All systems gofor now

By Ryan S. Pugh

CLARION NEWS Sports Editor

At the time of this writing Wednesday morning, there have been no cancelations/postponements for this week's District 9 football slate but as we all know in this brave, new world, that can change in a flash.

Over the past few weeks, I have been keeping you abreast of the happenings in the world of big time college football but this week I am going to switch gears and talk a little pro football.

The biggest pro football surprise to me this year has been how good the Peyton/Eli Manning Monday Night Football broadcasts have been. I have never really been a fan of the Mannings and their folksy, Huckleberry Hound shtick but I am pleasantly surprised at how good both of them have been at these broadcasts. The broadcasts are funny and informative.

Over the course of time, Monday Night Football went from the league's showcase event to just another game on Monday night. The first step in the Monday Night Football fall from grace was when the NFL introduced flexible scheduling to Sunday Night Football which virtually ensured NBC would get a compelling game every week whereas, Monday Night Football is limited to whichever teams are scheduled for those Monday night games. Back in the days when there were only three broadcast networks, it didn't matter who was playing on Monday night, people were going to watch (what were they going to do, read?)

The heads of Monday Night Football have been looking for something or someone to recapture the magic of those early days of Monday Night Football of Howard Cosell and ‘Dandy' Don Meredith without finding it (remember Dennis Miller in the Monday Night Football booth?) I think the Mannings could be that spark the Monday Night Football heads have been looking for.

Watching the Manning broadcast is like watching with your buddies but with a boatload of informative insight sprinkled in. My lone disappointment in the Manning Cast is that Peyton and Eli are only scheduled to broadcast 10 of the 17 games.

In local pro football news, it looks like the Steelers are in a must win scenario and its only Week Three.

If Pittsburgh plans on doing anything past possibly sneaking into the last AFC playoff spot, the team better figure out a way to establish a running game to take some pressure off a past-his-prime Ben Roethlisberger. This season of Steeler football is starting to look like the end of last season when teams had caught on, took away Roethlisberger's short passing targets and forced him to make bad throws or throw the ball away.

I think there are too many good teams in the AFC for the Steelers to make the playoffs.

Now on to my high school predictions. Last week, I finished 7-1 upping my record to 29-8 for the year. Without further ado

District 9 Small School South

Elk County Catholic (2-1 overall, 1-1 District 9 Small School South) at Union/A-C Valley (2-1, 0-1) at Rimersburg

Union/A-C Valley has posted two-straight shutouts downing Sheffield 77-0 three weeks ago and bludgeoning Otto-Eldred 42-0 last week.

Elk County Catholic hasn't seen the field since getting thumped by Redbank Valley 51-0 two weeks ago.

I think the Crusaders put up a fight but ultimately, the Falcon Knights' running game will be too strong.

Union/A-C Valley 37, Elk County Catholic 14

Brockway (1-3, 1-1) at Redbank Valley (3-1, 1-1)

Since their 22-20 opening week loss to Keystone, the Bulldogs have been smashing opponents by a combined score of 165-12 in three games.

Brockway, on the other hand, has lost three-straight since its opening week win over Union/A-C Valley.

In a situation like this, I will choose the team which is on the uptick.

Redbank Valley 55, Brockway 7

Bucktail (0-3, 0-1) at Keystone (3-0, 2-0)

Seeing as how this is a two-and-a-half hour one-way ride for Bucktail, I hope at least they get to stop somewhere good to eat on the way back home.

I think the combination of the Panthers' stout defense and its methodical offense makes Keystone a tough opponent for anyone down the stretch.

Keystone 45, Bucktail 6

District 9 Small School North

Coudersport (1-2 overall, 1-1District 9 Small School North) at Port Allegany (1-2, 1-1)

It's a must-win for both teams if they have any chance of making the playoffs.

I give Coudersport the edge because the Falcons' two losses came by a combined score of two points.

Coudersport 27, port Allegany 14

Otto-Eldred (1-3, 1-1) at Smethport (4-0, 2-0)

Smethport has proven to be the class of the District 9 Small School North division this year and I look for that trend to continue.

Smethport 49, Otto-Eldred 7

Sheffield (0-4, 0-2) at Cameron County (2-1, 1-1)

It's been a rough go for Sheffield and it won't get any easier as the Wolverines travel to face a spry Cameron County team.

Cameron County 50, Sheffield 0

District 9 Large School

Central Clarion (0-3 overall, 0-2 District 9 Large School) at St. Marys (3-1, 3-1)

Much like the Steelers, Central Clarion can't seem to establish a running game in the 2021 season. Injuries have played a major role in the Wildcats' struggles as Central Clarion was missing three starters on the line last week in the team's 40-14 loss to Brookville.

After a sluggish start, St. Marys has won two in a row and are looking to climb back into the upper echelon of the league standings.

St. Marys 35, Central Clarion 21

Karns City (4-0, 3-0) at Brookville (4-0, 4-0)

This is your game of the week in all of District 9. It's going to be Karns City's punishing rushing attack versus Brookville's passing attack triggered by quarterback Charlie Krug.

The game is being played on the grass track at Brookville which I say gives the edge to Gremlins' running back Luke Garing.

