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Thursday, February 29, 2024

4th Down Magazine’s Game Balls for the Week of November 12-14

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 November 12-14.

Jake Adams’s Game Balls

Onasis Neely, RB, Temple: I don’t care about my homerism here, I’m picking the East Pennsboro kid who just scored his first collegiate touchdown Saturday. My Owls lost their fourth straight this weekend (they’re 1-5, still better than Penn State) to UCF 38-13, but Neely finished with three carries for 12 yards and a 5-yard TD. Neely’s the first player I covered to play for my alma mater. T for Temple U!

James Anderson, WR-DB, Mechanicsburg: The Wildcats have done two things very well all season: toss the pigskin around to various receivers and pick off passes as if it’s going out of style. “Peanut” Anderson has been active all season but had quite the game in Mechanicsburg’s 40-20 win at CD East, corralling five passes for 126 yards while intercepting a pair of passes. He and the Wildcats now get a home tilt Thursday against rival Northern, a game they should win in the same fashion to claim the Mid-Penn Colonial title.

Andy Shay’s Game Balls

Mehki Flowers, WR-DB, Steel-High: When you are a big-time FBS recruit, the game is on the line and the ball comes your way with no time left on the clock, making the play is expected. It’s not quite that easy as we all know, right? Flowers made it look easy on the big stage and snagged the 6-yard touchdown pass to win the game for the Rollers after it appeared they lost at the buzzer. A penalty on Old Forge on the prior play of the PIAA Class 1A quarterfinal gave Flowers a second chance for glory. Flowers also had an 85-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. You need your big-time players to deliver in tight spots on big stages!

Nick Wallaesa, RB, Palmyra: The Cougars have come on strong after a rough start to get better the second half of the season and were rewarded with their third win this season by taking out playoff qualifier Northern. Wallaesa had 11 carries for 63 yards, nothing special. He gets a game ball for putting the contest out of reach for the Polar Bears with a 20-yard TD run on the first possession of the second half that gave the Cougars a 21-10 lead. On Palmyra’s next possession he tossed an 87-yard catch-and-run TD pass to Gage Miller on a trick play that pushed the cushion to 27-10. Two plays in the second half turned this game on edge and in the Cougars’ favor.

Adam Kulikowski Game Balls

Alex Erby, Quarterback, Steel-High: The Kid delivered. Again. Friday’s PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal became an instant classic for Roller Nation after Steel-High overcame a two-score deficit with 2:47 left to advance to the semifinals. The freshman field general did his part in spades, orchestrating back-to back touchdown drives capped by Mehki Flowers 6-yard touchdown catch on an untimed final play. Talk about cool under pressure. Erby finished the evening 17-29 for 227 yards and four touchdowns. 

Gage Miller, Wide receiver, Palmyra: The Cougars earned its third win in four games Friday night against Northern York, 27-21. Miller, a senior, played a critical role in what could be the final time he suited up in orange and black, hauling in an 87-yard touchdown pass from running back Nick Wallaesa.  The touchdown gave Chris Pope’s Cougars a 27-7 cushion in the third quarter. Miller finished the night with three grabs for 132 yards and a touchdown. He also chipped in four tackles– one for a loss–on defense. 

Michael Bullock’s Game Balls

Dominick Bridi, OL/DL, Line Mountain: One can look at this as a career achievement award or something that symbolizes season-long excellence, but the 6-1, 215-pounder could impact a game by opening space along the offensive front or harassing QBs by coming off the edge. On Friday night, in his final high school game, Bridi and his pals up front were instrumental in a Line Mountain attack that rushed for 488 yards and five TDs in a 42-34 victory over Mifflinburg. And while it looked odd seeing No. 74 line up in the O-backfield, Bridi even lugged the ball one time before the night was over.

Kyle Casner, WR/DB, Upper Dauphin: Casner uncorked a memorable outing in his high school sendoff, catching seven passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns in UDA’s 32-20 setback against visiting Big Spring. Casner, who was part of Millersburg’s District 3 Class A championship squad in 2019 before that school’s football program became part of a cooperative arrangement with Upper Dauphin, also recorded three tackles and broke up one Big Spring pass attempt.

Ryan Stahl, WR/DB, Halifax: Stahl offered up his typically versatile output in his final high school outing, catching seven passes for 92 yards and rushing three times for 17 more in the Wildcats’ 49-36 loss to Newport. The 6-1 senior also piled up 74 yards in kickoff returns, defensed one pass and registered eight tackles from his spot in the Halifax secondary.

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