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.
Perhaps a coronation awaits
While Kurt Condo’s front-line players may have started planning for Week 10 adversary Susquenita at halftime of Juniata’s dismantling of James Buchanan — the Indians led 42-0 at the break, and that’s how it ended — the lengthy bus ride from Mercersburg home also might have featured plenty of pointed chatter. Especially since Juniata (7-2, 5-0) can wrap up the Mid-Penn Liberty Division title by defeating Susquenita (5-3, 4-1) in Cove, possibly sealing a journey through Mifflintown on the back of a fire truck. Condo’s Indians have won their last five — three straight by shutout, but who’s counting — behind a multi-pronged ground game and some helmet-rattling defense.
Seth Laub uncorked a pair of 100-yard efforts leading up to the JB whitewash, but last weekend it was Waylon Ehrenzeller who sparked the run-heavy attack by posting 82 yards and four touchdowns on just seven tries. If Augie Glass’ Blackhawks worry too much about those two, Zachary Harr will cause problems once he finds space with the ball in his hands or as a potential receiver. D-linemen Trent Martin and Jon Kauffman anchor things up front when the other fellas have the ball, and they each had two sacks last weekend. Martin and inside linebacker Ehrenzeller paced the Indians with six stops, one fewer than Makih Hunt. While Juniata will be the No. 1 seed in the District 6 Class 4A playoffs, Susquenita is trying to gain entry to the District 3 Class 2A field by hanging on to the No. 4 spot. The Blackhawks have won two straight, including last weekend’s 70-18 crunching of Halifax.
Running back Mason Figard cleared the 100-yard mark for the first time in his high school career — he also scored twice — while QB Derek Gibney threw for 100-plus yards for an opportunistic Blackhawks group that scored in just about every way imaginable against Halifax. And lest we forget, a Susquenita win will give Glass’ bunch a share of the Liberty Division championship.
Trojans hoping to remain in form
Unleashing its high-powered attack last weekend in Berks County, Kent Smeltz’s Upper Dauphin Trojans (7-1, 3-1) extended their winning streak to six by clocking Fleetwood 46-29. Christian Snyder accounted for 178 yards from scrimmage, rushing 19 times for 124 yards and four touchdowns while catching three passes for 54 more. He also paced the Trojan defense with six tackles. QB Wil Laskowski continued his progression by running nine times for 68 yards and completing eight of his nine pass attempts for 119 yards and a TD throw to Aiden Wiest. All told, UDA piled up 507 offensive yards.
The Trojans also registered seven tackles for loss — Dillon Johns led with two — one sack and Laskowski swiped two passes. Todd Rothermel’s Newport outfit (2-7, 2-3) has been heading in the opposite direction unfortunately, as the Buffaloes dropped a 13-10 decision to Line Mountain despite 116 rushing yards and one score from junior Aiden Dishman. The ‘Port trailed 13-0 at the half, but played lights out in the third quarter, slicing a double-digit deficit to three on Gage Wirth’s field goal.
Buffs defensive coordinator George Miskinis may need to dial up something special in order to slow down the Trojans, but preparing for UDA in a week’s time is an unbelievably difficult proposition — particularly since Smeltz’s Trojans have their sights set on playing for a District 3 Class 2A championship in two weeks.
Line Mountain hoping to make it two straight
Frustrated throughout the first eight weeks of the season by a sputtering offense and several close setbacks, Line Mountain (1-7, 1-3) finally broke through last week by fending off Newport 13-10. Soph running back Nolan Baumert rushed for 140 yards and one touchdown, while freshman QB Blake Readinger fired a 59-yard TD pass to Aidan Herb to put Brandon Carson’s Eagles on the board first.
What’s next is a visit from James Buchanan (1-7, 1-4), which sports a six-game losing streak after tumbling 42-0 to Juniata. Line Mountain also picked up several sparkling efforts defensively as inside backer Beau Keim recorded 18 tackles, 3.5 stops for loss and sacked the quarterback once. Chandon Maurer added 10 tackles, but it was his tip of a Mason Messick pass in the closing minute that preserved the Eagles’ first win. Yari Johnson and Quinn Dunkelberger shared 17 more stops, while Baumert picked off Messick in the opening half. … Halifax (1-6) will try to close out 2021 on a positive note when the Wildcats visit winless Midd-West (0-9).
Carter Enders threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns in last weekend’s 70-18 loss to Susquenita, completing 16 of his 31 pass attempts. Eleven of Enders’ throws were hauled in by Peter Ranck, who piled up 162 receiving yards and scored twice.