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.
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.
Williams Valley quarterback Levi Engle earned a Game Ball from our crew at 4th Down for his performance in Week 2 against Newport. (File Photo/Christina Hoy-4th Down)
By 4th Down Staff:
Each week during the 2018 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 a point per game ball they receive during the season. The top earner will receive an award at the end of the season from our crew.
4th Down Game Balls
Adam Burkhart, FB-LB, Central Dauphin: Simply stated, there was zero chance Burkhart and the Rams defense would let Friday’s physical scrape with Berks Catholic slip away. No. 46 was an absolute beast for Glen McNamee’s side, rushing 17 times for 118 yards and the game’s only score, a 1-yard blast midway through the third quarter. Defensively, CD’s top linebacker was even better, stacking up 15 tackles and helping the Rams hold a tough and talented Berks Catholic team to roughly 3 yards per carry. That’s not easy.
Crusaders' offense, Bishop McDevitt: The Crusaders' offense put on a show Friday night against Gettysburg in a wild 48-35 victory at Rocco Ortenzio Stadium. Get used to it. This is a machine with dynamic weapons throughout. Senior quarterback Chase Deihl carved up the Gettysburg secondary with 355 yards and five scores--three of them to D1 recruit Nazir Burnett who hauled in a team-high 10 snags for 258 yards. T'nyis Becker powered the run game--toting the rock 17 times for 136 stripes and two scores.
Griffin Weidler, K, Palmyra: We’re going outside the box a little here by tagging the Cougars’ best leg. In reality, it’s a no-brainer. Every minute counts during the 10-week blitz that is the regular season, and capitalizing on every scoring opportunity is paramount for most franchises, particularly one trying to claw its way back to the postseason. Well, Weidler help keep momentum in Palmyra’s camp Friday vs. Mechanicsburg, booting 4 field goals, including three in the opening half, that secured a 22-3 halftime edge for the Cougars. Griffin connected on kicks of 39, 38, 35 and 36 yards, also known as a solid day’s work.
Keyshawn Jones, RB, Chambersburg: Don’t look now but the Trojans are 2-0 for the first time in five seasons. Jones has been a vital component in that perfect start, and he proved it again Friday vs. South Western, a eventual 51-26 triumph. For his part, Jones branded the Mustangs for 132 rushing yards, another 92 receiving, and a pair of touchdowns that kept the Trojans in overdrive. He posted TD runs of 26 and 89 yards.
Jake Adams Game Balls
Nathan Fetchkan, RB/LB, Big Spring: The game I was at this week… Sure, it was James Buchanan and a 34-0 win, but Fetchkan and Big Spring’s offense as a whole did a good job of carving up the Rockets’ defense much of the game. He was sitting at 71 yards on the night when Fetchkan burst through a gaping hole on the left side and sprinted 73 yards on his 12th and final carry of the night for a score. His 144 stripes were more than half of the Bulldogs’ 269 for the night. By the way… JB looks to be on the upswing. It’s going to be a long road, but they didn’t look completely overmatched in Newville. The Bulldogs just had bigger and more bodies, and more weapons from which to choose. Good small step for the Rockets.
Terrance Quaker, WR/DB/KR, West Perry: Guys, the Mustangs are 2-0 and might have an even better offense than last year. Kenyon Johnson will run the show most nights, but he got to take a backseat Friday for another talented skill guy. Quaker, a senior, scored four times in a 55-6 win over York Tech. Yeah, yeah… it’s York Tech, but I’ll give a guy a game ball when he pulls off a trifecta: scoring on a kick return, interception return and in the run game. He took the kickoff 84 yards and the pick-six 30. Both runs came from inside 25 yards.
