BROCKWAY – After an early morning Thursday practice, the Curwensville Area High School football team will sit down together for a Thanksgiving dinner – thankful for being still in season. The Golden Tide will be on the artificial turf of Frank Varischetti Field in Brockway on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. to battle Port Allegany for the District IX, Class A Championship.
The Tide is the top seed in the district playoffs and has disposed of Smethport 29-18 and Cameron County 22-13 to get to the title game. The Red Raiders – the number six seed – have eliminated the three seed Elk County 47-40 in four overtimes and the second seeded Redbank Valley 24-17 for a shot at the crown.
The championship game is a rematch of week three when Curwensville defeated the Gators 35-6. However, after winning six of their last eight games, Port A is not the same team that traveled to Curwensville on September 17.
“They have a completely different team from the beginning of the year,” said Tide head coach Andy Evanko. “There might be a few similarities in the way they play, but they are a vastly improved squad. They have a balanced, explosive attack and a lot of yards for an offense.”
On the ground, Port Allegany has amassed 2054 yards using nine different rushers. Through the air, three passers have connected for 1822 yards for a total of 3876 total yards of offense. Leading the Gator offense is sophomore quarterback Matt Bodamer. Bodamer has completed 91 of 153 for 1807 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The favorite target of Bodamer is Carmin Stuckey who has 27 receptions for 635 yards and 11 scores. Other top receivers include sophomore Tyce Miller with 371 yards on 21 catches, junior Charlie Buchnan with 11 receptions for 312 yards, junior Trevor Neal with 148 yards on 11 grabs and 113 yards on 10 catches for senior Zach Ramadhan.
Senior running back Seth Lowery tops the ground game with 935 yards on 160 carries. Bodamer has covered 562 yards on 109 rushes, Ramadhan has 58 carries for 318 yards and Stuckey has 11 touches for 102 yards.
The Gators struggled through the air last week with the Bulldogs. Bodamer finished with a 4-for-11 night for 36 yards and three interceptions. As a result, Port trailed 17-7 at halftime and turned to the ground game and crucial defensive stands to secure the victory.
“They (Port A) did what they had to do to win the game last week,” said Evanko. “They recorded a safety, had a huge goal line stand (all in the second half) and came up big time after time. They’re really playing well right now.”
The winning score for the Gators a week ago came with just 45 seconds left to play. With a 1-yard plunge, Ramadhan capped a 16-play, 89-yard scoring drive for the 24-17 final.
Curwensville fed Cameron County a heavy dose of ground game last week as well. Junior Alex Holland ran 41 times for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterbacks Hunter McCracken (4-of-5 for 53 yards, a TD and INT) and Alec Starr (4-of-7 for 71 yards) were both effective on the day. Shane Hoover grabbed six tossed for 106 yards in the win.
On the season, the Curwensville offense has totalled 4110 yards. Holland has rushed 286 times for 2229 yards and scored 26 times. Backing his efforts are senior Zack Dimmick with eight touchdowns as part of 472 yards on 89 carries and Josh Greslick gaining 246 yards on 35 hauls earlier in the season.
At quarterback, McCracken’s totals for the year include 567 yards on 37-for-76 passing with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Starr totals 397 yards as part of a 25-for-46 effort with four TD’s and four picks.
Hoover has 23 receptions for 395 yards and seven stops in the end zone. Senior Shae Best has 18 catches to date for 391 yards and six scores.
“It’s always hard to beat anyone twice in one season, but that seems to be the norm this year for us,” Noted Evanko. “It’s especially hard against someone with the caliber of play as Port Allegany.”
One other reason for the Tide to be thankful this week is that junior guard Kyle Scribe is doing well. Scribe went down in the second quarter last week with a broken leg.
“Kyle is one tough kid,” said Evanko. “We’re still working to fill that hole in the line-up. That decision may not be made until game time.”
While Port Allegany has never won a District IX title, their last appearance in the final was 2003. Curwensville’s last showing in the finals was 2006 with a loss to Coudersport. The Tide last won the district crown in 2004.