Williams Valley's Bo Raho hauls in the game-winning, last-second pass from quarterback Levi Engle. (Christina Hoy/4th Down)
By Andy Shay:
WILLIAMSTOWN – There are two ends of successful when a Hail Mary pass that works.
Running back Jake Ramberger leads the Trojans in rushing yards with 796 stripes heading into Week 9 against Pine Grove. (File photo/Christina Hoy)
By Adam Kulikowski:
The race for the Tri-Valley League title enters the final two weeks of the season tonight with three teams still alive for at least a share of the title — front-runner Halifax (8-0, 7-1) leads Upper Dauphin (7-1, 6-1) by a game while Williams Valley (6-2, 5-2) lurks in third place with two league losses.
Halifax quarterback London Johnson hopes to guide the Wildcats to a victory over Williams Valley Friday night. (Christina Hoy/4th Down)
By 4th Down Staff:
Each week throughout the season, 4th Down's gang will make a prediction for each game in the Mid-Penn Conference and Tri-Valley League. Week 9 picks and predictions are below. Enjoy!
Standings after Week 8:
Andy Sandrik: Week 8: 16-5 Overall: 147-42
Andy Shay: Week 8: 18-3 Overall: 147-42
Adam Kulikowski: Week 8: 16-5 Overall: 145-44
Jake Adams: Week 8: 15-6 Overall: 138-51
Cumberland Valley at CD East
Andy Shay: CD East 28, Cumberland Valley 21: This is a tight call for me. If the Panthers take care of the ball and limit mistakes, they win. Give the Eagles more chances and CV will pick up win No. 3 in a row.
Andy Sandrik: CD East 26, Cumberland Valley 24: This looks like a coin-flip game from where I’m sitting, so I’ll go with the home team.
Jake Adams: CD East 34, Cumberland Valley 21: Been flip-flopping on this for a bit. I think the Panthers have just a bit more on offense to pull this one out. But … if the Eagles get a few turnovers, or maybe return one for a score, this could go the other direction.
Adam Kulikowski: Cumberland Valley 24, CD East 21: We all know this hasn’t been the season the Eagles are accustomed to, but I see this as one that they could put in the win column.
Altoona at State College
Andy Shay: State College 45, Altoona 14: It’s been a brutal year for Altoona in its first season back in the Mid-Penn Conference. All those close losses and overtime games, plus the travel, takes a toll. Little Lions demand excellence to be competitive, and that’s too big of an ask right now for Altoona.
Andy Sandrik: State College 48, Altoona 14: Altoona, the close-but-no-cigar team of the Commonwealth Division, will have to find another gear if it hopes to be competitive against the Little Lions.
Jake Adams: State College 42, Altoona 17: The Little Lions return home after a solid win over Central Dauphin and now get a chance to beat up on the Mountain Lions. Little Lions climb over Mountain Lions. Think about it.
Adam Kulikowski: State College 41, Altoona 20: There’s a number of new pieces in the mix for this Little Lions club due to various reasons. One young man to watch in the home stretch of the regular season is sophomore Dresyn Green, who must pick up additional carries at tailback going forward.
Central Dauphin at Chambersburg
Andy Shay: Central Dauphin 17, Chambersburg 10: The hidden key in this game is the Chambersburg defense. During this upstart season, they have been quietly very good and in this matchup it could be a difference maker. Going with the safe pick here.
Andy Sandrik: Central Dauphin 21, Chambersburg 7: These Chambersburg Trojans are finding ways to surprise us every week, but I just get the sense the CD defense rises to the occasion for a crucial division victory.
Jake Adams: Chambersburg 28, Central Dauphin 21: A couple pick-sixes were the difference in the Trojans losing by a wide margin to Harrisburg and keeping that game close. These Trojans are for real. And I think they might have enough juice at home to knock off the Rams.
Adam Kulikowski: Central Dauphin 20, Chambersburg 14: The Rams’ strongsuit is its front seven, which just so happens to align well with the strength of the Trojans — their running game. Keyshawn Jones will get his yards — he’s a legit threat to break one anytime he touches the rock — but over four quarters, I’ll run with the Rams.
Bishop McDevitt at Mechanicsburg
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 49, Mechanicsburg 14: Nothing anybody can do about so many Keystone Division squads struggling in the same year.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 42, Mechanicsburg 6: If you’re Mechanicsburg, or most any other team in the state, how are you supposed to game plan for McDevitt? Crusaders have the advantage at almost every position on the field.
Jake Adams: Bishop McDevitt 49, Mechanicsburg 7: If Cedar Cliff just dropped a 56-burger on the Wildcats, I think the Crusaders can do just about the same.
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 55, Mechanicsburg 6: After struggling early against Hershey, I’m curious to see how the Crusaders come out of the gate. The outcome is not in question.
Cedar Cliff at Susquehanna Township
Andy Shay: Cedar Cliff 34, Susquehanna Township 26: Lost in the shuffle, in my opinion, is the Colts are on track to win an outright Keystone Division championship. That’s a lot of motivation. Curious to see the Hanna Tribe defense against this offense.
Andy Sandrik: Cedar Cliff 50, Susquehanna Twp. 30: I think the Colts would love to see a shootout here. If that happens, they should have just enough to outpace the Indians, who have also been a red-hot team of late.
Jake Adams: Cedar Cliff 42, Susquehanna Township 34: This eight-point prediction does not indicate just how close I think this game will be. Planning to catch this one, and I fully expect big plays and a long night writing down the play-by-play.
Adam Kulikowski: Cedar Cliff 41, Susquehanna Township 31: This is a big test for the Indians after getting a few weeks of tune-up games against lesser opponents.
Lower Dauphin at Hershey
Andy Shay: Hershey 21, Lower Dauphin 14: At times this season the Trojans defense has been a difference maker. Timing is everything, and having one of those weeks now would add another W to the ledger.
Andy Sandrik: Hershey 14, Lower Dauphin 7: Playing within 35 points of Bishop McDevitt is a victory in my book, so in this what-have-you-done-lately world, I’m taking the Trojans to grow from last week and earn a tightly-contested victory over LD.
