State College Schedule Preview: Who’s the Biggest Challenge in 2019?


State High football players line up after a game.

Nathan Grella, Staff Writer

Last week, the State College Area Football team released their 2019 schedule. Although the location of the home games for State High is still an unknown, plans have started to be made regarding the South Track Turf behind the school, and the new Turf next to the new Delta building construction. Wherever the Little Lions will play their games next year, it is definitely going to be a fun season. State College graduates the most productive senior class in school history, leaving open spots at quarterback and across the defensive secondary that have to be filled. The Little Lions have no new opponents following their impressive 2018 campaign, as out of conference teams Mifflin County, Hollidaysburg, and St. Augustine will swap locations.

8/23- @ Mifflin County

The Little Lions start off the season once again in a Week 0 game against the Huskies. State College is 8-1 against the Huskies in the past 6 years, most of those losses coming in embarrassing fashion. State College kicked off last season with a 35-12 beatdown, with all of State College’s points coming in the first half and all of Mifflin County’s in the 4th quarter. The two met again in the District 6 championship and the game was even less competitive, the Lions beat the Huskies 42-7 en route to a meeting the next week with McDowell. The Huskies are replacing their quarterback in Noah Wright coming into the year but return almost everyone else. Offensive centerpiece Gage Schaeffer returns at RB and Zach Bickhart returns at WR. On the defense, leading tackler Jacob Krepps returns in the secondary, as well as Lineman Brycen Hassinger and Trey Kibe. Although a 35 point blowout is a lot to overcome in one offseason, don’t be surprised if the Huskies give the young Lions a game this year.

8/30- vs St. Augustine

Arguably the biggest home game since 2014 when State College played Spring-Ford and Bishop McDevitt, St. Augustine was a defensive powerhouse last year in the New Jersey Catholic league. The team combined for 19 sacks and 13 interceptions, as well as averaging 9.45 points per game. Defensively, however, the Hermits are depleted after last year’s successful year. St. Augustine must replace starting Linebackers and leading tacklers Shane Quast and Justin Bonczek. The good news is that they return sack leader and college prospect Isaiah Raikes to man the Defensive line, as well as interceptions leader Justin Shorter. Offensively, the Hermits return leading rusher, Sophomore Nasir Hill, who should give the State College defense fits for much of the night.

9/6- vs Hollidaysburg

Following the Tigers 49-22 loss against the Little Lions at Tiger Stadium, Hollidaysburg would lose twice in a row before going on a 7 game winning streak during 5A play. The Tigers would even go onto the 5A state championship quarterfinals where they suffered a 38-7 loss to Archbishop Wood. Going into 2019, the Tigers lose their workhorse QB in Brady Walters, which will be the biggest blow to the team and a position that was the most productive in 2018. The Tigers lose their top 2 rushers and top 3 in receiving yards as well. For the Little Lions, watch young talent begin to shine against an inexperienced team

9/13- @ Carlisle

By far the most confusing team in the Mid-Penn last year were the Carlisle Thundering Herd. Beginning the season 3-0, with blowout losses against Mechanicsburg and South Western, Carlisle looked like a team on the rise, however a Mid-Penn opening game at Memorial Field ended with a 56-17 blowout, and Carlisle would go on to go 0-7 for the rest of the year. The Thundering Herd return leading offensive productor Tristyn Sulich and leading receiver Taylor Hebenstreit, however, even if Carlisle is on the rise next year, this should be a win for State College.

9/20- @ Chambersburg

Following a winless season in 2017, the Mark Luther led Chambersburg Trojans were predicted to have another unimpressive season. Fortunately for the Trojans, they were on their way to going 7-4, ending with a berth in the 6A playoffs. The Chambersburg Defense stood out in 2018, only allowing over 30 points to a team twice during the season. The better news for Chambersburg is that everyone is returning. Brady Stumbaugh, a true dual-threat QB, is heading into his 3rd year as the starter for the Trojans. Keyshawn Jones and Keyhere Morton return in the backfield and Kevin Lee Jr is back at receiver. On Defense, everyone is back. This team is reminiscent of a 2018 State College in terms of returning production, don’t be surprised if this game is close or Chambersburg pulls the upset at home.

9/27- @ CD East

CD East was a shell of its former self in 2018. The team that was usually led by a diverse group of dynamic athletes were forced to put in a lot of Sophomores and Juniors with little experience in skill positions. This year, all will be a year older. Jeremiah Green returns as a Junior QB and he should get the job from the get-go. Bryce Baker returns at RB as well. 2019 will be an improvement on last year, that is certain, however, it looks like much of the talent on the Panthers roster is still a year away from a deep playoff run. If CD East overachieves in the first half of the season, look out for a sneaky upset.

10/4- vs Harrisburg

By far the most impressive team on the 2018 State College schedule was the Harrisburg Cougars. Besides an opening week loss to Coatesville, Harrisburg went on a surprising championship run the rest of the season, including a playoff semifinal rematch win against the Red Raiders. The Cougars just fell short in the State Championship, as St. Joseph’s won by 20 points. In last year’s matchup with the Cougars, State College was outmatched, but with good reason. The Little Lions were replacing two offensive linemen, one of which absence was unknown until the day before the game. Also missing was Isaiah Edwards, forcing State College to put in Dresyn Green for his first start of the year. This year, the game is back in University Park and should be an excellent matchup that everyone on both teams will look forward to. The Cougars are replacing D1 talent in QB Kane Everson (Army) and LB Andre White Jr (Texas A&M), however, RB Donte Kent, who holds offers from 12 D1 schools will give the young State College defense trouble throughout the game.

10/11- vs Central Dauphin

Central Dauphin had an impressive Fall last year, capped with an impressive playoff run to the District 3 final. The Rams came into their home matchup against the Lions riding high following a blowout win against Altoona. State College managed to steal the game in Harrisburg, riding the back of Juniors Dresyn Green and Addison Darcy.  Senior QB Noah Hoffman graduated for the Rams, and will most likely be replaced by Max Mosey, who got reps at Varsity near the end of last year. The most impressive aspect of Central Dauphin’s 2018 season was their strong, hard-nosed defense. The Rams graduate their top 4 tacklers (3 of which are linebackers) but return nearly everyone else. Expect a true defensive battle when these two meet.

10/18- @ Altoona

2018 was a struggle for the Nick Felus led Altoona Mountain Lions. The only in-conference game Altoona was able to scrape out after their departure from the WPIAL was a 2OT thriller against Carlisle. For Altoona to be at least a little competitive in 2019, they’ll have to find better athletes. In 2018, Altoona seemed to block well and played admirably on the defensive line, but the talent deficiency between them and their opponents was the lack of any dynamic athletes. Altoona also loses DT Gaige Hill to Toledo, which will take a huge hit in their defensive production. Expect a few years for Altoona to create a football culture under Nick Felus before they start generating the type of talent they are capable of.

10/25- vs Cumberland Valley

In 2018, the Eagles played the toughest out-of-conference schedule I have ever seen. An opening matchup against Bishop McDevitt was just the frosting with games against Central York and Coatesville to follow. Unsurprisingly, Cumberland Valley lost all of those games, but it ended up giving them experience for games later in the season. One of those games ended up being a rubber match in sloppy conditions in the season cap against the Little Lions, where State College ended up controlling the ball late to finish the game. Going into 2019, the Eagles will be implementing Junior Hunter Grunden at QB into their Wing T offense. He will be joined by the team’s leader in yards last season, Maximos Dell’anno. Last year, this game should not have been close, but ended up being competitive, look for Cumberland Valley to keep it close again this year.