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Local high School preview from Mountain League and Mid-Penn

CENTRE HALL -Friday night lights and High School Football are back this week and the local teams in the Mountain League and Mid-Penn are primed and ready for the first kick off of the season!

Leading up to this Friday’s grand opening of the local high school football season, most of the Mountain League and some Mid-Penn teams were honored and interviewed at the Grange Fair and what has been a 14-year tradition as State College’s ESPN station 1450 AM at its High school Pep Rally.

The Rally was held at the Grand Stand of the Grange Fair fairgrounds as Bellefonte, Bald Eagle Area, Mifflin County Philipsburg-Osceola, Penns Valley and State College football teams all had their chance to be recognized for the upcoming season.


Heading first up to the microphone was the Mounties of Philipsburg-Osceola coaches by Brian McGonigal. His team is up and coming this season with a team of hard workers ready to take a giant step this season.

“This year’s the kids mindsets have been better. They’ve been a lot more positive,” said McGonigal. “They have a lot of energy and want to build off what I’ve been preaching to them over the last year and take it into this season.”

There have been a lot of former underclassman from last season who have now embraced the idea of having a leadership role.

“We’ve had a lot of kids last year as sophomores play 50-60-percent of our games. So they got a lot of experience and a lot of them are our leaders now,” said McGonigal. “They are ready to go and are very confident.”

Last season, the Mounties were 1-9 on the year but will be hoping to make that quick turnaround as the season gets underway.

An Important returner will be team captain and quarterback Ryan Whitehead.

Penns Valley

After a very impressive turnaround season in 2018, the Penns Valley Rams are excited about the upcoming season with the chance of another visit to the post season.

Last season, Penns Valley went 8-4 overall and 5-4 in an always tough Mountain League. They team finished its season winning 7-of-9 after going 1-2 early on.

They are once again coached by veteran Martin Tobias.

He is very excited and pleased with the direction his football team is heading.

“Last year was a lot of fun. It showed our young players how their hard work paid off. We were also fortunate things bounced our way,” said Tobias. “Sometimes you have to be lucky as well as good. The combination of the two helped us be successful last year.”

“We are looking to build on that this year. There has been a different kind of confidence in the group of men we have with us in program and in our locker room. It comes from having had some success and being able to believe they can do more.”

The goals for him and his squad is to live in the moment and enjoy the sport.

“We’re our to play one game at a time and have fun doing it. That’s what it’s about,” said Tobias.

Penns Valley returns a very seasoned team to the field this season.

“We are very fortunate we have eight returning starters on the offensive side of the ball and seven on the defensive side. We also numerous other players that have seen valuable minutes and giving us great depth for the whole season,” Tobias said. “So these guys have been battle tested. Once again, it’s a new year and we aren’t going to surprise anybody. It’s all about going out and taking that next step.”

State College

Last season, the State College Little Lions football team was a force to be reckoned with in the Mid-Penn Conference finishing with a 12-2 overall record and a 6-1 record in the league.

The Little Lions lost to Pine-Richland in the PIAA state playoffs last season.

Despite new faces in new places, the Little Lions are looking for another highly successful season.

The Little Lions are coaches by Matt Lintal.

For just one season, State College will not be playing its home games at Memorial Field due to construction projects but they will play at the track field up in the South side of the school.

However, the focus is not on the change of venue but the season itself.

“Its one of those things that we just want to get to kick off and focus on those things we can’t control and try to dominate those things. There is a lot of hiccups that go into it but when the ball is snapped out there you have a normal field. It’s lined, it’s ready to go and you got officials out there, the lights are up and the fans will be there,”said Lintal. “So we’re excited it gives the guys an opportunity to create some new traditions. We are at a different site and they can do it however they want to do it. The senior class has really adapted to that and embraced that. I love their mind set,”

One of the biggest strengths returning to the team this season is the running game as the Little Lions have two runners who have rushed for over 1,000 yards in their career already.

“We return two of our running backs, Dresyn Green and Isaiah Edwards. They have both run for over 1,000 yards in their careers. We are really excited to have them back,” said Lintal. “Brady Dorner will be switching from wide receiver to the backfield to be our quarterback. He has been playing quarterback the last four years in our Junior Varsity and Varsity teams. So he’s been out there on Fridays so we are excited to watch the transition.”

