Pine Grove quarterback Josh Leininger (3) looks for daylight Friday night against Williams Valley at Stump Stadium. (Adam Kulikowski/4th Down)
By Andy Shay:
You have to give Pine Grove credit for climbing off the deck and scaring the pants off defending Tri-Valley League champion Williams Valley Friday night at Stump Stadium.
Williams Valley's Brady Miller cuts upfield against Pine Grove Friday night. (Adam Kulikowski/4th Down)
By Andy Shay:
Nothing in the first half at Stump Stadium Friday night gave any indication Pine Grove was up for the challenge Williams Valley requires.
Shippensburg running back Adam Houser earned a game ball from Jake Adams for his performance in Week 6. (File photo/The Sentinel)
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
Dionte Nichols, DE, Harrisburg: It would be very easy to keep the current narrative on the Cougars, that slick senior QB Kane Everson re-fired Calvin Everett’s offense in the second half and paced a solid 20-5 triumph over Central Dauphin. In reality, that’s only half of the story. The main chapter was attached to Nichols and Harrisburg’s pulsating defense, which turned momentum quickly. Nichols was the driving force, collecting nine tackles, including three for loss, and he chipped in a couple of sacks and forced a fumble. All of it handed Everson the opportunity to shoot the Cougars in gear and pocket their fifth straight victory.
CJ Reyes-Diggs, RB, Bishop McDevitt: We targeted Reyes-Diggs because most are chatting about McD’s high-wire passing game from week to week. Well, usual suspects Chase Diehl and WR Nazir Burnett were heard from prominently during a 49-7 victory over Waynesboro. But Reyes-Diggs gave the Crusaders a rare gift Friday, a consistent rushing attack from kickoff to final horn. The 6-foot senior had a whale of a game vs. the Indians, turning 13 carries into 219 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Reyes-Diggs set the tone early at The Roc, piling up TD runs of 9 and 27 yards in the opening quarter.
Connor McCarthy, QB, Altoona: Let’s just say this was an important week for the Mountain Lions. For starters, Altoona, like all other MPC programs, were hoping to gain a boost entering the stretch run of the regular season. Second, the Lions were coming off two straight losses, including a tough 17-16 overtime loss to CD East. So Altoona’s Week 6 scrap at Carlisle was important, and McCarthy delivered a gem. The QB connected on 14-of-28 pass attempts for 238 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in Altoona’s 49-42 overtime win. McCarthy added 59 rushing yards and his 2-point conversion pass to Isaiah Barnes with 4:19 to play in regulation forced the extra session.
Jake Adams Game Balls
Mitchell Lawhead, RB-LB, Altoona: Watched the Mountain Lions for the first time Friday. And the player who impressed the most was Lawhead. The senior made a highlight-reel run in the fourth quarter. The 77-yard game-tying trot featured two of the most vicious stiff arms I’ve ever seen in a high school game. He launched two Carlisle defenders. What he did gets flagged for roughing the passer in the NFL (I don’t know how, but it would, because NFL). It was violent. And it kept Altoona in the game. Lawhead caught a TD pass, scored on a 1-yard fumble recovery and found pay dirt on the the ground for Altoona’s last three touchdowns, including both in overtime in the 49-42 win.
Jaheim Morris, RB-DB, Cedar Cliff: I actually talked about him prior to the week in The Sentinel’s Week 6 previews, and sure enough Morris erupted for perhaps his best game of the year. The Colts’ back scored five times on a 14-carry, 166-yard day (and had 3 catches for 19 yards). Actually, he had three of the first four Cedar Cliff TDs to spot them a 27-0 lead that would end a 48-14 victory over Lower Dauphin. The scores (from 5, 30, 7, 1 and 72 yards) doubled his season output to 10 rushing TDs. He’s now less than 100 yards away from 1,000 this season. And he’s third on the team with 15 receptions.
