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High school football: Reitz resigns as Mifflinburg football coach
Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
By Harold Raker

\MIFFLINBURG — Mifflinburg High School football coach Mark Reitz has resigned after eight seasons so that he can spend more time with his family and at his job as a middle school teacher.Reitz, 34, compiled a record of 49 wins and 37 losses, including 7-3 in his first season as the head coach and 11-1 the second season. That year, the Wildcats won the Central Susquehanna Conference Division I championship and advanced to the District 4-11 Class AAA subregional, losing to Blue Mountain. The Wildcats were 2-8 this past season. Reitz said he has submitted his letter of resignation to the school board, which has not yet acted on it. But, he said, the position has been posted within the school.The Mifflinburg High alum, who teaches sixth-grade science and social studies, said he will remain as the high school’s boys track and field coach and that he would welcome the opportunity to continue to coach football as a volunteer assistant.

“This year was a tough year,” Reitz said Monday night. “And I have two sons, one who is soon going to be 3 and the other one is 6.” He said it became a time factor with having a full slate of work at school, wanting to find time to spend with his family, and finding the time needed to serve as the head football coach, both in and out of season.

He said he thought that he was shortchanging all three. “Every year, it’s a one-year contract so every year you are re-evaluated,” he added. Reitz spent one season as an assistant coach under John Smith, who left after one season.

“Being a head football coach was not one of my dreams in life, it just happened,” he said. “Then we started winning and it was hard to get out, and I did enjoy it.” Reitz had previously resigned the position after his first five seasons, but changed his mind during the offseason.

He said that will not be the case this time. “This is a little different. I had other issues, but I was able to get them resolved. This time I really feel I don’t have the time, especially to win, and to compete in our league (the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I) and spend the time I need at home and at work,” he said.

“I enjoyed it, it was sure an adventure these last eight years,” he said.

Reitz said that, depending on who gets the job, he would like to continue on as an assistant coach, but he has no control over that. I don’t have to be a head coach, but I like working with the kids. I learned a lot, but I still have a lot to learn. I hate to throw all that out, because my staff and I put a lot of time into this. The staff worked really hard,” Reitz said.

Wildcats use short field to topple Braves
Saturday, November 1st, 2008
By Brian Holtzapple

SUNBURY — Friday night’s matchup between Mifflinburg and Shikellamy was not only a battle of wills between two one-win teams, it was also a battle of field position.Mifflinburg got the ball twice inside Shikellamy’s 25 yard line, and the Wildcats turned both of those possessions into scores as they held on for a 20-19 Heartland Athletic Conference Division I victory at Shikellamy Stadium. Barry Tomasetti’s 12-yard pass to Darren Reynolds early in the fourth quarter resulted in the game-winning touchdown for Mifflinburg (2-8, 2-4 HAC-I).“Nothing is easy for us, but we knew it would be (a hard-fought) game coming in,” Mifflinburg coach Mark Reitz said.

“We did have good field position. The offense made a couple of plays and the defense made a couple of plays.”With the game tied at 7 at the half after Mifflinburg and Shikellamy (1-9, 1-5) traded touchdowns in the first quarter, Reitz wanted to do something to spark his team and get things going in the second half.Wildcats’ starting linebacker and rarely-used tailback David Snook was that spark for Reitz.Snook’s chance to shine had to wait however as the Braves took a 13-7 lead on their first possession of the second half on Dominick Wolfe’s four-yard touchdown run. Wolfe’s extra point was wide left.

On its next possession Mifflinburg would put together its longest scoring drive of the game, and Snook had a big hand in directing it. Beginning from their own 24 yard line, the Wildcats tried to pass on first down but Tomasetti’s pass was off target. Mifflinburg kept the ball on the ground for the remaining eight plays in the drive, with Snook running the ball on seven of them.

Snook totaled 67 yards in the series and he gave the Wildcats a 14-13 lead with 5:02 left in the third quarter with a two-yard touchdown run. Snook finished with 104 yards rushing on 17 carries. “This is the second game they actually let me run. I just looked for holes and my blocker Chad Wolfgang did a great job,” Snook said. “The coaches said they saw me in pregame warm-ups and said he’s a senior and he needs to get in there.’”

Reitz said, “Snook had kind of a spark in his eyes this week in practice, and even in pregame we were watching him. Tonight we just had a feeling and we gave it a shot and he made a lot of big plays for us.”

Tomasetti’s scoring pass to Reynolds was another such big play for the Wildcats.

The touchdown came on the third play of a drive that Mifflinburg began at the Shikellamy 14 after the Braves botched a snap on a punt.

