Chestnut Ridge (9-2) vs. Bedford (9-1)
Friday 7:00 Panther Community Stadium Loysburg,PA
Chestnut Ridge and Bedford renew their storied rivalry Friday night, and this time a championship is on the line. The Laurel Highlands Conference ended the idea of this being an annual regular season showdown, but the teams always will find themselves in the two team District 5 AA race. Both schools have some really good teams, and it should make for a raucous atmosphere Friday night.
Bedford comes in as the top seed, and they finished an impressive 9-1 in the always tough LHAC. The Bisons have a powerful offensive attack led by their junior quarterback, Austin Montgomery. The tough-nosed junior operates this offense at a high level and contributes in both the passing and running games. Montgomery is completing 60% of his passes for 1,649 yards and 16 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. He has also rushed for 11 touchdowns on the ground. As a team, Bedford averages 212 yards a game on the ground and August Cook is the catalyst with 873 yards and 16 touchdowns. Zach Shaffer is the team's top receiver, and with 33 catches and 8 receiving touchdowns, he is one of the best in the area. He has also scored 7 touchdowns on the ground, and he is a weapon coach Kevin Steele can use in a variety of ways.
Bedford only lost one game this year, but even in some of their victories the defense allowed some big plays. The defense has to be able to come up big in this game after Ridge hung 55 on them last year in this same district championship game. Bedford is primarily an underclassmen team with just two seniors starting. The young Bisons need to play sound football on defense, and limit the big plays. The strength in this Bedford defense is with their linebacker corps led by Tanner Coughenour in the middle, and flanked by Uruah Costal and August Cook. The Chestnut Ridge scheme is balanced, and Bedford needs to try to force more runs on Friday night.
Chestnut Ridge comes into this game with a solid 9-2 record, and they are coming off a 35-0 first round rout of Westinghouse from the Pittsburgh City League. The Lions are the defending champions, and they still have a good core in place from that team last season. Tyler Wiley and Matt Wiley are the stars of the show, and they have been very good. Tyler has led the offense as a QB and has thrown for over 1,000 yards and rushed for over 700 yards. He has accounted for 15 touchdowns on the ground and 12 through the air. If Ridge is going anywhere, it is behind his abilities. Matt Wiley has been steady as the team's fullback, and has 11 rushing touchdowns and leads the team in rushing yards. Bryan Feather, Noah Osman, and Trent Crouse have been the team's top receiving options, and all are capable play-makers.
Chestnut Ridge is still the lone local team without a conference, but it allows them to play a different kind of schedule. They have played some challenging opponents, and their two losses are to undefeated Fort Hill of Maryland, and perennial District Six power, Tyrone. The Lions have a win over a very good Central team as well. The defense has been very good this season, and they have pitched four shutouts overall. They are led by Matt Wiley at linebacker and Noah Osman at safety.
Chestnut Ridge and Bedford are long-time rivals, and this should be another classic bout as both teams are capable of beating one another. The winner of this game will move on to the "Sweet 16" in the PIAA tournament. They will take on the District 9 champion, either undefeated Karns City or Saint Mary's. The game will take place at a District 9 venue, as Chestnut Ridge fell to Karns City last year at Northern Bedford.
(Helmet pictures courtesy of Pa Helmet Project)