Adam Houser, RB-DB, Shippensburg: That yards-per-carry number has barely budged all season. The senior again nearly reached 200 yards, rolling Greencastle-Antrim for 180 stripes on 22 carres (8.2 ypc) in a 26-14 win Friday to erase the sting of last week’s upset loss to Mifflin County. Houser also caught a 16-yard pass from sophomore Zack Manning (who is developing with each week it seems) and scored with 2:57 to play on a 2-yard run to put the game out of reach. Houser is now at 945 rushing yards and just crossed 100 carries for the season.
Andy Shay Game Balls
Michael Chismar, TE, East Pennsboro: This has been a long season for the Panthers, but win No. 1 of the season always feels so good. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Chismar played a huge role for the Panthers in a 41-point second quarter against Camp Hill. Yes, East Pennsboro scored six touchdowns in 12 minutes. Five of those came on offense as Chismar hauled in a 35-yard TD pass to go along with the 10-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. He finished with seven catches for 115 yards and those two scores. Not a bad outing for a tight end.
Henry Flemister, WR, Steel-High: One of the best performances of the week by any wideout. The 6-1, 210-pound senior had seven catches for 205 yards with a pair touchdowns covering 27 and 14 yards. He averaged 29.3 yards per catch for a Rollers team that lost a very tight game for the second week in a row.
Kenyon Johnson, QB-DB, West Perry: Every single week what Johnson does for the Mustangs is game-ball worthy. If you deliver the goods, you deserve a game ball, right? On the road against a strong Northern defense, Johnson accounted for nearly 250 yards and a couple touchdowns in an impressive 42-20 victory. Most of the accolades for Johnson this season have been because of his speed and ability to turn average plays into big-strike plays. This time it’s a stellar 6-of-6 passing for 112 yards and a touchdown. That’s nearly 20 yards per attempt. Mustangs are 6-0.
Grant Haus, QB, Palmyra: Give this guy a chance to win a game late in the fourth quarter and he will get it done. In their first real test of the season against Steel-High, the Cougars were tied with the Rollers 36-all after Steel-High scored with 3:45 to play. Haus marched his team down the field to victory, capping the march with a 10-yard touchdown run to seal victory No. 6 for Palmyra in as many games. Haus finished with 270 total yards and had a hand in six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing). Haus led the Cougars in rushing, turning 18 totes in 135 yards and three scores, and completed 12-of-19 passes for 135 additional yards with three TD passes. Winning a wild game on the final possession is becoming old hat for Haus. But it never gets old.
Michael Bullock Game Balls
Colby Scott, RB, Line Mountain: Thrived between the hashes on a field that became soupier and soupier, Scott rushed 15 times for 100 yards in the Eagles’ 13-7 loss at Williams Valley.
Ty Martin, RB, Juniata: Complemented freshman QB Jacob Condo nicely, rushing 12 times for an even 100 yards in the Indians’ 28-20 conquest of Pine Grove.
Colin Luckenbill, RB, Pine Grove: Picked up 108 rushing yards on 13 attempts and scored twice in the Cardinals’ 28-20 loss at Juniata. Banked a 35-yard rushing TD and later cashed in from a yard out.
John Stump, RB, Susquenita: Proved to be a workhorse in Susquenita’s 30-22 loss to Upper Dauphin, rushing 26 times for 164 yards and touchdowns of 20 and 6 yards.
Macklin Ayers, QB, Upper Dauphin: Productive yet again in the Trojans’ 30-22 victory at Susquenita, rushing 14 times for 86 yards and scores of 36 and 2 yards. Also completed five of his 10 passes for 61 yards, but his late two-point pitch to Ben Cope had UD up eight.
Donnie Gelnett, FB, Upper Dauphin: Burly fullback ground out 63 yards on 12 carries, but it was his 3-yard score early in the fourth quarter that punched UD in front 28-22.