The touchdown pass was Tomasetti’s only completion out of six attempts in the game. Later in the fourth Shikellamy completed a 10-play drive with a T.J. Hertzog two-yard touchdown run that cut the Braves’ deficit to 20-19 with 2:23 left.Shikellamy coach Sam Stroh went for two and the win, but Garrett Pope’s conversion pass to Mark Forbes was high.The Braves weren’t done as Wolfe recovered Zach Dailey’s on-side kick at the 50.The potential game-winning drive for Shikellamy ended after three plays as Pope fumbled the ball and Wolfgang recovered to end the threat. The effects of the tough, close game showed on the faces of Shikellamy’s players as many of them were shedding tears after the loss.

“I told (the players) they lost a football game, but what they won back was the heart of this program,” Stroh said. “We haven’t had a game around here like that for a long time.

“It was against a good football team, we both went after it and we had every opportunity to score,” Stroh added. “But we gave Mifflinburg a short field twice and that’s tough to overcome. We played with heart, pride and passion the entire game.”

 

Wildcats fend off Shik rally
Saturday, November 1st, 2008
By Standard Journal

SUNBURY — David Snook rushed for 111 second-half yards and a touchdown and Mifflinburg overcame three turnovers and a furious Shikellamy rally Friday to score a 20-19 Heartland Conference-I victory at Shikellamy in the season finale for both teams. Mifflinburg’s season ends at 2-8, 2-4 HC-I while Shikellamy’s season comes to a close at 1-9, 1-4 HC-I.

Snook did not carry the ball in the first half, but rushed 11 times in the second half, breaking tackles and churning for yards as the senior sparked a Wildcat offense that sputtered through the first half. Mifflinburg took an early lead when seniors Jim Brobst and Chad Wolfgang got to Shikellamy punter Cody Daddario, tipping a punt that traveled just 10 yards to give Mifflinburg a first down deep in Braves’ territory at the 14. On the second play from scrimmage, Darren Reynolds took a reverse from quarterback Barry Tomasetti and strolled untouched into the end zone from 15 yards out. Jon Himes’ PAT made it 7-0.

Shikellamy evened it on its third possession, the result of a Mifflinburg turnover near midfield. Quarterback Garrett Pope found Alex Heemstra for a 14-yard TD. The two hooked up earlier on a 30-yard pass play to put the Braves deep in Wildcats’ territory. The score would remain tied at the half. Mifflinburg coughed it up on its first possession of the second half and Shikellamy pounced, once again using a Pope to Heemstra pass play to set up a score. This time, it was Heemstra snatching a 17-yard pass that set up a four-yard romp by Dominick Wolfe. The point after was blocked and Mifflinburg was down 13-7.

Mifflinburg then took the kick and proceeded to march 76 yards the other way with Snook carrying the ball seven times with the final carry being a two-yard stroll into the end zone. Himes’ PAT made it 14-13 Wildcats. Mifflinburg then took advantage of another Shikellamy botched punt attempt to take over at the Braves’ 14. Three plays later, Tomasetti found Reynolds for a 12-yard scoring strike. The PAT was blocked and the Wildcats led 20-13.

That’s when things got interesting. After sputtering most of the night, the Braves’ offense suddenly developed a push and marched 98 yards on 10 plays to close the gap to 20-19 with just 2:23 left. The two-point conversion failed when Pope’s pass fell incomplete amidst a trio of Wildcats. Shikellamy would recover the onside kick, though, but wasted precious time then lost the ball on a fumble recovered by Mifflinburg’s Wolfgang.

Mifflinburg drained the clock, but was forced to punt and the punt was blocked as time expired. Reynolds was there to pounce on it to seal the victory.

Danville uses big second half to topple Wildcats
Saturday, November 1st, 2008
By Eric Pehowic

DANVILLE — When Mikeal Owens-Wright cut through the defense on his 9-yard, third-quarter touchdown run it was the perfect example of what Danville’s offense can do when it’s clicking on all cylinders.Owens-Wright slashed through a Mifflinburg defense that had just defended three consecutive passes, including one for seven and another for 16 yards.“When we can have balance it puts a lot of pressure on teams,” Danville coach Jeremy Winn said after the 36-13 Ironmen win that got DHS back to .500 at (4-4, 3-1 HAC-I). “Then our play-action game — we’ve been trying to it, but without a true run game people haven’t really bit on it — but Mifflinburg bit pretty hard and we were able to do some really nice things.” The Ironmen accumulated nearly 500 yards of offense, 347 through the air and 134 on the ground in the win.Owens-Wright, who added a 25-yard scoring run later, finished with 103 yards on the ground.

Ironmen quarterback Andrew Shoop, who surpassed the 5,000-yard career passing mark in the game, threw two TDs and ran for another late.“We made a lot of adjustments at halftime and our offensive line picked it up a notch,” Shoop said. “We had a couple mental breakdowns in the first half, but we really picked it up as an entire unit on offense. I made some better throws and we had more time to throw (in the second half.)”

