1. What a game, what a game
One last time before the details of the District 3 Class 6A championship game between Harrisburg and Central Dauphin fade to memory. After a few days to soak it in … that game goes into my Top 5 games I’ve seen since I started covering MPC football in 1992. Even if you watch a replay or see it on film, that doesn’t even come close to doing the game justice. You had to be there and experience how hard-hitting and physical that game was. There were very few highlight-reel moments. It was 48 minutes of some of the most disciplined, intense and physical defense I’ve ever seen two teams play. Congrats to the Cougars on the victory. And well done, Rams, for playing your absolute best game.
2. Time for Crusaders to step up
I think Bishop McDevitt is a better football team than Berks Catholic. But I didn’t pick the Crusaders in the District 3 Class 4A championship game for a single reason. On a big stage or in a big game, it’s been too long since McDevitt performed up to expectations. I’m not talking about exceeding expectations, I mean just performing up to your capabilities. When was the last time that happened? This team has every ingredient you could ask for. It’s been too long since a McD team won a really big game its way, though. Time to stop talking about these games as missed opportunities. From my chair, this is the team to break that trend.
3. Colts’ double whammy
We all know the final score was a 20-point margin between Cedar Cliff and Manheim Central, but it was not that kind of game – not even close. The Colts proved they belonged. The injury to Chris Dare was a lethal blow because it forced Cedar Cliff to become one-dimensional with Bobby Whalen at quarterback, and it took away Whalen as an outside threat. Double whammy. And you can’t beat the Barons with a double whammy body blow.
4. We meet again …
So, three-time District 3 Class 3A champion Middletown squares off against Conwell-Egan again in the PIAA quarterfinals. And C-E still has a Boston College recruit at running back by the name of Patrick Garwo. A year ago he had only 59 yards against the Blue Raiders defense. If that happens again … well, let’s just say it would be a surprise. The Eagles are more balanced offensively this season and don’t rely on Garwo quite as much. Still, the way Middletown’s defense has been running, closing teams down the last 4-5 weeks, maybe it wouldn’t be a surprise.
5. Do away with mid-tourney byes
Back to the Cougars. I know Harrisburg is not the only team on a bye this week, and they have nothing to with how the bracket is set up, but I despise a “mid-tournament” bye that creates a competitive advantage. Having a week off with your opponent playing this week is a huge advantage – especially with a berth in the state championship game on the line. Take what you can get, right? I still don’t like it fundamentally.
6. All-time performance
The last time I saw anybody notch 20-something tackles in a game was more than a decade ago when former Penn State linebackers Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor went head-to-head in the state championship game. Each played linebacker and running back – Connor for Strath Haven and Posluszny for Hopewell – that game. Each had 20-plus tackles. So what Harrisburg's Andre White Jr. did against Central Dauphin with 22 tackles was a once-a-decade or so thing.