Halifax's Broc Grosser. (File photo/Christina Hoy-4th Down)

By Michael Bullock:

1. Pine Grove face former skipper

Some 11 months ago when buses carrying Pine Grove football players into the Hegins-Valley View Metroplex, Jeff Sampson was in charge of a struggling Cardinals program that would win just one game. Come Friday night, when Pine Grove again wheels into Schuylkill County’s West End, first-year skipper Frank Gaffney will lead his confident Cards into a scrap with a Tri-Valley squad now headed by … Jeff Sampson. And while Pine Grove (3-0, 2-0) is hoping to remain at the top of the Tri-Valley League standings by pocketing another victory — here’s guessing those fans on hand will not see a repeat of last season’s 54-0 win by Tri-Valley, yet will still enjoy their hamburgers and sauce — a powerful ground game fronted by a sizable offensive line and fueled by the tandem of Dillon Kintzel (42 carries, 359 yards, 7 TDs) and Colin Luckenbill (34-349, 4 TDs) may be what keeps the Cards among the unbeaten. Kintzel has cracked 100 yards in all three victories, while Luckenbill has totaled 300-plus yards in Pine Grove’s league wins over Millersburg (48-8) and Newport (33-14). If the offense cannot get untracked, Gaffney’s defense has posted four touchdowns (3 picks, 1 fumble) and one safety thus far. Although Tri-Valley opened with victories over Mahanoy Area and Juniata, the Bulldogs last weekend ran into a hot Williams Valley squad and were handled 47-21. What does not bode well for Tri-Valley is Williams Valley rushed for nearly 300 yards and put two backs over 100 yards — even though Levi Engle threw four touchdown passes. Hanging on to the ball may be one key, and that means productive games from feature back Ike Lucas (59-275, 4 TDs) and quarterback Daulton Leedy (28-of-46, 411 yards, TD, INT). The Bulldogs also will need to put a lid on Pine Grove’s running game, so that means active outings from 'backers Lucas, Chase Herb and Nick Ziegmont. Reigning TVL Defensive Lineman of the Year Kolt Schaeffer also must play big against the Cards’ big eaters.

Related: Listen Now: High School Football Now with Eric Epler and Andy Shay

Related: Mid-Penn Conference: Six-pack of stories to know

Week 3 Game Balls

Elite 11 Power Rankings after Week 3

2. Coaching buddies put friendship aside

Todd Rothermel and Kent Smeltz may be Line Mountain High School graduates, and Smeltz may have spent four seasons serving as Rothermel’s defensive coordinator at Newport, but for several hours on Friday night in Perry County they’ll be trying like heck to find ways for their respective teams to leave victorious. And then, when it’s over, they’ll shake hands and be friends again. Right now, it would seem Smeltz’s Upper Dauphin Trojans (2-1, 1-1) would be in better shape. Especially since UD is averaging more than 380 rushing yards per game, while Newport (0-3, 0-2) is yielding more than 264 yards per contest on the ground. Hmmm... Smeltz’s bunch certainly had it rolling offensively in last weekend’s 74-56 shootout victory over Millersburg, collecting nearly 500 rushing yards and more than 700 yards of total offense. Jake Ramberger (31-372, 5 TDs) needed just four attempts to roll up 159 yards and two scores against Millersburg, but Mason Wiest (16-162, 2 TDs) and Donnie Gelnett (32-215, TD) added 137 and three touchdowns. QB Macklin Ayers also rushed for a TD, but he threw for 223 yards and two scores. While UD had some issues slowing down Millersburg’s aerial attack, Newport junior and first-year starter Elijah York (29-of-72, 357, 2 TDs, 5 INTs) has been learning on the job in losses to Steel-High, Williams Valley and Pine Grove. The Buffs likely will try to grind it out behind junior feature back Ethan Rode (64-333, 4 TDs), who has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game thus far. Newport also will go into Friday’s fray at Katchmer Field having won last year’s Rothermel-Smeltz showdown 50-14.

3. Grosser gets even more chances

Off to a terrific start, Halifax free safety Broc Grosser has pocketed four interceptions and returned two of those picks for scores. Grosser’s first pick last weekend, which he ran back 51 yards late in the first half to pull the Wildcats (3-0, 2-0) into a tie, immediately swung momentum 180 degrees. Grosser added another pick on Line Mountain’s next play from scrimmage that eventually set up a field goal that put Earl Mosley’s club ahead to stay. The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder wasn’t done, as he turned a quick slant into a 50-yard touchdown reception — he also registered seven tackles and assisted on an eighth — that helped Halifax record a 37-7 triumph. While Mosley’s bunch already has matched its 2017 victory total, they’ll go for their fourth victory in as many tries at winless Millersburg. The main reason why Grosser may impact Friday night’s contest is the Indians’ willingness to put the ball in the air. While Caden Feaster threw for 356 yards and three scores in a Week 1 loss at Nativity, Aiden Harman banked 374 passing yards and six touchdowns in a Week 3 setback at Upper Dauphin. The Indians are averaging more than 30 points per game, but have yet to win a game because opposing teams are averaging more than 400 yards rushing against a smallish ‘Burg defensive group.

