4th Down Staff:
4th Down Magazine
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.
4th Down Staff's Game Balls:
Nik Grabiec, QB, Newport: You might have heard that Newport’s impressive winning streak inside the Tri-Valley League was snapped a week ago by Line Mountain. It wasn’t exactly one of Grabiec’s sharpest performances. But Newport’s signal caller didn’t hang his head during a very important Week 8 road trip to DuBois. Grabiec rushed 16 times for 80 yards and three touchdowns, and the QB completed 5 passes for 106 yards and a fourth TD, hoisting Newport to a 49-14 win. Without that decision, Newport’s chance to return to the District 3 Class 2A championship would have evaporated.
Grant Smith TE, Central Dauphin: The Rams have experienced their share of hot and cold moments during the ’17 season. That said, should Glen McNamee’s crew gain steam heading into the postseason, their big-target tight end/wide receiver will be a match up problem no matter the opponent. Smith put some of his skills on display Friday at Chambersburg, hauling in six catches for 193 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams dunked the Trojans 44-7.
Mike Jones, RB-LB, CD East: Let’s face it, the Panthers are that combustible engine that you’re just not sure will fire when turning the key. If it does, well, the opposition has issues. Jones might have taken a back seat lately to those improv performances by Kane Everson, but he played a leading role Friday against gritty Carlisle. Jones carried 26 times and turned 134 yards and a touchdown as CD East won a tight 21-14 Commonwealth scrap at The Speedway.
Andy Shay's Game Balls:
Nick Yarnevich, WR-DB-KR, Cedar Cliff: Sometimes all you need is three touches to make the game-ball roster, especially if those touches have a huge impact. The Colts’ Yarnevich started with a 47-yard kickoff return right after Red Land grabbed an early 7-0 lead. It helped minimize the damage of falling behind quickly. The Colts scored to tie the game. In the second quarter on a third-and-long, Yarnevich caught a slow developing inside screen and gained 19 yards for a first down that led to another TD. The to start the second half he took the second-half kickoff are blazed 88 yards to put the game out of reach. His three touches went for 154 yards and score.
Onasis Neely, RB, East Pennsboro: What continues to amaze me is you know this guy is going to get at least 20-25 carries every games. And nobody has stopped him, and only Middletown slowed him down a bit. Neely shredded a Palmyra defense that was a huge reason the Cougars were winning games. Points and yards against this group were hard to come by. All Neely did was rush for 200 yards on 25 carries with four touchdowns as the Panthers scored 55 points. He went over 5,000 yards for his career in this game and is approaching 2,000 rushing yards for the season and East Pennsboro is in the running for a postseason bid.
Malachi Young, QB, Steel-High: The Rollers’ have enjoyed having their full compliments of weapons available for the better part of a month and it’s showing across the board. This offense is starting to become a juggernaut. And Young is the guy pulling the trigger and making sure all those weapons get a little taste. In a comfortable victory over Camp Hill, the Steel-High signal caller completed 13 of 20 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns. He completed those TD tosses to three different receivers.
Michael Bullock's Game Balls:
Dylan Rabuck, RB, Williams Valley: Yet another productive outing for the 6-0, 195-pound senior, the all-state running back who rushed 16 times for 149 yards and a handful of touchdowns as the Vikings (9-0, 8-0) rolled to a 50-7 victory over rival Tri-Valley. Rabuck scored on runs of 69, 3, 7 and 4 yards in the opening half as Tim Savage’s club shrugged off an early 7-0 deficit, thrilling a sizable home crowd by scoring 36 first-half points. Rabuck tacked on a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter as the Vikes continued to roll over a Tri-Valley club they could meet again in the District 11-A playoffs.
Devon Rabuck, DE, Williams Valley: The older of Williams Valley’s identical twin terrors by an hour, Devon Rabuck more than held up his end by producing on both sides of the ball in the Vikings’ 50-7 thumping of Tri-Valley. The 6-0, 205-pound all-state defensive end registered six stops, one tackle for loss and even returned an interception 82 yards for a first-half score as Williams Valley scored the last 50 points of the backyard scrap. Rabuck also hauled in two Levi Engle passes for 70 yards and caught two more deliveries for a pair of two-point conversions as the Vikes moved closer to a TVL championship.
Ben Lauver, DE, Juniata: Disruptive throughout Juniata’s 48-minute back-and-forth with Line Mountain, the 6-3, 225-pound senior really flashed his game on the defensive side of the ball as Gary Klingensmith’s Indians (6-3, 6-2) claimed a 14-6 decision. In the offensive backfield much of the night, Lauver posted a team-high eight stops, swiped an intended screen pass and returned it 19 yards to set up Juniata’s first score and fell on a fumble on Line Mountain’s final snap from scrimmage. Lauver also banked a 19-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, a score that came on fourth down.
