By 4th Down Staff:
BOILING SPRINGS (3-0) at MIDDLETOWN (1-1)
7 p.m. Friday, War Memorial Field, Middletown
THE BUBBLERS: Grinding out first downs via the run would normally fall into the “don’t do it” category when squaring off with Middletown, but here’s the rub. The Blue Raiders are still in the development phase, particularly up front, on defense. Second, the Bubblers have been really good at running the football in their unblemished start. RBs Joey Menke and De’Von James are averaging a silly 9.6 and 9.9 yards per carry. The duo has combined for 541 yards and 11 touchdowns. Junior FB Aidan Metzger actually leads the team in carries and he’s breaking for 60-plus yards per contest. So, QB Colin Lunde has only attempted 15 passes but does have a pair of TD tosses. If Middletown can’t at least slow those first three competitors, forget it. It’s also worth noting that Boiling Springs popped Big Spring last week with a modest 226 total yards of offense. That means Brad Zell’s crew is producing in multiple phases. Against the Bulldogs, it was MLB Jaydan Barrick hitting paydirt with a pick-6 and blocked punt return. Fellow LBs Doug Bear and Menke can be disruptive.
THE BLUE RAIDERS: Well, Brett Myers & Co. should be good and rested for the Bubblers’ vaunted Wing-T. After week 3 opponent Camp Hill had to shut down due to a positive COVID-19 case in the district, Middletown scrambled for find a replacement. Several area programs advertised as open to all comers but ultimately turned the Raiders down. So, it’s a pretty simple scenario moving forward. Middletown needs a 3-1 mark to have a chance to make the D3 Class 3A field. And, it appears the Raiders must pocket those wins without QB Tony Powell (arm), who is not quite ready to return. RB Tymir Jackson can carry a heavy load, but it’s clear the Raiders need a lot more success in the passing game to balance the attack. Back-up Julio Rodriguez has stepped in, but the Raiders managed just 13 passing yards in a 43-21 loss to Steel-High last time out. Getting the ball into the hands of Jackson, Tajae Broadie, Julian Nester and others is key. Tackling-leader Audric Bryant and other top stoppers Jayson Stoner and Dylon Zettlemoyer need more strong minutes.
THE SERIES: In the last 10 meetings, Middletown holds a 7-3 series edge and has won five straight. Middletown is averaging 46.8 points in the current winning streak. Boiling Springs last tasted victory over the Blue Raiders in 2014, winning 28-13 at War Memorial Field.
DOWN & DISTANCE: With the District 3 deadline looming, a Boiling Springs victory would all but guarantee the Bubblers a spot in the 3A circuit. Boiling Springs currently owns a slight lead over Wyomissing for the first of four seeds. Win or lose, Middletown, standing third in 3A, could potentially play the Bubblers again in the postseason.
THE PICK: Middletown 35, Boiling Springs 17