Karns City 28, Brookville 27

Ridgway (4-0, 4-0) at DuBois (1-3, 1-2)

DuBois got its first win last week in a 34-6 drubbing of Kane. I hope the Beavers enjoyed the win because I feel Ridgway is going to run roughshod over them.

Ridgway 44, DuBois 13

Punxsutawney (0-3, 0-3) at Kane (2-2, 2-2)

Punxsutawney played St. Marys tough last week before ultimately falling 41-21. I think this week the Chucks can keep it together for 48 minutes.

Punxsutawney 21, Kane 20

Bradford (0-4, 0-4) at Moniteau (0-3, 0-3)

Moniteau and Bradford are both coming off tough losses with the Warriors falling to Karns City by 38 points last week while the Owls got thumped by Ridgway by 36 points. And Bradford has to travel the better part of two hours to take on Moniteau this week. I give the edge to the Warriors.

Moniteau 25, Bradford 13

KNOX - Due to illness, the Keystone boys' basketball team was unable to play or hold practice for a little more than two weeks but if the Panthers suffered any rust from the prolonged shutdown, it didn't show.

CLARION - There would have been no shame for the Clarion Area girls' basketball team to come up short in their KSAC crossover against visiting Moniteau Friday night (Jan. 14) seeing as how the Bobcats had two consecutive games postponed and Clarion was taking on the Warriors under the direct…

COUDERSPORT - The Clarion and Redbank Valley wrestling teams traveled to the county seat of Potter County last Saturday (Jan. 8) for the Coudersport Duals. Each team wrestled five matches; the Bobcats posting a 2-3 record and the Bulldogs going 3-2.

FRILLS CORNERS - It's been a number of years since the Union High School girls' basketball team was a force in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference and District 9 but on Thursday night (Jan. 6), the Golden Damsels announced their return.

CLARION TWP. - Rebuilding the Clarion-Limestone girls' basketball team has been a long and arduous process for Lions' head coach Gus Simpson but if C-L's game Dec. 22 is any indication, the Lions' rebuild is nearing completion.

FRILLS CORNERS - In a year where the KSAC Small School landscape is in a state of flux, the North Clarion boys' team made a statement they might be the team to beat when it is all said and done.

CLARION - What the 2021-22 Clarion boys' basketball team lacks in experience they make up for in heart as was evidenced Friday night (Dec. 17).

CLARION - The 2021-2022 Clarion wrestling team is young and lacking any veteran grappler with a postseason pedigree. Despite this, head coach Lee Weber enters this year's campaign optimistic; he has almost a full squad, which should make the Bobcats more competitive in duals than the squad t…

The Golden Damsels struggled from the field down the stretch of a 46-39 setback to Elk County Catholic

Redbank Valley's bid for a PIAA Class A title falls shy with a 21-14 loss to Bishop Guilfoyle in the championship final

Today (Dec. 9), the Redbank Valley football team will be attempting to do something no District 9 football team has ever done; win a state title.

WHEELING, W.Va. The Golden Eagle volleyball team's historic 2021 season came to a close on Thursday night (Dec. 2), as fifth-seeded Clarion fell to fourth-seeded Edinboro 3-1 (25-19, 19-25, 20-25, 18-25) in the opening round of the NCAA Atlantic Regional. Clarion (22-10) took the first set a…

PITTSBURGH - Maybe the perfect quote to sum up the Redbank Valley football team's 2021 season would be, "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

CLARION - It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Clarion University's Memorial Stadium Friday night (Nov. 26) as the snow was falling at a healthy clip and even though there was no tree or tinsel, the Redbank Valley football team got what they were wishing for.

EAST STROUDSBURG The Golden Eagle volleyball team claimed the third Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship in program history on Saturday afternoon, defeating top-seeded Gannon 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-17) at East Stroudsburg's Koehler Fieldhouse. It is the Golden Eagles' fi…

MECHANICHSBURG - To win a state title is special in itself but to win two in a row puts a team in rarified air.

CLARION - Redbank Valley's bid for a second-straight District 9 Class A title was at a crossroads late in the Bulldogs' title tilt with Union/A-C Valley as Redbank Valley was tied at 21-21 with the Falcon Knights and faced a fourth-and-11 at the Union/A-C Valley 21 but the Bulldogs' Tate Min…

SLIPPERY ROCK - For about a half an hour Tuesday night (Nov. 16), the Clarion Area High School volleyball team looked like they were in serious trouble as WPIAL champ Bishop Canevin went on a 9-3 run to take a 20-14 lead in Game One of the PIAA Class A semifinals but in the end, the Bobcats …

SLIPPERY ROCK - You'll have to excuse the Clarion Area High School volleyball team if they weren't awed by the PIAA quarterfinal stage on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 13) at Slippery Rock Area High School but the Bobcats have been here before.

RIMERSBURG - For three-straight years, the Union/A-C Valley football team was close to breaking into the playoff win column but the Falcon Knights always seemed to fall short.

KNOX - Familiarity plays a significant role when it comes to a team's comfort on a playoff stage which is what likely aided the Keystone High School volleyball team in their District 9 Class 2A semifinal against Karns City.

CLARION - Clarion is headed back to the District 9 Class A championship game and the PIAA playoffs after a convincing 3-0 sweep of rival Clarion-Limestone Tuesday night, Nov. 2, at Clarion High School.