Donny Gelnett, RB, Upper Dauphin: Extremely productive on the offensive side of the football, the 6-1, 245-pound load left indelible footprints all over Halifax defenders as the Trojans pocketed a 33-6 road victory. Gelnett rushed 19 times for 136 yards and scored on runs of 3, 6 and 13 in the first half as Kent Smeltz’s club (4-5, 4-4) opened a 26-0 advantage at the break. Gelnett, who also plays tight end and defensive end, added a pair of receptions for 23 yards.
Trent McGuire, RB/LB, Susquenita: Flashing his speed whenever possible, the 6-1, 185-pound McGuire piled up 197 yards rushing on 29 attempts as the Blackhawks (4-5, 3-5) ground out a 17-10 victory at East Juniata. McGuire’s 3-yard touchdown run in the opening minute of the fourth quarter snapped a 10-all deadlock, providing the game-winning points. McGuire also caught a pair of passes for 24 yards.
Geoff Morrow's Game Balls:
Jakub Hierman, DT, and Jermaine Hull, WR/DB, Mechanicsburg: It's fair to say Billy Furman's Wildcats had been swaying more than a little bit since a 2-1 start to the season. But the JH crew helped steady this outfit in a 20-0 Mid-Penn Keystone victory at Hershey on Friday, snapping the team's four-game skid. In the trenches, the 5-foot-8 sophomore Hierman ate up space and attacked the ball, totaling eight tackles, including one for loss for the Wildcats (3-5). In the open spaces, it was the 6-foot-2 Hull's two-way contributions paying dividends, as the senior caught six passes for 120 yards and a pair of 10-yard TD catches to complement four tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery on defense.
Jake Palmer, HB/CB, Cumberland Valley: Not once did the 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior look tired, and that's incredible because he's out there ALL THE TIME. In a 24-14 Homecoming victory over Lower Dauphin, Palmer rushed 25 times for a career-high 200 yards, including a 34-yard TD run early in the third for a 17-0 lead. He was part of a rushing attack that gained more than 530 yards. On defense, Palmer was part of a secondary that faced 45 passes but yielded just 5.8 yards per attempt. His brilliant coverage forced Lower Dauphn to earn every bit of yardage in the passing game.
Micah Parsons, RB/DE/KR, Harrisburg: It's no secret there's not much this guy can't, or won't, do on the football field. The latest example came, unsurprisingly, in Harrisburg's toughest game thus far, as the Cougars (8-0) found themselves knotted 21-21 early in the second half despite three first-half TD runs (12, 49, 8 yards) by the 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior. His 70-yard kickoff return TD answered the Little Lions' tying score early in the third and kick-started a 30-point surge for the Cougars in what ended as a 51-28 triumph. He would add a fourth TD run of 22 yards, totaling a career-high 224 yards on just 11 carries. On defense, the highly coveted prospect tallied four tackles, including two sacks and another behind the line of scrimmage, said head coach Calvin Everett.
Jake Adams' Game Balls:
Kyle Swartz, RB, Northern: I’ve seen Swartz in three games this season, and for most of those 12 quarters I’ve been really impressed by one thing. Swartz is among the very best in the Mid-Penn Conference at doing one thing exceptionally well: Falling forward for extra yards. At 6-foot, 190 pounds, he’s a handful when he gets a head of steam. And when his offensive line is opening up holes, like it did in Friday’s 14-7 win at Shippensburg, it gives him one-on-one matchups with usually smaller linebackers and defensive backs. Even if they wrap him up well, Swartz usually has the upper hand and carries that defender for a few positive yards. The Greyhounds pulled Swartz down behind the line just four times on 31 touches Friday, to provide further evidence. In the end, the sophomore, who is within striking distance of his first 1,000 yard season, scored both Northern TDs (59 and 5 yards) in the second half and ran for a career-high 215 yards.
Kross Todaro, RB/Gage Schaeffer, RB, Mifflin County: That game vs. West Perry could have gone far, far differently. Following the resignation of Brent Hartman mid-week, the Huskies came out and thumped the visiting Mustangs 61-21 for their first win of the season. Behind it were two running backs with big performances. Todaro, a senior, was elusive, running for 119 yards and a 43-yard TD on just six carries. The freshman Schaeffer, meanwhile, scored twice inside 10 yards and finished with 104 stripes on 17 carries. Kross had just four carries (all in Week 7) entering the game, while Schaeffer’s performance set career highs in touches, yards and touchdowns. He had never scored on the ground before, and never crossed 40 yards in a game, much less 100.
Isaiah Kershner, QB, Waynesboro: Mason Frampton gets most of the headlines for the Indians, but on Friday it wasn’t all about him. Senior QB Isaiah Kershner didn’t light it up in any way, but he certainly kept things constantly moving forward as the Indians (5-3, 5-0 Colonial) have locked up a division title (somewhat surprisingly) with one last game against Mifflin County. Kershner threw a pick, but finished 5-of-8 for 71 yards and a TD, hitting Jay Alvarez for the score. He also ran for 73 yards on 11 carries (Waynesboro went for 44 and 286 on the night) and another score.