Jake Adams: Hershey 28, Lower Dauphin 20: The Falcons haven’t been able to stop anyone just about all year. If the Trojans can get up by a score or two early, I think that will be all the difference.
Adam Kulikowski: Hershey 20, Lower Dauphin 14: Hershey has scored more than 17 points just once this season, while the Falcons totaled more than 14 just once. Winner will control the field position game — a task the Trojans are better equipped to do.
Shippensburg at Red Land
Andy Shay: Shippensburg 28, Red Land 14: The Patriots have had trouble limiting the impact the “big gun” from the opposing has on a game. Adam Houser is a “big gun” for the Greyhounds. But Shippensburg can’t get lost in playing a late-season non-divisional game here.
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 35, Red Land 14: Did you ever play a video game where someone wins just by spamming the ‘A’ button? That’s kind of what Shippensburg has done this season with alpha RB Adam Houser.
Jake Adams: Shippensburg 27, Red Land 20: Not quite as much at stake for the Greyhounds as last week’s defensive tilt with Northern York, but this should still be a game where Adam Houser scores, nears 200 yards and makes life miserable for the opposing defense.
Adam Kulikowski: Shippensburg 35, Red Land 6: The Greyhounds’ defense is firing on all cylinders right now. Patriots beware.
Palmyra at Trinity
Andy Shay: Palmyra 41, Trinity 6: I’m concerned about Cougars QB Grant Haus and that injury he suffered against Milton Hershey last week. But this is not the week for that to be an issue. Shamrocks struggle to slow down everybody, and the Cougars still have plenty of weapons if Haus has to sit.
Andy Sandrik: Palmyra 49, Trinity 12: Last week’s loss to Milton Hershey is probably still smarting, but this matchup with Trinity is a good opportunity for Palmyra to regroup, recover and get some work for the JV players.
Jake Adams: Palmyra 42, Trinity 6: Here’s hoping for better days sooner than later for the Shamrocks.
Adam Kulikowski: Palmyra 35, Trinity 3: This is a wonderful opportunity for Palmyra to get some key cogs a bit of a rest before the Week 10 finale and District 3 playoffs.
Steel-High at Boiling Springs
Andy Shay: Steel-High 33, Boiling Springs 21: Not sure what is going on with the Bubblers, and the Rollers are coming off an upset loss to East Pennsboro. Two or three weeks ago I’d have said Boiling Springs has a shot. Just not sure now.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 35, Boiling Springs 14: Both teams are coming off head-scratching losses. Momentum aside, I think the Rollers are slightly more equipped for this showdown.
Jake Adams: Steel-High 34, Boiling Springs 20: What a disappointing loss for the Bubblers last week. And for the Rollers. Someone gets to erase the stink of Week 8, and I think it’s Steelton.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 41, Boiling Springs 20: On paper, the loss to East Pennsboro looks like a big upset, but really the Panthers hadn’t been a pushover all season. One-score losses to Palmyra, Northern and Red Land exacerbated the struggles of the Panthers. I say all that to say Steel-High will be fine this week. It wasn’t a let-down game — and they had a chance to win at the end but got snuffed out on a potential game-winning two-point conversion.
Camp Hill at Milton Hershey
Andy Shay: Milton Hershey 41, Camp Hill 7: That run game for the Spartans has some pound and flash to it, and that’s hard to defend. Too much for the Lions to handle over 48 minutes.
Andy Sandrik: Milton Hershey 42, Camp Hill 0: Football giveth, as evidenced by Camp Hill’s stunning first win over Boiling Springs, and with a game against the Spartans, football also taketh.
Jake Adams: Milton Hershey 35, Camp Hill 14: Big win for the Lions, but this is a different cookie entirely. Still, now that they’re healthier, that confidence boost should carry them through the rest of the season. It just won’t mean a win this week, though.
Adam Kulikowski: Milton Hershey 41, Camp Hill 20: The Lions are finally health after weeks of impostering as a MASH unit. The Spartans are scary dudes to line up against, though.
Middletown at East Pennsboro
Andy Shay: Middletown 42, East Pennsboro 14: Panthers are making some serious strides the second half of this season. And I think the passing game will yield some fruit against Middletown. Slowing down the Blue Raiders offense and keeping up is another story.
Andy Sandrik: Middletown 42, East Pennsboro 28: If I were way back in the 4th Down standings, I’d be tempted to pick the streaking Panthers, but safe money is on Middletown.
Jake Adams: Middletown 35, East Pennsboro 7: Great defensive stand for the Panthers, winners of three straight. But the Blue Raiders run seemingly 30 RBs deep and just keep on coming. East Penn doesn’t have the top-end talent this year to hang.
Adam Kulikowski: Middletown 35, East Pennsboro 20: The Panthers have been sneaky tough this entire season. Don’t expect them to get pushed over.
Big Spring at Northern York
Andy Shay: Northern York 21, Big Spring 6: Still a lot for the Polar Bears to play for and that’s important. They are a fringe playoff team and all W’s help the cause. Bulldogs give all they have and make it tougher than you think to beat them.
Andy Sandrik: Northern York 32, Big Spring 12: Any momentum Big Spring can get against Northern this week would be valuable for the Bulldogs, who have their Super Bowl against Shippensburg in the Little Brown Jug game next week.
Jake Adams: Northern York 28, Big Spring 13: The Bulldogs play well despite all these losses piling up. Youth and some size are just holding them back. They can keep this one close for a while, but they’ll need 2-3 breaks or forced turnovers to pull off the upset.
Adam Kulikowski: Northern York 21, Big Spring 7: The Polar Bears went toe-to-toe with Shippensburg last week. Bill Miller’s boys have plenty in the tank to get past the scrappy Bulldogs.
Mifflin County at Greencastle-Antrim
Andy Shay: Mifflin County 34, Greencastle-Antrim 14: Anybody else remember right now that at one point the Huskies were 0-4? Don’t tell that to the Blue Devils, because all they know is a white-hot team has found its sea legs. Mifflin County has a shot at Colonial title.
