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Knights need to believe for success

H.S. football

The Mirror will preview a high school football team each day until Aug. 22. For a complete rundown of all of the teams in the region, pick up a copy of “Blitz” at area newstands.

Today: Moshannon Valley

Friday: Glendale

After nearly a decade of successful seasons, the Moshannon Valley high school football team has struggled to a 2-8 finish in each of the last three years.

The team has just three seniors, and one of those — Michael Kephart — arrived at Inter-County Conference Media Day Wednesday on crutches.

But hopes remain high within the Black Knights’ program.

“It all depends on how we play on a Friday night,” Moshannon Valley coach Michael Keith said. “Anybody can be beaten any Friday night, so it’s all in the kids’ heads and making them believe that they can win.”

For the second straight year, Moshannon Valley’s offense featured one power back in 2019. Joe Bacher, like Jon Dale before him, led most of the Mirror’s coverage area in rushing for the majority of the season.

That production did not lead to many wins, however.

“We’re going to change our offense up a little bit,” Keith said. “We’re going to try a couple different things that we haven’t done previously. We have a little bit more speed than we have had the past couple years, so we’re going to try and use that.”

Senior lineman Aaron Wonderling has noticed the drive among some the underclassmen who will be depended on to make an impact.

“In practice, guys are going really hard,” Wonderling said. “We’re a younger team, but we are ready to succeed.”

Fellow senior lineman Jayden Coder was one of the players opening the holes for Bacher last year, but he’s more worried about effort and victories than statistics.

“I want to see everyone putting in 100 percent effort all the time,” Coder said. “I want to see some ‘Ws’ in the win column and I just want to get out there and play football. I can’t wait until that first Friday night rolls around.”

Juniors Ethan Webb, David Honan and Nikolaus Smeal will be some of the skill players Moshannon Valley relies on this year.

“We’re not blazing by any means, but we’re going to try and spread the ball around a little more,” Keith said. “We don’t want to depend on one guy as much.”

As the young Black Knights mature, they may have a chance to get off to a positive start that could help with their confidence.

Moshannon Valley plays Williamsburg in its opener and West Branch in the fourth week of the season, the two teams the Black Knights defeated a season ago.

“We want to have a winning season,” Wonderling said. “The playoffs are our goal.”

And just because Moshannon Valley might have a few new tricks up its sleeve, with linemen like Coder and Wonderling, don’t expect the Knights to go completely away from their bread and butter.

“We can still have a pretty strong running game,” Coder said. “I think we can do even better up front and open bigger holes.”

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