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FROM THE PRESS BOX: WEEK 3 PICKS — SAYRE, ATHENS RETURN TO THE FIELD (2020-09-25)

Week 3 of the craziest (and not in a good way) high school football season is upon us.

After Sayre’s scheduled bye week, and Athens’ unscheduled week off, both Valley teams return to action tonight, with the Redskins at home against Cowanesque Valley, and the Wildcats on the road against a rejuvenated Wyalusing team.

I was 2-1 in Week 2 to improve to 5-2 on the season, while my three counterparts (all Valley coaches wishing to conceal their true identity) were 3-0. The Mick is 6-1 on the season, while Country Bob and Little Red are both 5-2.

Athens (1-0) at Wyalusing (2-0), 7 p.m. @ Ray Raffin Field: The Wildcats are coming off a 10-7 win over Sayre two Fridays ago, while the Rams thumped Cowanesque Valley, 46-21, in Week 2.

Wyalusing piled up more than 500 yards in offense, and QB Mitchell Burke has a wealth of weapons at his disposal, first and foremost, the speedy Kashawn Cameron, who is one of the  best athletes in District 4.

Athens was susceptible to the run in Week 1, but defended the Redskins air attack well. Tonight, however, will be a much bigger challenge for the Wildcat secondary.

Offensively, Athens’ best bet may be to play keep-away, but it will need to run the ball much better against Wyalusing than it did against Sayre. The Rams defense pitched a shutout against Towanda in Week 1, and the first-team unit allowed just one score against CV.

Again, the Wyalusing defense will face its biggest challenge of the young season tonight in the sophomore QB Mason Lister, and junior RB Shayne Reid-led Athens offense.

Prediction: It’s cliche, but true: the team that gets better play in the trenches will win this game. If Athens can run the ball, which will help give Lister time to throw, it will spell trouble for the Rams. … If the Wyalusing front can give Burke time to throw, Athens’ young secondary will be tested like never before. … WYALUSING 28, ATHENS 24.
THE MICK: Athens 18, Wyalusing 12. … COUNTRY BOB: Wyalusing 24, Athens 20 … LITTLE RED: Wyalusing 21, Athens 7.

Cowanesque Valley (0-2) at Sayre (0-1), 7 p.m. @ Lockhart Street Bowl:
The Redskins are coming off a 10-7 loss to Athens in Week 1, while the Indians suffered a 46-21 setback at Wyalusing in Week 2.

Sayre ran the ball effectively against Athens, but struggled a bit through the air. With two more weeks under his belt, expect sophomore Lucas Horton to be much more dangerous in the pocket.

The Redskin defense, aside from one possession, stymied the Athens offense, allowing just 52 rushing yards. CV has a couple dangerous skill-position players, but can’t match Sayre up front.

Prediction: Sayre should control this game in the trenches. I expect big rushing nights from Jake Bennett, David Northrop, and possibly Zach Garrity, and an improved passing game. … SAYRE 40, CV 12.
THE MICK: Sayre 36, CV 0 …  COUNTRY BOB: Sayre 30, CV 12 … LITTLE RED:  Sayre 34, CV 0.

Troy (1-1) at North Penn (1-0), 7 p.m.:
The Trojans are coming off a 35-0 whitewashing of Towanda in Week 2, while the Panthers rallied to top arch-rival Wellsboro, 17-14.

Troy’s ground game has been effective in the early-going, but nothing like the juggernaut it was in 2019.

North Penn did just enough to beat Wellsboro, which is impressive considering the Panthers did very little football-related activities over the summer.

Prediction: For some reason, I expect Troy to put things together tonight. … TROY 34, NP-M 19.
THE MICK: Troy 28, NP-M 22 … COUNTRY BOB: NP-M 28, Troy 24 … LITTLE RED: Troy 20, NP-M 7.

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