The defense will also be bringing its share of experience.

“Our defensive line we are super excited about,” said Lintal.

The Little Lions opens their season against Mifflin County on the road.

Mifflin County

The Mifflin County football team had an outstanding second half of the season after dropping its first four. The team finished at 6-4 and played in the District 6 playoff game against State College.

“I think just the positive encouragement we got from the first winning season we had in a while and the confidence we got from that. Usually that stuff carries over but we preach to the kids all year long so far that in order to get to the next chapter you have to turn the page,” coach Scot Sechler said. “That is all behind us now. We learned from it and we’re going to grow from and be better this year. We take everything in stride. So we are really focusing in on State College now.”

Playing in the Mid-Penn Colonial Conference, the team will be full of new faces in new places as Head Coach Sechler lost 29 seniors from last year’s squad.

“We’ve had some guys step up in tremendous ways. They’ve worked really hard in the off season. They spent time in the weight room, time studying film, time going to camps and doing 7-on-7s and all that kind of stuff,” Sechler added. “They are really working on being better athletes.”

Notable returners on offense will be Gage Sheaffer and Tom Bender.

The Huskies will open their season at legendary Mitchell Cield against State College.


Home at last.

After playing most of its home games at Lock Haven University, the Bellefonte football team still went 9-3 and into the District 6 playoffs.

The Red Raiders bring back Pittsburgh baseball recruit and Red Raider running back CJ Funk.

Bellefonte is led by Shanon Manning.

Manning is excited about the possibilities for this year’s squad as it heads into a newly refurbished Rodgers Stadium.

“We spent a lot of time last year trying to get comfortable on the road. We didn’t know if we were going to play at home or on the road. That was the main things we had to deal with last year. We should be good to go at home in week one,” said Manning. “There will be a lot of energy but also a lot of unknowns. There is going to have to be changes that need to be made and get our rituals down and what it looks like. Once that gets settled I think we’ll be alright. We will practice through the week and make the changes we have to and become comfortable with.”

With the losses to graduation, the Red Raiders will be looking to fill in spots but not try to replace those that came before them.

“Most cases I don’t have to say much to the players. The kids have developed a different standard, what they want to be known as. After a couple years of winning the kids seem to set their own bars. First it was me, I thought I had to drive the truck to push, push,push. Now the kids a lot of time are taking up the slack,” said Manning. “They hold the accountability to each other at a high level.

Bellefonte opens its season at home against Jersey Shore.

Bald Eagle Area

Last but not least, the Bald Eagle football team looks to pick up where it left off last season and more heading into the 2019 season.

Offensively, the Eagles will be bringing back two of its biggest weapons for the 2019 season.

Leading the running game will be spearheaded by Gage McClenahan, who was injured late last season. After nearly a year of rehab, Nagle has been really impressed with the spirit effort of his senior to be ready for the season.

“He’s a kid that nobody is going to outwork him. He’s unbelievably stronger than ever, quicker than ever and more explosive than ever,” Nagle said. “He’s worked very, very hard five or six days a week since everything happend, even in the off season. When he was cleared to go he still four days in in the weight room and two days of agility. So he’s been full 100 percent rehabbed. I personally think he’s more explosive than he’s ever been. He is definitely stronger. He’s definitely a man.”

The Eagles will also have its signal caller back and ready to air it out as part of the Eagles’ 1-2 punch.

Lost to graduation will be Kael Gardner, Nick Turner,Blake Roberts, AJ Markle, Bradley Crestani, Dylan Bisel and Ethan Moore.

There will be no shortage of experience coming back to the Bald Eagle squad as it returns 33 letter winners.

Starters returning on offense this season will be McClenahan, Jones, Matthew Reese, Kaleb Burns, Kaden Bittinger, Asher Burkett, Dylan Roberts.

The Eagles also have numerous running backs that were a big part of the Eagles success returning.

“Tommy Snyder, Nate Hoover and Kyler Cunningham round our the offense returning starters.

Defensively, the Eagles will again showcase Reese, McClenahan, Bittinger, Tyler Bumbarger, Tommy Snyder, David Close, Burkett, Burns, Ben Yetsko and Hoover.

Bald Eagle will take to the road to start the season at Troy.

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