September 24, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens scored on all seven of its first-half possessions en route to a 44-0 halftime lead, and a 46-6 win over Wyalusing here Friday night in NTL Large School Division football action at Alumni Stadium.

The Wildcats led 14-0 less than five minutes into the contest.

“We talked about starting fast,” said Athens coach Jack Young. “We wanted to do some no-huddle stuff, and play fast.

“We did exactly what we wrote up.

“We took a little bit of a beating up front last week, and we didn’t execute real well on either side of the ball,” noted Young.

“Our goal this week was to be 1-0 and to execute better,” he added. “I think we did that.”

After forcing Wyalusing into a three-and-out, Athens took over at its 45 on its first possession of the night.

Senior tailback Shayne Reid carried the ball four times for 27 yards, and caught a 9-yard pass from junior QB Mason Lister to move the ball to the Wyalusing 17.

Reid then bobbed-and-weaved his way through the Ram defense on a 17-yard TD run, then added the extra point to make it 7-0 with 7:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Things went from bad to worse on Wyalusing’s first play following the ensuing kickoff.

QB Blake Morningstar was flushed out of the pocket, and threw a ball up for grabs. Senior linebacker Troy Jennings picked off the pass and returned it 15 yards to the Ram 32.

The Wildcat pressure on Morningstar was a recurring theme throughout the game.

“We talked about putting pressure on him,” said Young. “(Morningstar) is not a runner, he’s not going to take off with it.

“We wanted to be in his face, and make him uncomfortable.

“He didn’t have a couple of his weapons with him tonight, but at the same time I thought we executed much better,” added Young.

The Wildcats needed just one play to add to their lead as Lister found senior wideout Karter Rude near the goal line for a 32-yard TD strike. Reid again split the uprights to make it 14-0 with 7:12 remaining in the first quarter.

After picking up its initial first down of the contest on its next possession, Wyalusing turned the ball over on downs at its 42.

Athens needed just four plays to find paydirt this time. Reid started the drive with a 13-yard run, and capped it with a 3-yard TD run. In between, a scrambling Lister found Rude near the sidelines with a 26-yard pass to the Ram 3.

Reid’s PAT kick made it 21-0 with 2:56 remaining in the first quarter.

Nolan Oswald returned the ensuing kick 37 yards yards to the Athens 49, but the Rams failed to pick up a first down. A 31-yard punt by Morningstar pinned the Wildcats at their own 18.

The Wildcats quickly moved the ball down the field on a drive that featured runs of 8 and 31 yards by Rude, and 11-yard run by Reid, a 9-yard run by Jennings, and an 8-yard pass from Lister to Babcock, but a pair of penalties bogged the drive down at the Wyalusing 22.

Reid’s 39-yard field goal gave Athens a 24-0 lead with 10:46 left in the first half.

On its ensuing possession, Wyalusing netted just seven yards on three plays and lined up to punt facing 4th-and-3 at its own 27. The Rams appeared on the brink of a long TD when a receiver broke free behind the Wildcat defense on the fake punt, but he was unable to haul the pass in, and Athens took over on downs.

Junior Caleb Nichols reeled off 26 yards on three carries, and Lister finished off the short scoring drive with a 1-yard TD to push the lead to 30-0 midway through the second quarter.

Wyalusing drove into the red zone on its next possession, but turned the ball over on downs at the Wildcat 18.

On second-and-10, Reid ripped off a 33-yard run to the Wyalusing 49, and two plays later — following a holding penalty — hauled in a 59-yard TD pass from Lister. Reid’s PAT made it 37-0 with 3:12 remaining in the first half.

The Wildcat defense forced another punt on Wyalusing’s next possession, and following a short punt, the Athens offense took over at its 49.

Athens needed just four plays to finish off the first-half scoring. The drive featured a 10-yard run by Reid, and a 23-yard pass to Rude, and culminated with a 15-yard pass from Lister to 6-5 J.J. Babcock, who won a jump ball in the back corner of the end zone for the score.

Reid’s extra point kick made it 44-0 with 11 seconds remaining in the half.

