Finishing is key for Huskies’ playoff success
LEWISTOWN – Finish it.
That’s what Mifflin County football coach George Miskinis has learned since his team’s last meeting with State College, a 26-21 loss on October 25.
“I think it comes down to executing at the end,” Miskinis said. “We just have to finish. We got down there somewhere around the 20-yard line when the clock ran out. We have to just make one more play and finish.”
Mifflin County will be trying to do just that tonight in State College when they get a rematch with the Little Lions in the semifinals of the District 6 Class AAAA playoffs. The winner will advance to play No. 1 seed Dubois next week.
Miskinis doesn’t believe that playing State College so recently gives him or his team any type of advantage.
“I think it just adds to the rivalry,” Miskinis said. “It makes people work harder on both sides.”
The difficulty since their stunning mid-season loss to Harrisburg has been finishing off games in the fourth quarter.
It all started on September 27 when they had a 34-18 lead going into the fourth quarter against Harrisburg.
Harrisburg got the huge fourth-quarter plays including a 63-yard kickoff return and a 76-yard touchdown run.
“I think what happened is we got stunned by Harrisburg,” Miskinis said of the mid-season swoon. “They came in and took away a lot of our momentum by being able to come back and score 20 points in the fourth quarter when we were up 16.
“Since then, our fourth quarter woes have continued. Big play by Cumberland Valley after a muffed punt that wasn’t called. There’s a lot of little things that happen over the course of a game.”
The biggest point for the Huskies during practice this week has been to fix those little things they can control and prepare for another chess match with State College.
“I think what we are trying to do is correct the fundamentals, the little things, getting the head to the right side,” Miskinis said. “We’ve been seeing a lot of blitzing the last few weeks. Everyone thinks that the answer is to line up and get as many people in the box and come at us. State College tried that last time. We got in the bone and we kind of solved that issue. They started playing normal so we went back into normal. It will all depend on how the game evolves.”
The high volume of blitzing may be a result of the switch to smaller and less experienced quarterback Hunter Walker, who has started the last few games for Mifflin County.
When tonight’s game rolls around though, Miskinis is comfortable with both Walker and junior Brice Christine, who started most of the season.
“We can play with anybody at quarterback,” Miskinis said. “Right now, Hunter will (get) first shot, Brice is taking reps there. We’re comfortable with either player there.”
Part of Miskinis’ concern comes back to being able to finish the game in crunch time, so having two viable options could serve as an advantage.
“It depends on how the game evolves,” Miskinis said. “Really, there is not a whole lot of difference between them. They both execute the offense well, they both understand it. It’s the idea of trying to keep everyone fresh also, so we can finish in the fourth quarter.”
State College comes in at 5-5, averaging 207 rushing yards per game and 134 passing yards per game.
Senior quarterback Pat Irwin leads them in both passing (1,333 yards, eight TDs) and rushing (805 yards, 12 TDs).
Jordan Misher is second on the Little Lions in rushing with 697 yards on the season and eight touchdowns.
Both Irwin and Misher average over five yards per carry.
Both players were held relatively quiet the last time the two teams met.
Misher ran for 51 yards and a touchdown, while Irwin was held to a season-low 18 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Irwin is coming off a season-best 210 passing yards last Friday against Cumberland Valley.
Miskinis had already seen both the work of Irwin and Misher and realizes he could be in for some surprises.
He may have some for State College as well.
“I’m sure they’re going to have some things that we haven’t seen to this point and we’ll have some things that they haven’t seen from us,” Miskinis said.