There are multiple NTL games this weekend with two big Division-I contests tonight.
Troy welcomes defending champs NP-Mansfield while Towanda travels to Wellsboro.
Other games on the night include Bucktail at Canton and Johnson City at Waverly.
On Saturday CV travels to CMVT for an afternoon tilt while Sayre hosts Montgomery for homecoming.
NORTH PENN- MANSFIELD AT TROY, 7 P.M.
The Trojans have won two straight games and look to keep that streak going while NPM (1-2) focuses on getting back on track after last week’s loss.
Troy (2-1) has always had a problem with the Panthers, something Trojan coach Jimmy Smith hopes to solve this time around.
“NP is a great program,” he said. “They have a really good coach and staff. They always have a great game plan and know how to exploit weaknesses. They are one team we have struggled with over the past several years. It’s not hard to be excited about a good team who are the defending NTL champs. We are excited for another great game.”
Last week Troy did a good job controlling the clock and wearing out the Sayre defense. They hope to improve on that this time around.
“As usual we have to control the time of possession,” said Smith. “We have to play a more mistake free game this week and do a better job eliminating costly penalties. We are not built for first and thirty and found ourselves in these positions on more than one occasion last week. Sloppy play won’t cut it this week. As usual we have to win that battle up front, hit the seams and hang onto the ball. We have to be able to remain efficient in the passing game. Everybody loads box, to stop the run game. Occasionally we need to be able to remind everybody that it’s a bad idea.”
On the other side of the ball the Trojans have to keep an eye on the ball.
“NP has an explosive offense,” remarked Smith. “They tend to lull defenses to sleep with ball control and do a great job taking shots down field when you least expect it. It’s important to limit the number of big plays and keep everything underneath of the defense. It’s a scary thing because you can play great defense the majority of the game all to have that erased by just a couple of plays. NP has that ability, so we have to play smart defensively. We can’t afford blown assignments this week. We have to capitalize on those random opportunities you get to make a game changing play. I have a lot of confidence in this bunch to do just that. We will continue to work hard to improve.”
For NP-Mansfield, they know they have to have their chinstraps tight to take on Troy.
“We need to be more physical and run to the football,” said NPM coach Tom Dickinson.
Defensively, they must get off the field or else Troy will wear them, and the clock, down.
“We tackled very poorly last week,” said Dickinson. “Troy’s offense is ground and pound, we need to try to get them into long down situations, which is very difficult to do.”
When they have the ball, NP-Mansfield must take full advantage.
“Offensively we need to continue to spread it around and get first downs,” Dickinson said. “Playing from ahead is important Friday night.”
Much like Wellsboro-Troy two weeks ago, expect another exciting Large School match-up at Alparon Park.
TOWANDA AT WELLSBORO, 7 P.M.
The Black Knights (0-3) had another tough set back last week as they look to improve.
“We continue to work on basic fundamentals,” said Towanda coach Craig Dawsey. “Sports come down to the fundamental things to do well. If you practice something one hundred times you have to do it the same every time. All teams working on being consistent and we are doing the same.”
Wellsboro features the league’s top rusher in Aidan Hauser and one of the fastest teams in the NTL. Keeping them in front and forcing them to drive will be important for Towanda.
“Wellsboro has a great amount of speed that they use very well on both sides of the ball,” said Dawsey. “How do you slow them down? You have to do the best you can to contain them in a small area and if that does not work a team can be in a heap of trouble. You do the best you can to squeeze the box.”
The Hornets (2-1) know enough not to look at Towanda’s record coming into this game.
“They are always a well coached team, their quarterback has been playing for up to four years starting for him and he is always giving us headaches every time we play him, so it is definitely going to be key to help contain him from a defensive stand point,” Wellsboro coach Matt Hildebrand said. “They give you many defensive looks as well, like I said, they always have a good game plan coming in.”
He believes that even if they stop the run the passing game can be just as deadly for the Knights.
“They have a good running back and their quarterback has a good arm to throw the ball and hurt you in several ways,” said Hildebrand. “I think if you do slow him down running, you still have to be aware that he can throw the ball as well.”
