Monday, November 3, 2014

District 5,6,9 AAA Playoff Primer

The Favorite - Somerset 

Somerset enters the playoffs with a 9-1 record and have had a dominating season to this point. The Golden Eagles have a stiffing defense highlighted by Bryce Mostoller at defensive end and Logan Eller at linebacker. As a team, they have forced 25 turnovers as they swarm to the ball relentlessly.  They have been lights out all year long, but were exposed slightly by Bishop Guilfoyle last week. Still for the most part it has been a very good unit, and they are the strength of this team.  The offense can be explosive, and they can turn to a number of different players to make plays. Dylan Barnes is a solid dual threat QB, Jake Heiple is an electrifying running back, and Mostoller is a force at tight end. Raven Beeman and Austin Hemminger are also capable offensive threats.  Bob Landis has really built this program up in recent years as they are 18-3 in their past 21 games. This is a confident bunch that is strong on both sides of the ball, and they will use their week ten loss as motivation to get a championship.

The Challenger  - Clearfield

Clearfield has won three of the past four AAA subregion championships. The Bison continually put out strong teams year after year, and the 2014 edition is no different. Clearfield has been giving the LHAC a lot of problems recently, whether it was the good Johnstown teams from a few years ago or Somerset last year, Clearfield has come out on top.  They will look to continue that trend this year, and Clearfield will have to go through Johnstown and likely Somerset to advance to the state playoff round for a second consecutive year.  The Bison center their offense around Erik Sellers and Seth Caldwell running the ball, and the pair has responded with combining for 1,900 yards and 26 touchdowns. Sellers and Nick Kovalick lead a very strong Clearfiled defense, a trademark for Tim Janocko's teams lately.  This is a team that can beat Somerset, but they will need to play very well to do so. Clearfield is the AAA program in these parts, so it is their championship until someone takes it.

The Improved - Johnstown 

Johnstown went through some rough times in recent years with back to back 3-7 seasons, but the team this year moved them back to respectability after a 7-3 regular season. The Trojans lost to the consensus top three LHAC  teams, but took care of business among everyone else. Johnstown finished the year winning four out of five, and despite Clearfield handling them last postseason and Somerset trouncing them in the regular season, there is some hope for optimism. Like in many recent years, Johnstown has a dangerous offense filled with capable play-makers. Jeremy Updyke is a very good QB that has 18 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. Kareem Gibson, Kevin Brandon, and Willie Robinson are all big threat receivers.  AJ Fisher is a weapon that gets lined up all over the field. When you play Johnstown, you have to account for a lot.  The Achilles heel of Johnstown is certainly the defense, as they have faltered in all three losses in a big way.  If johnstown is going to make a run at a championship, they will need to turn games into a track meet, and play some better defense.  At the very least, I think the track meet thing is possible.

The Longshot - Punxsutawney

PUnxsutawney went from a 3-7 team in 2013, to being 6-4 this year.  It is a nice turnaround for the Chucks, but the odds are stacked against them to come away with this sub-region championship. Punxsy will have to make the long trip to Somerset to take on a very good Eagles team, do they have what it takes to hang with a 9-1 juggernaut of a team? They are coming into the playoffs riding a two game losing streak, including a loss to Clearfield in the District 9 championship last week.  The Chucks have a steady QB with Dakota Thomas, and he has a connection with sure-handed receiver, Braxton Giavedoni.  Bishop Guilfoyle found some success throwing the ball last week on Somerset, look for Punxsy to try to exploit that same area.

The Picks

(1) Somerset over (4) Punxsutawney

Somerset will be hungry after last week's loss, no way they lose at home in two straight games.

(2) Clearfield  over (3) Johnstown

I think it will be much closer than last year's 42-7 meeting, but I think Clearfield survives.

(1) Somerset over (2) Clearfield

I think Somerset is a really good team, and they get their revenge from last year. This will be a very good game though.

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