By Michael Bullock:
1. Ground game, defense keep UD on the move
If second-year coach Kent Smeltz can get his Upper Dauphin defensive unit to continue to perform as it did last weekend in a decisive 42-14 victory over visiting Tri-Valley, these Trojans (4-1, 3-1 Tri-Valley League) might be sitting at or near the remarkably competitive circuit’s 10-team standings at season’s end. While UD is averaging nearly 43 points and 486 yards offensively through its first five outings, the Trojans' defense finally slowed someone down and won comfortably. UD yielded 159 yards and two scores to the Bulldogs while getting some terrific work from junior Brennen McAllister & Co. McAllister paced the Trojans with eight stops, including three for losses, as Smeltz’s defensive bunch limited Tri-Valley to 58 yards on the ground. Of course, it didn’t hurt the UD defense that the Trojans’ run-happy attack ran 76 plays to Tri-Valley’s 34 while piling up 446 rushing yards and 479 overall. QB Macklin Ayers ran 19 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns, while fullback Donnie Gelnett chimed in with 107 lengths on 16 attempts. Junior feature back Jake Ramberger added 79 yards on the ground (12 carries) and two scores, while Mason Wiest tacked up 52 yards and one touchdown. UD was so dominant on the ground that Ayers attempted just nine passes, completing four for 33 yards. Up next for the Trojans, one of four squads tied for second place, is a road date Friday night against a Susquenita side that could be down several defensive players.
2. Pine Grove gets back on track
With a Homecoming Night crowd on hand, Pine Grove used a quick start and a dominant running game to handcuff Susquenita 22-7. Dalton Kintzel rushed 32 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns for Frank Gaffney’s Cardinals (4-1, 3-1), while Colin Luckenbill picked up 70 yards and one touchdown on 10 attempts. Before the festivities were over — and the victory was celebrated — Pine Grove rushed 58 times for nearly 300 yards. Up next for Gaffney’s club, which sported a 14-0 lead after one quarter in its win over Susquenita, is a visit to Dietrick Field in Mifflintown for a date with Juniata (0-5, 0-4). Freshman quarterback Jacob Condo passed for 97 yards (10-23-2) and ran for 35 more and a touchdown in the Indians’ 37-12 loss to a rebounding Williams Valley side. Caleb Seeger added a late TD pass for Juniata, a 19-yarder to Billy Dressler. Juniata yielded 421 total yards, including 271 on the ground, even though four-year starter Bryson Clark saw his first action at linebacker since suffering a hamstring injury in Week 1. Junior backer Glen Bonson’s eight tackles paced the Indians, who continue to chase head coach Gary Klingensmith’s 300th victory as Juniata’s skipper. The key here is whether or not Juniata can move the ball against Pine Grove’s opportunistic defense. If not, the Indians may be in trouble against the Cardinals’ productive running attack.
3. Eagles, Vikings to battle between the tall pines
Undoubtedly playing angry last weekend at Juniata — a loss at Susquenita one week earlier probably left Williams Valley a bit surly — Tim Savage’s Vikings (4-1, 3-1) will entertain a Line Mountain squad (3-2, 3-1) that has won its last two games at Williamstown’s Stauffenberg Field. Brady Miller had a huge game in Williams Valley’s 37-12 win at Juniata, rushing 16 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns (60, 12, 38) as the Vikings built a 16-0 halftime lead. Miller scored twice in the final quarter as Williams Valley pulled away late. Quarterback Levi Engle (9-18-0) added 150 yards and two scores passing for Savage’s club, but also rushed eight times for 57 yards. Defensive tackle Spencer Dimon paced the Williams Valley defense with eight stops. Line Mountain picked up nearly 100 rushing yards and two scores from Colby Scott, as well as touchdowns of three varieties from Breven Derk in racing past Millersburg 47-14. Where the Eagles really impressed was on defense, as Brandon Carson’s group yielded 111 total yards (minus-37 on the ground) to the struggling Indians. Line Mountain registered 11 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and picked off three Millersburg passes, with outside linebacker Chance Hackenburg recording four of those QB sacks. Nose guard Jacob Feese also posted four tackles for loss. The key here is whether Line Mountain QB Evan Herb can eliminate his underthrows and get his receiving corps to hang on to the ball. And can the Eagles close down Williams Valley’s running game while getting pressure on Engle?
