Each week, our crew will dish out ‘Game Balls” to athletes who turned in impressive performances across our coverage area. Here are our selections for Week of Oct. 2-3 of the regular season.
Jake Adams’s Game Balls
Offensive line, Carlisle: What a monster debut by the Thundering Herd’s big maulers. A whopping 57 carries and 436 yards, against a Chambersburg team that already had a game under its belt. Carlisle was high on this line going into the year, and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I guess I have my proof. First-year starting back gained 239 yards on 28 touches and sophomore QB Ezeekai Thomas racked up 143 stripes on 21 totes. That takes big-boy blocking. It’s an uphill battle against state contender Central Dauphin next week, but it’ll be interesting to see how this quintet holds up.
De’Von James, FB, Boiling Springs: How do you run for 155 yards on just seven carries? Seriously. Suddenly, this Bubblers team is fun and dangerous, having ripped off huge running games in consecutive games to start 2-0. James scored three times, including on a 60-yard dash. James is now at 211 stripes this season as part of a dangerous pairing with Joey Menke, who has 244 and five TDs. The Bubblers are averaging 7.7 yards per rush. Let that sink in.
Micah Brubaker, QB, Mechanicsburg: Gonna keep seeing this name a lot this year. Brubaker was cooking (get it?) again this week with 117 yards and two scoring strikes on 7-of-9 passing. He used his legs a bit more this week, rushing 12 times for 78 stripes. He’s shown impressive improvement early on with his accuracy, connecting on 19-of-23 passes. And that efficiency has the Wildcats 2-0 and on the inside track for the Mid-Penn Colonial crown while keeping a District 3 Class 5A playoff spot in play early.
Andy Shay’s Game Balls
Mehki Flowers, WR-DB-KR, Steel-High: Rated as one of the top receivers in the country, Flowers’ talent was never hard to see. Now his talent is starting to make the difference in games, and that’s when a guy with talent becomes not only a game changer, but an impact player who has the ability to CHANGE a game. In the Rollers’ stellar and signature 43-21 triumph over River Rival Middletown, Flowers accounted for four of Steel-High’s six touchdowns. He caught two TD passes, added a 56-yard touchdown run and returned a punt 90 yards for a score against the Blue Raiders. This game was a big stage for Steel-High, and it was more than Flowers that helped the Rollers take out the Blue Raiders. But it was Flowers’ big plays that changed this game and helped Steel-High flip the script. That’s why he’s a big-time recruit.
Timmy Smith, RB/WR-LB-KR, Central Dauphin: In all my nearly 30 years of covering Mid-Penn Conference football I have seen more than my fair share of great players who can impact a game in many ways. Smith is near the very top of my list in terms of versatility. You hear about all his offensive numbers and touchdowns. And they matter. But he’s not just a single-option threat for the Rams. He can be a stud running back or stud receiver based on what the defense is giving CD. He’s an exceptional kick returner, and don’t forget he’s an All-State linebacker who most likely is going to play defense at the next level. Against a very respectable State High squad, Smith returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown to ignite the Rams, carried the load when it mattered on the ground, finishing with a game-high 157 yards on 20 carries and finished with 291 all-purpose yards against the Little Lions. Oh, and he wasn’t bad on defense, either.
Joey Corado, K-WR, Hershey: There must be something about the final minute of a game with Corado. In the season opener the full-time kicker and part-time wide receiver nailed a 22-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining in the season opener to beat Red Land 10-7. Good win for the Trojans in a toss-up game with the Patriots. Week 2 was definitely not a toss-up game for Hershey, facing state-ranked Cedar Cliff. Again it was the final minute of the game and Corado came up HUGE again to move Hershey to 2-0. His 69-yard catch-and-run inside the final 30 seconds ﹘ his only catch of the game ﹘ propelled Hershey past Cedar Cliff 28-21 to complete a rally that saw the Trojans score twice in the final 2:08. Most high school players dream of winning the game once in a career. Corado did it two weeks in a row.
Adam Kulikowski Game Balls
Cumberland Valley defense: Staring into the barrel of an 0-2 start under new head coach Josh Oswalt, the Cumberland Valley defense stopped a critical two-point conversion to preserve a 7-6 victory against CD East in the closing seconds Friday night. That’s a clutch performance when it mattered most.
Jordan Heisey, QB, Northern: The Polar Bears are off to a fast start, notching their second victory of the season Friday night against West Perry, 33-25. Heisey played a critical role. This gent stepped up in a big way, tallying 330 total yards–231 stripes on the ground. That’s Kyle Swartz-like production. Just what Northern needs to make a run at the ultra-competitive Colonial Division title.
Michael Bullock’s Game Balls
Chance Crawford, RB/DB, Upper Dauphin: Crawford definitely made an impact in the Trojans’ 46-22 loss to visiting Mid-Penn Liberty playmate Line Mountain, whether it was running the football, catching it and even throwing it. Crawford rushed 12 times during the 48-minute affair, gaining 89 yards and reaching paydirt for a 15-yard score. And while the 5-6, 165-pound senior caught 10 passes for 88 yards, he used a two-handed approach to fling the ball to Kyle Casner for a successful two-point try that gave UDA its lone lead of the game.
Bryce Enders, RB/LB, Halifax: Enders displayed the numerous dimensions to his all-around game, yet it wasn’t enough for the Wildcats to open the season with a positive result. The multi-talented junior rushed 16 times for 88 yards and a pair of scores in Halifax’s 41-26 loss to visiting Juniata, but he also caught four passes for 29 yards and a third TD. Enders also was a force defensively, accumulating 13 stops from his outside backer position.
Yaneil Ortiz, RB, Juniata: Ortiz made the most of his offensive touches in the Indians’ 41-26 triumph at Halifax, rushing eight times for 120 yards and a 57-yard touchdown run that gave Kurt Condo’s club even more second-half breathing room. Ortiz also hauled in two passes for 19 yards and while on the defensive side of the ball recorded a handful of stops.
Caleb Seeger, RB, Juniata: Yet another efficient effort during Juniata’s 41-26 victory at Halifax, as the shifty senior rolled up 106 rushing yards and a 15-yard touchdown on eight attempts. While Seeger also snared two receptions for 65 yards, he picked off two passes and registered two tackles as the Indians evened their record at 1-1.