Reid rushed for 120 yards and two TDs on 11 carries in the first half, caught two passes for 69 yards and one TD, and booted a 39-yard field goal. He also knocked two kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, and consistently pinned Wyalusing deep its own territory on kickoffs.

“Shayne Reid played a great game tonight,” said Young. “He ran hard, and he kicked the ball very well.

“He was out here yesterday kicking 50-yard field goals, and he hit a big one for us tonight.

“He is so talented, and he never takes a play off — in a game or in practice,” added Young.

Lister completed 9 of 14 passes for 182 yards and three TDs.

Rude, who also carried the ball twice for 39 yards, led all receivers with five grabs for 90 yards and one TD, and Babcock added two catches for 23 yards and one TD.

The second half was played entirely in running time.

The Wildcats tacked on a safety late in the game, while Wyalusing’s score came on a 5-yard TD pass from Morningstar to Oswald with 1:21 remaining in the contest.

Morningstar completed 9 of 31 passes for 73 yards and one TD, while being intercepted twice. Oswald led Rams receivers with five grabs for 24 yards, and Joey Gonsauls had two catches for 45 yards.

Adam Hunsinger led Wyalusing’s ground game with 15 carries for 49 yards.

Athens, now 3-2, returns to action Friday at Hughesville.

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September 17, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — South Williamsport dominated the game statistically, but needed a fourth-quarter TD to pull out a 7-0 win over Athens here Friday night in NTL football action at Alumni Stadium.

The Mounties played keep away in the first half, running 36 plays for 210 yards, while the Wildcats ran just six plays for 1 yard, but the game was scoreless.

“Our kids scrapped it out,” said Athens coach Jack Young. “How many times did we stop them in the red zone?

“We hung in there and the defense just kept making plays,” added Young.

South Williamsport coach Chris Eiswerth said the first half was the continuation of a disturbing trend for his squad.

“In the first half, we couldn’t finish,” he said. “Early in the year, we haven’t been able to finish.”

Junior QB Mason Lister ripped off an 18-yard run on Athens’ first possession of the second half for the team’s initial first down of the game, but a pair of costly penalties and a South Williamsport sack forced the Wildcats to punt.

The Athens punt pinned South Williamsport at its 13, but with 18 consecutive run plays, the Mounties covered the 87 yards. Lane Lusk capped the drive, which chewed up more than 10 minutes off the game clock, with a 2-yard TD run. Kayvan Shams split the up rights with the PAT to make it 7-0.

On the first play following the ensuing kickoff, senior tailback Shayne Reid ripped off a 23-yard run on a reverse, but four plays later, the Mounties defense snuffed out the drive with a fourth-down stop.

The Mounties, on the back of Lusk’s bruising runs, picked up a pair of first downs before turning the ball back over on downs.

The Wildcats’ night on offense would come to an end moments later when Lister’s fourth-down pass was picked off near midfield.

The Mounties ran the final 2 1/2 minutes off the clock to preserve the win.

Lusk led South Williamsport with 181 yards and one TD on 32 carries, while Clayton Swarthout added 70 yards on 17 carries, and QB Landon Lorson added 52 yards on 13 carries.

The Wildcats were held to 53 yards in total offense on just 17 plays.

Reid led Athens with 26 yards on five carries, and Lister added seven yards on five carries.

Lister completed 3 of 6 passes for 20 yards.

Athens, now 2-2, hosts Wyalusing Friday at Alumni Stadium.

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September 10, 2021 Chris Manning

TOWANDA — On the playmaking of Mason Lister, Athens went into Towanda and took care of business, beating the Black Knights, 35-0, here Friday night in NTL football action Friday.

“It’s a great feeling, because I’m happy for the kids,” said Athens coach Jack Young. “Last week was a tough loss, but we had kind of a goofy week this week. We got a little sloppy at times, and we got a lot of kids some playing time, so that’s really good for us.”

Lister had a four touchdown night - three rushing, one passing - as he gave the Towanda defense fits with his ability to make things happen.