4. Williams Valley rolling behind Engle

One of three remaining Tri-Valley League unbeatens — and also the defending champions — Williams Valley (3-0, 2-0) will try to remain perfect when it pulls into Cove for a scrap with Susquenita (1-2, 1-1). Senior quarterback Levi Engle has been sensational thus far, completing 15 of 24 passes for 370 yards and nine touchdowns. Engle, who also has rushed for 211 yards and a score, became the Vikings’ all-time leader in career touchdown passes in last weekend’s 47-21 victory over Tri-Valley when he raised his total to 48 by throwing for four scores. Stephen Sedesse held the record (45) until Engle made that mark his own. Balance has become key, too, as Tim Savage’s bunch watched backs Nick Savage and Brady Miller run for more than 100 yards apiece against Tri-Valley. Russ Amick and Austin Kenny matched Savage and Miller by running for more than 100 yards each in Susquenita’s come-from-behind 28-14 victory over Juniata. Kenny, who rushed for 138 yards, scored twice in the second half as Scott Acri’s bunch snapped a 14-all deadlock and charged into the victory column. Amick added 121 yards and banked the other two scores for the Blackhawks.

5. Klingensmith still chasing No. 300

Juniata was poised to celebrate head coach Gary Klingensmith’s 300th victory last weekend when Susquenita visited Dietrick Field — the Indians (0-3, 0-2) led 14-7 midway through the third quarter following Ethan Grove’s 71-yard touchdown run — but everything was put on hold when the Blackhawks scored three second-half touchdowns and left with a 28-14 victory. Not having senior linebacker/fullback Bryson Clark available again definitely hurts the Indians on both sides of the ball, especially since Juniata went with Jim McLaughlin (8-of-15, 106, TD, INT) at quarterback and moved Jeremiah Parson to running back (12-38). Grove had a productive game (10-107), but Juniata’s inexperience up front is probably another reason why Klingensmith & Co. have struggled thus far.

6. Line Mountain hoping to find a rhythm

For 22 minutes last weekend, Brandon Carson’s Eagles (1-2, 1-1) were playing effective defense and sitting on a one-score lead at Halifax. Suddenly, after throwing a pair of picks late in the second quarter, the Mountain found itself down 10-7 heading to the locker room. Another interception and two long touchdown catches later, the Eagles were down three scores and really wobbly. They wound up falling 37-7, ending a string off 11 straight victories over Halifax. While a short passing game was effective early and enabled the Eagles to control the football, once the turnovers started to occur is when confidence quickly disappeared. Maybe getting back home to Ressler Field in Week 4 can help the Eagles rebound, especially since their defense was lauded by Carson after yielding 66 offensive yards in the first half.


Levi Engle main 2

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.


Vote Now:  Player of the Week presented by Crown Trophy (Week 2)

In their words: Moments that stood out in Week 2

Making the Grade: Analysis of our Game of the Week- Lower Dauphin vs. CD East

CD East races past Lower Dauphin, 49-0, on a rain-soaked evening at Speed Ebersole Stadium

Bid week 2 1

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).


Player of the Week graphic

By 4th Down staff:

Welcome to 4th Down Magazine's vote for the Week 2 Player of the Week presented by Crown Trophy in Lemoyne.

The nominees for the week are listed below in alphabetical order. Vote for the player with the most impressive performance.

The poll will remain open until Tuesday evening at 11 p.m. The winner will be announced on Wednesday and presented with a plaque created by Crown Trophy.

Crown Trophy graphic



Terrance Quaker, WR/DB/KR, West Perry: The senior is the first in this year’s polls to score three different ways in a game: a kick return (84 yards), two runs (12 and 21 yards) and an interception (30 yards). He had 49 rushing yards in the Mustangs’ 55-6 win over York Tech.

Nazir Burnett, WR/CB, Bishop McDevitt: The senior hauled in a season-high (in the Mid-Penn Conference so far) 10 catches for 258 yards and three scores during the 48-35 win over Gettysburg. Those trips to the end zone covered 3, 21 and 35 yards.

Khisahn Lester, WR/CB/KR, CD East: His damage came in the third quarter of a 49-0 blowout against Lower Dauphin, but Lester still impressed with an 82-yard punt return TD and a 26-yard pick-six. Also tracked down a long run early in the third quarter to save a touchdown and help preserve the shutout.

Adam Burkhart, RB/LB, Central Dauphin: Burkhart planted his flag firmly on the field in a battle of District 3 titans that the Rams won 7-0 over Berks Catholic. The senior bludgeoned his way to 118 yards and a 1-yard score on 17 carries, no easy task against BC. He also added double-digit tackles.

Griffin Weidler, K, Palmyra: Rare that a kicker makes this list, but it’s also rare that a kicker makes four field goals in a game. That’s what Weidler did in a 31-10 win over Mechanicsburg, remarkably consistent with FGs of 38, 37, 35 and 35 yards.

Adam Houser, RB/DB, Shippensburg: Houser scored all but one point in the 21-14 win over West York, with scoring runs of 12, 11 and 32 yards (he also added a crucial two-point conversion catch). The senior ran 22 times for 143 yards.

Kane Everson, QB/DB, Harrisburg: The Cougars routed Reading 74-16 Friday, and Everson had a big left hand in it. The QB was an efficient 12-of-17 for 266 yards and four TDs through the air, adding five carries, 77 yards and a rushing TD. The scoring trips covered 71, 38, 41, 33 and 28 yards.

Cohen Russell, WR/DB, State College: The Little Lions edged New Jersey’s St. Augustine Prep 19-7, with Russell torching the Hermits for 188 yards and two scores on just four catches. That’s 47.0 yards per reception, for you math majors. Also had three carries for 9 yards.

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.