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:
Brady Fox, RB, Middletown: Why deploy one top rusher when you can deploy two at twice the production? Middletown didn’t just lock down the Mid-Penn Capital Division Saturday, it rattled Steel-High’s defense from start to finish. While backfield partner Jose Lopez has been terrific, Fox took center stage in a matinee performance at War Veterans’ Memorial Field. The senior busted through big holes for 199 rushing yards, on just 18 carries, and picked up three touchdowns as the unbeaten Blue Raiders (10-0, 7-0) secured a 45-7 win. Fox is now 206 ground yards shy of setting Middletown’s career rushing mark (3,855), set last season by current Towson freshman Jaelen Thompson.
Quinn Buffington, QB, Camp Hill: The Lions couldn’t swim through an ocean of adversity this season, but there were some performances to celebrate. Buffington has been at the center of most of those successes. Although toiling at QB out of necessity, Buffington never failed to bring his aggressive, competitive brand of football to the field. And Camp Hill’s No. 2 ended his career with a bang. Facing rival Trinity, Buffington completed 19 of 36 passes for 394 yards and six touchdowns. Three of those heaves went to fellow senior Zack Kuntz. In addition, Buffington’s seventh score in the Lions’ 42-20 win came on the ground. Buffington surpassed the 2,000-yard mark and collected 21 TD flips along the way.
Qualik Davis, RB, Bishop McDevitt: If you’re wondering how Bishop McDevitt’s offensive line is progressing, Davis could likely provide an accurate answer. The 5-10 senior had not reached 75 rushing yards in a game this season before the Crusaders lined up vs. Lower Dauphin in Week 9. He then set a season high with 166 yards and then reset that mark Friday vs. CD East. Davis was the benefactor of McD’s determine front as the RB picked up 200 ground yards on just 11 carries. Davis registered 30, 19, 27 and 18 yards in Bishop McDevitt’s complete 60-10 victory over the Panthers.
Dylan and Devon Rabuck, RB/WR, Williams Valley: This sibling duo is nearly unstoppable. All Dylan did was post his ho-hum 200+ yards game (280 yards to be exact), tacking on four scores of 20, 31, 71 and 45 yards against Marian Catholic in a 56-21 District 11 Class A smashing while brother Devon hauled in nearly two football fields worth of passes and four scores (20,35,46 and 53 yards). That's eight TDs between the pair for those of you keeping tally at home. Devon also chipped in on defense to a tune of 12 stops, four sacks and a fumble recovery. All in a day's work for the broskis.
Geoff Morrow's Game Balls:
Chris Barrett, QB/DB, and Steven Yurchison, RB/LB, Northern: Tons of credit to the Northern kids and coaching staff, as the Polar Bears (6-4) were certainly indulging in playoff-caliber football at season's end. In Friday's 49-33 triumph at West Perry, both Barrett and Yurchison produced career-high rushing yardage. Barrett, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior, called his own number often and efficiently, rushing 16 times for 184 yards and three scores. He was also 3-for-5 passing for another 62 yards and broke up a pair of passes on the defensive side. Yurchison, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior, first made an impression on defense, where he totaled eight tackles, including a sack and two for loss. Then, exclusively in the second half after starter Kyle Swartz went down with an injury, he rushed 12 times for 140 yards and two scores. Northern won four straight to end its season.
Mike Dubas, RB, Brady Ebersole, WR/DB, and Brennan Quigley, LB, Cedar Cliff: Like Northern, the Colts (7-3) closed strong (five straight wins) but just missed the playoffs. Still, one heck of a turnaround, capped with a 17-14 triumph over Susquehanna Twp. Dubas, a 5-foot-10, 178-pound senior, again proved tough to stop with 28 carries for 155 yards and a score, plus an 11-yard reception. Ebersole, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior, had a 12-yard catch but made his biggest impact on defense with two interceptions and five tackles. And Quigley, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior, led the defense with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery.
David Henke, G/DE, Waynesboro: The Indians used to be an annual doormat, but now they're Mid-Penn Colonial champs after a 21-14 victory at Mifflin County sealed the unbeaten division run. The linemen were big all season in the Wing-T, but Henke closed especially strong. He was credited with five pancake blocks as the playoff-bound Indians (7-2), who won six straight to end the regular season, racked up 273 yards on 43 carries, with three touchdowns by three different backs. On defense, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound senior added five tackles and a fumble recovery and helped blank the red-hot Huskies in the second half.
Zack Kuntz, TE/DE, Camp Hill: What a way to cap an outstanding career. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound senior, who's soon off to Penn State as an early enrollee, closed his four fabulous years with the Lions (4-6) by hauling in eight passes for a career-high 303 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-20 rout of rival Trinity, where his older brothers previously starred. Kuntz also racked up six tackles and a sack on defense, adding an interception. AND, that's not all! He also punted seven times for an average of 36.4 yards, with three inside the 20 and a long of 49. Best of luck in the Big Ten!
