Three teams remain unbeaten in District 2 football. That number will be down to two after Friday night.
In a game that eventually could determine the District 2 Class 4A top seed, Valley View (7-0) heads to Dallas (7-0) for what has evolved into the game of the year. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Valley View comes into the game atop the D2-4A standings. Dallas is third, behind second-place Berwick (6-1). All three teams have clinched playoff spots.
Two weeks ago, the game of the year — at least when the schedule came out — was Valley View at Berwick in a rematch of last season’s D2-4A championship game. The game had no suspense like the Cougars’ 24-17 overtime win for the title. They dismantled Berwick 35-7, holding the Dawgs to a season-low 208 yards.
The victory, along with a 27-15 win over D2-3A front runner Scranton Prep in Week 4, galvanized Valley View, which came into the season with a veteran offensive line but many unknowns at the skill positions.
“Both games were big game,” said Valley View coach George Howanitz, who is in his 13th year coaching at his alma mater. “Obviously, going down to Berwick and winning at Berwick is a big deal for any team. We had a little bit of an advantage seeing we went down to Berwick last year to play for the district championship. So it wasn’t a new environment as you would see in other places.
“Our kids are used to big games, but this will be a little different because we haven’t played at Dallas.”
Valley View’s win against Prep was the Cavaliers only loss this season and their first regular-season loss since the 2016 season opener. The 28-point win at Berwick was the Dawgs’ worst home loss since a 56-23 setback to Williamsport in Week 10 of 2016.
Offense was the unknown for Valley View entering the season, yet its 212 points are third-most in the Lackawanna Conference. The Cougars remain a run-first team and like last year most of those carries are funneled to the tailback and quarterback. Senior Mason Kordish took over at tailback and has rushed for 830 yards and nine TDs. Junior Janaasah Boone saw some time as a running back in 2017, but has switched to quarterback. He has rushed for 364 yards and nine touchdowns.
Although Kordish had twice as many carries as Boone, that won’t necessarily be the case tonight.
“We just go with what’s going good that game,” Howanitz said. “There have been games when (Boone) has run really well and other games where tailback Mason Kordish has done the job.
“It’s kind of a flow thing. I don’t think we go in saying we’re going to run the tailback 20 times or the quarterback 20 times.”
The latter is a distinct possibility. Dallas has faced just one true running threat quarterback this season — Coughlin’s Sa’id Hollis. Although Howanitz said Boone is still developing as a passer, he has 613 yards and six TDs through the air.
“He’s very good and he can throw,” Dallas coach Rich Mannello said. “Like I’ve said earlier, sometimes with quarterbacks it’s one or the other. Somewhere there is a dropoff. He has a tremendous arm and, obviously, he can change games with his feet.
“So we have to get lined up (properly). The type of offenses that are out there right now, if you can’t get aligned and set the edge and be sound in your coverage and what you’re doing in run support, regardless who is running the ball you’re going to struggle.”
Dallas has made many opponents pay with its offense as well. The Mountaineers have scored 282 points, second most in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
Running back Lenny Kelley is second in the entire WVC with 993 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Michael Starbuck leads the WVC with 16 TD throws and is second in passing yards with 1,152. His astronomical passer rating of 224.79 is more than 68 better than the next WVC quarterback in line. Receiver Luke DelGaudio has found the endzone a WVC-best seven times on his 20 catches. His 26.1 yards-per-catch average is best in the conference.
If the passing game is to succeed, Dallas must take care of the smallest guy on the field — Valley View linebacker Traon Jones. Jones is 5-foot-5 and 155 pounds, but has used his blazing speed to lead the Cougars in tackles with 69, tackles for loss with 13 and sacks with 6.5.
Although this appears to be Dallas’ toughest game of the year, the Mountaineers’ schedule doesn’t ease up. They head to Berwick next Friday and finish up the regular season with the Old Shoe Game at rival Lake-Lehman.
“We’re not even on that discussion. We have our hands full,” Mannello said. “I know it’s coach speak, but the schedule is what it is. We have a tremendous task at hand with Valley View. We have to make sure we’re doing everything possible to be ready for this one.”
Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar