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South Williamsport, PA
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For some strange reason that one word of emphasis crooned in singer Roy Orbison’s 1964 hit song “Pretty Woman” has stayed with me over the years. If you’ve never heard the song, give it a visit on the Internet. It is only one word but it surely emphasizes the message of his song. Mercy may

For some strange reason that one word of emphasis crooned in singer Roy Orbison’s 1964 hit song “Pretty Woman” has stayed with me over the years. If you’ve never heard the song, give it a visit on the Internet. It is only one word but it surely emphasizes the message of his song.

Mercy may also be the word to use to describe what seems strange to fathom — this weekend’s conclusion to the 2017 High School football regular season. Obviously, if you haven’t yet taken the time to see your favorite high school team in action this could be your last chance. This final weekend includes some good rivalry games for your consumption. Locally, the ‘Battle for the Bridge’ sees Montoursville visiting Loyalsock hoping for a positive end to what has been a down year for the Warriors. In the eastern part of the county Hughesville hopes for a victory hosting neighboring Muncy, District Four’s number one Class A seed.

To the west Jersey Shore will host its longtime rival Central Mountain, which would love to end what has been a dismal season with an upset over the Bulldogs. And speaking of Bulldogs, those canines with a nasty bite from Columbia County will be snarling their way to Billtown as Berwick takes on the Millionaires. Elsewhere in week ten, Montgomery travels to Bucktail and South Williamsport visits Line Mountain.

If you have taken in a few high school games or followed your team’s progress through the season, Orbison’s “Mercy” may be the perfect description for many of the games played by Lycoming County’s teams as the PIAA “Mercy Rule” has been evoked on many occasions. Established as the PIAA’s Rule 3-1-2 it reads:

“Upon completion of the first half of an interscholastic football game at any level of competition or anytime during the second half when a team gains a 35-point differential over its opponent, the clock shall be stopped only when an official’s time-out is taken, a charged time-out is granted, a period ends or a score occurs. Once implemented, the mercy rule remains in effect, even if the differential becomes less than 35 points.”

The intent of the rule is to minimize those circumstances where one team is dominating its opponent by lopsided scores. “Running up the score” has long been a criticism of teams on the short end of the scoreboard, but when the 2017 season ends many schools might want to be checking their boards for burned out bulbs. For whatever the reason, this fall has seen an inordinate amount of high scoring and lopsided games.

Through the first eight weeks of the season the Mercy Rule had been used in 21 games featuring Lycoming County schools. South Williamsport, Muncy and Hughesville have seen the continuous clock run four times; Montoursville, Jersey Shore, Montgomery and Williamsport twice each, while Loyalsock has only had its games shortened once. High scoring, non-competitive games have been common place with only 13 contests decided by seven points or less.

South Williamsport’s Gideon Green-led, bruising running game has topped 50 points on three occasions while averaging 45.5 points per game. Muncy, scoring at a 39.0 clip, has put up four games over fifty points, including games of 63 and 62. Williamsport is the only other county team through eight games to top 50, tallying 55 against Coughlin. To the north, undefeated Wellsboro, a potential playoff foe for the Mountaineers, is scoring at a 53.1 clip and has recorded games of 75, 64, 51 and 50 points. Montoursville and Hughesville are the only teams that have failed to reach the end zone, each being shut out twice.

Although games have seen some high scores, four teams have been involved in exciting overtime contests. Montoursville’s first victory in week eight came over winless Milton 22-21 as the Panthers failed to tie on an extra point attempt. South Williamsport’s only loss came in week two falling to Danville 34-33 when a two-point conversion attempt was stopped short. Williamsport was victorious over Shikellamy 45-38 in double overtime, while Montgomery was dealt a heart-breaking 36-35 double OT loss to Wyalusing.

In close game excitement Williamsport stands at 2-0, defeating Hazelton 28-26 and staging a dramatic comeback 38-34 win over Scranton. Loyalsock’s Lancers were on the short end of their two closest games losing to Mt. Carmel 43-41 and Central Columbia 17-14.

Week ten’s final games will determine the playoff pairings for the six county schools qualifying for the post-season. While things could change heading into the weekend the playoff picture includes:

6A – Williamsport is seeded second behind undefeated Delaware Valley.
4A – A fourth place finish by Jersey Shore would get them a re-match against top-seeded Selinsgrove.
3A – Second-seeded Loyalsock hopes for a shot at #1 Danville.
2A – South Williamsport faces stiff challenges with undefeated Southern Columbia and Wellsboro holding down the top two spots.
1A – Old Shoe rivals Muncy and Montgomery hope to meet again for the District Crown.

Mercy — football is ending before Halloween arrives! It’s been quite a season! Get out and support your favorite team this weekend.

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