Terrance Quaker, WR/DB, and Dom Salinetro, QB, West Perry: OK, the Mustangs' defense struggled mightily to stop Northern in a 49-33 loss, but this duo established school-record yardage number on offense. In his final game, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior Salinetro completed 27 of 44 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. His top target? Quaker, a 5-foot-8, 145-pound junior who was ALWAYS open en route to 13 catches for 240 yards, a TD and one of three two-point conversion catches from Salinetro. In addition, Quaker had five tackles, averaged 40 yards on two punts and recovered an onside kick. These guys helped the Mustangs finish 4-6, the program's highest win total since 2013.
Cohen Russell, SB/DB, State College: The Little Lions, believe it or not, hadn't defeated Central Dauphin since 2008. But Russell and crew made sure that losing streak ended at eight games, blitzing the Rams 31-10. Russell, a speed demon at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, did his part as a runner and receiver. The junior took a reverse toss and raced 80 yards for a touchdown, finishing with a career-high 96 yards on just three carries. He also caught a career-high 10 passes for another 92 yards as the Little Lions (8-2) now turn their attention to Erie and the District 4/6/9/10/8/90210/pi playoffs.
Yahmir Wilkerson, QB, Harrisburg: The best regular season in Harrisburg High history ended with authority, thanks once again to a full team effort in a 56-14 thumping of Cumberland Valley, a victory that clinched the Mid-Penn Commonwealth title for the Cougars (10-0). The left-handed Wilkerson again showed his incredible value, competently completing 10 of 14 passes for 150 yards and three scores, all in barely more than one half of action. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior added nine carries for 39 yards and two scores, including the game-opening touchdown, and another deflating run just before halftime that put CV into a 35-7 hole.
Andy Shay's Game Balls:
Adam Houser, RB-DB, Shippensburg: Faced with a must-win to make a second trip to the playoffs, the 5-10, 175-pound running back and safety came up with a monster game to win the Little Brown Jug against Big Spring. And the ‘Hounds are headed back to the playoffs after edging the Bulldogs 27-21. I’m not sure Ship is posting another W on the Little Brown Jug or gets an invite to the second season without Houser in this game. He accounted for 165 yards on 20 touches with a pair of touchdowns. Houser also had a key 41-yard interception return for a TD that allowed to him to account for three of the Greyhounds’ four touchdowns. Houser’s biggest impact came out of the backfield where he nabbed 10 catches for 112 yards with touchdown catches of 19 and 5 yards.
Naeem Cross, RB-QB-LB, Milton Hershey: The 5-11, 195-pound junior is not a quarterback, but he lines up out of necessity under center for the Spartans. And for a guy his size his speed will catch you by surprise if you don’t pay close attention. In the season finale against Palmyra, Cross started the game with an 88-yard touchdown run, then added a 31-yard gallop to give the Spartans a 21-2 lead. Cross had 119 yards on his two TD runs, and added 70 yards on his other 17 carries to finish with 189 of Milton Hershey’s 251 yards on the ground. One-man show gets a game ball.
Onasis Neely, RB, East Pennsboro: Getting immune to the hammer from East Pennsboro putting up 200 yards and several touchdowns a game is easy. But the 5-11, 190-pound senior came up with another big performance against Boiling Springs to help guarantee the Panthers would be playoff bound. Neely carried 12 times for 195 yards and two scores in the first half in the victory over the Bubblers. That was all he needed to accomplish and sat out the second half after finishing his senior year with more than 2,200 yards in 10 regular season games.
Jake Adams' Game Balls:
Tayven Kelley, TE, Boiling Springs: In two weeks Kelley nearly doubled his season totals in receptions and yards. One of the few bright spots on an 0-10 team, Kelley hauled in a 61-yard and 73-yard TD in Friday’s 42-20 loss to East Pennsboro. He set career highs with 10 receptions and 224 yards in the process. All season he was Evan Mancuso’s favorite target by a country mile. Perhaps no receiver in the Mid-Penn owned a higher percentage of the passing game; roughly two-thirds of Mancuso’s yards went Kelley’s way this year, and nearly half of his completions. Kelley, a basketball and baseball starter in Bubbletown as well, could be in line for a huge 2018.
Gavyn Barnes, QB/WR/KR/DB, Carlisle: Few graduating seniors are going to leave as big a hole come next season as Barnes. Barnes finishes the year third in rushing for Carlisle (337 yards), first in passing (582) and second in receiving (368). He was also the primary kick return on a team that desperately needed his talents. Barnes loves playing Chambersburg, too. In a 47-21 win, he threw two TDs (one for 14 yards, the other for 38) and ran for two more (1 and 53 yards). In his final football game (he’ll be the main attraction for Carlisle basketball this year) he was 6-of-12 for 179 yards passing and ran 14 times for 157 stripes.
Richie Sykes, RB, Red Land: The Patriots o-line bullied an undersized Mechanicsburg front seven in a 35-13 win, and Sykes benefited most. The junior set the bar a bit higher for himself come 2018, too, running for 259 yards on 28 carries in the season finale. He scored on a 4-yard and 30-yard run. Red Land closed the season with two wins in the last four games, a good close to what started out as an 0-6 season. Sykes looks like a good piece to have going forward.