Last week the Hornets put up 70 on Montgomery. They hope to carry some of that offensive out put to tonight’s game.
“I think we have been able to establish the run in the first three weeks of the season,” Hildebrand remarked. “We need to be able to do that as well. Establish the offensive line and move their defensive line. I think we need to become a little bit more balanced and be able to throw the ball, not just due to necessity in situations of third and long.”
JOHNSON CITY AT WAVERLY, 7 P.M.
The Wolverines (1-0) face a divisional opponent as they open the season at home tonight.
Last week saw them edge Union-Edicott 23-22 in a thriller, but veteran coach Jason Miller knows that’s all in the past.
“We just try to have a solid week in practice and stay focused on our next opponent, we have to take it one at a time,” he remarked. “That game is behind us and we did the best we could to remain focused on the next target is how we look at it.”
Waverly largely relied on the pass last week but that may change against Johnson City (0-1).
“They blitz a lot, so we have to be concentrating on our blocking assignments,” Miller said. “We are going to have to be patient, we are not going to let them get us off our schedule and out of our game plan. We have hopefully prepared for what we believe they are going to do. If any game is true, we need to hold on to the football and need to win the turnover battle and we need to pay attention to details when it comes to field position and stuff like that.”
Defensively, the Wolverines will need to have sound position and decisions if they are to keep JC in check, a team that rattled off 22 points last week.
“They have a very good quarterback and we need to really make sure we try to take him or limit what he is capable of doing,” Miller said. “He is a very good runner and is allusive. We just need to be disciplined. Be disciplined in defense and try to do our own jobs, and we are going to have a much better chance at success. They are going to make the plays, but we need to limit them.”
BUCKTAIL AT CANTON, 7 P.M.
The Warriors are looking to stay unbeaten as they face Bucktail (0-2) Thursday.
Canton (3-0) has been rolling lately, winning their first three games of the season by comfortable margins.
Regardless, they aren’t taking any chances with the Bucks.
“They are coming off a bye week and will be fresh and ready to play,” said Canton coach Tyler Sechrist.
The Warriors continue to fine tune their offense.
“We are working on both our rushing and passing game so that we have a balanced attack offensively,” Sechrist said.
Defensively, they’ve been stout and look to keep sharp.
“We need to keep improving on our tackling each week,” he said.
CV AT CMVT, 1 P.M.
The Indians (0-3) come into this NTL Division-II match-up winless but continue to improve as they had their best showing yet last week against Athens.
“We are still working on more precision routes and catching the ball in traffic and down the field throws,” said CV coach Mike Schmitt. “We had three drops on deep balls and a couple of in traffic drops. Defensively we are still giving up the big play so we are really taking time to talk about force defenders and edge defenders while improving pursuit angles.”
They’ve been able to get some production through the air but need to balance that out with a ground attack.
“We have got to get our young offensive line to understand our schemes along with the backs increasing speed to LOS,” said Schmitt.
CMVT (2-1) started the year 2-0 before suffering a big loss last week to Nativity BVM.
CV hopes to keep that losing streak going as they work to slow down their offense.
“Trying to get players to fit gaps correctly,” Schmitt remarked.
MONTGOMERY AT SAYRE, 7 P.M.
The Redskins (2-1) suffered their first setback of the season last week as they struggled to contain Troy’s running game.
That was a point of emphasis for coach Kevin Gorman this week.
“We have to continue to make sure we are good tacklers,” he said. “We do not see many small backs in the NTL, so we have to know how to get those bigger running backs down.”
They face winless Montgomery, a team that has given up 166 points through three weeks this season.
“I think we just keep doing what we are doing,” Gorman said about their offense. “Our offense is fine. I think we still have a bunch of guys who can make plays. We have to limit our mistakes with interceptions and dropped passes.”
The Red Raiders have had more success on offense, scoring 36 points in their opener and 28 last week. Sayre knows they have to do better than last week to slow them down.
“We have to know our checks and know the down and distance,” Gorman said. “We can’t give them yards with dumb penalties. You also have to know where (Maurice Walters) and (Steven Prince) are, they are nice players on the outside who can hurt you if they get the ball.”