Playoff teams set, where they'll play still a mystery
By Ryan S. Pugh
CLARION NEWS Sports Editor
Last Friday proved to be the seminal day in this abbreviated, topsy-turvy, unprecedented season as the playoff teams were set (at least in the southern portion of District 9).
Redbank Valley clinched a playoff berth with a 26-0 win over Keystone while Central Clarion secured a home playoff date with Karns City next week in the opening round of the District 9 Class 2A by going on the road and defeating the Gremlins in a wild 43-41 thriller which had the Clarion defense holding Karns City out of the end zone on a two-point conversion try at the end of regulation.
Redbank Valley's win over Keystone also clinched a playoff spot for Union/A-C Valley as the Falcon Knights held the head-to-head advantage over the Panthers.
This Friday will determine who will play where when the playoffs open the weekend of Oct. 23.
If Redbank Valley wins, the Bulldogs would host a Class A playoff game and be the top overall seed in the District 9 field. If Union/A-C Valley wins, they will be the No. 3 seed and travel to face either Coudersport or Smethport in the opening round of the playoffs. Coudersport and Smethport play this week in a District 9 IU9 Division unbeaten showdown. The loser of that contest would travel to face Redbank Valley. Trying to figure all this stuff out gives me a headache.
I thought Redbank Valley's defense put on the most impressive performance I have seen this year (and I have seen some impressive defensive showings). The Bulldogs' front led by Joseph Mansfield harassed Keystone quarterback Nate Wingard almost every time he dropped back to pass in the Bulldogs' 26-0 win.
Union/A-C Valley went on the road last week and upended the WPIAL's South Side 21-14. The Falcon Knights were originally scheduled to face Sheffield but since Sheffield shuttered its program after the first week of the season, Union/A-C Valley had to find a replacement.
It's good for the Falcon Knights they were able to fill the hole in their schedule because it will keep the team in the flow of things. A week off for a high school football team can sometimes hurt more than it helps.
Let's get to the picks.
District 9 Southern Small School
Brockway (2-3 overall) at Union/A-C Valley (4-1) in Foxburg
Another benefit Union/A-C Valley's win over South Side did was it helped them rebound quickly from its three-point loss to Redbank Valley the previous week. Sometimes those hard-fought, gut-wrenching losses can be the toughest ones on a team's confidence.
The Falcon Knights' Caden Rainey spurred on Union/A-C Valley's win last week returning a punt for a touchdown which turned out to be the winning score. Rainey also had a touchdown reception.
I think this could be a dangerous trap game for the Falcon Knights. I emphasize the word could.
Union/A-C Valley 28, Brockway 14
Redbank Valley (5-0) at Curwensville (0-4)
The Bulldogs took down the Golden Tide 44-0 in the opening week of the season and I don't see Curwensville making it that much closer in the rematch.
Redbank Valley's defense should set the tone and the Bulldogs might be able to work out some kinks on the offensive side of the ball.
Redbank Valley 41, Curwensville 0
Keystone (3-2) at Conemaugh Valley (4-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Panthers will be playing for pride in this matchup with District 6's Conemaugh Valley. It's not going to be an easy road game for Keystone as Conemaugh Valley sports a 4-1 record with an average margin of victory of 26.8 points in its four wins.
As good as Redbank Valley's defense played last week against Keystone, the Panthers still had opportunities to upend the Bulldogs but penalties and mistakes at the wrong times submarined Keystone's chances.
I think Keystone gets back on the winning track Saturday.
Keystone 21, Conemaugh Valley 20
District 9 Southern Large School
Central Clarion (4-1) at Punxsutawney (0-5)
Seeing as how the Wildcats will likely limit their starters' time on the field it could be slightly easier for the Chucks. But I don't think so.
Central Clarion 47, Punxsutawney 7
Moniteau (1-4) at Karns City (3-2)
I think this rematch between rivals will be closer but I see the Gremlins getting the better of the Warriors for the second time in 2020.
Karns City 27, Moniteau 20
Brookville (5-0) at DuBois (2-3)
Brookville is just playing at another level right now which is bad news for the Beavers.
Brookville 55, DuBois 14