Karns City football team seeks District 9 three-peat vs. St. Marys
Three could be a magic number for Karns City on Friday.
The Gremlins will try for their third streak of three consecutive District 9 football titles when they face St. Marys in the Class AA championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Clarion University.
Karns City (9-1) will be playing for its 11th district title overall. The Gremlins are the only team to win three straight D-9 titles more than once in any classification (1999-2001 and 2007-09).
St. Marys (8-3) never has won a district title. This is the first appearance by the Flying Dutch in the Class AA final after playing mostly in Class AAA.
The Gremlins are favored after a 42-0 win over St. Marys in Week 3, but Karns City coach Ed Conto thinks that first meeting could have little bearing on this week’s game.
“We played them early in the year, and their quarterback was knocked out of the game in the first half,” Conto said. “They didn’t blitz much when we played them, but from our game on, they’ve blitzed a lot. They really bring it, and they’re physical inside.”
The change in style has benefited the Dutch, who have won three straight, including a 7-6 defensive battle against Moniteau in their semifinal last week.
Their eight wins are the most for the school since 1969.
“We’re excited about what we’ve accomplished,” St. Marys coach Tony Defilippi said. “(Karns City) has been the class of Double-A, so for us, we have to stay in the game early. We can’t turn the ball over, and we have to make plays when the chance is there.”
Karns City is coming off its third loss in the past two seasons, 35-31 to Class AAAA DuBois. Running backs Tristan Rhoades and Collin Dunmyre went over 100 yards in that game, and the pair lead Karns City’s running game with 714 and 591 rushing yards, respectively.
With a bye week last week, the sting from that loss has had time to wear off. Conto was unsure whether or not that would be a good thing.
“If you had that still on your mind and played the next week, it might help. It almost doesn’t play into this game because it seems like so long ago,” Conto said. “Normally, I’d like to play the next week, but maybe it will help to get some guys healthier to have the week off.”
St. Marys’ offense has its own successful running back duo in T.J. Hogan (1,030 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Kyle Glatt (844 yards, 14 touchdowns).
“We have to do something to move the ball. Our defense wasn’t too bad in the first game, but it was on the field the entire game.”
The winner Friday will advance to the first round of the PIAA Class AA tournament, where it will face the winner of the District 5 final between Bedford and Chestnut Ridge on Nov. 21 or 22.