Welcome to the spotlight, Susquehanna Township. All those weeks of successfully getting better against the squads that are struggling in the Keystone Division this year has served the Indians well. Six wins in a row, including a pair of respectable non-conference triumphs over Huntingdon and Conrad Weiser, has positioned the Indians well for the postseason. Now it’s time to see exactly what this team is capable of with high-end games against Cedar Cliff and Bishop McDevitt on deck. Seems like the schedule set-up served this team well. To me, the Indians seem ready for this stage now. And that defense … that’s the clear-cut No. 1 strength of this team. In eight games they’ve allowed 108 points and 44 of those came against powerhouse Manheim Central in the opener. Less than 10 points a game allowed for the other seven. These next two offenses will provide a full test of this D. In eight more quarters we’ll know a lot more about this team. I’m excited to see what we learn.
2. CD dangerous after an L
So, one of the teams ranked in the latest version of the Elite 11 Rankings we publish weekly is a three-loss Central Dauphin team. That means there are 10 other squads in those rankings. Want to know why the Rams belong among those 11? Of the 10 other teams that are ranked, Central Dauphin has played four of them (Harrisburg, State College, Manheim Township and Berks Catholic) already this season. Make it five of those ranked teams in nine weeks when CD hits the road and visits the 6-2 upstart Chambersburg Trojans. Here’s a little tidbit for you: CD does not like losing and has responded extremely well the week following an L. After the setback to Manheim Township, the Rams thumped Cumberland Valley 37-7. After falling to Harrisburg at home, CD went on the road and drilled Altoona 49-7. State College beat the Rams 35-28 last week. See the pattern here?
3. Colonial prediction time
OK, I’m prepared to make a prediction for how the chase for the Crazy Colonial title this year will shake out. And thanks to all the teams in the MPC Colonial. This has been a really fun division to follow closely. Shippensburg will earn at least a share of the crown this season. And we should all thank the schedule makers for this one — the winner of the Week 10 game in Lewistown featuring West Perry at Mifflin County earns the other piece of MPC Colonial championship pie. I’m calling Week 9 victories for West Perry (over Waynesboro) and Mifflin County (over Greencastle-Antrim). So Shippensburg and West Perry share the title. That’s my call, and I’m sticking to it. Knowing this division in 2018, it won’t be anything close to this.
4. Airing it out
There are no fewer than five MPC quarterbacks who are averaging at least 170 yards a game passing through eight outings. That’s slinging the ball around the lot. Chase Diehl from Bishop McDevitt leads the pack, naturally, at 305.1. He’s followed by Steel-High’s Nicari Williams (212.4), Harrisburg’s Kane Everson (195.1), Cedar Cliff’s Chris Dare (189.3) and State College’s Tommy Friberg (173.8).
5. What’s interesting this week
Week No. 9 isn’t a deep schedule in terms of interesting matchups, but after digging deep, I found a few games below the surface that are interesting. The heavy hitters are Cedar Cliff at Susquehanna Township and Central Dauphin at Chambersburg. I’m looking at Hershey and Lower Dauphin. Two struggling teams this year, but I’m curious which squad is still engaged this deep into a lost season. Steel-High at Boiling Springs fascinates me. The Bubblers seem to have hit some sort of wall. The Rollers are on bounce-back alert after getting bumped off by East Pennsboro. That game intrigues me. Cumberland Valley vs. CD East, I have no clue what to expect or what might happen. I do know this is essentially a playoff game for both squads. West Perry at Waynesboro could be a marquee game if the Indians had one less conference loss, but should that make a difference? The Mustangs offense has slowed down a little bit, but only Shippensburg has stopped them for a half. See, there’s plenty of meat on the bone this week.
6. The case for Jones: MVP
Chambersburg RB Keyshawn Jones is averaging 8.2 yards per carry. He’s the leading rusher in the MPC and is also No. 1 in carries. So it makes sense he’s the best RB in the conference, right? That would be wrong. He’s the best RB in the MPC because he’s averaging 8.2 yards per carry in the Commonwealth Division. If he finishes the season above 8.0 yards per carry then that, folks, is your MPC Commonwealth Division MVP.