Andy Sandrik: Mifflin County 36, Greencastle-Antrim 7: The Blue Devils failed to show up for a rivalry game against Waynesboro last week. If they can’t even do that, I’d be a fool to even predict a close game this week.
Jake Adams: Mifflin County 30, Greencastle-Antrim 18: Let’s make it five straight for the Huskies, who have picked up wins against Shippensburg, Big Spring, Waynesboro and Dover. The amazing thing is they could overtake Altoona to make the District 6 Class 6A playoff game against State College after an 0-4 start.
Adam Kulikowski: Mifflin County 35, Greencastle-Antrim 14: The Blue Devils were out-muscled last week against Waynesboro. More of the same might be in store battling a Huskies team sniffing its first Colonial Division title.
Waynesboro at West Perry
Andy Shay: West Perry 35, Waynesboro 28: Speed in the open field will be the difference maker for West Perry. If they get rolling early, they are tough to shut down. Waynesboro offense will make some hay, but this one rests on the defense finding a way to keep the Mustangs from getting to the edge and outside.
Andy Sandrik: West Perry 42, Waynesboro 39 (2OT): I know the Waynesboro defensive coordinator is going to unfriend me on Facebook after this prediction, but I see WP’s stars coming out to play. The Indians’ offense will also rise to the challenge.
Jake Adams: West Perry 35, Waynesboro 20: I believe the Mustangs after covering them the past two weeks — they are ready for these moments. Bob Boden and his squad are fighting for playoff positioning, such an impressive thing to say with that two-year losing streak still recent history.
Adam Kulikowski: West Perry 28, Waynesboro 21: The Mustangs are one of three teams with one division loss, making this game a critical piece to their division title hopes.
Juniata at Millersburg
Andy Shay: Juniata 33, Millersburg 20: I just don’t view Juniata as a typical one-win team. They are competitive and take tough beats on the chin. Time for the Indians to celebrate a little. Lord knows they’ve earned it.
Andy Sandrik: Juniata 30, Millersburg 12: Forget the 1-7 record for a moment and take a closer look at Juniata. The Indians have been playing competitive football lately, including a 13-6 loss to undefeated Halifax last week.
Jake Adams: Juniata 28, Millersburg 19: Oi vey. Look at the yards per carry for both teams. Or maybe don’t — it’s not pretty. Juniata is at least near 4.0, whereas Millersburg is averaging a paltry 1.8. That tells me all I need to know when making this prediction.
Adam Kulikowski: Juniata 35, Millersburg 21: The Indians had their chances to take down Halifax last week. That says a lot about how far Juniata has come this season.
Susquenita at Newport
Andy Shay: Newport 19, Susquenita 13: At full strength I’m taking the Blackhawks in this game. Too many injuries to an already razor-thin roster has an impact Friday night. Newport’s best players need to shine and keep the Blackhawks from believing. If ‘Nita gets a whiff at victory they will close.
Andy Sandrik: Susquenita 18, Newport 8: It seems the more you count out Susquenita, the more the Blackhawks show up to play. Something tells me the Susquenita defense answers the bell to deliver Win No. 4.
Jake Adams: Newport 27, Susquenita 14: Dartboard time. Injuries have ravaged that small ‘Nita roster, as we’ve mentioned the past few weeks, but they could easily clamp down and stop Newport. However …
Adam Kulikowski: Newport 21, Susquenita 13: The difference to me in this one is Newport’s Ethan Rode. Stop him, and ‘Nita and the victory should be within reach.
Tri-Valley at Line Mountain
Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 34, Line Mountain 26: When opportunity presents itself, the Bulldogs are the better team at finishing drives with touchdowns. That’s the only difference I see here.
Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 28, Line Mountain 21: The best part about the TVL is that it’s Week 9 and the games are still zany and unpredictable. Your guess is as good as mine, here.
Jake Adams: Tri-Valley 30, Line Mountain 14: The offensive yardage is eerily similar for each of these teams, in the 110s in both passing and rushing. But the Bulldogs are better able to convert yards into points (31 TDs to LM’s 20).
Adam Kulikowski: Line Mountain 28, Tri-Valley 27: Line Mountain may be the most underrated TVL team this year. This one really is a toss-up with two very similar teams.
Halifax at Williams Valley
Andy Shay: Halifax 35, Williams Valley 28: This is going to be interesting. I see the Wildcats as a good matchup for the defending TVL champs overall. But nobody in the league has been able to solve Halifax to date. Going with the hot hand.
Andy Sandrik: Halifax 35, Williams Valley 25: I don’t know if Williams Valley is hitting the panic button yet, but I sure am.
Jake Adams: Halifax 28, Williams Valley 27: I did not expect the Vikings to get shredded defensively last week. The Wildcats have an incredibly destructive run game averaging 221 yards per game and 7.9 yards per tote. If WV can’t corral that, this will be a third loss this season.
Adam Kulikowski: Williams Valley 32, Halifax 24: If Williams Valley wants to have any chance of defending its TVL title, even a share of it, this is a must-win game.
Upper Dauphin at Pine Grove
Andy Shay: Upper Dauphin 35, Pine Grove 14: The Cardinals are better than their record after that fast start. I see a bright future on many fronts for this squad. That Trojans offense is hard to get a beat on, and the Trojans know it.
Andy Sandrik: Upper Dauphin 28, Pine Grove 13: I certainly didn’t see UD laying the wood on Williams Valley last week. I’ll have what the Trojans are having.
Jake Adams: Upper Dauphin 42, Pine Grove 21: That 58-point barrage UD laid on Williams Valley accounted for more than 30 percent of the points WV has allowed all season. That’s insane.
Adam Kulikowski: Pine Grove 34, Upper Dauphin 31: If Pine Grove is to pull off what certainly would be considered an upset, they just might do it on the backs of their big men up front, a unit that will have a significant size differential in this one. Confidence level, one star.
