to break their losing streak before joining a co-op next year with Upper Dauphin. Millersburg put up video game numbers offensively, and threw for more than 300 yards in last year’s loss to the Hilltoppers. The Indians proved numerous times last season they could score in their spread offense. If Millersburg is going to break its streak, the Indians must make big strides on defense, especially in stopping the run. Millersburg allowed 292.2 yards per game on the ground last season.
Nativity 35, Millersburg 31
Mount Carmel at Central Columbia
The Red Tornadoes have high hopes for 2019, and why not with the speed, skill and size they have returning? Mount Carmel will miss last year’s senior class, but with Southern Columbia out of the picture for the HAC-III, that makes the Red Tornadoes the odds-on favorite in the division. The Blue Jays were hit hard by graduation, enough that Central Columbia might have more holes to fill than any team in the HAC. That doesn’t mean a down season in Almedia; it just means a tough night in the opener with an experienced Red Tornadoes team.
Mount Carmel 35, Central Columbia 7.
Muncy at Warrior Run
Warrior Run is one of those teams, like Mifflinburg, that has a chance to take a leap in a wide-open HAC-II, but needs to get off to a strong start. A win over rival Muncy will certainly do that for the Defenders, who return Remington Corderman at quarterback, athlete Denver Beachel, Ahmad Keyes, who is moving outside, and linebacker Jackson Welliver. The Indians were hammered by graduation losing two quarterbacks that each topped 1,000 yards in the air, their top running back, top receiver and top tackler.
Warrior Run 14, Muncy 13
Southern Columbia at Hammond School
The Tigers take a 10-hour bus ride to South Carolina to take on a team that has a pedigree to match theirs — back-to-back state titles and several Division I football players. The Seahawks’ strength — its defensive line led by five-star recruit Jordan Burch and South Carolina commit Alex Huntley — will attack the one spot where Southern Columbia was hurt by graduation — losing three, three-year starters off its offensive line. It’s hard to bet against the Tigers, and I don’t plan to start, but this is Southern Columbia’s toughest test since Julian Fleming and Gaige Garcia’s freshman year when the Tigers lost to Steel Valley in the state title game.
Southern Col. 21, Hammond School 17