Redbank Valley to play for District 9 title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Redbank Valley's offense did the work in the first half, and its defense handled business in the second.
The third-seeded Bulldogs scored all of their points before halftime and got a pair of critical fourth-down stops to get past No. 2 Curwensville, 28-22, in the District 9 Class A semifinals Saturday at DuBois High School.
Mark Strothers had 247 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries for the Bulldogs (8-3), who advance to face undefeated No. 1 seed Clarion in the district final at a site and time to be determined. Jake Dougherty also scored two rushing touchdowns for Redbank Valley, which advanced to its first District 9 final since 2004 when it played in Class AA.
“After last year, going 1-8, I've been giving our seniors so much credit. They stuck with it and had faith in the program,” Redbank Valley coach Ed Wasilowski said. “There were a lot of people on the outside that might have been doubting us, but the seniors stuck together and played their hearts out.”
Curwensville (9-2) leaned on its 2,000-yard rusher, Zach Tibbens. The senior back ran for 218 yards and a touchdown on 47 carries, but his final run was the shining moment for the Redbank Valley defense.
With 1:04 remaining in the game, the Golden Tide faced a fourth-and-5 at the Redbank Valley 29. Having already converted a pair of fourth downs with runs on the drive — once with the Bulldogs' sideline fuming that no measurement was taken — Curwensville again turned to Tibbens, who took a toss right but was halted by a swarm of defenders at the 26.
“It was getting tough because they kept hammering it up the middle for 4 or 5 yards a play, but we finally cracked down and got where we needed to be,” senior lineman Devin Burkhouse said. “They had a pitch to the outside, and (Tibbens) started breaking through a couple of tackles, but everybody just flew to the ball and hit him.”
Redbank Valley opened a 14-0 lead after a 27-yard touchdown run by Strothers and a 2-yard run by Dougherty, but the Bulldogs let Curwensville back in the game with turnovers.
Alex Olson scored on a 25-yard fumble return for the Tide's first points, and another Redbank Valley fumble set up Tibbens for a 6-yard touchdown that gave Curwensville a 15-14 lead after a 2-point conversion.
“I thought we gave them everything they got in the first half,” Wasilowski said. “All year we've been moving the ball. I told the kids, the only time we get stopped is when we stop ourselves, and we did that a couple times (Saturday) with those turnovers.”
Strothers responded three plays later with the game's longest play, an 85-yard touchdown run that put Redbank Valley back in the lead. Dougherty scored on a 4-yard run later in the second quarter. A missed 37-yard field goal by Curwensville's Jason Thorp kept the Redbank Valley lead at 28-15 at halftime.
“We wanted to prove that our spread offense is more powerful than people give it credit for. Our Bulldogs on the line, they just kept pushing people back 3 or 4 yards for Mark and me,” Dougherty said.
“The first half, our offensive line was really blowing everything up,” Strothers said. “Their defense really stepped up in the second half, and I saw No. 44 (Curwensville linebacker Jake Stiles) keying on me a lot more.”
A third Redbank Valley fumble set up Curwensville to cut the lead on a quarterback sneak by Kyle Johns in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs' defense stood tall from that point.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.