FROM THE PRESS BOX: THE CRYSTAL BALL (PART II), AND WEEK 2 FOOTBALL PICKS
High school football gets under way in New York State this weekend, and defending Section IV champs — Tioga and Waverly — are poised for a repeat of last year’s success, and in Waverly’s case possibly more.
As I peer into my crystal ball, this is what I see:Tioga Tigers:
Winners of 27 straight games, five consecutive Section IV, Class D championships, and two state titles, Tioga returns 10 starters on offense, and all 11 on defense.
On offense, the Tigers have playmakers all over the field, led by returning Class D “Player of the Year” Caden Bellis at QB, Drew Macumber and Ousmane Duncanson in the backfield, Valentino Rossi and Evan Sickler at wideouts, and Karson Sindoni at tight end. And, their offensive line is pretty good, too.
Defensively, it’s the same cast of characters.Prediction:
Tioga will be challenged in its first two games, and Waverly has a good shot of ending that long win streak, but in the long run the Tigers are the team to beat in New York State in Class D, and I don’t see any team out there that can do it. … 2023 record: 14-0 — State Champs.Waverly Wolverines:
The Wolverines don’t have the same type of volume returning this season as Tioga, but what they do have back is really good.
Offensively, the all-state duo of QB Joey Tomasso and Jay Pipher are back, and will likely break whatever school records they don’t already own. Tomasso also has a pair of 6-4 receivers in Jake VanHouten and Athens transfer Xavier Watson at his disposal, as well as some young receivers.
Up front, the Wolverines return all-state lineman Kam Hills, as well as Jake Benjamin and Troy Beeman. They do have to replace a pair of good linemen, but J.T. Williams and Carson Rockwell appear ready to step in. Waverly should be very, very good in the trenches.
Defensively, Waverly should be good up front, and deep in the secondary. The only concern is the loss off its five most experienced linebackers to graduation. The Wolverines have athletes to fill the void … this defense will only get better as the year progresses.Prediction:
As it has in recent years, the Section IV, Class C title will come down to Waverly and Chenango Forks. The Wolverines dominated the Blue Devils on their home field in the title game last season, so they will be looking for a little payback. … One wild card for the Wolverines is Athens transfer Kolsen Keathley. If he is cleared to play by the state, he will add another weapon on offense, and some experience at linebacker. … 2023 record: 10-3 — state semifinals.
The high school football season kicks into high gear this weekend, and the Valley Sports Report pigskin prognosticators are hoping they can keep up at their advanced ages.
Last week was a pretty good one for the foursome as The Mick, Little Red, and myself posted 7-1 records, and Country Bob was 6-2.
There are 10 games on this week’s docket, highlighted by home games for Sayre and Waverly — and Tioga, too, for that matter — and a road game for Athens.Wyalusing (0-1) at Sayre (0-1):
The Redskins are coming off a 42-0 loss at Canton in Week 1, while the Rams dropped a 28-14 decision to Nativity BVM.
Sayre had some good moments on offense in its loss to the two-time defending District 4, Class A champion Warriors, but had little luck stopping them on defense. It was pretty much the same thing for Wyalusing in its loss to Nativity BVM.Prediction:
There are a lot of question marks surrounding both these teams, with new coaching staffs at the helm for both. If the Redskins can keep it together, and avoid mental mistakes, and costly penalties, I think they can make their return to the Lockhart Street Bowl a successful one. … SAYRE 26, WYALUSING 22.
Wyalusing 21, Sayre 13. … Little Red:
Sayre 20, Wyalusing 13. … Country Bob:
Sayre 21, Wyalusing 20.Athens (1-0) at Cowanesque Valley (1-0):
The Wildcats are coming off a 54-12 loss at Line Mountain, while the Indians rolled to a 32-12 win over Northwest in Week 1.
Athens is certainly better than what it showed last week against a good and experienced Line Mountain team, and while I said CV would be the most improved team in the region, I think they were able to take advantage of a young Northwest Area team in Week 1.Prediction:
Freshman QB Connor Davidson is going to be very good, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that star begins its ascent tonight, but CV’s Wing-T offense can be a tricky one to stop. The Wildcats’ defense needs to be much-improved to put the first W on the board for coach Shawn Bradley. … ATHENS 28, CV 26.