“We’ve talked about that a little bit, about our decision making, and put the thing away,” Young said about Lister. “He took care of the ball a little better tonight, at times, and he also took off. He’s got to know that he can beat some people with his feet. He’s starting to do that a little bit, and it’s only going to make us better.”

Lister ran the ball eight times for 67 yards to go with his three scores, while he was 7-for-8 for 138 yards, and a touchdown, through the air.

Shayne Reid led Athens in rushing with 110 yards on 12 carries, while Caleb Nichols had 30 yards and a touchdown on three rushes. As a team Athens ran the ball 34 times for 242 yards.

Karter Rude had a big day at receiver, hauling in four catches for 108 yards and a score, while JJ Babcock had two catches for 18 yards.

Freshman Riley Vanderpool was everywhere for Towanda, running the ball 17 times for 47 yards, while also getting six receptions for 51 yards. Rhyan West had 31 yards rushing on five carries, but left the game at the half.

Grady Flynn was 7-for-12 for 32 yards with a pick under center.

Athens took the opening kick-off at their own 32-yard line, and needed just six plays to hit pay dirt. A 36-yard pass play from Lister to Rude on the third play from scrimmage set them up at the Towanda 10-yard line. Three plays later Lister punched it in from the one to put the Wildcats up 7-0 on the Reid extra point.

Towanda was able to get a first down on their initial drive, but it fizzled out and they were forced to punt.

The Wildcats took over on the Knight 39-yard line, and only needed to plays to score - a 20-yard Reid run, followed by a Lister to Rude 19-yard scoring strike. Reid’s point after was good, and the Wildcats led 14-0 halfway through the first quarter.

After a 3-and-out for Towanda Athens took over at their own 46-yard line. This time they needed eight plays to score, but the Knights didn’t make it easy.

A 20-yard pass play from Lister to Rude, followed by a 17-yard run from Lister, set Athens up at 1st-and-goal from the four.

Their first three runs, though, were stuffed by Towanda. On fourth-and-1 Lister tried a quarterback sneak, and punched it in. Reid’s kick was good, and Athens led 21-0 with 11:51 left in the half.

Towanda’s offense showed some spark in their ensuing drive as Flynn hit Vanderpool for a 13-yard gain. A West 7-yard run on the next play set up a Flynn to Vanderpool 3-yard hook-up for another first down.

West followed that up with a 12-yard run up the gut to get inside the Athens 35-yard line. On the next play, though, West again found room up the middle, but as he was fighting for yards, the ball popped out, and Athens hopped on it to take it back.

Towanda would force them to punt on their next drive, giving the knights good field position at their own 45-yard line.

However, on the first play from scrimmage, Flynn’s pass was tipped, and picked off by Reid. He appeared to take it 65-yards to the house, but it was called back due to a block in the back.

Starting at their own 28-yard line, Athens would need just six plays to score. Big runs from Rude and Nichols got the Wildcats to the Towanda 36-yard line. Four plays later Lister scrambled out of the pocket, down the left side of the field, and snuck into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown run.

Reid’s kick was blocked, but the Wildcats took a 27-0 lead into the half.

Towanda took the kick-off in the second half, and proceeded to nickel and dime their way down the field.

Starting at their own 38-yard line, they would get off 17 plays to get down inside the Athens 10-yard line. All in all they picked up four first downs, and chewed off 7:46 off the clock, as they converted three third downs, and one fourth down - a 6-yard run by Flynn - to keep the drive alive.

On fourth down at the 7-yard line they tried a field goal, but Logan Lambert’s attempt was just wide left.

The Wildcats took over on their own 20-yard line, and needed seven plays to score. On the second play from scrimmage it was 2nd-and-21 when Lister hit Rude for a 32-yard gain. Three plays later Reid ran 29 yards to the Towanda 12.

Two plays after that Nichols ran it in from 8-yard out for their final score. Reid ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 35-0 with 50.6 left in the third.

There was no scoring in the fourth - Towanda’s defense did stop Athens from scoring from inside the 10-yard line, forcing them to turn it over on downs - as both teams gave their subs a chance get on the field.

