If Upper Dauphin intends on reaching the District 3 Class 3A title game, it looks like the Trojans will be spending lots of time taking on Berks County opponents in Berks County.
To say Kent Smeltz’s program is about to embark on a path littered with landmines would be quite the understatement.
The Trojans (8-2) stretched their winning streak to five games last weekend by defeating Line Mountain 25-14, claiming their regular-season finale and the Mid-Penn Liberty Division crown.
Now, starting with a game Friday night at fourth-seeded Hamburg (8-2), No. 5 UDA needs to win its next three contests to claim 3A gold and reach states.
Although standout senior back Brady Morgan watched from the sidelines during UDA’s visit to Mandata’s Ressler Field — where Smeltz played his high school ball — a strong second half from Branden Fetterhoff allowed the Trojans to play keepaway from their Northumberland County neighbors.
While Fetterhoff motored 14 times for 90 yards, the 5-foot-8, 190-pounder accrued 78 of those critical yards after the halftime break on just 10 attempts. He also had a touchdown nullified by penalty, but classmate Isaiah Dyer was able to get the Trojans some insurance points by booting a 29-yard field goal.
Even before Fetterhoff started to pick up yards in bunches, Alex Hepler snapped the 14-all halftime tie by zipping 46 yards for a score with 3:57 left in the third quarter. Brandon Snyder’s two-point run had UDA up 22-14.
Sophomore quarterback Aidan Bingaman completed four of his 10 first-half pass attempts for 86 yards and touchdowns to Landon Mace (22 yards) and Tegan Engle (14). The latter score came with three ticks left on the first-quarter clock.
Bingaman finished 9 of 19 for 151 yards for an Upper Dauphin program that is making its fourth postseason appearance in five seasons.
Engle also had a productive night on the defensive side of the ball, leading the Trojans with nine stops — two more than Caleb Snyder and Aiden Ritter. UDA yielded just 53 offensive yards following the halftime intermission.
Hamburg closed out the regular season by trimming Columbia 42-20 for its second consecutive victory.
Pierce Mason rushed for 107 yards and touchdowns of 8 and 5 yards as the Hawks opened a 35-6 halftime lead. Derek Ruiz added 35 yards on five attempts and scored twice on runs of 7 and 1 yards.
Xander Menapace, Hamburg’s 6-5, 215-pound senior quarterback, was efficient throughout. Menapace completed 15 of his 21 attempts for 139 yards, hooking up with Mason Semmel for a pair of touchdowns.
Semmel hauled in a 35-yard strike in the opening half, then caught a 1-yard Menapace delivery in the fourth quarter to cap Hamburg’s night.
For those peeking ahead, Friday’s victor will take on state-ranked and top-seeded Wyomissing in next weekend’s 3A semifinal round. The Spartans (10-0) own the No. 1 state ranking heading into postseason play.
Line Mountain meets perennial state hammer
Genuinely believing his squad had a chance to finish fifth and perhaps fourth in the District 4 Class 2A power rankings, Brandon Carson’s Line Mountain Eagles dropped their final two regular-season scraps and tumbled to sixth.
That means Line Mountain (4-6) will make the same journey it did a season ago when the Eagles began postseason play at Southern Columbia. Jim Roth’s Tigers (7-3) have had their struggles, but they’ve won two straight and four of five.
Southern’s only blemish in the season’s second half? A loss to Mount Carmel.
Line Mountain appeared to be in good shape last weekend, pulling into a 14-14 deadlock with 11 seconds remaining in the opening half when Ian Bates hustled inside the left pylon for a 10-yard score.
Upper Dauphin limited the Eagles to just 53 yards of offense after the break and controlled the clock with its ball-control attack. Bates finished with 127 yards on 27 carries, cracking the 1,000-yard barrier by halftime.
Tight end Brayden Boyer, who scored Line Mountain’s first TD on a 38-yard pass from Kaiden Maurer that featured one spin out of a would-be tackle, caught four passes for 77 yards. One of those receptions was a 20-yarder from Bates.
Boyer finished with 12 tackles, two more than Quinn Dunkelberger and three more than freshman defensive end Max Johnson. Johnson and Boyer shared five tackles for loss, while Johnson registered one of the Eagles’ 3.5 sacks.
Southern, meanwhile, smacked Shikellamy 42-14 in its regular-season finale as Maryland commit Braeden Wisloski tormented Roth’s alma mater by rushing for 124 yards and touchdowns covering 57 and 5 yards.
Wisloski also caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Blake Wise to open the Southern outburst. Carter Madden’s 39-yard outing featured first-half scoring runs of 37 and 2 yards, while Brayden Andrews tacked on a 25-yard TD run as the Tigers’ cushion expanded to a remarkably comfortable 42-0.
Wise completed all five of his throws for 86 yards and that early score, but the five-time state champs lost three fumbles.
Southern’s lineup also will be bolstered by the return of senior running back/linebacker Wes Barnes from an arm injury. Barnes is the thunder in the Southern backfield — Roth said Barnes could have played against Shikellamy but was held out — while Wisloski provides the lightning.
Friday’s winner will take on the survivor between No. 2 Troy and No. 7 Towanda in next weekend’s 2A semifinals.
Juniata reaches postseason play
Although Juniata (7-3) rebounded from its Week 8 loss to Upper Dauphin by defeating Line Mountain and Susquenita, Kurt Condo’s tough-minded Indians already have claimed their third District 6 Class 4A title in as many years since Bellefonte and Johnstown opted out.
That means Juniata will move into a District 6-9 subregional opposite DuBois (5-5), but that game won’t be played until Nov. 10 in DuBois.
Heath Hutchinson, who played well in the second half of the Indians’ 14-10 triumph over Line Mountain, was even better in Juniata’s 19-3 conquest of Susquenita. Hutchinson rushed 17 times for 128 yards and a 33-yard score.
Quarterback Aaron Kanagy only threw the football seven times, completing three passes for 15 yards. Kanagy, however, picked up 79 yards on the ground on 13 attempts, scoring on runs of 2 and 41 yards. Juniata totaled 270 yards on the ground.
Seth Laub posted a team-high nine tackles for the Indians, who yielded 253 offensive yards yet only conceded Hunter Thomas’ first-half field goal. Caleb Smith, Taylor Smith and Lane Peiper added six tackles apiece.
DuBois was leading Hollidaysburg 35-24 with 11:55 remaining yet watched that lead disappear on a pair of touchdown passes from Tucker Rossman to Caden DeLattre. The second, a 20-yarder, came with 54 seconds to play.
That last-minute loss spoiled a big night by the Beavers’ Trey Wingard, who completed 18 of his 25 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Wingard fired first-half TD passes of 43 and 3 yards to Cam-Ron Hays, then added a 10-yard scoring toss in the third quarter to Dalton Yale.
Hays caught eight passes for 211 yards.
Yale (16 carries, 79 yards) and Austin Henery (12-73) shared 152 yards and two touchdowns for DuBois. Yale’s 8-yard TD run on the opening play of the fourth quarter gave the Beavers a 35-24 lead … that eventually went poof.