Carlisle at Harrisburg
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 35, Carlisle 6: Some question marks at quarterback for the Cougars, but that defense will dominate the Herd’s running game. If Harrisburg is at full strength they will air it out more.
Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 28, Carlisle 3: Wish I had better news for my backyard Carlisle team, but I just don’t see a path to victory against the relentless defense of the Cougars.
Jake Adams: Harrisburg 42, Carlisle 10: I wonder if Herd RB Trystin Sulich can get to 100 yards in this one? He’s done a good job in some tough situations this year. But that’s about the only intriguing thing about Carlisle in what should be a blowout.
Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 28, Carlisle 10: The uncertain status of stud quarterback Kane Everson sheds a few points off my prediction, but does nothing to put in question the outcome.
By 4th Down Magazine:
Hunter Campbell came up with the biggest tackle of his career Friday, and for that, East Pennsboro fans voted him our Week 8 Player of the Week.
Welcome to another season of High School Football Now with Eric Epler and Andy Shay. Each week throughout the season, we're taking an hour to talk all things football in the mid-state and beyond. This week we're joined in studio by Halifax's Broc Grosser and Jay Zerby as we discuss what we learned in Week 8 and look ahead to Week 9. We dabbling into another edition of What's Hot and What's Not, and Eric and Andy continue their battle for a Shepler Cup championship with their picks and predictions for Week 9!
Bishop McDevitt quarterback Chase Diehl leads the pack of gunslingers in the Mid-Penn Conference. (File photo/4th Down)
By Andy Shay:
Halifax's Evan Billow will play a key role when the Wildcats visit Williams Valley Friday night. (Christina Hoy/4th Down Magazine)
By Michael Bullock:
1. And then there were … three
While many were undoubtedly surprised by how thoroughly Upper Dauphin handled Williams Valley — the Trojans posted a 58-26 victory — last weekend’s loss did not knock the defending Tri-Valley League champions out of the title chase … at least not mathematically. Although Halifax (8-0, 7-0) continues to sit atop the 10-team circuit, the Wildcats must visit Williams Valley (6-2, 5-2) Friday night, and if Earl Mosley’s bunch can prevail between the tall pines, that would spell the end of the Vikings’ repeat chances. Halifax would still need to defeat a dangerous Pine Grove squad to run the table and win outright. As for Upper Dauphin (7-1, 6-1), Kent Smeltz’s potent club must visit Pine Grove Friday night before finishing up against Line Mountain at home. So, while Halifax, Upper Dauphin and Williams Valley continue to chase TVL gold, Pine Grove is the one squad remaining that must play two of the three title contenders. In other words, it’s not quite over yet. Check back on Saturday, because everything could be decided by then.
2. Can Halifax draw another step closer?
If Halifax was looking ahead toward this weekend’s showdown in Williamstown, Earl Mosley’s state-ranked Wildcats nearly got caught — despite forcing four Juniata turnovers and making two defensive stops in the red zone and one at the goal line just before halftime. Fortunately for Halifax, Jay Zerby (14 carries for 74 yards) scored on a 16-yard run late in the third quarter, and Blake Miller hauled in London Johnson’s 10-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth. Yet even though the Wildcats led 13-6, and that’s how it ended, they still needed late picks by Broc Grosser and Jesse Kargus to preserve the victory, side-step the trap game and remain perfect. Zerby had missed the previous two games with an injury, so getting him back means the ‘Cats will have he and Evan Billow available to carry and catch the ball. If Williams Valley can limit the damage on the ground and force Johnson to beat them, that means Grosser will get plenty of looks on the flanks even though he’ll likely spend all game trying to shake lockdown corner Levi Engle. What can’t be accounted for is how angry Williams Valley (6-2, 5-2) will be after yielding 500-plus yards to Upper Dauphin in a 58-26 loss. Nick Savage (9-61 rushing, 2-13 receiving) scored a pair of touchdowns, while Brady Miller (18-84 rushing) also scored for Tim Savage’s club, which trailed 28-12 at the halftime break. Engle, who threw for 94 yards (7-17-1) and ran for 41 more, will need to play well on both sides of the ball. Williams Valley, in fact, may settle for a ball-control attack so Halifax’s assortment of home-run hitters don’t have many opportunities to make big plays.
3. Upper Dauphin chasing 7th straight victory
While Upper Dauphin defeating Williams Valley might not have been so surprising, it was how thoroughly Kent Smeltz’s Trojans (7-1, 6-1) dominated the backyard scrap en route to a 58-26 victory that had people buzzing at other TVL venues when score updates were announced. Quarterback Macklin Ayers passed for 194 yards (9-15-0) and three first-half touchdowns — Jake Ramberger caught five passes for 130 yards and two scores — but he also ran six times for 57 yards and a second-half TD. Ayers, in fact, was just part of a ground game that averaged nearly 10 yards per tote while churning out 313 rushing yards and 507 total offensive yards. Ramberger led the way with 109 yards on seven attempts, Mason Wiest added 77 yards and a pair of scores on nine tries and Donnie Gelnett scored twice while adding 70 yards on 10 carries. Smeltz’s club was remarkably efficient offensively, scoring on eight of its 12 possessions. Yet even though UD has won its last six, visiting a Pine Grove side (4-4, 3-4) that has lost four games by a total of 22 points will not be easy. Frank Gaffney’s run-first club also figures to be miffed since the Cardinals suffered their third loss in as many weeks at Line Mountain, falling 22-20. While backs Colin Luckenbill (18-37) and Dalton Kintzel (12-57) were hemmed in most of the night, QB Josh Leininger (11-54) hurt the Eagles by scrambling for an 18-yard score and adding a 43-yard keeper that had the Cards in front in the third quarter. Leininger attempted 14 passes, completing six for 109 yards — all to dangerous wideout Dawson Ibarra. Pine Grove was at the Line Mountain 32 in the final minute, but Leininger’s pass to Ibarra on fourth-and-long was high and the Cards turned the ball over on downs. If Pine Grove is able to reestablish its ground game behind its big offensive front, the Cardinals likely will give Upper Dauphin everything it wants and maybe more.
