CURWENSVILLE – The last snap of a football that Coudersport took against Curwensville was in the first round of last season’s District IX Championships. That play resulted in a two-point conversion with :16 left to play in the game that lifted the Falcons to a 28-27 victory and ended the Golden Tide’s season.
The two teams will meet in the opening week of this season in Coudersport with a little less finality on the line, but the contest will allow the teams to get a good feel for the upcoming campaign.
“We’re going to get a pretty good glimpse of where our team is at right away,” said Curwensville head coach Andy Evanko. “We have to make a bus ride and be ready to play against a pretty strong team.”
The Falcons have had the visitor’s number for most of their history. The Golden Tide has beaten Coudersport just three times in 16 meetings, but Curwensville is looking to reverse that trend Friday night.
While neither team has been tested thus far this year, both squads will rely on the strength of their returning letter-winners and the growth of those filling holes left to graduation.
Coudersport’s roster shows they will depend on a new quarterback this season, while the Tide fields a veteran play-caller. Hunter McCracken has been under center for three years now for Curwensville and provides stability to the offense. Coudersport will likely depend on last year’s back-up, Zac Elenchin, who attempted only one pass last season – it was incomplete. McCracken totaled 692 yards through the air in 2011, connecting on 46 of 96 attempts.
On the ground, Coudersport will have its two top rushers returning in Mitch Freeman and Caden Whitman. Freeman carried the ball 164 times last year for 940 yards and 15 touchdowns while Whitman took 88 hand offs for 476 yards and five scores. The tandem scored all but two rushing TD’s for the Falcons in 2011. Both were also passing targets with a combined 10 catches for 128 yards and two scores.
“They have a lot of strengths back from last year’s team,” admitted Evanko. “They like to run a power game with their backs, but have a few tosses in there that keep you honest.”
Curwensville will be looking to get its running game back on track with senior tailback Josh Greslick and senior fullback Brad Coudriet. Last season Greslick saw limited action behind the Tide’s all-time leading rusher, Alex Holland. However, Greslick proved to be effective with 31 carries for 182 yards and two touchdowns in his limited role and looks to bear a heavier load this season. When Coudriet wasn’t opening holes for Holland, he gathered 227 yards on 38 hauls with three scores.
Perhaps the biggest test for the Tide will be determined by how well they handle the Falcon rush. Coudersport has shown a one-two punch on defense in Jesse Lincoln and Forest Tuttle. Lincoln, one of the team captains, totaled 75 tackles a year ago with one sack, while Tuttle got to the quarterback six times with a total of 63 knockdowns.
“We’ll have our hands full with their linemen, said Evanko. They have good talent back in Tuttle and Lincoln, and we need to keep them in check to be successful.”
The leading returning tacklers for the Tide are Coudriet with 48, Austin Pollick at 46 and Spencer Smeal with 41. Evanko will be looking to his line to neutralize the Falcons and keep these three from being the leading tacklers this year as Coudriet and Smeal hold linebacker positions with Pollick in the defensive backfield. Evanko noted that his squad is healthy and ready for the opening week challenge.
“It’s not like we have any weeks that we can relax against anyone,” said the mentor in his 13th season at the helm. “We play in a strong league and it looks like everyone’s talent is up this season. We have to show up every week and be ready to play from the opening kickoff.”
Traditionally, these two teams play very similar types of games and it will take a complete effort to come out on top. This game, like past meetings should prove to be a true fan’s dream that may not be decided until the final series.
Kickoff will take place at 7:00 p.m. in Coudersport.