Adam Houser, RB/DB, Shippensburg: It felt like last year Houser was set to break out. In 2016, the then-sophomore ran for 1,211 yards as the Greyhounds stunned many in getting to the District 3 championship for the first time. But injuries and a rebuilt Ship offense zapped Houser’s junior year, holding him to just 564 yards. Well, he appears to be back to his old ways: 36 carries, 315 yards, six rushing TDs. In Friday’s win over West York, in which Houser accounted for 20 of the 21 points scored (a two-point conversion helped), he ran 24 times for 151 yards and three scores. He’s been one of the best backs in the MPC so far this season.
Andy Shay Game Balls
Jose Lopez, RB, Middletown: Took the very first offensive snap of the game and set the tone for the Blue Raiders by racing untouched by a single Northern defender for a 74-yard touchdown run. Lopez finished with more than 200 total yards on 28 touches on a night where points were hard to come by for both squads. In a tight road game against a fellow physical team, having your best player become a workhorse shows the versatility of Lopez.
Jay Rodriguez, QB, Hershey: I know the Trojans are 0-2 and offense and points are not easy to come by for Hershey. Nobody can say, though, Rodriguez is not doing his part. He accounted for nearly 200 of Hershey’s 264 total yards against Cedar Crest including tossing a 12-yard TD pass to Glo Hampton in the second quarter to forge a 7-all tie midway through the second quarter. In two games, both losses where the Trojans had opportunities to come away with wins, Rodriguez has accounted for more than 400 total yards passing and running. He’s giving his team a shot and he made Cedar Crest dig deep for the win.
Red Land Patriots Defense: Former long-time coach Frank Gay and crew needed to win this game to gain some badly needed momentum this season. This is clearly a transition year for the program, and there isn’t much elite talent so grinding out wins together is the only way this club is going to have success. Enter the Red Land defense against East Pennsboro. On a night where the only chance for a Patriots victory was a shutout, the Red Land defense stuck its foot in the ground and made a stand. The Pats’ D limited East Pennsboro to 91 total yards on 45 plays and made running the ball virtually impossible. The Panthers managed only 9 yards on the ground via 23 carries. Red Land is 1-1.
Michael Bullock Game Balls:
Spencer Dimon, DT, Williams Valley: The senior dominated up front defensively, as he recorded a team-high 15 tackles for a Vikings squad that forced three turnovers in a 40-21 conquest of Newport. While nine of Dimon’s 15 stops were solos, he also registered three tackles for loss and one quarterback sack.
Ike Lucas, RB, Tri-Valley: The Bulldogs’ senior feature back rushed 21 times for 116 yards and a game-opening 4-yard score in Tri-Valley’s come-from-behind 20-13 win over Juniata. Lucas also pitched in defensively, making six stops from his safety position.
Evan Herb, QB, Line Mountain: In beating Susquenita 14-6, Herb tossed a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to stake the Eagles (1-1, 1-0) to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, finishing 14-of-26 for 151 yards and an INT.
Levi Engle, QB, Williams Valley: Cruising by Newport 40-21 in the most hyped game of the early slate of the Tri-Valley League season, Engle ran and threw for three scores in the first half. The dual-threat signal caller tossed for 534 yards (3-for-5) — he threw touchdown passes of 29 yards to his brother, Jesse, and 3 yards to Jayden Cruz to close out the opening half — and ran seven times for 159 yards, his 49-yard TD run triggering a 28-point second quarter. Engle also swiped an opposing pass, the 11th of his career, for the second straight week.
Dalton Kintzel and Collin Luckenbill, RB, Pine Grove: Using the big, physical front that lines up in front of him, Kintzel rushed 12 times for 131 yards and three first-half touchdowns in the Cardinals’ 48-8 victory at Millersburg. Kintzel scored on runs of 3, 7 and 11 yards as Frank Gaffney’s bunch (2-0, 1-0) bolted to a 34-0 halftime lead. Luckenbill also had a big opening half, scoring on runs 4 and 71 yards. He finished with 168 yards on 11 totes for a Pine Grove squad that rolled up nearly 400 yards (396) just on the ground against the smaller Indians (0-2, 0-1).