4. Halifax hoping to remain perfect atop TVL
Unleashing a productive ground game last weekend, Halifax (5-0, 4-0) maintained its unblemished record by opening up a substantial lead before easing past Newport 41-19. Evan Billow (13-120), Jay Zerby (10-83, 2TDs), Tyler Berzowski (10-63, TD) and QB London Johnson (5-42, TD) were among the Wildcats ball carriers that piled up 319 rushing yards and pocketed four touchdowns against the host Buffaloes. Johnson added 131 yards passing (5-12-0) and connected with Broc Grosser on a 60-yard touchdown as Earl Mosley’s club needed just 16:09 to open a 28-0 lead. Grosser ignited the Halifax fuse by returning an interception 50 yards for the Wildcats’ first score. It was Grosser’s third pick-six of the season and his eighth swipe thus far. Mosley’s group will be back at home this weekend, as Tri-Valley (3-2, 2-2) will pay a visit. The Bulldogs’ defense could not get off the field last weekend, as Upper Dauphin ran 76 plays while amassing 479 yards of total offense — including 446 on the ground. QB Daulton Leedy (8-16-0) threw for 101 yards and one score, while Ike Lucas rushed for 58 yards and the other touchdown. The key here is whether Halifax can keep the Tri-Valley defense moving backward, be it by controlling the ball or hitting the big plays its capable of hitting. Tri-Valley must get its D off the field, but Jeff Sampson’s bunch also must find Grosser on every play since the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder is a fifth linebacker against the run and a threat to take it the other way any time he drops back in coverage.
5. Susquenita trying to regroup
Unable to continue the momentum it gathered while steamrolling defending TVL champion Williams Valley in Week 4, Susquenita (2-3, 2-2) will try to rebound from its 22-7 loss to Pine Grove by upending Upper Dauphin in Cove. What’s potentially troubling for Scott Acri’s Blackhawks is whether leading tackler Conner McGuire and Russ Amick will be cleared to play. Both were injured at Pine Grove, where Susquenita fell behind 14-0 and could never sustain the juice it gained while beating Williams Valley 29-7 one game before. Pine Grove also racked up nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while McGuire spent much of the night on the sidelines. John Stump, who rushed for 100-plus yards and three scores against Williams Valley, was limited to 36 running yards and one score. While Stump did catch four passes for 81 yards, he really made his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball by making 17 tackles, including 12 solo stops. The key here is whether Susquenita can slow down a dominant Upper Dauphin ground game that’s averaging nearly 370 yards per contest, especially if McGuire and Amick cannot go.
6. Someone will pick up win No. 1
When Newport arrives in Millersburg for Friday night’s matchup of teams sitting at the bottom of the Tri-Valley League table, those on hand will pick up their tickets knowing someone must win. Might be Newport (0-5, 0-4), or it might be Millersburg (0-5, 0-4). While Todd Rothermel’s Buffaloes fell to league-leading Halifax last weekend at home, junior back Ethan Rode cranked out his fourth 100-yard effort in five weeks while surpassing 2,000 career rushing yards. Rode, who picked up 108 yards on 17 attempts, scored on a 2-yard run late in the opening half. Elijah York added 135 yards passing (9-20-0) for the Buffs, connecting with Andrew Bates and Beno Nunez for touchdowns. Millersburg’s Aiden Harman threw TD passes to Kyle Casner and Caden Feaster, but the junior QB (10-27-3) was picked off three times in a 47-14 loss at Line Mountain — each on the first plays of possessions. Harman was sacked 11 times and the Indians finished with negative yardage (minus-37) rushing. So, the key here is can the Indians keep Harman from getting dirty and can Aaron Wright’s defense prevent Rode from fueling a ball-control attack?