4. LM hoping to climb back above .500
About to close out the home portion of its regular-season slate, Brandon Carson’s Line Mountain Eagles (4-4, 4-3) figure to be much more upbeat heading into this weekend’s neighborhood scrap with Tri-Valley (5-3, 4-3). Particularly since the Eagles halted a two-game skid by finding a way to get past Pine Grove 22-20 and win a one-possession contest. Colby Scott was terrific between the hashes, rushing 25 times for 144 yards while following center Cam Gaw’s lead blocks. And with Scott collecting sizable chunks inside, that set up a 26-yard, play-action strike from Evan Herb to Breven Derk early in the fourth quarter that ultimately won it for the Eagles. Stopping a pair of two-point conversion attempts and halting Pine Grove on downs in the final minute also proved to be key for a Line Mountain squad that received 17 tackles from inside linebacker Adam Malafi. Malafi (4 catches for 41 yards) also was able to bring in a 23-yard reception on the final play of the third quarter that kept alive what turned out to be Line Mountain’s game-winning touchdown drive. Able to force six turnovers — three fumbles and three interceptions — opportunistic Tri-Valley claimed its second straight win by rolling over Newport 33-8 at home. Jeff Sampson’s Bulldogs turned two of those takeaways into points, as Nick Ziegmont returned an interception 23 yards to open the scoring and Connor O’Prey closed it by returning a fumble 37 yards for another TD. QB Daulton Leedy (10-11 rushing, 4-19-1-55 passing) scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 10 yards in the third quarter, but he also threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Tyler McGrath that had Tri-Valley in front 13-8 at the break. This game also has postseason implications, as Line Mountain is trying to climb out of the No. 7 hole in the District 4 Class 2A power rankings and Tri-Valley is hoping to squeeze past Nativity and claim the home game that accompanies the No. 2 seed in the District 11 Class A playoffs.
5. Perry County neighbors about to square off
Although neither Susquenita (3-5, 3-4) nor Newport will be part of District 3’s postseason picture, both squads will be playing for backyard pride when this game kicks off at Katchmer Field. Susquenita halted a three-game slide last weekend by popping winless Millersburg 35-6, while Newport’s bid for a third straight victory was halted when Todd Rothermel’s Buffaloes (2-6, 2-5) committed six turnovers in a 33-8 loss at Tri-Valley. John Stump rushed for two scores, while Russ Amick ran for one touchdown and carried a Masyn Miller lateral the distance as Scott Acri’s Blackhawks executed a hook-and-ladder play just before the break. Newport led briefly (8-7) with four-plus minutes to play in the first half following Andrew Bates’ 75-yard kickoff return, but the Buffs failed to cash in after that, despite 119 yards from junior running back Ethan Rode. The Buffs’ defense yielded just over 200 yards of total offense, but those six giveaways were really damaging. So, whichever side is able to control the line of scrimmage is likely to prevail in a tight affair.
6. Millersburg to entertain Juniata
While Millersburg (0-8, 0-7) wasn’t overrun in last weekend’s 35-6 by Susquenita’s ground game — down lineman Bryar Caprio finished with 17 stops for the Indians — Aaron Wright’s club was unable to force any turnovers. And a touchdown pass in the final minute from QB Aiden Harman to Logan Troutman enabled the Indians to avert the shutout. Nonetheless, the ‘Burg tumbled for the 29th game in a row. And while Juniata (1-7, 1-6) has dropped its last two games since delivering to longtime skipper Gary Klingensmith his 300th career victory, the Mifflintown Indians were threatening league-leading Halifax in the final minute last weekend before falling 13-6. Juniata managed just 178 total yards, but a Ty Martin touchdown had the Indians up 6-0 at halftime. Unfortunately, Klingensmith’s club turned the ball over four times — twice in the final two minutes — and couldn’t cash in late. If Juniata gets its run-first attack in gear, that’s a problem for a Millersburg D that’s had all sorts of issues slowing down opposing ground games.
Each week throughout the season, 4th Down's gang will make a prediction for each game in the Mid-Penn Conference and Tri-Valley League. Results from our Week 8 picks and predictions are below.
Standings after Week 8:
Andy Sandrik: Week 8: 16-5 Overall: 147-42
Andy Shay: Week 8: 18-3 Overall: 147-42
Adam Kulikowski: Week 8: 16-5 Overall: 145-44
Jake Adams: Week 8: 15-6 Overall: 138-51
CD East 28, Carlisle 9
Andy Shay: CD East 31, Carlisle 13: Both teams will feel like this is a winnable game and each will view it as a “must-win” contest. It feels like the air is leaking out of the Thundering Herd balloon as we hit the stretch run. But the Panthers can’t stop making critical mistakes at the wrong times. Riding the CD East defense here.
Andy Sandrik: CD East 35, Carlisle 28: Through thick and thin, this has proven to be a series with plenty of close games. Panthers have won six straight, though, and I think they’ll be favored here to extend that streak to seven.
Jake Adams: CD East 34, Carlisle 24: The Herd had their first realistic chance in a while to beat Cumberland Valley and couldn’t follow through. They are not a team that can afford extended lapses and that’s what has plagued them for a few weeks.
Adam Kulikowski: CD East 28, Carlisle 17: Right now, I like the chops of the East defense more than the consistency of Carlisle's offense. That’s the difference to me.
State College 35, Central Dauphin 28
Andy Shay: State College 21, Central Dauphin 17: The Rams defense will keep them in this game without question. But I still view the Little Lions as a very difficult team to beat. Took Harrisburg’s best punch a week ago for a half and then made it a game down the stretch. If CD’s offense gets three touchdowns, they could win this game for sure.
Andy Sandrik: State College 24, Central Dauphin 18: It took quite the effort for the mighty Harrisburg Cougars to ensure victory over the Little Lions. I have no doubt State College will once again answer the bell for this difficult matchup with CD.
