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Mirror file photo Bishop Guilfoyle, running back Cooper Rother, is brought down by two Richland defenders in the road win last week.

By Michael Boytim

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Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic finds himself in a familiar position, playing for a District 6 championship but on a new level on Friday when the Marauders take on Penns Valley at 7pm at Mansion Park

The Marauders were forced to move from 1A to 2A after winning the PIAA Championship, the school’s fourth football championship, due to the PIAA’s winning formula. The move put them neck and neck with Richland, who served as the 2A kingpin in the area for much of the past decade and who had dominated BG of late.

That all changed last Thursday when Bishop Guilfoyle knocked out the Rams in the semifinals.

Now the Marauders can finish the job against Penns Valley.

“It would mean a lot because everyone assumed our rise would be a reality check.” said Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler. “Richland, Bald Eagle and Penns Valley were there and it was going to be really tough to win 2A. It’s part of what we talked about and what people thought we were, but it would be huge. As good as we were in 2014-2017, we didn’t win four straight district titles in a row. No team at BG has ever won four district titles in a row so they have the opportunity and they take it pretty seriously.”

Quarterback Karson Kiesewetter has been a big part of BG’s success over the past four years.

“We’ve been fortunate to have some great kids and we’ve talked about kids who were team MVPs or area MVPs, but with Karson, it’s incredible when you see the difference he makes to our team.” Wheeler said. “I speak off the field, in training and so on. He’s such a real leader and so talented. Whenever there is a great challenge, he seems to exceed our expectations. Exceeding expectations week after week as the reigning Player of the Year (PIAA Class 1A) is great. Everyone who left that Richland game was talking about Karson. I think he’s just that kind of player.”

Kiesewetter and the rest of the Marauders certainly have the attention of Penns Valley coach Marty Tobias.

“They are a really good football team” said Tobias. “They are explosive and physical. They have talented kids all over the field. Your quarterback is a special player. We have our hands full.”

The second-ranked Rams avenged a regular-season loss to Bald Eagle Area in their semifinals game last week.

“We learned a lot as a team in those back-to-back weeks against Bald Eagle and Clearfield,” said Tobias. “It taught us a lot about our children and what we need to do better. It gave the kids a sharper focus on what they needed to do better.”

Penns Valley is led by two juniors in quarterback Jackson Romig and running back Ty Watson. Romig is 136-to-211 and has passed for 2,181 yards and 27 touchdowns, and Watson has carried the ball 211 times for 1,403 yards and 24 touchdowns.

The balance between Romig throwing it 211 times and Watson throwing it 211 times is not lost on Tobias.

“It has had a huge impact on our success,” said Tobias. “We were fortunate to remain balanced and efficient.”

One of Penns Valley’s best wins this year is a 28-21 triumph over District 6 Class 3A semifinalists Tyrone.

“I see a tough group of kids who are athletic,” Wheeler said. “I’m looking at the Tyrone game when they were down 21-7 and didn’t stop and scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to win that. They are well trained, athletic and balanced. It’s going to be a pretty tough matchup against a team like us who’ve been really good in the last eight or nine games.”

The Marauders go into play as No. 4, with narrow losses to Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference powerhouses Central, Penn Cambria and Bedford.

“We’ve proved people wrong before, we’d love to prove them wrong again.” said Kiesewetter. “People said we couldn’t compete at 2A level, but so far so good.”

Bishop Guilfoyle’s game against Richland was circled and anticipated ahead of the season, but Wheeler isn’t worried his team won’t have a focus on another Rams team this week.

“Hopefully with the seniors we have it should be easy to stay focused,” Wheeler said. “They knew they had to beat Richland, but the goal was never to beat Richland. The goal was to win districts and make a splash in the 2A State Playoffs. We knew we were going to face them, but the goal was always to win a 2A district title and be a candidate in the state playoffs.”

Kiesewetter is a big part of this tour.

“We are a very dedicated group” said Kiesewetter. “Not just me, but all seniors give the younger ones the right attitude. That showed in the playoffs and we’ve been improving in practice and trying to do more so we can win those bigger games. We’ve been to district and state championships and we’re working with the younger guys to keep them involved and moving.”

Bishop Guilfoyle versus Penns Valley

What: District 6 Class 2A Championship Game

Where: Mansion Park

When: Friday, 7 p.m

Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (9-3); Pennsylvania (10-2)

Last meeting: Bishop Guilfoyle won on October 6, 2006, 14:10

Winner receives: The winner of the District 4 Championship game between undefeated Mount Carmel and defending PIAA Class 2A Champion Southern Columbia in the PIAA Quarterfinals

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