NO. 3 WYOMISSING (9-2) AT NO. 2 MIDDLETOWN (9-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Field, Middletown – District 3 Class 3A semifinal
THE SPARTANS: It would be dangerous to judge Wyomissing on its last two dust ups with Middletown. Yes, coach Bob Wolfrum’s crew was vastly overmatched in those tilts, but scars do fade, particularly on defense. That’s where Wyomissing has made the most strides this season. Ranked second in rush defense and scoring (11.4 ppg.) in Berks County means guys like LB Evan Niedrowski, SS Zach Zechman and their mates are better equipped to attack Middletown’s top-level rushing scheme. On the flip side, QB Ben Terefenko is an efficient triggerman that has the Spartans putting up 37 points per game. Backfield partner Tim Kowalski also is coming a 100-yard performance with two scores vs. Littlestown a week ago. The team’s average of 6.6 yards per rush is an important line when those hard postseason yards are needed. Pay attention to Max Hurleman, as well. He leads the Spartans in receptions and can compliment Kowalski for big gains.
THE BLUE RAIDERS: You can’t really put a value on a bye week following 10 grueling weeks of football. Middletown should be well rested and well prepared after scouting the Spartans last week. Now it’s back to business. The overall game plan never really changes for coach Brett Myers, who will give top runners Jose Lopez (1,321 yards, 15 TDs) and Richie Sykes (987 yards, 13 TDs) every chance to succeed early and often. And why not? Middletown’s offensive line has steered the program to seven straight wins and, if all goes well, another championship round. Middletown is producing more than 300 rushing yards per game, with minimal loss in the turnover department. Wyomissing will also have to contend with DT Cole Senior, DE Adonis Taveras, LB Gage Radabaugh and a defense packed with bite. The Raiders have surrendered just 27 points in the last four weeks.
THE SERIES: Middletown and Wyomissing represented the last two standing in District 3 Class 3A in 2016-17. Since the Blue Raiders are challenging for their third straight title, you know what this semifinal means to the Spartans. Middletown, 12-8 all-time in the District 3 postseason, beat Wyomissing 49-0 (2017) and 48-20 (2016) in claiming the last two championships. The Spartans, now 31-17 all-time in districts following last week’s win over Littlestown, do have seven titles to their credit. Wyomissing has four Class 2A titles and three more at the 1A level.
STAT THAT MATTERS: 273-47. Wyomissing’s first-half margin for points against its 11 opponents. For a team that barely made it to the second half in the last two meetings with Middletown, the Spartans need another fast start.
THE PICK: Wyomissing did its job by bouncing back from an early loss to Pottsville to spring a seven-game win streak. And there’s no shame in dropping the Backyard Brawl to Berks Catholic. The point is Wolfrum’s crew is a lot more seasoned, and physical, than last year, so Middletown must set a favorable pace and keep the pedal down. The other X-factor is keeping the Blue Raiders’ pressing D-line from claiming the line of scrimmage. The Spartans might not have an answer for that one.