Jake Adams: Central Dauphin 24, State College 14: Even against Harrisburg two weeks ago, the Rams defense has not allowed more than 22 points all season. Twenty-two. In the Commonwealth.
Adam Kulikowski: State College 17, Central Dauphin 14: Back to back matchups against the elite teams in the Commonwealth for the Little Lions. Matt Lintal’s crew showed plenty of resolve battling back against Harrisburg on Saturday.
Cumberland Valley 24, Altoona 21
Andy Shay: Cumberland Valley 24, Altoona 21: I’m going to ride that the Eagles getting a taste of victory was a shot that will propel them in this matchup. There’s more pop to the Mountain Lions, but they have run a three-week gauntlet and I just don’t know how much gas is left in the tank. CV still asks a lot to beat them.
Andy Sandrik: Cumberland Valley 28, Altoona 14: Winning feels good, as CV learned last week, and with the postseason out of question, this IS the playoffs for the Eagles.
Jake Adams: Altoona 28, Cumberland Valley 20: If this score is flipped, I wouldn’t be surprised. Carlisle (my reference point) beat itself against both these teams in the past two weeks. This might be entirely dependent on the Mountain Lions getting an early lead; CV does not do well from behind.
Adam Kulikowski: Cumberland Valley 24, Altoona 17: It’s a long road to Mechanicsburg from Altoona, and the Mountain Lions played a pair of overtime games followed by a drubbing at the hands of Central Dauphin. That’s a slate that will wear on any squad.
Harrisburg 28, Chambersburg 13
Andy Shay: Harrisburg 42, Chambersburg 14: The Cougars are playing a whole different level and I’m not sure the Trojans are quite prepared for this much right now. This game will serve Chambersburg well come the second season. Harrisburg will not take this team lightly. It’s just doesn’t seem in the DNA of this Cougars squad.
Andy Sandrik: Harrisburg 38, Chambersburg 17: To everyone’s surprise, Chambersburg has emerged as one of the top teams in the Commonwealth division. To nobody's surprise, Harrisburg has shown itself to be one of the top teams in District 3, and perhaps the state as well.
Jake Adams: Harrisburg 35, Chambersburg 24: Prop bet: The Trojans lead at the half before the Cougars offense takes control over the final 24 minutes. I’ll take that. This could be a very intriguing game.
Adam Kulikowski: Harrisburg 35, Chambersburg 24: The Trojans have the weapons to make this an interesting matchup, but the experience in high-stakes games lies with Coach Cal Everett’s crew.
Cedar Cliff 56, Mechanicsburg 7
Andy Shay: Cedar Cliff 35, Mechanicsburg 7: Make it five in a row for the Colts. Mechanicsburg’s defense has been adequate this season, but Cedar Cliff has too much balance in terms of weapons and will overwhelm the Wildcats.
Andy Sandrik: Cedar Cliff 35, Mechanicsburg 10: Mechanicsburg might find a way to keep this game close with its defense, but the Wildcats do not have a chance unless their offense can put up points.
Jake Adams: Cedar Cliff 34, Mechanicsburg 13: The Wildcats got off the schneid, but now it’s the hard-charging Colts, who have been decimating teams for a few weeks now. It’s been quite impressive how they’ve gone from Bobby Whalen to multiple weapons.
Adam Kulikowski: Cedar Cliff 32, Mechanicsburg 14: Somewhere in the last two or three weeks, the Colts found another gear. Opponents be warned.
Susquehanna Township 42, Red Land 7
Andy Shay: Susquehanna Township 42, Red Land 7: This season was one small step in a long-term rebuild for the Patriots. Everyone knew that. Make it six in a row for The Tribe with a third-quarter explosion being the difference maker that puts the game away.
Andy Sandrik: Susquehanna Township 28, Red Land 3: Lots of positive vibes for the Indians, who have won five straight. They are in a great position to keep the streak alive this week.
Jake Adams: Susquehanna Township 34, Red Land 7: If the Patriots were shut out at winless Mechanicsburg last week, what does that mean with a road trip to face the Indians?
Adam Kulikowski: Susquehanna Township 43, Red Land 6: These are two teams trending in opposite directions. Not fun to hear when you’re on the one going the wrong way, but better times are ahead for the Patriots.
Bishop McDevitt 38, Hershey 3
Andy Shay: Bishop McDevitt 56, Hershey 7: The Crusaders average nearly 540 yards per game on offense this season. Really, that’s all you need to know.
Andy Sandrik: Bishop McDevitt 56, Hershey 10: The difference between the top teams and bottom teams in the Keystone Division is astounding. Makes this an easy pick for me.
Jake Adams: Bishop McDevitt 55, Hershey 7: No reason overthinking this one. Crusaders cruise.
Adam Kulikowski: Bishop McDevitt 49, Hershey 7: Crusaders quarterback Chase Diehl picked up his first offer this week from Robert Morris. Expect more to come. … Oh, and Crusaders roll.
Camp Hill 26, Boiling Springs 21
Andy Shay: Boiling Springs 35, Camp Hill 14: Fire up the Wing-T for this one, Bubblers fans. There should be plenty of ground yards and touchdowns to be had against the Lions defense.
Andy Sandrik: Boiling Springs 42, Camp Hill 22: After two weeks of tough sledding against Middletown and Palmyra, the Bubblers just might find themselves with plenty of room to run against a struggling Camp Hill defense.
Jake Adams: Boiling Springs 26, Camp Hill 20: I expected a bit more at home from the Bubblers last week in a blowout loss. I think some of that gets corrected and Tayven Kelley has a big game for the first time in a few weeks.
Adam Kulikowski: Boiling Springs 42, Camp Hill 10: Boilings Springs should have plenty in the tank to motor past Camp Hill en route to win No. 3. After the struggles of 2017, this season has been a clear step in the right direction.
East Pennsboro 21, Steel-High 20
Andy Shay: Steel-High 48, East Pennsboro 26: I’m looking for a combined four or five touchdowns covering 45 or more yards in this one. The potential for some serious fireworks exist. Rollers just hit the mark more often.