Athens will hit the road again next week as they travel to South Williamsport. The Mounties just lost their second game in a row to Canton, and now 1-2, so they’ll be looking to get back to .500.

“We’re going to probably face a tough, physical South Williamsport team this week,” said Young. “We’re just going to keep building in every aspect.”

Athens returns to action Friday when it hosts South Williamsport.

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September 3, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — The Troy offense played keep away for the majority of the game, and the Trojan defense forced a pair of key first-half turnovers in a 13-0 win over Athens here Friday night in a key early-season NTL Large School Division football match-up at Alumni Stadium.

The Trojans ran 32 offensive plays in the first half, compared to just 14 for the Wildcats.

“(Troy) just lined up and ran it right at us,” said Athens coach Jack Young. “It was dive, it was iso, and it was toss.

“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “They just pounded the ball on the ground and kept it away from us for large chunks of time.

“We were really concerned that they were going to pound the ball at us, and that we’d get beat up at the line-of-scrimmage, but our kids played really solid at the line-of-scrimmage — on both sides of the ball,” added Young.

Young was pleased with his team’s defensive performance.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the way our kids showed up and played.

“We played a really solid defensive game,” said Young. “We had one breakdown in the first half, it probably should have been 0-0 at halftime.

“In the second half, we just a couple of mistakes that beat us,” he added. “We played physical. We got after it.”

The Wildcats gained 114 yards on the ground on 25 carries, with senior Shayne Reid’s 80 yards on 10 carries leading the way.

Lister completed 11 of 19 passes for 79 yards. Reid had three catches for 21 yards, while freshman Kolsen Keathley had three receptions for 19 yards, and junior J.J. Babcock added two grabs for 27 yards.

“We did get some things going offensively here and there, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Young. “We had a couple big turnovers that hurt us. We had a couple big penalties that hurt us, and we had a couple breakdowns in pass protection that hurt us.

“It seemed that every time we got something going offensively, one of those three things got us,” he added.

The Trojans turned the ball over on down on the opening possession of the game when senior Damien Landon was stopped short of the first-down marker on 4th-and-2 at the Troy 43.

The Trojan defense yielded just four yards on three plays, and forced an Athens punt.

After one first down, Troy faced a fourth-and-four at its own 38, but a 23-yard run by Landon on a fake punt kept the drive alive and moved the ball to the Athens 39.

Four plays later, Landon bulled ahead for eight yards to give the Trojans a second-and-2 at the Athens 18, but following an illegal procedure call against the Trojans, the drive stalled and the Wildcats took over on downs at their 21.

Two plays later, Reid broke free for 17 yards, but coughed the ball up, and Troy recovered at the Wildcat 41.

The Troy drive started poorly with a botched snap, and Landon needed a 3-yard pickup on fourth-and-2 at the Wildcat 33 to keep the drive alive.

On fourth-and-four at the Athens 13, sophomore Clayton Smith found junior Justice Chimics open for a 13-yard TD pass to give Troy a 6-0 lead with 7:02 remaining in the first half.

The Wildcats moved the ball to midfield on their next possession, but were forced to punt. Junior Caleb Nichols pinned the Trojans at their own 2 with a 48-yard punt.

The Athens defense forced a three-and-out, and the Wildcats took over at their own 38 with 1:54 remaining in the first half.

Lister connected with the 6-5 Babcock for a 24-yard gain to the Troy 14 on the Wildcats’ first play, but they coughed the ball up and the Trojans recovered at the 17 on the next play.

The Wildcats opened the second half with the ball, and drove to the Troy 29, thanks in large part to 26 yards on five carries by Reid, before turning the ball over on downs.

After an exchange of punts, Troy took over at its own 20 with 11:12 remaining in the contest.

A 29-yard run by Smith on Troy’s fourth play moved the ball to the Athens 40, and three plays later, Chimics broke loose on a 36-yard TD run to give the Trojans a 12-0 lead with 7:35 remaining in the game.

