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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Mid-Penn Conference News and Notes: Liberty Division

Each week during the 2021 season we’ll offer some news, notes, tidbits and opinions from each of the five divisions in the Mid-Penn Conference.

Upper Dauphin hoping to maintain momentum

Unleashing a potent ground game that attacked from every possible angle, Upper Dauphin (4-1, 2-1) will carry its three-game winning streak to the west side of the Susquehanna River this weekend for a date with Susquenita (3-2, 2-0). For Kent Smeltz’s Trojans, who piled up 443 rushing yards last weekend in a 36-6 romp at Line Mountain, Friday’s scrap is a must-have result if UDA hopes to stay in the chase for the Mid-Penn Liberty title and maintain its hold on one of District 3’s four Class 2A playoff berths.

Brady Morgan rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns, while Christian Snyder hammered between the tackles for 119 more yards and another score. Alex Hepler nearly became the third UDA back to reach 100 yards, totaling 84 on four totes. QB Wil Laskowski spent most of the night triggering UDA’s impressive attack but still managed to score twice on keepers. Susquenita (3-2, 2-0) did not play last weekend, but still added a notch to the win column when depleted Newport opted to forfeit.

The Blackhawks were soundly beaten by Big Spring two weeks ago, when sophomore QB Derek Gibney absorbed a number of bell-ringing blows. Gibney’s presence is critical since the Blackhawks do need to establish balance offensively against an active UDA defensive unit. Line Mountain did throw for nearly 200 yards, but much of that came early in the first quarter on an 83-yard bomb. While Susquenita is trying to climb into contention for a 3-2A playoff berth, the Blackhawks still have league-leading Juniata awaiting later this month.

Juniata steps out of league play … again

Still perfect in Mid-Penn Liberty play — Juniata (4-2, 3-0) played only a half last weekend yet handled Halifax 38-7 — Kurt Condo’s Indians will entertain non-league foe Midd-West (0-6) at The Kling.

In addition to its Liberty Division edge, Juniata holds a commanding lead in the District 6 Class 4A power rankings. One key stat from last weekend’s one-sided affair: Juniata limited Halifax to minus-68 yards rushing, with most of that occurring after Wildcats QB Carter Enders was injured. Halifax (1-5, 0-3) was scheduled to play Line Mountain this weekend, but that game was canceled and the planned Homecoming festivities were postponed.

Line Mountain chases elusive first win

Since Halifax is opting out, Line Mountain (0-5, 0-3) successfully scrambled to find a replacement opponent that will require a good bit of travel. Brandon Carson’s Eagles will board the bus Saturday for a trek to Allentown, where the Mountain will square off against independent Executive Education (3-3) at Muhlenberg College. Line Mountain dropped a 36-6 verdict last weekend to Upper Dauphin, but freshman quarterback Blake Readinger held up OK, completing 13 of his 28 passes for 183 yards and one score.

While Readinger’s 83-yard heave to Aidan Herb had the Eagles up early, he was picked off twice and coughed up the ball once against an opportunistic UDA defense. Line Mountain’s defense struggled mightily for the first time all season, yielding 481 yards to the visiting Trojans — including 443 on the ground. Executive Education reached the .500 mark last weekend by blanking Philly Public League opponent Overbrook 25-0.

The Raptors also own victories over Schuylkill Haven and Bristol but have lost to Berks Catholic, Shikellamy and Interboro. … Newport (1-5, 1-1) and James Buchanan (1-4, 1-1) are hoping to end nagging losing streaks this weekend. The Port has dropped five in a row, while JB has lost three straight.

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