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.
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's Kane Everson has the Cougars positioned to contend for the Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division title. (File photo/Adam Kulikowski)
Fourth Down Game Balls
Keyshawn Jones, RB-CB, Chambersburg: Jones set a career-best with 245 rushing yards (on 25 carries) in Chambersburg’s 48-28 road win over Altoona to move to 4-0 on the year. Jones’ scores came from 2, 3 and 10 yards; he now has 700 yards this season. He also threw a 30-yard pass.
Keaton Ellis, WR-DB-KR, State College: Ellis took a whopping four of his seven offensive touches for touchdowns, with four receptions (3 TDs) for 180 yards and three carries (TD) for 34 yards in the unbeaten Little Lions’ 56-17 win over Carlisle. Ellis added a 65-yard punt return score and an interception.
Adam Burkhart, RB-LB, Central Dauphin: The two-way beast ran for 119 yards and recorded six tackles in the Rams’ 37-7 drubbing of rival Cumberland Valley. Burkhart needed just 13 carries for his yardage and scored twice. And on defense he blew up five plays in the backfield.
Chris Dare, QB, Cedar Cliff: The senior Colts quarterback completed a season-high 84 percent of his pass attempts--21-of-25 to lead Cedar Cliff to a 41-31 victory against Holidaysburg Friday night. Quietly, Dare ranks second among Mid-Penn quarterbacks with 855 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Michael Bullock Game Balls
John Stump, RB, Susquenita: Stump rushed 14 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns as Susquenita stunned Williams Valley 29-7. Stump’s touchdown runs of 7, 11 and 15 yards staked the Blackhawks to a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
Jacob Condo, LB, Juniata: A freshman linebacker and the son of Juniata defensive coordinator Kurt Condo, Condo registered 11 stops in the Indians’ 27-20 loss in overtime at Line Mountain. Condo also blocked an extra point early in the fourth quarter that kept the game tied 20-20 and eventually forced OT.
Macklin Ayers, QB, Upper Dauphin: Ayers rushed 17 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns in UD’s come-from-behind 29-26 victory at Newport. Ayers, in fact, popped a game-winning 43-yard TD run with just 1:44 to play that put the Trojans ahead to stay. In addition to his 28-yard TD run earlier in the second half, Ayers was 9-for-15 passing for 95 yards.
Evan Herb, QB, Line Mountain: Herb passed for 224 yards and two touchdowns, including a tying score to Adam Malafi early in the fourth quarter of a back-and-forth struggle with Juniata that Line Mountain eventually won 27-20 in overtime. Herb also threw a touchdown pass to Cody Ebersole as the Eagles (2-2) returned to .500.
Conner McGuire, LB-FB, Susquenita: Sure, John Stump ran for three TDs, but the Blackhawks defense, led by McGuire’s 16 tackles, held Williams Valley to just 260 yards in a stunning 29-7 upset win. McGuire leads the team with 57 tackles, including 36 solos. Susquenita also forced two turnovers, blocked a punt and stopped Williams Valley at the 3 on the Vikings’ first drive.
Jake Adams Game Balls
Chiago Anyanwu, RB-LB, Milton Hershey: Watched this bruising senior absolutely maul his way to 304 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns Friday night in a 41-27 win over Boiling Springs. His first run was a simple inside handoff, but he shed a few tackles a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage and bolted 77 yards to pay dirt. It seemed as if those broken tackles unleashed a monster as he broke easily a dozen or more the rest of the game, seeking out contact with reckless abandon. Every yard was needed in a game that was quite close with Bubbletown proving it is no pushover anymore.
Kenyon Johnson, QB-DB, West Perry: You know what’s crazy? Johnson is possibly the most complete dual-threat quarterback in the Mid-Penn. After his 262-yard day (89 passing, 173 rushing) in the 47-27 Colonial Division win over Greencastle-Antrim, he’s now at a crazy 420 passing yards and 596 rushing on the year. He has 80 combined pass attempts and rushing attempts, giving him a per-play average of 12.7 yards. 12.7! Some less-than-stellar competition the first three weeks, yeah, yeah, yeah. 12.7 is 12.7. You know what’s also crazy? The Mustangs are 4-0.
Andy Shay Game Balls
Kane Everson, QB, Harrisburg: With each passing week since the opener this guy seems to be getting better and better. He has weapons all around him, but using those weapons to create a monster of an offense is downright impressive. He accounted for nearly 300 yards of offense against Cedar Cliff on 10 completions and six carries. He threw touchdown passes to four different receivers, and when you do that at the high school level with all that speed on the outside, that literally is the kind of stuff you can’t cover. Everson was always a threat with his legs. Now he’s becoming more of threat with his arm. And rest assured his legs as a weapon aren’t going away. He’s making the easy passes look simple. MPC Commonwealth defenses beware.
Adam Houser, RB, Shippensburg: Give me this guy any day and twice on Sunday. Watching him play the game and perform at such a high level is pure football joy. He accounted for 224 of the Greyhounds’ nearly 300 yards of offense in a tough overtime win against Waynesboro that pushed Shippensburg to 4-0. The Indians have a very good defense. And they know Houser is the go-to guy. And he still put up 224 total yards. That’s earning a game ball the hard way.
East Pennsboro Panthers: I know this squad is struggling and is 0-4. The reason they get one of my game balls this week is for playing all 48 minutes. East Pennsboro trailed Palmyra 28-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Down three scores with only one touchdown on the board means another loss, so why keep pushing hard, right? Because the scoreboard matters, but it also doesn’t matter. If you play, then respect the game and give your best for 48 minutes no matter what the scoreboard says. And that will always be good enough. Well, the Panthers scored twice in the fourth quarter and made their opponent sweat out the final few minutes by never giving less than their best. It’s a loss on the scoreboard. But I noticed they didn’t toss in the towel and that matters more sometimes.