Bishop Guilfoyle Coach Impressed With Redbank Valley’s Wealth of Talent; Bulldogs Must Contend With BG’s Dual-Threat QB

HERSHEY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — There’s a lot of Smethport in Bishop Guilfoyle.

The Marauders have a quarterback who is a lot like Noah Lent — dangerous running the ball as well as throwing it.

(Photos by Madison McFarland)

BG junior Karson Keisewetter has put up gaudy numbers this season. He’s completed 123 of 194 for 1,823 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he’s also rushed for 1,005 yards and 21 TDs.

“The main difference between what they do and what Smethport does is they do it out of a bunch of different formations,” Gold said. “A lot of times you see those quarterbacks who are essentially runners, you can kind of ease off and bring pressure because you’re not really worried too much about the passing game. But, this kid is able to do both, which is scary.”

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Not bad for a guy who was supposed to only be a part-time QB this season.

But, plans changed.

A torn ACL suffered by Haiden Garner forced Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler to shuffle things. Garner actually tried to play on the torn ACL, but only made it two weeks before hurting the knee again, ending his season.

“(Keisewetter) was going to be a kid we thought would be quarterback, but also a wideout, do some running back stuff for us, but he had to become the full-time quarterback early on,” Wheeler said. “It kind of took him some time to feel comfortable. But, man, the second half of the year, he’s really been confident now with his feet, confident with his vision. He’s really settled down.”

Redbank Valley’s chief concern when the two teams clash for the PIAA Class A championship at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday in Hershey will be containing Keisewetter.

The Bulldogs have had experience with dual-threat QBs. Redbank Valley did a good job handling Lent in the meeting this season.

This, however, is a different game on a much bigger stage.

Bishop Guilfoyle is used to the bright lights — the Marauders have played in five of the last eight Class A title games.

Meanwhile, it’s the first trip out of the wings for Redbank.

“They are a very disciplined, well-coached football team,” Gold said. “They had a three-peat there back in 2014, ’15, and ’16 and lost on one of the craziest field goals I’ve ever seen in 2019. We have to be prepared. We have to be ready. We have to be disciplined.”

Wheeler, though, downplays the impact of being there before.

“I don’t think there’s much of an advantage,” Wheeler said. “In 2014, we were there for the first time, and we were laser-focused. It was the first one for the school and the first one for District 6 ever.”

Redbank is hoping to do the same on its first trip.

It certainly won’t be easy.

Bishop Guilfoyle (11-4) has four losses, and some of their wins don’t look impressive on paper. Until you dig deeper.

The Marauders didn’t play a Class A team until the playoffs and were dealing with a mountain of injuries during a 1-2 start.

Guilfoyle beat a very good Canton team, 20-7, to reach the state title game.

“They play a very, very tough schedule,” Gold said.

Wheeler said that toughened his team up for the playoff run.

“The Laurel Highlands Conference we play in, man, it is one of the toughest,” Wheeler said. “We play all those teams in double- and triple-A. Some of them got us early, but we were able to figure out who we were and win some tough games. I think that really helped us.”

Winning close games in the playoffs has certainly helped Redbank Valley.

Twice in the postseason, the Bulldogs have fallen behind 14-0 in games, only to come back and win.

That gives Redbank a certain degree of confidence, even if it falls behind early. The Bulldogs’ resiliency has been impressive.

And – count Wheeler as one of the impressed.

“They seem to have athletes at almost every position. You just don’t see a weakness,” Wheeler said. “The quarterback, I heard he’s in his first year playing football, and it doesn’t look like it. He’s a kid who can zing it.”

Bain has put together an exceptional season. He’s completed 149 of 253 for 2,115 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Marshall is the leading receiver with 40 grabs for 630 yards and 11 scores. Tate Minich is right behind him with 39 receptions for 524 yards.

Last week, Bain completed passes to seven different receivers.

The emergence of Boo Shreckengost has been big for the Bulldogs, as well.

He came in to the state quarterfinal game with just 55 yards rushing. In his two playoff games as a starter, he has gained 212 yards.

Wheeler acknowledges, “We probably haven’t faced an offense as explosive as this since maybe Richland or Bedford. It’s gonna be a tough challenge just because multiple guys can beat you.”

Redbank Valley’s first goal is to not beat itself.

The Bulldogs took advantage of 16 penalties and five turnovers from Bishop Canevin in the semifinal to get to the title game.

It’s unlikely this Bishop team will do the same. Still, Gold said his team has to play clean and seize on opportunities when they present themselves.

They do that – and the Bulldogs could bring District 9 its first football state champion in its first appearance since 1992.

“When you move on, your margin of error gets smaller,” Gold said. “Since we won the district, we’ve had an increased focus on three things: limit our turnovers, limit our penalties, and take advantage of the other team’s mistakes.

“That’s kind of the game plan going in. I think the team that’s going to make the least amount of mistakes and takes advantage of the other team’s mistakes is going to win the football game.”

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