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Previewing the Mid-Penn match-ups in District 3

10 November 2017

 

By 4th Down Staff:

4th Down Magazine

CLASS 6A

No. 8 CD East (6-4) at No. 1 Cumberland Valley (8-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Harry Chapman Field, Mechanicsburg

Only two short weeks ago, the top-seeded Eagles cashed in a 42-3 Commonwealth Division win over the Panthers. While the action tends to tighten in the postseason, CD East is not exactly entering bracket play on a high note after falling to Bishop McDevitt 60-10 last week. CD East’s shot depends on its front line of defense, led by Eddie Rivers and OLB Troy Ambush. RBs Jake Palmer and Galen Witmer will get plenty of totes in CV’s Wing-T set, which exacts a toll over 48 minutes. The Panthers must protect possession and make every break count. The Eagles and the postseason go hand in hand, so CV will be ready.

 

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No. 7 Central Dauphin (6-4) at No. 2 Manheim Twp. (9-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Neffsville

Something tells us the Blue Streaks, who edged Central Dauphin 17-14 in the season opener, would rather tangle with some other first-round opponent. Yes, coach Mark Evans & Co. are rolling. For the first time in 10 seasons, a Lancaster-Lebanon franchise other than Wilson claimed the Section 1 title. The Streaks, behind QB Luke Emge and RB Grayson Sallade, have won seven straight, and its defense is allowing under 14 points per outing. ILB Riley Morgan and FS Cameron Horst are two standouts on that side. The Rams were shaken by a brutal schedule, but a long run of postseason success is beneficial. QB Brady Straub didn’t have WR Grant Smith to target in that first match with MT. And the recent work by RB Mike Wise-Belle gives Manheim Twp. plenty to think about.

 

CLASS 5A

No. 8 Exeter Twp. (7-3) at No. 1 Harrisburg (10-0)
1 p.m. Saturday, Severance Field, Harrisburg

Give the Eagles from Berks County credit. Consecutive losses to Hempfield, Spring-Ford and Governor Mifflin had the Section 1 rep reeling at 2-3 before the playoff push began. It was the work of QB Brandon Unterkoefler, a dual threat with 2,227 combined yards, and RB Gage Moran (863 yards, 14 TDs) that fueled the Eagles, averaging nearly 300 rushing yards per game. The top-seeded Cougars, however, represent a more dangerous animal. And it’s not only the 50 points per game average that is alarming. DE Micah Parsons, LB Andre White and DT Nazeir Morrell steer a nasty defense that has allowed just 90 points all year. Frankly, more than half of those points came against reserves during a running clock.

 

No. 7 Waynesboro (7-2) at No. 2 Manheim Central (10-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Elden Rettew Field, Manheim

Waynesboro is the reigning Mid-Penn Colonial champion, an outfit built on opportunity and aggressive defense. The Indians’ records show four defenders -- FS James Hoffman, OLB Mason Frampton, LB Layken Rouzer and DT Dan Worthy -- with more than 100 stops. Worthy (12 sacks), who likes to frequent opposing backfields, is up for his second straight Defensive POY nod in the Colonial. The Indians will need that pressure, and more, to jettison a Manheim Central team built on offense. First-year starting QB Evan Simon (14 TDs) is completing 60-percent, while RB Tyler Flick (1,299 yards, 15 TDs) and WR Jake Novak (41 catches, 877 yards, 11 TDs) have taken their swings during a perfect regular season.

 

CLASS 4A

No. 5 East Pennsboro (8-2) at No. 4 Susquehannock (8-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Robert E. Lau Field, Glen Rock

The last time East Pennsboro qualified for the postseason, a 2016 quarterfinal date with top-seeded Berks Catholic did not go well. The Panthers, however, are a bit stronger and wiser this time around. And top RB Onasis Neely has an agenda. Neely has rushed 210 times for 2,211 yards and 31 touchdowns through 10 weeks. He’s over 5,000 for his career. Plus, Todd Stuter’s outfit has averaged 46.6 points during its current five-game winning streak. LB Trent Fries and DT McGee Schnarrs have elevated EP’s defense, too. That said, sophomore RB Dan Clapp and senior QB Hunter Sentz have done well guiding the Warriors from York County. Susquehannock has won six straight and have stacked up 51 tackles for loss this season.

 

No. 7 Shippensburg (6-4) at No. 2 Bishop McDevitt (8-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Rocco Ortenzio Stadium, Harrisburg

Few can forget Shippensburg’s thrilling semifinal victory over the Crusaders in the 2016 4A bracket. That’s the one where the Greyhounds erased a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to win 29-28, ending McD’s string of six straight District 3 titles. The seeds are different, and the host venue reversed, this time, and the Crusaders are playing their best football. In other words, the Hounds are again playing the role of underdog. QB Carter Van Scyoc has pressed on under tough conditions, with 17 TD flips against six interceptions. To boot, RBs Philip Torres and Adam Houser have shared 257 carries, 1,143 yards and nine scores. But can the Hounds grab lightning again? QB Chase Diehl and McD’s dangerous skill position players are planning for clear skies. Diehl is completing 73-percent and has tossed 23 touchdowns, including 12 to top target Nazir Burnett.

 

CLASS 3A

No. 4 Bermudian Springs (7-3) at No. 1 Middletown (10-0)
7 p.m. Friday, War Memorial Field, Middletown

Let’s face it, Middletown isn’t exactly passing out hope on a weekly basis. The Blue Raiders got a taste of a long postseason in 2016 and have chewing up opponents ever since. The Eagles have earned their ticket behind RBs Ryan Curfman (833 yards, 6 TDs) and Darren Beall (662 yards, 13 TDs), but surviving this showdown hinges on defense. Beall (81 tackles) and fellow LB Trace Grim (95 stops) will be busy as Middletown again deploys top runners Jose Lopez and Brady Fox. The latter could join Lopez above the 1,000-yard mark with 58 additional yards. And he’s 206 yards shy of establishing Middletown’s career rushing mark. All that and we haven’t even mentioned a defense that checked down a slew of top rushers all season.

 

Note: Full preview of the District 3-2A and 1A championships will be posted later today.

 

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