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Redbank Valley Prepares for Northern Bedford Football Team That is Riding High Entering Quarterfinals

Thursday, November 25, 2021 @ 01:11 AM

Posted by Mike Kilroy

IMG_0485CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Don’t let Northern Bedford County’s rough start to the season fool you.

Not all three-game losing streaks are created equal.

(Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography. To order pictures from the Redbank Valley vs. Union/A-C Valley D9 championship game, visit here. Use the promo code BLACKFRIDAY20 to get 20% off all galleries.)

After opening the season with a 7-2 win (yes, that Scorigami is final), the Panthers suffered losses of 29-0, 27-0, and 56-7 to three Class 2A teams with a combined record this season of 29-5.

On paper, it was hardly the kind of early stretch that would lead to a PIAA Class A quarterfinal appearance. But, here District 6 champion NBC is, set to take on Redbank Valley at 7:00 p.m. on Friday in a state playoff game at Clarion University.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“They haven’t lost to a single-A school,” said Redbank Valley coach Blane Gold. “The conference they play in is like the old KSAC where they’re playing bigger schools. It’s interesting, and it’s a big testament to their program and their coaching staff that they’re here right now.”

Not only did the Panthers start 1-3 while being outscored 114-14, but they began in that hole with a team that looked nothing like the one that played Redbank last season in the state playoffs, losing 28-15 to the Bulldogs.

NBC’s quarterback, Eion Snider, is a sophomore. It’s leading rusher, Adam Johnson, is also a sophomore. It’s leading receiver, Aaron Bowers, is a freshman.

Yet, the Panthers (9-3) have won eight straight games, including an impressive 35-22 win over District 10 champ Reynolds last week, to get a rematch with Redbank (11-1).

“Last year when we played them, they were a very senior-heavy team,” Gold said. “So, a lot of these guys are new. They only have one player on their roster who had a stat last year.”

Meanwhile, Redbank Valley is an experienced group.

Senior Ray Schreckengost leads the team in rushing with 878 yards on 161 carries and 16 touchdowns. Two of the top three receivers, Chris Marshall and Marquese Gardlock, are also seniors and the core of the defense has been playing together for nearly four years.

It’s been the progression of another senior, quarterback Bryson Bain, that has helped Redbank Valley roll-off 11 straight wins heading into this game.

Bain, though, is in his first year of playing football. After a rough start in a 22-20 loss to Keystone in the opener, Bain has flourished.

He came up big last week in a 28-21 win over Union/A-C Valley, completing 19 of 28 for 287 yards and a touchdown.

This season, Bain has thrown for 1,915 yards and 28 TDs.

“The progression of that kid, I mean, it’s just absolutely incredible,” Gold said. “That first game, his first-ever game, he throws two pick-sixes and had a safety. He literally gave 16 points to the other team, and look where he’s at right now. He carried us Friday night. He’s really been making some big-time throws. I can’t say enough about the kid.”

Bain has also been humble and willing to stand on the sideline and watch another senior, Gunner Mangiantini, play if the situation calls for it.

It did on several occasions last week in that win over Union/A-C Valley.

“We strategically went to Gunner,” Gold said. “When we had first-and-goal at the 10, we went to Gunner because there are some things Gunner does a little better than Bryson. Then, we turned to Gunner with three minutes left with Union having three timeouts. That wasn’t charity playing time. That was, ‘Gunner lead the offense, get first downs and end the game.’

“The way that both of those guys have handled that situation has really helped mold this football team into what it is.”

What it has become is a team that can win big, but can also gut out close games.

Redbank has shown some fortitude in the playoffs so far.

The Bulldogs fell behind 14-0 to Port Allegany, but rallied to win 35-14. Last week, Redbank Valley led Union/A-C Valley 21-0 in the first quarter, but watched as the Falcon Knights rallied to tie the game at 21-21 before rebounding to win.

Gold expects another dogfight this week against NBC.

“We felt we played two-and-a-half really, really good quarters of football, but for a quarter-and-a-half, Union punched us in the mouth,” Gold said. “Hopefully, that prepares us for the next opponent.”

Redbank Valley has been punching opponents in the mouth all season with a staunch defense and an offense that can pile up the points.

Four Bulldogs have four players with 19 or more receptions. Junior Tate Minich leads the way with 37 catches for 486 yards and seven TDs. Marshall is next with 34 grabs for 529 yards and 10 scores. Gardlock had hauled in 25 passes for 445 yards and four TDs and Aiden Ortz had 19 receptions for 253 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, seven players have 40 or more tackles. Junior linebacker Zeldon Fisher leads the way with 78. Senior defensive end Joe Mansfield had 20 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks.

“We feel like the best type of football team, especially for our offense, is put the ball where the defense isn’t and take advantage of matchups,” Gold said. “If that means a team is devoted to taking Chris Marshall away and doubling him, that means somebody else is one-on-one. That’s what we saw two weeks ago against Port Allegany when Tate nearly got 100 yards receiving.

“If we can instill that in the guys to put the selfishness to the side and not care about records, put egos aside, we have the potential to have a really, really good football team.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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