Danville threw for almost 200 yards in the second half, with all-state tight end Michael Smith doing most of the heavy lifting. He had finished with 200 yards receiving — going for 123 in the second half, including a 71-yard scoring catch.

The Wildcats (1-7, 1-4) also made some halftime adjustments, staying with sophomore quarterback Jeremy Rosborough, who helped them on the only touchdown drive of the first half. After a 63-yard Darren Reynolds return, Rosborough ran for 12 yards on an option before Chad Wolfgang punched it in.

Later, Rosborough broke free on a 60-yard TD. But, the Wildcats fumbled four times, losing one, and muffed a punt that was recovered by Danville deep in Wildcats territory. “We had two fumbles, and that changed the whole game,” MIfflinburg coach Mark Reitz said. “We lost all the momentum. We gave it to them again. Until we stop that we’re not going to be a good football team. We’re struggling right now and Danville’s a good football team.”

For as good as their numbers turned out, the Ironmen had to overcome some turnovers and changes of momentum, too. Shoop was intercepted in the Wildcats end zone in the second quarter, and Wolfgang’s touchdown came just 30 seconds after Danville’s Andy Sanders had kicked a 23-yard field goal to take what they probably assumed would be a 3-0 lead into halftime.

In their first drive of the second half, the Ironmen fumbled the ball after an 11-yard run and the Wildcats’ Derek Wiand recovered it. But Mifflinburg fumbled the ball on their very first play of the ensuing drive, and Ironmen lineman Sam Betz recovered.

Danville went on to score on the drive with Smith scoring on a 12-yard pass from Shoop.

Ironmen capitalize on Mifflinburg mistakes
Saturday, November 1st, 2008
By Chris Brady

MIFFLINBURG — It’s easy to look at Mifflinburg’s 1-8 record and think the Wildcats are just suffering through a down season. While that’s partly true, it’s also true that the Wildcats are easily one of the better teams in the area — when they aren’t shooting themselves in the foot.

Armed with a 7-3 at the half against Heartland Conference-I rival Danville Friday, Mifflinburg coughed it up twice early in the third quarter with both turnovers leading to Ironmen scores. Danville escaped with the 36-13 victory, spoiling the Wildcats’ homecoming festivities.
Mifflinburg fell to 1-7, 1-4 HC-I, while Danville improved to 4-4, 3-1.

“Two fumbles,” said Mifflinburg coach Mark Reitz. “That was the game.”
The Wildcats came out of the locker room after the half and gained a big surge of momentum when they recovered an Ironmen fumble during Danville’s first possession of the second half.

That momentum completely evaporated on the Wildcats’ first play from scrimmage when a fumble gave the ball right back to the Ironmen deep in Mifflinburg territory. Six plays later it was Danville 10, Mifflinburg 7. Mifflinburg got the ball back, went three-and-out, punted to the Ironmen, who went three-and-out, then set up to receive a punt near midfield, only to fumble it right back to the Ironmen. Danville drove 56 yards for the score and never looked back.

Senior quarterback Andrew Shoop had a stellar game completing 24 of 32 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one pick and ran for a touchdown, a four-yard scramble at the end of the game that resulted in the standout going down with a knee injury. Danville also gained 118 yards on the ground with all but one of those yards coming in the second half.

Mikeal Owens-Wright tallied 96 yards on 21 carries including two touchdowns. “The first half was frustrating,” said Danville coach Jeremy Winn. “We had chances in the red zone and came away with just three points. We just weren’t able to finish. “The kids came out for the second half with attitude. We took over and just kept them guessing (on defense).” It was Mifflinburg that had the push heading into the locker room, though. Down 3-0 with just 56.1 ticks left in the half, Mifflinburg special teams standout Darren Reynolds took the ensuing kick and ran it back 64 yards to give the Wildcats a first-and-10 from the 15. Quarterback Jeremy Rosborough picked up 11 on an option left to give the ‘Cats the ball at the Danville one and Chad Wolfgang ran it in from there. Jon Himes tacked on the PAT and Mifflinburg had the lead.

The second half was a different story, though, as the two turnovers deflated the Mifflinburg defense. After gaining just one yard on 14 carries in the first half, Danville was able to utilize a ground game along with Shoop’s passing attack to keep the Wildcats’ offense off the field.

Down 23-7 in the third, Mifflinburg cut the lead to 10 when Rosborough ran option left and kept right on trucking for a 59-yard TD run. The two-point conversion failed. Danville added another pair of TDs, including a Shoop to Michael Smith hook-up good for 71 yards and a score.

Smith finished with 10 receptions, 116 yards and a pair of TDs. “It happens every week and I can’t explain it,” said Reitz of the turnovers and mental mistakes. “It’s tough mentally on these kids to recover from something like that. “We came in here expecting to beat that team. They’re a good team and Shoop’s a good quarterback, but we just don’t take care of the football.” Mifflinburg is back in action next week at home against Shamokin.