CV 28, Athens 20. … Little Red:
CV 27, Athens 13. … Country Bob:
CV 24, Athens 13.Burke Catholic vs. Tioga, 3 p.m. @ Waverly (Saturday):
Tioga has won 27 consecutive games, and two state titles in a row, and graduated just one starter, while the Eagles are coming off an 8-3 season, with two of those losses to eventual Class C state champ James O’Neill. (Burke also beat O’Neill once.)
The Tigers are dynamic on both sides of the ball, with a number of offensive weapons who can take the ball to the house anytime they touch it. Defensively, they are quick and very physical.Prediction:
Burke Catholic is coming down from Class C, and returns a large group of seniors. Burke is a very good program, but this Tioga team is special. … TIOGA 42, BURKE CATHOLIC 13.
Tioga 54, Burke Catholic 6. … Little Red:
Tioga 34, Burke Catholic 21. … Country Bob
: Tioga 48, Burke Catholic 6.Honeoye Falls-Lima at Waverly, 6 p.m. (Saturday):
The Wolverines are coming off a 10-2 season that included a Section IV, Class C title win over Chenango Forks, but ended in the state quarterfinals against eventual state runner-up General Brown, while Class B Cougars were 7-3 in 2022.
Waverly returns weapons all over the field on offense, and will be very good up front on both sides of the ball. HF-L also brings back its top offensive players from 2022.Prediction:
The Wolverines have four very tough games in their first five, but they get the 2023 season off to a good start Saturday. … WAVERLY 34, HONEOYE FALLS-LIMA 20.
Waverly 44, HF-L 7. … Little Red:
Waverly 28, HF-L 14. … Country Bob:
Waverly 35, HF-L 13.Troy at Montoursville:
The Trojans are coming off a 56-21 thrashing of Juniata, while the Warriors blanked Wellsboro, 49-0.Prediction:
Montoursville will have payback on its mind after a 28-7 loss at Troy last year. The Warriors will have to wait another year. … TROY 21, MONTOURSVILLE 13.
Troy 14, Montoursville 6. … Little Red:
Troy 33, Montoursville 20. … Country Bob:
Troy 35, Montoursville 13.North Penn-Mansfield at Canton:
The Warriors are coming off a 42-0 win over Sayre in Week 1, while the Tigers dropped a 26-6 decision to Towanda.Prediction:
Canton may not be what it was the last two years, but it’s still pretty darn good. … CANTON 44, NP-M 6.
Canton 46, NP-M 0. … Little Red:
Canton 52, NP-M 7. … Country Bob:
Canton 48, NP-M 0.Towanda at Milton:
The Black Knights are coming off a 26-6 win over North Penn-Mansfield in Week 1, while the Black Panthers dropped a 14-0 decision to South Williamsport.Prediction:
Towanda appears to be a little better this season, but Milton has some playmakers returning and is at home. … MILTON 14, TOWANDA 13.
Milton 16, Towanda 7. … Little Red:
Milton 27, Towanda 6. … Country Bob:
Towanda 21, Milton 14.Wellsboro at Muncy:
The Hornets are coming off a 49-0 loss to Montoursville in Week 1, while the Indians rallied to beat Warrior Run, 33-26.Prediction:
Graduation took a toll on Muncy, but playing at home again will be a benefit. … MUNCY 33, WELLSBORO 14.
Muncy 44, Wellsboro 12. … Little Red:
Muncy 28, Wellsboro 0. … Country Bob:
Muncy 27, Wellsboro 6.CMVT at Northwest Area:
The Rangers are coming off a 32-12 loss to Cowanesque Valley in Week 1, while the Rams dropped a 51-26 decision to Shenandoah Valley.Prediction:
Northwest Area was hit hard by graduation, but should still have enough to beat CMVT. … NORTHWEST 27, CMVT 12.
CMVT 21, Northwest 20. … Little Red:
Northwest 27, CMVT 6. … Country Bob:
Northwest 12, CMVT 6.SVEC at Schuyler:
The Eagles are coming off an appearance in the Section IV, Class D semifinals, while the Storm is back in Class C after a year in the Independent Division.Prediction:
SVEC has some good athletes returning, and are a team to keep your eye on in Class D. … SVEC 33, SCHUYLER 19.
Schuyler 14, SVEC 13. … Little Red:
Schuyler 34, SVEC 20. … Country Bob:
SVEC 18, Schuyler 7.
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