LOYSBURG - The Karns City High School football team boasts a multi-pronged rushing attack that can cause opponents grief in a variety of different ways.
"They keep coming at you,'' Chestnut Ridge coach Max Shoemaker said after watching the Gremlins' talented backfield pile up 390 rushing yards in a 35-14 opening-round PIAA Class AA playoff victory over his team Friday night on Northern Bedford High School's Panther Community Field. "You can't focus on just their option game, or their inside power game. They're very difficult to defend.''
Part of the problem Karns City's offense presents is the sheer number of weapons it possesses. That was on display Friday, as senior scatback Wyatt Everetts (118 yards on 11 carries, one touchdown), senior back Zach Moore (10 carries for 94 yards, one touchdown), and junior halfback Tristan Rhoades (10 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns) each rushed for at least 90 yards.
Bullish senior fullback Adam Whited added another 56 yards on 11 tries for Karns City, which improved to 10-1 and will meet the winner of today's District 7 matchup between Aliquippa and South Fayette in next weekend's quarterfinals.
"We have a good group of running backs, a lot of weapons,'' Karns City coach Ed Conto said. "Tristan is an excellent athlete who is very quick and can make things happen, Wyatt is a shifty guy, and Moore is a power guy. They're a nice group of backs to have.''
As Friday's game wore on, it became evident that Karns City's backfield balance would be the telltale factor.
Ridge converted a Trent Crouse fumble recovery into the opening score of the game, a 6-yard run by Crouse with 5:53 left in the first quarter.
But Karns City took command in the second quarter, with the 5-7, 145-pound Everett slashing down the left side of the field for a 49-yard touchdown run and Moore adding a 6-yard scoring burst 2:54 before intermission to cap off a 64-yard Karns City scoring drive.
Karns City maintained its 14-7 lead late into the third quarter, when a Ridge fumble paved the way for Rhoades' 6-yard TD sprint off right end and a 21-7 lead for the Gremlins.
"Our offensive line did a great job of firing off the ball tonight,'' Rhoades said.
Ridge showed spunk and heart in several ways Friday. Junior running back-linebacker Matt Wiley suffered a knee injury after being tackled on a third-quarter run up the middle and didn't return to the lineup on offense, but gamely came back later in the period to finish out his duties on defense.
"Matt's a tough kid who is a leader on both sides of the ball,'' Shoemaker said. "Our trainer diagnosed his injury as a MCL [medial collateral ligament] sprain.''
Wiley's return seemed to energize Ridge, which moved to within 21-14 on quarterback Beau Bosch's 3-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. The score followed Bosch's fumble recovery from his end position on defense.
But Karns City salted the game away with an 80-yard fourth-quarter drive that was polished off by sophomore halfback Maverick Kelsea's 16-yard touchdown run with 3:48 to play. Rhoades added a 13-yard TD scamper with 53 seconds left to set the final score.
Ridge finished 9-4 and won its second consecutive District 5-8, Class AA title last week.
"This is a bitter pill for our kids to swallow right now, but as they reflect back on the season, I'm sure they will see a lot of positives,'' Shoemaker said. "Winning our second district title is a feather in our caps. We had a special group of seniors who set the tone for us this year.''
Game notes: Ridge's Braden Hengst averaged 50 yards on five punts ... Karns City senior defensive lineman Jeremy Codispot is also a member of the school's band and was on the field directing that unit at halftime.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Karns City0 14 7 14 - 35
Chestnut Ridge7 0 7 0 - 14
CR-Crouse 6 run (Van Meter kick), 5:53.
KC-Everetts 49 run (Moore kick), 11:12.
KC-Moore 6 run (Moore kick), 2:54.
KC-Rhoades 6 run (Moore kick), 6:29.
CR-Bosch 3 run (Van Meter kick), 2:16.
KC-Kelsea 16 run (Moore kick), 3:48.
KC-Rhoades 13 run (Moore kick), 0:53.
RUSHING: Karns City-Everetts 11-118, Moore 10-94, Rhoades 10-90, Whited 11-56, Kelsea 1-16, Kepple 2-13, Mohney 3-4, Turner 1-3, Conto 2-(-4). Chestnut Ridge-Bosch 19-39, M. Wiley 8-10, Crouse 2-8, T. Wiley 4-5.
PASSING: Karns City-Kepple 8-15-1-72. Chestnut Ridge-Bosch 7-14-1-90.
RECEIVING: Karns City-Mohney 3-29, Moroney 2-13, Everetts 1-12, Whited 1-11, Rhoades 1-7. Chestnut Ridge-Colledge 4-55, Osman 2-40, Lohr 1-(-5).
INTERCEPTIONS: Karns City-Mohney. Chestnut Ridge-Feather.