Middletown (11-1) vs. Conwell-Egan (13-0)
PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal
7 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium at Milton Hershey School, Hershey
ABOUT THE BLUE RAIDERS: You’ve heard that Middletown claimed its third straight District 3 Class 3A title and is now diving into the deep end of the PIAA Tournament. Well, this has been a comfortable stretch for Brett Myers & Co., mainly because its preferred brand of football (see: running downhill) has been on full display. RB Jose Lopez is the catalyst, with 214 totes, 1,739 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. And he’s one-half of Middletown’s tandem 1,000-yard backfield. Richie Sykes has produced 1,144 stripes and 14 scores. Operating behind a smart and seasoned O-line, QB Scott Ash has commanding the huddle and kept all pistons greased. He’s well beyond last year’s learning curve and has pitched in 13 touchdown passes. The dudes on the other side of the ball have added a nice, defiant approach to the program. What DTs Cole Senior, Gage Radabaugh and others have done is ramp up every week. Counting Ethan Miller, Adonis Taveras and Trayvon Joseph, Middletown’s front 7 has forced foe after foe outside of their comfort zones.
ABOUT THE EAGLES: There’s a timer on the front page of Conwell-Egan’s official website clocking the days, minutes and seconds until “We beat Middletown.” That’s awesome, and the Eagles should be confident because no opponent has managed to trip Jack Techtmann’s club since Dec. 2, 2017. That’s when Middletown ended Conwell-Egan’s season 49-7 in the PIAA semis. Yep, the Eagles certainly have some added motivation, and you can be certain RB Patrick Garwo, A Boston College recruit, wants another shot at the Blue Raiders. Garwo, who has 1,865 rushing yards and 27 TDs on the season, totaled just 59 yards in the ’17 match. The Eagles are a lot more than Garwo, however. Savvy QB Alex Goldsby is a serious running threat who has 25 total scores, and versatile Terome Mitchell and DaJuan Harris are big-play types that can line up in multiple spots. That tandem, along with LB Chris Majors, steers a pacing defense that helped the Eagles rip through the Philadelphia Catholic League’s Blue Division and claim the D12 title. That schedule included tough outs West Catholic, McD-Wyncote and Cardinal O’Hara.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: In 2017, Middletown’s Brady Fox rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns in Middletown’s 49-7 PIAA Class 3A semifinal win over Conwell-Egan at West Chester Rustin HS. Middletown, denying Conwell-Egan’s first PIAA Championship appearance, advanced to play eventual champ Quaker Valley in Hershey.
STAT THAT MATTERS: 9. Total touchdowns for Middletown RB Jose Lopez in two postseason wins.
THE PICK: If it seems like Conwell-Egan is under tremendous pressure here, well, you’re right. But the reality is Techtmann’s crew is a several steps better than his ’17 side that got tossed around by Middletown in the Philly suburbs. Garwo and Goldsby are a formidable duo that can move the chains and stretch the field. Expect the Eagles to take plenty of shots. This rub is Middletown’s has not afforded QBs much time to survey the field, and the last thing the Eagles need is a Blue Raiders’ defense with their ears pinned back.