ALTOONA – Heath Hidlay and Mifflin County picked up right where they left off a week ago in State College.
The senior running back carried 25 times for 182 yards and a touchdown as Mifflin County beat DuBois 41-21 in the Districts 6-9 Class AAAA football championship.
“This is all them,” Mifflin County coach George Miskinis said. “They bought into what we wanted to do. They worked out hard in the offseason. I think the fruits of their labor showed tonight.”
The Huskies earned the first football district championship in the school’s brief history.
“It was great,” senior John Michael Maclay said. “It was our goal ever since last season ended. We want to come and win a district title. Us, as seniors, took the right steps to get there.”
Hidlay and the Huskies started out strong again this week, ravaging the DuBois defense for the opening-drive score.
Hidlay carried five times for 43 yards on the drive to set up Jadon Boyer’s 1-yard touchdown plunge.
After six straight losses to end the regular season where they couldn’t make one difference-making play, the Huskies made almost every single one against the Beavers.
Right after scoring the game’s first score, Trey Hartsock recovered a DuBois fumble on the ensuing kickoff and the Huskies took over at the Beavers’ 37-yard line.
Despite not scoring on that drive, Mifflin County started to turn the field position battle.
After trading two possessions for one for DuBois, Maclay’s punt pinned Dubois at its own 7-yard line.
Mifflin County then forced a three-and-out and Hidlay returned the Beavers’ punt to the Dubois 32-yard line.
Two plays later, Maclay hit Jared Michaels with a 26-yard halfback option touchdown pass to give the Huskies a 14-0 lead.
“It’s actually the first pass I’ve thrown all year,” Maclay said. “We practiced it this week. I used to play quarterback a while ago. I just threw it deep and Jared made a great catch.”
On the third play of DuBois’ next drive, Beaver quarterback Gabe French carried and fumbled to give the ball right back to Mifflin County.
After being forced into a second-and-17 as the result of a holding penalty, Hunter Walker hit Issac Strohecker deep down the sideline for a 36-yard gain.
Three plays later, Hidlay scored from a yard out and the Huskies had a 21-0 lead about 18 minutes into the game.
DuBois got runs of 19 and 32 yards on the following possession and French scored on a 3-yard run to make it 21-7.
Mifflin County answered right back with the power running game.
Hidlay ran 50 yards on the first play of the next drive to set the Huskies up deep in Dubois territory again.
Kyle Kahley became the third Huskie runner to score when he got in the end zone from three yards out.
After 155 yards a week ago against State College, Hidlay went into halftime with 125 yards rushing and a touchdown.
It was much of the same in the second half.
After returning the half’s opening kick 23 yards, Hidlay carried six times for 34 yards to set up Hunter Walker’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Boyer with 7:22 left in the third quarter.
“We have good running backs, but it all starts up front and begins with our line,” Miskinis said. “When you acknowledge our running backs, you’re really acknowledging our line. It was built around our line.”
DuBois answered back when Devin Clark scored from a yard out with 4:11 left in the third.
On the ensuing drive, Mifflin County made another big play through the air.
Walker hit Maclay for a 39-yard completion down the sideline. It was Walker’s third completion of the night – and all of them were huge.
Later on that drive, Kahley scored on a 9-yard run to give the Huskies an insurmountable 27 point lead.
DuBois added a 29-yard touchdown pass from French to Cole Kriner with 4:10 to play in the game to make it 41-21.
“Our kids hung in there in the midst of a six-game losing streak,” Miskinis said. “We came back and won two in a row. We’ve got to keep getting better and do the things that we do well. Being able to turn it around was big.”
Mifflin County will play Erie’s McDowell High School (District 10), a 49-19 winner ovr District 8’s Allderdice, in a first-round state game tentatively set for Nov. 22 at DuBois.