1. Biggest midseason surprise is …
As we crash into the halfway point of the regular season this week, the contenders and pretenders are coming into much clearer focus. With that in mind, which of the following is the bigger surprise in the MPC Commonwealth Division: Chambersburg 4-0 or Cumberland Valley 0-4? After 26 years of covering high school football, I’ve never experienced a winless and struggling-to-compete team at CV. All I know is HS football is less fun when the Eagles are winless after a month. The bigger surprise in my book is Chambersburg. That win over Red Lion carries a little more weight as the season unfolds, and going to Mansion Park and rolling Altoona is a quality win. And if the Trojans can get to 6-4 with their remaining schedule they could be a playoff team. It’s a real possibility and that’s why the Trojans stand out.
2. Everson on another level
Is there a quarterback in the state who has better numbers the last two weeks than Harrisburg’s Kane Everson? The senior has accounted for 750 total yards the last eight quarters with 11 touchdowns. He’s completed 81 percent of his 32 throws for 587 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s rushed 19 times for 163 yards (8.6 yards per carry) with another couple touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions, but who cares with those kind of numbers? Cougars have Cumberland Valley this week and will be looking to throw another 40-spot on the board.
3. Colonial stepping up early
I tip my cap to the Colonial Division. I’ve always been consistent throwing a little shade their way when they dropped the ball when it came to coming up short during the non-conference phase of the season. Well, as we approach Week 5, the seven squads in the MPC Colonial own a combined 17-11 record. Well done! Two teams, Shippensburg and West Perry, are unbeaten. Mifflin County is the only club with a sub-.500 record overall.
4. Big games for both squads
The five most important games I see on the docket this week in terms of both clubs have lots of reasons to need a victory are Altoona at CD East, Susquehanna Township at Hershey, Lower Dauphin at Red Land, Northern at Greencastle-Antrim and Big Spring at Waynesboro.
5. Down (times) at the shore
Did somebody throw some bad mojo to the West Shore or something? East Pennsboro, Trinity, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, Cedar Cliff and Red Land are a combined 3-21 this season with four of those six looking for victory No. 1. I’m just asking the question. It’s very odd for all of these teams to be struggling at the same time. At least two of these programs make some serious noise each year. Not this season, it seems.
6. Extremely random observations from the first month:
Attendance everywhere is way down and it baffles me because the weather has been good; I’ve seen more poor tackling than good tacking; snack bars at some (not all) stadiums are starting to get greedy with their prices; the free game programs at West Perry are a nice touch; Bishop McDevitt and Harrisburg are even more dangerous than I imagined; Middletown getting spanked by McDevitt is a really good thing, I’m surprised Trinity and Camp Hill aren’t competitive; I have a football man crush on Shippensburg’s Adam Houser because you know he’s getting 75 percent of the touches and still can’t be stopped; and, finally, two weeks straight ordering and paying for a hot sausage and getting a regular hot dog is annoying as a fan.
Chase Diehl (File Photo-Vicki Vellios)
By Andy Shay:
1. Bringing out the big guns
I’d like to get a few Bishop McDevitt offensive numbers out of the way before the Crusaders embark on the less competitive portion of its 2018 Keystone Division schedule. Quarterback Chase Diehl has already thrown for 1,091 yards and is completing 68 percent of his passes. He’s averaging better than 350 yards a game. WR Nazir Burnett, a Syracuse verbal commitment, has 27 catches for 615 yards with nine touchdowns. He’s averaging 205 yards a game and nearly 23 yards a catch. T’nyis Becker has nearly 600 yards of total offense on 30 carries and 14 receptions. The dual threat is good for 8.7 yards per carry and 22.9 yards per catch with eight total touchdowns. That’s against Cumberland Valley, Gettysburg and Middletown. Those are some ridiculous numbers across the board.
2. Let’s see what WP has in store
I’m crossing off one of my must-see teams I shared with you last week. Friday night I’m headed to Elliottsburg and one of my Top 5 stadiums in the area to see West Perry tangle with Greencastle-Antrim. I’m curious to see if the 3-0 Mustangs are actually better overall or simply a by-product of a very favorable early schedule. I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to seeing Terrance Quaker and Kenyon Johnson do what they do. And I think the Blue Devils are a more than fair test. Chicken corn soup at the Mustang Corral is top shelf, too. Just saying.
3. When tough schedule bites back
When I see teams schedule up and take on anybody and everybody, I so love that mentality. But when it goes south, like in the case of Cumberland Valley this year, I become more of a believer in having a one-game breather in there instead of hammer after hammer. I know that’s kind of talking out both sides of my mouth. But the Eagles are struggling, and in the first month they have played Bishop McDevitt, Coatesville, Central York and travel to Central Dauphin on Friday. That’s simply frightening, especially when you are struggling. Speaking of the Rams from CD, they have played Wilson, Berks Catholic, Manheim Township. No wonder they are all beat up. Three of those teams either won or played for a District 3 crown in 2017.
4. Bubblers no longer easy out
Congratulations to the Boiling Springs Bubblers for ending that wretched 24-game losing streak. You could see a win coming for this squad based on the first eight quarters this season. It wasn’t a matter of if they would win, just a matter of when. That was not the case in 2016 or 2017, when huge losses were not really a big surprise. The Mid-Penn Capital Division hasn’t exactly been a picnic these last two years. And maybe the Bubblers don’t win a division game in 2018. But I’m fairly certain they aren’t the “count that game as a win” team this year, either. The streak is ONE!
5. Commonwealth questions will get answers
We are going to learn a lot about a couple of surprise 3-0 Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division squads this week. Carlisle and Chambersburg, based on 12 quarters of 2018, have potentially added more bulk and grit to the Commonwealth Division. I say potentially because I need a little more meat on the bone to say the division is even deeper than expected. Carlisle travels to State College, and with the Little Lions loaded for a strong run at state gold, that’s not a fair measuring stick. If the Thundering Herd compete and don’t get rolled that’s good enough for me. Chambersburg travels to unknown Altoona, and it would seem the Trojans have the pieces to win this game. The Mountain Lions are the Commonwealth mystery team. This game will tell us a lot about the lower half of the division in my opinion.
6. Big week for several schools
Just my opinion, but I think wins by the following teams this week will viewed as key victories when they look back at the 2018 season: Hershey, Susquehanna Township, Cedar Cliff, Chambersburg, West Perry and Big Spring. Let’s see how many I get right.
Harrisburg quarterback Kane Everson dominated Cedar Cliff Saturday at Severance Field with his arm and his legs. (Adam Kulikowski/4th Down)
By Andy Shay:
Good Sunday morning. Each week we’ll present to you some thoughts and observations from the week that was in Mid-Penn Conference and Tri-Valley League football.
By Andy Shay:
4th Down Magazine
While the 2017 season is in the books, award season is still going strong.