Bishop McDevitt (11-1) vs. Berks Catholic (10-2)
District 3 Class 4A Championship
1 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium at Manheim Twp. HS, Neffsville
ABOUT THE CRUSADERS: At this point in the season, is there any offense more dialed in than Bishop McDevitt’s? OK, fans of Southern Columbia or Farrell do have an argument, but you get the point. The triggerman, QB Chase Diehl, has thrown for 3,430 yards and 41 touchdowns. He’s completing 70-percent with just 3 INTs. Wide receiver and one-time Syracuse pledge Nazir Burnett (1,518 yards, 24 TDs) is closing in on Pa.’s single-season TD record. On the other side, T’nyis Becker has combined for 17 scores, and RB CJ Reyes-Diggs has been on a tear in the second half of the season. He’s rushed for 1,360 yards and 13 touchdowns. That’s like 4.5 miles of offense, and it has plenty to do with all-league picks Josh Dougher, Carter Christopher and their mates up front. The Crusaders have shined on defense, too, but Berks Catholic will exploit any weaknesses. There are a few, although LBs Dray Donley and Devyn Clair lead a quality set of linebackers that steer the unit. It’s become a lot harder these days to drive the football against the sometime reckless D.
ABOUT THE SAINTS: You could probably sum up a Rick Keeley-coached football team in a couple of words. Disciplined. Smart. Physical. All three would be at the top of the list. In his eighth season, Keeley has produced 88 wins in 103 games. That doesn’t happen on talent alone. The fifth-ranked Saints are that same combination in 2018, with a few more adjectives mixed in. Of course, it starts with Pittsburgh pledge Brandon George, an all-state linebacker and road grater on offense. He’s a terrific compliment to leading rusher Abdul MacFoy (949 rush, 18 TDs), an offseason transfer from Wilson, and steady QB Terrance Derr, who is over 1,000 yards for the third straight season. Last week’s return of RB Anthony Myers was the best part of BC’s 49-21 triumph over Milton Hershey. Myers, diagnosed with Stage 3 brain cancer last month, scored twice, including an 80-yard punt return. The Saints are accustomed to setting the tone defensively, as well. They lead Berks County in total defense and allowed just 11.6 ppg. George and LB CJ Carwl are 1-2 in tackles.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: This will be the second meeting between Bishop McDevitt and Berks Catholic. Last season, the Saints claimed a 45-24 victory over McD in the Class 4A final. Berks Catholic is 16-2 all-time in District 3 and have won 9 straight. The Saints’ last setback was a 35-21 loss to Wyomissing in the 2014 Class 2A final. … Bishop McDevitt, 54-8 all-time in the D3 playoffs, is seeking its first district title since 2015 (Class 3A). The Crusaders have won 13 championships
STAT THAT MATTERS: 10.8. Averaging yards per carry by McD RB CJ Reyes-Diggs. Berks Catholic held rush-heavy Milton Hershey to 46 net rushing yards on 34 carries last week.
THE PICK: The truth is Bishop McDevitt was barely standing on one leg when its squared off with Berks Catholic in the District 3 final. That isn’t the case here. Both sides are nearly 100-percent, and with a PIAA semifinal ticket on the line, we expect a physical scrap that could down to the final possession.