Andy Sandrik: Steel-High 28, East Pennsboro 15: In all of my years of covering football, I have never once heard Steel-High complain about being the little fish in the big Mid-Penn pond. This attitude and willingness to work is the reason why they often find themselves favored against the bigger teams, just like this week.
Jake Adams: Steel-High 38, East Pennsboro 14: The Panthers have some good weeks (like last week) sprinkled in this season, but they don’t have the necessary talent to hang with the Rollers this season. Still, would like to see them keep it close for a while.
Adam Kulikowski: Steel-High 34, East Pennsboro 20: If I’m East Penn, I’m trying to keep my offense on the field as long as possible with time-sucking methodical drives down the field. Why? The big play explosiveness on the Roller’s side can’t score if they don’t have the ball.
Milton Hershey 28, Palmyra 14
Andy Shay: Milton Hershey 21, Palmyra 17: Rubber meet Road! This is a full test for the Cougars on both sides of the ball. Milton Hershey is explosive in spots and needs its best effort up front from the OL in this one. Mistakes will be punished as the Palmyra defense has been a takeaway machine this season.
Andy Sandrik: Milton Hershey 28, Palmyra 21: I seem to get burned every time I pick against Grant Haus, but it would be foolish for me to underestimate the tenacity and power of this Milton Hershey squad.
Jake Adams: Palmyra 31, Milton Hershey 27: Lost in the Grant Haus hype all season is that the Cougars have an impressive running back in Caleb Hawkins and a thorny defense that has forced 12 interceptions, recovered five fumbles and recorded 20 sacks. I think that defense will make one key stop to win this game.
Adam Kulikowski: Palmyra 28, Milton Hershey 27: Great matchup between a pair of quality programs. In a game where special teams could play a key role in who walks away with the win, the Cougars seem to be the more well-rounded team. It might not matter — the Spartans duo of Naeem Cross and Chiago Anyanwu are dynamic — but that’s my gut feeling right now.
West Perry 26, Big Spring 7
Andy Shay: West Perry 42, Big Spring 14: I’m certain the Mustangs won’t let two bad quarters define their season. The undefeated thing is out the window — so what? Still so much to play for and prove, motivation should not be a problem.
Andy Sandrik: West Perry 35, Big Spring 17: This game is not the same slam dunk as it might have seemed two weeks ago, but I think the Mustangs have the personnel to seize control of this game and force the Bulldogs to play catch-up.
Jake Adams: West Perry 41, Big Spring 13: The Greyhounds were able to simply overpower the Mustangs last week. It took some time, but it happened. The Bulldogs do not have that capability readily available. Mustangs get back on track.
Adam Kulikowski: West Perry 37, Big Spring 24: Give credit to this young Bulldogs team. They are consistently undersized, but continue to fight and make strides each week.
Waynesboro 43, Greencastle-Antrim 16
Andy Shay: Waynesboro 34, Greencastle-Antrim 22: The path to a victory just looks more crystal clear to me for the Indians. No division title this season, but make this week matter. Blue Devils are better than their record and it’s borderline confusing as to why they have lost four in a row. The pieces are there for sure.
Andy Sandrik: Waynesboro 28, Greencastle-Antrim 13: With two losses in the Colonial Division, the odds of Waynesboro successfully defending its division title are slim to none. The Indians are the better team this week, but if they fall asleep at the wheel, their Franklin County rivals will make them pay.
Jake Adams: Waynesboro 35, Greencastle-Antrim 20: The Blue Devils’ three-game win streak is now four games in the past. And those four losses have not been pretty. The Indians are playing better ball than G-A this week despite two straight losses.
Adam Kulikowski: Greencastle-Antrim 24, Waynesboro 23: Predicting upsets doesn’t always bare fruit, but the Blue Devils have plenty of punch to break a four-game losing streak.
Shippensburg 7, Northern York
Andy Shay: Shippensburg 29, Northern York 24: All I know is the Shippensburg defense threw up a bagel on the West Perry offense in the second half last week. I love the head-to-head RB matchup of Adam Houser and Kyle Swartz, but I’m reading the defense tea leaves in this one and it says Greyhounds.
Andy Sandrik: Shippensburg 30, Northern York 27: Northern RB Kyle Swartz has been dinged up. Ship counterpart Adam Houser is coming off a 31-carry game. Both have been sensational, but wear and tear might start to show in this Week 8 matchup. Team with the freshest back wins this nail-biter.
Jake Adams: Shippensburg 27, Northern York 24: If Kyle Swartz can put up 60-70 percent of last week’s production, the Polar Bears can nearly match the Greyhounds with RB haymakers. I think Ship’s D is just a tad better and stops Northern enough to win it.
Adam Kulikowski: Shippensburg 21, Northern York 20: Had a great conversation with Ship coach Eric Foust over the weekend. One of the lines that stood out to me? “This team [the Greyhounds] is strangely comfortable playing in close games.” That comfort comes in handy on Friday in what truly is a battle of the titans.
Mifflin County 29, Dover 25
Andy Shay: Mifflin County 33, Dover 15: OK, so the Huskies have not exactly been proficient when it comes to their non-conference schedule. They are doing just fine in the Crazy Colonial. That non-conference trend changes here. Mifflin County has the better horses this time.
Andy Sandrik: Dover 24, Mifflin County 21: The schedule hasn’t exactly been rock-solid for Dover, but they’ve won five straight with an offense that can hurt you passing or running the ball. I’ve just got a hunch that the Eagles hang on at home.
Jake Adams: Mifflin County 34, Dover 14: The Huskies are averaging 25.7 points during their three-game win streak and now get a York-Adams squad that holds a loss to Shippensburg? Yep, Huskies.
Adam Kulikowski: Mifflin County 33, Dover 24: In Scott Sechler’s first full year as head coach of the Huskies, this team continues to trend in the right direction. Plenty of credit to go around, but it starts at the top in charting the right course.
Tri-Valley 33, Newport 8
Andy Shay: Tri-Valley 34, Newport 21: Good to see the Buffaloes crack the win column. And the Bulldogs are a good matchup for Newport. The playing field is a little more level. I still like T-V in this one.