Keathley ripped off a 23-yard run on Athens’ first play of its ensuing possession, and Lister gained 13 yards on two carries to move the ball to the Troy 33, but the drive stalled out at the Trojan 29 with 6:12 remaining in the game.

After Troy punted the ball away, Athens moved the ball to midfield, but Troy standout lineman Mason Imbt registered a QB sack for a 15-yard loss, and the Wildcats possession ended on down two plays later.

Troy pounded out 247 rushing yards on 49 carries, with Landon and Smith leading the way. Landon gained 96 yards on 24 carries, and Smith added 95 yards on 16 carries. Chimics chipped in with 42 yards and one TD on three carries.

Three different Trojans — Chimics, Smith, and Woodward — completed passes to three different receivers — Jeff Roy, Chimics, and Jayden Renzo.

Troy, 1-1, hosts Central Columbia Friday, while Athens, 1-1, travels to Towanda.

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September 2, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens hosts Troy here tonight at Alumni Stadium in a key early-season Northern Tier League football contest. Kick-off is 7 p.m.

The Wildcats are coming off a 44-6 demolition of Hanover, while Troy also hosted a non-league foe — dropping a 20-0 decision to Bald Eagle Area.

“Troy lost a tough game to a solid football team (in Week 1),” said Athens coach Jack Young. “There’s no disguising what Troy, they are a good mix of physical kids.”

“It’s going to be a huge test for us in Week 2,” noted Young. “We will see what we’re made of.

“Troy presents certain things to you, and you have to play the game a little differently against them,” he added.

The Trojan cornerstone is two-way lineman Mason Imbt, who stands in at 6-3, 300 pounds.

“Obviously, they are led up from by Imbt, who is a mountain of a kid,” said Young. “He plays really hard — he gives 100 percent on every snap. He’s fun to watch … you don’t see many kids like him.”


Troy rushed for 153 yards in Week 1, led by 75 yards on 19 carries by senior Damien Landon. The Trojans threw for 45 more, with QB Justice Chimics completing 6 of 10 passes attempts. He was intercepted twice.

Young said there is no mystery about what Troy brings to the table offensively.

“We’re going to see two backs in the backfield, and they are going to run it at us about four different ways,” said Young. “They’ll run a little option, then they’ll run a little power… we have to be able to at least hold our own at the line-of-scrimmage.”


The Wildcats ran for 278 yards, and added 101 more through the air. Senior Shayne Reid rushed for 144 yards and two TDs on 11 carries, and added a 26-yard TD reception, while junior QB Mason Lister completed 6 of 10 passes for 101 yards, and three TDs.

Young said the Trojans will rely on their big defensive line to free up their linebackers and defensive backfield to make plays.

“For the most part, Troy is a three-man front,” he said. “They put their big dudes up front to occupy space, and they let their athletes run to the football. They have some linebackers who play the game very well.

“We have to be prepared, and use the entire width of the field, and try to take our shots when we have them,” added Young.

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August 27, 2021 Tim Taylor

ATHENS — Athens scored early and often to roll to a 44-6 season-opening victory over Hanover Area here Friday night.

The Wildcats scored on six of their first seven possessions in the non-league contest. Four touchdowns came through the air as they built a 30-6 halftime cushion.

"Anytime you can win a game like that, it's a good feeling," Athens coach Jack Young said. "We did a lot of good things and we have a lot of places to improve on, but we'll take it.

"A lot of people contributed on both sides of the ball."

Troy Pritchard's sack to force a Hanover punt set up the game's first score. Junior quarterback Mason Lister connected with Karter Rude on a 26-yard TD strike in the corner of the end zone with 8:01 left on the first-quarter clock. Shayne Reid's PAT kick made it 7-0.

The Hawks turned the ball over on downs on its next possession and Athens turned it into a a 5-yard scoring run by Caleb Nichols. Xavier Ankner blocked the PAT attempt, leaving Athens up, 13-0, with 2:06 to go in the period.

