The 5-2 Elkers will look to rebound from last week's 33-14 loss to Central Clarion with a win over 6-1 Karns City tonight at Memorial Field in Johnsonburg. The game could have a huge impact on seeding for the upcoming District 9 Class AA playoffs.

The Karns City Gremlins bring their 6-1 record to Johnsonburg tonight to take on 5-2 Ridgway at Memorial Field. Tonight's winner will gain the upper hand in the race for the District 9 Class top-seed. 

For the Elkers, it's a chance to bounce back from last week's 33-14 loss at Central Clarion (2-4). In Karns City last week, the Gremlins dismantled Kane 41-12 to rebound from a 35-27 home loss to 6-1 St. Marys. The Class 3A Dutch are poised to capture the D9 Large Division title with wins tonight at Moniteau and at home next week against Kane. 

The Elkers have not lost two straight regular season games since doing so to end the 2015 season. After losing at DuBois 21-6 on Sept. 24, they took care of business at home with a 40-21 win over Punxy

Both teams have beaten just one opponent who now sports a record over .500. Ridgway's was in week one when they beat St. Marys 24-7. The Gremlins victory was on Sept. 24 in Brookville (41-7) against the 5-2 Raiders.

Many see Karns City as a clear-cut favorite and Elkers head coach Mark Heindl understands why that can be the case.

"When you lose the way we did last week, we deserve to be the underdog, but we're 5-2 and for a reason. While we've made a lot of mistakes the last few weeks, we've also done some good things to build off. So, we're going to throw it all on the table tonight and see where we stand."

The Gremlins, who run the ball 78-percent of the time, have gained 1,742 (249 per game). They are led by solid, senior backs #23 Jayce Anderson (5-11, 175) and #20 Luke Garing (6-2, 205). Anderson rushed for 106 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns last week against Kane, and Garing added 82 yards with five carries and a pair of scores. On the season, Anderson has gained 585 yards and is averaging over eight yards per carry. Garing, who also lines up at quarterback, averages over seven yards per carry and has gained 515

Junior starting QB #7 Eric Booher is 41-71 for 726 yards, 10 TDs, and three interceptions. His top receiver is Junior #10 Micah Rupp, who has 15 grabs for 291 yards and three scores. Junior #25 Cooper Coyle has 179 receiving yards and two TDs.

Ridgway is battling injuries. However, there's a good chance senior running back and linebacker #23 Eric Salberg, who missed last week, and senior offensive lineman and linebacker #55 Hunter Wall, who left early in the second half last week, will play tonight. Senior quarterback Jonathan Hinton left last week's game and will not play. Sophomore backup #2 Cameron Larkin has thrown for 244 yards and three scores. With Hinton out, there may be a few new looks when the Elkers have the ball. Sophomore center Nick Myers will miss a third-straight game and is replaced by #60 junior Mikey Steis.

Senior #26 Domenic Allegretto, tackled for minus rushing yards last week, leads the team with 457 yards on the ground. He has nine rushing TDs and two via the pass. Fellow upperclassman #24 Camron Marciniak has rushed for 375 of the total 1,213 yards and has four rushing and four receiving scores. Salberg adds 260 yards rushing (3 TDs).

Allegretto is the leading receiver with 19 catches for 292 yards. He's followed by senior #8 Will Howard, who has gained 259 yards with 17 catches – three for scores. Marciniak adds another 209 yards, and last week senior tight end #22 Tyler Merritt had five catches for 77 yards.

Defense – Stopping the run is crucial. Central Clarion gained 271 yards on the ground last week and threw for another 191 and three TDs - one for 70 yards.

Wall has been in on 90 tackles, which leads the team. His return and that of Salberg (43 tackles) will be a key at linebacker, also manned by Marciniak (43 tackles) and Merritt (47 tackles). Last week sophomore #12 Eric Hoffman, senior #62 Dylan Goetz, and sophomore #56 Alex Merritt (fumble recovery) saw plenty of action. Senior #53 Dan Park, who has 5.5 sacks, seniors #67 Kenny McKenna and #68 Brayden Renaud, along with Steis, will line up on the line. Junior #58 Marcus Crowe has been rotated in along with sophomore #76 Brady Heindl. Allegretto plays safety and has two interceptions and had three fumble recoveries last week - one for a 57-yard score. Ridgway has two additional defensive scores – both interceptions - by Park (50 yards) and Salberg (67 yards). Howard, seniors #1 Maurice Bullers and #4 Enoch Aboussou, and junior #86 Aaron Sorg rotate at cornerback.

Additional Heindl comments

Importance of the game – "We've been telling the kids all week it's a big game, but it's not going to make or break our season. However, it is going to tell us where we stand after eight games."

Injuries – "They're dealing with the same thing. They have guys out as well, but you have to ignore all that and put it all out there on the field, and when the ball is in the air at 7 o'clock, we'll see how the dust settles."

Playing in Johnsonburg – "It's a big home-field advantage especially with [Karns City] being on a bus two hours. We love playing in 'Burg, and the kids are excited we're playing there. It's a special place to play."

Notes – The senior players, cheerleaders, and band members will be recognized during pregame ceremonies. The contest will be broadcast on WKBI – 93.9 FM – B-94. It can be viewed on the Elker Athletics Facebook page. WDDH – 97.5 FM – The Hound is broadcasting the Brookville at Kane game, and the WKBI 1400 AM will air St. Marys at Moniteau.

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