Andy Sandrik: Tri-Valley 28, Newport 14: Are the Buffs back? I have not been able to get a good read on this team all season, so I’m going to resort to basics and take the home team that’s sporting the better record.
Jake Adams: Newport 35, Tri-Valley 27: Newport has won the last four meetings, which followed a T-V win streak of eight straight. What does this mean? I’m not sure. But I’ll take the Buffaloes.
Adam Kulikowski: Tri-Valley 35, Newport 31: Newport fell to Halifax by 22 while Tri-Valley lost by only 16 to the Wildcats a week later, so give the edge to T-V. This, of course, means nothing in real life other than that I think these teams are closer to equal than the records show.
Halifax 13, Juniata 6
Andy Shay: Halifax 42, Juniata 14: You keep waiting for the Wildcats to stumble, right? At this point, it doesn’t appear as if that is going to happen. Halifax’s offense is a machine with interchangeable parts as we’ve learned the last couple weeks.
Andy Sandrik: Halifax 35, Juniata 10: Halifax is big and strong enough to wear Juniata down by halftime. Wildcats should be more than good enough to remain unbeaten for next week’s showdown with TVL powerhouse Williams Valley.
Jake Adams: Halifax 42, Juniata 13: The Wildcats get one more win ahead off a potentially division-deciding matchup at Williams Valley next weekend. Halifax just needs to play a good few quarters and come out healthy.
Adam Kulikowski: Halifax 45, Juniata 20: Ball-hawking safety Broc Grosser earned a preferred walk-on offer from West Virginia — his dream school this week. He accepted. Wildcats roll.
Upper Dauphin 58, Williams Valley 26
Andy Shay: Upper Dauphin 28, Williams Valley 24: If the Vikings show a sense of urgency and commitment their coach is looking for every series instead of when the chips are down, they will win this game. The Trojans are playing with a chip on their shoulder and need to keep that chip there to make this result happen. 1-star pick all the way!
Andy Sandrik: Williams Valley 23, Upper Dauphin 20 (OT): What would happen if a Viking and a Trojan battled each other in real life? It would be a close, hard-fought scrap, just like I anticipate this game to be.
Jake Adams: Williams Valley 27, Upper Dauphin 21: The Vikings have not been quite as dominant this year as in 2017, nearly falling again a week ago. Can UD win this one? Absolutely, I think. But sometimes you have to take that win-it-at-the-end pedigree.
Adam Kulikowski: Upper Dauphin 28, Williams Valley 27: When you live at the top of the mountain, everyone gives you their best shot. It’s hard to counter that energy level each week. The Viking know that first-hand this season.
Line Mountain 22, Pine Grove 20
Andy Shay: Pine Grove 28, Line Mountain 20: To me this is all about the Cardinal OL and DL taking control of this game and owning the line of scrimmage. They have the weapons to own the clock and limit the LM touches. Make it so!
Andy Sandrik: Pine Grove 28, Line Mountain 20: Football is so often a momentum game, and for these teams on identical two-game losing streaks, gaining a little bit of early confidence could go a long way.
Jake Adams: Pine Grove 35, Line Mountain 21: The Eagles have just one 100-yard rusher (Colby Scott) all season and are averaging a little more than 100 yards a game and one TD on the ground. It’s tough to win in the TVL like that, yet they are 3-3 in division play.
Adam Kulikowski: Pine Grove 24, Line Mountain 13: The Cardinal took Williams Valley to the brink in last week’s 4th Down Game of the Week. What we learned? Pine Grove has the ability to wear down an opponent. Eagles beware.
Susquenita 35, Millersburg 6
Andy Shay: Susquenita 28, Millersburg 14: One injury can be a lethal blow to any team battling numbers and razor-thin depth. One of your best players leaves a hole. Still think the Blackhawks rise up here.
Andy Sandrik: Susquenita 35, Millersburg 19: Millersburg has to be feeling like this is its best shot at a TVL win, but I still think the Blackhawks are two-score favorites or better. If the Indians light up the scoreboard, like they’ve been known to do on occasion, this game could get very interesting.
Jake Adams: Susquenita 20, Millersburg 14: The Blackhawks are rail thin in the depth department, and Conner McGuire’s season-ending injury only compounds the issue. But I think they can stymie the Indians just enough for another win.
Adam Kulikowski: Susquenita 28, Millersburg 21: If this turns into a shootout, the Indians can pull out an upset victory. But making stops has been a problem for Millersburg all season — and that’s the difference.
Middletown 42, Trinity 0
Andy Shay: Middletown 55, Trinity 0: Blue Raiders are all business and will get their work in according to plan and then get its starters out.
Andy Sandrik: Middletown 62, Trinity 0: David vs. Goliath matchup here, except for Trinity doesn’t have a sling. Or a stone.
Jake Adams: Middletown 55, Trinity 0: This one is going to be very ugly, very fast.
Adam Kulikowski: Middletown 47, Trinity 3: These are two teams in vastly different places. Just the facts.
Governor Mifflin 48, Lower Dauphin 7
Andy Shay: Governor Mifflin 31, Lower Dauphin 14: Remember when the Mustangs were struggling to be competitive early in the season? Well, the District 3 Class 5A runner-up from a year ago is looking for win No. 5 in a row here. Falcons defense must be a game changer to have any shot.
Andy Sandrik: Governor Mifflin 32, Lower Dauphin 13: It is hard to pick against momentum, and with four straight wins, that is exactly what Governor Mifflin has.
Jake Adams: Governor Mifflin 30, Lower Dauphin 14: This will mark the fourth week in five the Mustangs will get a division bottom-feeder. While LD isn’t the level of bad a Reading, Muhlenberg or Daniel Boone is, the Falcons have not been good.
Adam Kulikowski: Governor Mifflin 35, Lower Dauphin 13: It took about half a season for the Mustangs to retool. Fifth straight win is within reach against a Falcons club still looking to find its footing.