Hanover would punt again, but Lister was intercepted by Jake Zola on the next series and he would return it to the Athens 21. Three plays later, Zola pulled down an 18-yard TD pass from Christian Torres, but the kick was blocked and the Wildcat lead was 13-6 with 10:57 left in the half.

Athens took a bloop kickoff at its own 38 and Reid picked up 43 yards on two carries. Following an exchange of penalties and a pair of short runs by Chris Bathgate, Lister hit 6-foot-5 wide receiver JJ Babcock in the end zone and Reid's PAT kick pushed the lead to 20-6 with 8:01 remaining before intermission.

The Hawks turned the ball over on downs at their own 32, setting up Athens for another TD. This time,  Lister connected with Reid on a 26-yard TD pass, and Reid's kick made it 27-6 with 4:41 left in the half.

On the Wildcats' next possession, Reid kicked a 29-yard field goal with 61 ticks on the first-half clock.

Jared Peterson picked off a Torres pass with 32 seconds left in the half and Lister took a knee to end the half with his team up, 30-6.

Athens' ability to take advantage of the run and pass possibilities played into its big lead.

"You've got to open things up," Young said. "We had a couple of penalties that killed us, which killed us on the kick off and gave them field position and I think we sulked a little bit. We felt sorry for ourselves."

The Wildcats were flagged seven times for 65 yards.

"That’s a football game right there," Young said. "You know, momentum, old momentum, and they took care of it and we just preached a little bit on the sideline about getting ourselves back where we belong and the kids turned it around themselves. We've got great senior leadership, great senior leadership."

Peterson opened the second half with a 41-yard kickoff return to the Hanover 35. Six plays later, Reid, who appeared to be stuffed at the line of scrimmage, squirted through the line for a 14-yard scoring run and his kick gave Athens a 37-6 cushion with 8:39 on the clock.

The Hawks responded with 64-yard Torres-to-Sean Dooner TD pass, but Dooner was flagged for pushing off and the ball came back to the Hanover 21.

The next several minutes saw a few Athens defensive gems. Brandon Jennings sacked Torres, teammate Ethan Wilcox crunched Jeremy Vega for a 5-yard-loss as he received the handoff, Pritchard received credit for a second sack when Torres bobbled the pigskin and took a knee, and Skylar Matthews added a sack.

Pritchard's initial sack of the night on Hanover's first possession was the Wildcats' first big play of the game and was notable as Pritchard wears the No. 13 jersey and the team has 13 on their helmets — a tribute to Brayden Taylor Murrelle, a Class of 2019 graduate who passed away earlier this year.

Jaden Wright scored Athens' final TD on a 5-yard run with 7:09 remaining in the game and Reid's kick made it a 44-6 final.

There were some mental mistakes which the Wildcats need to clean up if they hope to continue performing at a high level.

"Some things got chaotic," Young said. "At some of the skill positions, we're pretty deep. We feel good about that. Playing on a hot night ... it's pretty slimy out here and we knew cramping could be a situation, but we feel good with our skills because we've got so many. We were able to give them rest early in the game. We feel confident that we can do that in any situation. We feel good about that.

"We've just got to keep getting the first half. We got a little sloppy and as we talked at halftime, some of that when we're substituting and not creating chaos, that's just as much on the coaches as the players, so we've got to improve there. We've got to get better in the mental part of the game."

Athens outgained Hanover, 379-50. Reid carried the rock 11 times for 144 yards and caught one pass for 26 more. Lister completed six of 10 pass attempt for 101 yards, three going for TDs. Babcock caught three passes for 33 yards.

The Wildcats received some nice efforts from Kolsen Keathley, who rushed for 47 yards on six carries, and Wright, who tacked on 43 on six runs.

Young likes what he saw in the opener, but also knows the areas which need improvement.

"I think we've got to get better on special teams, but we’ll take it, week one against an opponent we've had a couple dog fights with the last few years and they've got some tough kids," Young said. "They've got some linemen that can really play and I felt like, without looking at film, our offensive line played pretty well."

Athens hosts Troy, which had its season opener postponed, Friday evening.

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