State College and Altoona rematch set for the District 6 6A Championship
Tagged under: Centre County Report, District 6, News, pfn, Playoffs
Brendan Ricciardi | November 9, 2022
WINGATE, Pa. — The State College Little Lions will put their perfect 10-0 record on the line this Thursday as they take on the 6-5 Altoona Mountain Lions for the second time this season in the District 6 6A Championship at Bald Eagle Area High School.
Head Coach Matt Lintal and the State College Little Lions have answered every call that they have gotten this season, winning all ten games and outscoring opponents 388-148 in the process. Outside of a thrilling 32-31 win against a very good Downingtown East team, the Little Lions have won every game by 10+ points.
One of those games was against these very same Altoona Mountain Lions by a score of 55-14 in Week 4. A lot has happened for both teams since that matchup, so let’s break down how each team got here:
Altoona Mountain Lions:
Altoona started off the season red hot, taking down Hollidaysburg, Taylor Allerdice, and Mifflin County to jump out to a 3-0 start. They then hosted State College, and as mentioned above, it didn’t go very well for them.
They rebounded with a win over Central Dauphin East, but then lost four of their last five games heading into the postseason, including a 48-0 loss to Harrisburg.
Going in cold to the postseason is never an ideal situation, but Altoona was able to secure a playoff win against an emotional Mifflin County team, taking them down 31-24 on a touchdown in the closing minutes of the game.
Altoona is led offensively by Senior RB Alexander Yost, who is the focal point of the offense. He has carried the ball 161 times this season for 911 yards, good for 5.7 yards per carry. He’s also added ten rushing touchdowns, and is the team leader in receiving yards as well with 216.
In the first meeting with State College, Yost was limited to just 9 rushing yards on only 6 carries due to the State College offense striking early. The key for the Mountain Lions to take this game is to get him going early and try to build quick lead.
Junior Brennen Freiwald is the quarterback for Altoona, and he’s thrown for 660 yards and five touchdowns this season. Altoona is primarily a run-heavy team, but in the case that the State College offense gets going early again, he’s going to need to be able to move the ball downfield quickly. Outside of Yost, Tyson Reid is a name to watch out for catching the football.
The key to the upset for Altoona is to control the clock and keep the high-powered State College offense off the field for as long as possible.
Defensively the Mountain Lions are led by Senior Manny Miller, who has 30 more tackles and 10.5 more sacks than anyone else on the roster. Tyson Reid can also catch the football on defense, as he is tied with Branson Adams for the team lead in interceptions with 4.
State College Little Lions:
After an average regular season and deep playoff run in 2021, the State College Little Lions have carried that momentum into 2022 and have become a juggernaut.
They have played some close games with Downingtown East as mentioned, as well as Central Dauphin and Harrisburg in this 2022 campaign.
Every time, they’ve came out on top.
The State College offense is led by Freshman RB D’Antae Sheffey who has dazzled in his first year. He has carried the ball 164 times for 1,252 yards, averaging 7.4 yards per carry with 16 touchdowns. He’s also chipped in 132 receiving yards with two reception touchdowns as well.
A star in the making, Sheffey is one of many Little Lions who have performed so well for this State College team. Senior QB Finn Furmanek has completed over 64% of his passes this season en route to 1,175 yards and 13 touchdown passes. In addition to that, he’s a dual-threat weapon as he’s picked up 401 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Did we mention he also has 13 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown?
That’s right, Furmanek is also a backup wide receiver, and Owen Yerka takes over the offense when Furmanek is moved out wide. He has thrown for 429 yards and three touchdowns when called upon, and will likely be the guy for the Little Lions next season.
Ty Salazer (20/489/5) and Donte Nastasi (40/478/4) have been the top targets for Furmanek and Yerka, while Michael Gaul (15/262/4) has had some big moments as well this season. One of those moments being a Hail Mary reception at the end of the first half against Altoona in their first meeting.
On the defensive side of the ball, John Scott, Stephen Scourtis (Harvard) and Michael Gaul have been a three-man wrecking crew. Scott has 83 tackles on the season, while Scourtis and Gaul have 76 and 75, respectively. That would be 20 more than any other player on the roster.
Sophomore Sam Mayer might not have quite as many tackles, but he leads the team in sacks with eight in just ten games.
The key for State College to win this game is to stay disciplined with penalties and protect the football. On paper, they have the more talented football team. The way that they can let Altoona win this game is if they beat themselves and don’t play smart football.
The winner of this matchup will take on the winner of McDowell and Taylor Allerdice.
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