By Adam Kulikowski:
Coach: Brett Myers (8th season, 68-20)
Division: Mid-Penn Capital
2019 season: 10-2 (6-1 Capital)
Postseason: Lost to Wyomissing 24-21 in the District 3 Class 3A championship.
Passing: Comp-Att, Yards, TD
Tony Powell: 70-123, 1,408, 18
Rushing: Att-Yards, Avg, TD
Tymir Jackson: 153-1,282, 8.3, 11
Receiving: Att-Yards, Avg, TD
Tajae Broadie: 32-438, 13.6, 7
Key returners: Brock Welsh, sr., OT/DE; Amir Potter, sr., OG; Nick Newton, sr., OT-DT; Tim Wagner, sr., DB-RB; Tymir Jackson, sr., DT-RB; Jules Nester, sr., DB-WR; Jeremy Wells, sr., OG-LB; TJ Daniels, sr., RB-DB; Jaydon Wotring, sr., RB-DB; Tajae Broadie, jr., DE-FB; Tony Powell, jr., QB-LB.
Outlook: A pair of games on the calendar won’t even count in the win-loss column, but they were added to the slate by Middletown coach Brett Myers with a purpose. The Blue Raiders, primed to make another run at a state title, picked up a pair of scrimmages against 6A powerhouse Central Dauphin and 5A Governor Mifflin. Myers wanted his team to face an early test as they prepare for an abbreviated 2020 campaign. Fueled by a pair of high-end running backs, a junior quarterback just beginning to find his groove and a tough physical defense, the Blue Raiders should be the favorites to claim another Capital Division title.
3 Things to Know:
- Closing in on a milestone: The Middletown Blue Raiders are closing in on a mark that only 44 other football programs in the commonwealth can say they have achieved — 600 wins in program history. Middletown currently sits just a handful of games away from achieving the mark — somewhere between 594-597 depending on how one counts games in the 1920s against the American Legion. (Myers and his staff are currently working to resolve how to count those matchups.) At some point in 2020 — COVID-19 allowing — the Blue Raiders should be popping the (alcohol-free) bubbly to celebrate the program’s successes. “It is a reminder that there was a lot of really good football before this group of kids and coaches. We talk a lot about the standard of living up to the past. Middletown more than anything is known for its physical football and playing with great effort. We’re lucky to be here at this time to be the ones who do it.”
- Grooming from a guru: Quarterback Tony Powell had plenty of reasons to feel good after a 2019 campaign in which he threw for 1,400 yards (18 TDs). But the incoming junior — a 6-foot-5, 205-pound field general who also runs a 4.66 — had plenty to work on to continue to improve his craft. Enter quarterback guru Jim Contafio. The former Wilson and Cedar Cliff coach who has honed the skills of NFL quarterbacks Chad Henne and Dwayne Haskins and college QBs including Andrew Ford, Luke Emge and Grant Brenneman worked during the offseason with Powell to help improve his footwork and release. “You can see it,” Myers said of Powell’s progress. “He has really developed and now has a year of experience in our system. He did a great job running the RPOs last year, and now we know we can do more of it. He’s constantly asking about other things he can do to allow us to spread the field more.”
- Passing the torch: The running back pipeline at Middletown continues to churn out top end talent. From Jaelen Thompson, to Brady Fox to Jose Lopez, the Blue Raiders have had no shortage of game-altering talent to fuel their success. While Lopez departed for his freshman campaign at Albany after a stellar career concluding with 6,197 yards on 750 carries, a pair of backs, Tymir Jackson (1,200 rushing yards in 2019) and Tajae Broadie, are ready to carry the load. “We’ve been really blessed with a lot of good running backs,” Myers said. “This year is no different. We have two guys that most teams would feel are pretty special players. The nice thing is they are both really big running backs. Both can run. A lot of people think Tymir is a pounder — a physical guy, which he is — but last year in the playoffs, he showed that he can go for 90 yards at any time. He’s going to give us the homerun threat that we’ve had these last few years. Tajae led the team last year in catches as a fullback.”