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2021 Preview: Middletown Blue Raiders

Coach: Scott Acri

Classification: 3A

League/division: Mid-Penn Conference/ Capital Division

2020 record: 4-2, 2-1

Postseason: Lost to Wyomissing, 38-16, in the District 3-3A championship

RETURNING LEADERS:

Passing: Comp-Att., Yards, TD

Not available

Rushing: Att-Yards., Avg., TD

Not available

Receiving: Rec.-Yards, Avg., TD

Not available

KEY PLAYERS: 

Tajae Broadie, sr.,TE-DE; Audric Bryant, sr., WR-RB-DB; Marquise Beasley, jr., OL-DL; Chase Vandegrift, sr., OL-DL; Jayson Stoner, sr., OL-DL; Tate Leach, sr., WR-DB; Bamm Appleby, jr.,QB; Asa Kochvar, jr., TE-DE; Brandyn Davis, sr., RB-LB; Arkel Batts, jr, WR-SS; Tito Spears, jr., RB-LB

OUTLOOK: Middletown football enters a new era with Scott Acri at the helm. But don’t expect things to look too different—this will still be a run-first, smash-mouth football team that should contend for the Capital Division crown and much more.

3 THINGS TO KNOW
1. Changes at the top:
For the first time since 2013, a new head coach will lead the Blue Raiders onto the field August 28 against Lower Dauphin. Scott Acri steps in as the head man at Middletown after six seasons in charge at Susquenita where his Blackhawks posted a 24-33 record. Myers posted a 73-22 record, restoring a winning tradition at Middletown before resigning in May. During that span, Middletown reached three consecutive PIAA Class 3A championships. 

“I’m forever grateful for the time I spent at Susquenita,” Acri said. “There were a lot of great people and a lot of great kids. I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow there as a coach and as a person. I’m stepping into a program like Middletown  that has a tremendous run of success with the staff here before and the community has a high level of expectations so you better be ready to work and compete right away.”

Acri’s staff includes plenty of experience with offensive coordinator Spencer Gay (Red Land coach Frank Gay’s son), defensive coordinator and former CD East skipper Aaron Blanding and several returning assistants from Myers coaching staff.

Middletown’s traditional run-heavy offense remains the focal point—highlighted by the bruising Tajae Brodie in the backfield while Acri will infuse the quarterback options his Susquenita teams showcased during his tenure in Duncannon. On defense, look for the Blue Raiders to continue in a 4-3 base scheme and situational 3-3 or 3-4.



2. The field general:

Middletown will need to reload at the quarterback position after two-year starter Tony Powell transferred to CD East. Powell battled injuries in a COVID-shorten 2020 campaign, but passed for 1,415 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2019. Enter junior Bamm Appleby. The 6-1, 175-pound Appleby profiles as a dual threat option in Acri’s offense. “He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Acri said. “He does a lot of great things and has really taken the reins as a true dual threat option for us. He’s a great competitor and a grinder and he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s a film junkie and we’re excited to see how he progresses.”



3. The glue:

If Tajae Brodie was a baseball player, he’d be the dude wearing a different mitt every day. Line him up—wherever you need him at the given moment—and he’s going to dominate the competition. That’s the feeling you get when you listen to Acri talk about his swiss-army knife senior who holds offers to nearly 20 schools including Virginia Tech, Bowling Green, Minnesota, Cincinnati and West Virginia.

“Brodie is the glue of this team,” Acri said. “He’s going to play a ton of positions—going to play out wide, running back, tight end, full back. He’ll get snaps in the wildcat. When we need a big play, we are going to be looking to get Brodie the ball.”

The same could be said on the defensive end where the 6-3, 240-pound D1 recuit can anchor the defensive line or slide back into the second level.

“When you see him walk around here, he’s the typical 6-3, 240 kid that everyone wishes they had,” Acri said. “He’s going to attract a lot of attention and a lot of double teams which will allow guys like Asa Kochvar (6-4, 200), other defensive end more room to make an impact.”

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