1. And then there were … three
With Halifax carving a sizable niche in its sporting history by claiming its first District 3 football championship and fiercely competitive neighborhood rivals Williams Valley and Tri-Valley about to square off for a District 11 crown, that leaves just three Tri-Valley League sides chasing state gold. Upper Dauphin (9-2) saw its eight-game win streak come to a halt on Saturday, with a 48-23 loss to Delone Catholic knocking the Trojans out of the District 3 Class AA playoffs. And Line Mountain (4-7) saw its season end one night earlier at Southern Columbia, falling 55-0 to a Tigers squad that is hoping to claim a second consecutive PIAA Class AA championship. By the way, five of Southern’s players — Julian Fleming, Gaige Garcia, Cal Haladay, Max Tillett and Preston Zachman — were parked on the floor of Ohio Stadium Saturday afternoon making unofficial visits to Ohio State for the Buckeyes’ victory over Nebraska. And those guys are all juniors.
2. Halifax hoists first 3-A championship trophy
Since a number of Earl Mosley’s Halifax Wildcats played for a District 3 Class A championship as sophomores — a loss to Steel-High spoiled those dreams — the Tri-Valley League champions bounced into Friday’s outing at rainy Siebert Memorial Park in Camp Hill having a good idea what to expect. Five first-half scoring drives later, Mosley’s Wildcats (10-1) had all the points they would need to dismiss Fairfield without too much difficulty. A second-half safety made it official, as Halifax celebrated a 37-6 victory that propelled the black-and-gold into state play for the first time. QB London Johnson threw a pair of touchdown passes — one each to Evan Billow and Dalton Marshall — and ran for a third score as the ‘Cats bounded to a 35-0 halftime lead. Johnson, who completed seven of his 11 pass attempts for 86 yards, piloted a Halifax attack that only needed 233 total yards to move forward. Tyler Berzowski and Marshall also rushed for scores. The Wildcats’ defense was sensational throughout, forcing a pair of turnovers while keeping the Green Knights (2-8) moving backward throughout the 48-minute exercise. Fairfield, in fact, finished with minus-35 yards (minus-44 on the ground). Broc Grosser, who owns a preferred walk-on invite at West Virginia, collected his 12th interception of the season yet also caught two passes and completed one. Since District 12 entry Strawberry Mansion closed down its program weeks ago due to numbers issues, Mosley’s Wildcats will have one weekend off before meeting the District 4-A champ — Canton (10-1) or Muncy (8-3) — in state tournament play.
3. Williams Valley and Tri-Valley to collide yet again
While these programs tend to get quite testy when they’re standing on opposite sides of a football field just waiting to pop somebody, reigning District 11 Class A champion Williams Valley (9-2) and surging Tri-Valley (8-3) will meet for the second time this season — they’ll meet Friday night at Pottsville High School — and for the second straight year in the District 11-A title game. Although Williams Valley claimed the regular-season meeting 47-21, that contest between the tall pines in Williamstown took place some two months ago in Week 3. Jeff Sampson’s surging outfit has won five straight contests, a 14-0 win last weekend over Nativity moving the Bulldogs into this weekend’s final. Since weather was a big factor, neither side was able to post notable offensive numbers yet QB Daulton Leedy accrued what Tri-Valley needed by scoring on a pair of runs. Leedy, fullback Chase Herb and halfback Ike Lucas shared 153 rushing yards, but he’ll likely need to throw more to keep the Vikings off balance. Herb and Kolt Schaeffer paced the Bulldogs defense with eight stops apiece and a combined three sacks. With starting QB Levi Engle in civvies and nursing an injury (collapsed lung), Williams Valley turned to sophomore Bryce Herb and he fared well while directing a pair of late scoring drives in the Vikings’ 17-0 conquest of Marian Catholic. For those wondering, Herb is the younger brother of former Vikings QB Tyler Herb and the son of another former Vikings QB Paul Herb. Although Bryce Herb was picked off twice, he completed six of his 14 attempts for 75 yards and one score. While Bryce Herb’s 26-yard strike to Bo Raho in the fourth quarter upped Williams Valley’s lead to 10-0 — Chett Pesta’s field goal had Tim Savage’s club up 3-0 at the break — Brady Miller tacked up a later touchdown run as the Vikes put it away. Miller cleared 100 rushing yards for the third week in a row, collecting 117 on 25 totes. Williams Valley also picked up monster nights from D-lineman Spencer Dimon (15 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 interception) and inside backer Bryce Lucas (12 tackles). Bryce Herb also had a pick, one of the Vikes’ three.