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District Nine Class 1A Championship Playoff Preview

Tagged under: District 9, News, Playoffs

| November 17, 2022



Class 1A District 9 Final: Brockway Rovers (8-4) vs. Port Allegany Gators (10-1) @ Bradford on Friday Nov. 18 at 7 P.M.

Port is the #1 seed and ousted Keystone last week by a score of 18-6.  Brockway is seeded 3rd and defeated #2 Redbank Valley 7-3 this past Saturday.  This is a rematch of week 5 when Brockway travelled to Port and was soundly defeated 40-7.  After that game, which was the low water mark on Brockway’s season, Brockway was 2-3 looking like they may not even make the playoffs.  But some changes were made by head coach Jake Heigel and his staff.  The kids responded and have gone 6-1 since then.  Port has chugged along all season, their only blemish being a 5-point loss to Central Clarion, a 2A team that is still playing in the post season.  Head coach Justin Bienkowski has had his Gators playing at a high level all year and has done a great job making mid-game adjustments if needed.

Brockway’s QB, Brayden Fox, has passed the pigskin for 2,516 yards and 32 touchdowns.  His main target throughout the year has been Alex Carlson.  Carlson has brought down 85 passes for 1,010 yards and 11 touchdowns.  WR Dylan Hanna has chipped in with 27 grabs for 603 yards and 9 TDs.  One of the biggest reasons Brockway turned things around was when they began running Jendy Cuello.

Cuello came from the Dominican Republic and never even heard of football before he came to the United States.  During the year he has worked hard on his vision and hitting the right holes.  Heigel felt the time was right and then unleashed him in game 6.  An added blessing was that the monster run game eased the pressure opponents were getting on Fox and the passing game.  After Cuello ran for 171 yards last week against Redbank, he now has rushed for 1,291 yards and scored 11 times.  Cuello only had 279 yards through the first 5 games.  The Rover defense has forced 21 turnovers. Carlson has intercepted 7 opponent passes and Tanner Guaglianone leads the Rovers in tackles.

Port Allegany’s strengths are their line and their defense.  An added bonus is their three-headed monster on offense.  The Gators have only given up 97 points all year.  Only once did they give up more than 14 points and that was the 29-24 loss to Central Clarion.  Miska Young and Carson Neely are the anchors on the line.  Both made the D-9 all-star team a year ago.  Blaine Moses heads up the Gator defense with his 109 tackles.  Drew Evens has stepped in front of 5 opposition passes to lead in the interception department.  The team has 17 picks for the year.  Evens is the key to Port’s triple threat offense that includes Moses and Noah Archer.  Evens has thrown for 1,130 yards and 9 scores, while running for 449 yards and 5 TDs.  Moses has 890 yards on the ground, scoring 17 times.  Archer has 719 yards carrying the rock, finding the end zone 9 times.  Archer is also the top receiver with 4 grabs for 569 yards and 6 TDs.  He has 1,530 all-purpose yards.

For Brockway to win their offensive and defensive lines must match the physicality of Port Allegany’s lines.  On offense they need to win the time of possession battle.  Their stars, Fox, Carlson, and Cuello need big games.  On defense, the Rovers also need to get at least a couple of turnovers.  In order for Port Allegany to advance they must control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, get a lead and take the Rovers out of their game plan if possible.  Evens, Archer, and Moses need big games, but most importantly, they cannot take Brockway for granted because the Gators won the first time by a wide margin.  Port is favored, but if they get complacent look for Brockway to pull off the upset.

Follow Phil Myers on Twitter: @Protime_PFN

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