Each week during the 2017 high school football season, each member of our team--and those working behind the scenes as well at 4th Down Magazine--will pass out game balls to top performers.
Players will earn five points per game ball. 4th Down will feature the player with the highest point total heading into the PIAA semifinals. We may even throw in a little swag for the overall winner.
With Week 0 in the books, here' out initial list. It's Game Ball time!
4th Down Staff:
1. Ethan Van Buskirk, K, Central Dauphin: There were several reasons why Van Buskirk ended up with a week 0 game ball. For starters, he ignited the Rams with a mammoth 49-yard field goal in the first quarter of CD’s eventual 30-7 triumph over Friday night. He then converted from 23 and 27 yards, and narrowly missed on a 52-yard attempt. In addition, Van Buskirk’s big leg on kickoffs resulted in four touchbacks on seven tries, pinning the young Indians all night.
2. Stevie Herb, RB, Northern Lebanon: During an uneven nonleague clash with Pine Grove, Herb accounted for 18 of 19 first-half points for the Vikings. Herb finished with 93 rushing yards and two TD runs, plus he chipped in a 50-yard pick-6 as Northern Lebanon chalked up a 32-7 victory.
3. Ty’hier Butler-Stern, OT, Harrisburg: In case you missed it, Saturday’s clash between the Cougars and Philadelphia Public League rep Imhotep Charter turned into a one-sided affair. Harrisburg had a dozen stars in its 33-14 win at Severance, Butler-Stern among them. The tackle dug in to keep prime IC recruit, stand up DE Omar Speights, in check. And he helped clear some room for QB Yahmir Wilkerson to deliver four TD passes. The Cougars totaled 419 offensive yards, a ton of those linked to the 6-5, 320-pounder.
Geoff Morrow's Game Balls:
1. Chris Barrett, QB, Northern: Polar Bears were filled with question marks heading into this campaign, and ahead of the Mid-Penn Colonial schedule, it's fair to say there are still questions. But in the season opener and his first career start at QB, the 6-foot, 175-pound junior did very little wrong. Barrett completed 13 of 19 for 160 yards, two scores and no picks, utilizing six different receivers, including TD passes to Aidan Wenger and Tony Potteiger; Omar Hosni was his top target with four catches for 61 yards. The QB also rushed 14 times for 96 yards and a score as the Northern offense racked up 236 rushing yards (115 for RB Kyle Swartz) in the 35-22 victory at Octorara.
2. Grant Haus, QB, Palmyra: Are we piling on the QB bandwagon with these Game Balls? A little bit. But here's another junior signal caller who excelled in his first varsity start, as Haus capped a fourth-quarter rally with a pair of rushing touchdowns in the Cougars' 24-21 victory over Camp Hill. Haus, all 5-foot-11, 152 pounds of him, engineered a pair of clutch scoring drives after his team fell behind 21-9. The three-sport athlete (basketball and lacrosse) finished 16 for 28 for 126 yards, a TD and an INT, and he rushed 21 times for 88 yards, none bigger than his 8-yard keeper with 37 seconds left to put his team in front. Add on a successful two-point conversion toss, plus two vital first-quarter interceptions from teammates Peyton Stretch and Kyle Wasilewski, and that's a heck of a start for a Palmyra side that endured a ton of roster turnover.
3. Mike Heaton & Attilio "Ott" Santoleri, super clerks, Carlisle Sentinel: Stepping off the grid and into the office for this one, just because I'm feeling appreciative after the usual chaos of the season's first Football Friday. With two-thirds of The Sentinel full-time staff across the country at a wedding, the contributions of The Sentinel's two clerks deserves a nod. Worked with these two for years at another outlet, and nobody does it better. Heaton and Ott might not get much in the way of published credit, but they're constantly on the horn with coaches, digging through countless emails and tracking scores via Twitter and other sources. And that's just touching the surface of what they contribute on a nightly basis. Clerks are often overlooked or undervalued, but not from this corner. Many thanks to the British guy and the bald guy.
Andy Shay's Game Balls:
1. Tommy Kirchoff, QB, Trinity: Falling behind to Annville-Cleona 20-7 in the first half could have mean push the panic button for the Shamrocks. But they stuck to the game plan of running the rock and Kirchoff pitched in by making the most of his limited number of attempts, 12, and completed eight of those for a stellar 167 yards and three touchdowns. Yards in big chunks in the passing game, such as Kirchoff’s 21 yards per completion average, kept the A-C defense guessing.
2. Ryan Adams, RB, Big Spring: Sometimes it feels when a player rolls up big numbers against a James Buchanan program that struggles to stay competitive, you consider the opponent and move on. And there is an element of truth to that being part of the equation. Adams is a strong week-to-week player for the Bulldogs who blew up against the Rockets to the tune of 274 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries. That’s more than 20 yards a carry. Those numbers are game-ball worthy!
3. Harrisburg Cougars defense: As we stalked the sideline at Severance Field Saturday afternoon, it became crystal clear that the 2017 Cougars are NOT rebuilding on the defensive side of the ball. It starts with Micah Parsons and his versatility to play any position in the front seven. And he’s just wrecks plays, there’s that too. Guys like Carmonie Williams, Andre White, Jai Burney, Nazeir Morrell and Ronald Kent Jr. are ball hawks that fly to the football.
Michael Bullock's Game Balls:
1. Devon and Dylan Rabuck, Williams Valley: Awarding game balls to the Vikings’ twin wrecking balls might become redundant over the course of the 2017 campaign, but these two certainly did plenty in the Vikings’ season-opening 45-7 mashing of neighboring Upper Dauphin. Dylan Rabuck rushed for 209 yards and four touchdowns on just 15 carries, averaging just south of 14 yards per tote against the Trojans defense. Devon Rabuck, meanwhile, caught a pair of passes for 69 yards from his tight end position — but was more destructive at defensive end as he totaled six tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks and caused a fumble.
2, Jay Zerby, Halifax: Just nine offensive touches for the Wildcats’ junior burner — Zerby lives about two minutes from Millersburg — but the 5-10, 195-pounder banked 212 yards rushing and two TDs on just seven carries (30.3 yards per crack) and caught a pair of passes from first-time starter London Johnson for 31 additional yards and one score as Halifax opened with a decisive 48-19 conquest of their Route 147 neighbors.
3, Mike Ulicny, Tri-Valley and Gary Klingensmith, Juniata: Stick around long enough and the milestone numbers eventually will appear, and that’s exactly what happened Friday night for this remarkably experienced pair. Ulicny claimed the 150th victory of his career, as Tri-Valley thrilled the fine folks of the Hegins-Valley View Metroplex by popping Line Mountain 48-14. Ulicny will go for No. 151 next weekend at Newport — he’s 150-79-3 at Tr-Valley — where his Bulldogs will be trying to halt the Buffaloes’ 25-game TVL winning streak. Klingensmith, meanwhile, guided Juniata to a season-opening 35-0 victory over Susquenita in his 500th game (292-202-6) as the Indians’ tireless chief. Juniata will host Williams Valley next weekend at Deitrick Field in Mifflintown.