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Mustangs ready for Heartland action

Warriors present tough competition

Sentinel file photo
Midd-West made a trip to the PIAA District 4 Class 4A playoffs last season and looks to build on its success, as the Mustangs enter their first season in the extremely competitive Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference. The Mustangs will play in the PHAC’s Division II.

MIDDLEBURG — Midd-West’s move into the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference is one that will certainly present some interesting challenges for the Mustangs and Montoursville will provide a glimpse at the difficulty of facing off in Division II of the PHAC.

Montoursville will look for it’s third consecutive District 4 Class 3A championship. The Warriors have experience on both sides of the ball and a dynamic offense led by running back Rocco Pulizzi, who rushed for 1,100 yards a season ago as a sophomore.

“Obviously, it’s going to be tough,” Mustangs coach Brad Hatter said. “It’s a tough conference and a tough division that we play in. We have Montoursville and Danville as our first two games. Those are two tough opponents for us. That’s what it is going to be, week in and week out. There’s going to be a lot of tough games and tough matchups and we are going to have to work hard and compete.”

Montoursville in particular, returns quarterback Maddix Dalena, a stout defense and multiple threats in the passing game.

“They were 12-2 last year and made a really deep run in the playoffs,” Hatter said. “They have some guys back from last year and looking at them from their scrimmage, they are very well coached and disciplined. They fly around on defense. They are good and they will present a good matchup for us. They have a good running back who is really quick and we will have our hands full on the defensive side. It does create a good matchup for us that we are excited to go out and play, but we know it’s not going to be easy either.”

Midd-West finished 4-7 a season ago and made its second-straight appearance in the District 4 Class 4A semifinals. Key returnees for Midd-West include talented tailback Hunter Wolfley, who is a three-down back that is a shifty, home-run threat. Wolfley also possesses the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as a weapon in the passing game.

The Mustangs also return quarterback CJ Regester who will lead the Mustangs offense in 2020, as well as Trey Lauver, who will take on a new role in the Midd-West offense. Gavin Portzline, Walker Stuck and Sawyer Hornberger all will provide leadership and are experienced players on the line.

The game should present a nice battle in the trenches, as a relatively experienced Mustangs line will battle against a younger Montoursville unit.

Hatter was pleased with how his team played in its scrimmage against Warrior Run and is excited to see his team compete in a gameday atmosphere.

“Expectation wise, I feel like we have a good team coming back,” Hatter said. “We will see what will happen. We will learn a lot about our team on Friday against Montoursville. I think that is the biggest thing for a lot of people. We didn’t get a lot of chances to see our guys play. We were pleased with (what we saw) but at the same time, It’s not quite game competition, so we will find out a lot about our team on Friday.”

Overall, Hatter hopes that an unfamiliarity against PHAC opponents could work in the Mustangs’ favor.

“A lot of it is really — from our perspective –we don’t really know what a lot of these teams are bringing back, because it’s our first year in the league playing them,” Hatter said. “We were looking at what they did last year, but we don’t know a lot about some of these teams, but at the same time, they don’t know much about us either. We are kind of hoping that element of surprise benefits us somehow.”

Midd-West and Montoursville kicks off today at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live at webbweeklylive.com.

Midd-West will open the 2020 high school football season for local teams, as the Mustangs are the only team competing today. Mount Union kicks off its season on Sept. 18, while Mifflin County and Juniata High School open their seasons on Sept. 25.

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