We’re taking a look around our coverage area to see who helped themselves this week and who did not as we move into the final week of the high school football regular season.
Nobody shook the ground in Week 9 like Big Spring. The Bulldogs not only beat previously unbeaten Steel-High, they won going away and put 49 on the board. As I wrote last week, the Capital Division was a three-horse shootout down the stretch and Big Spring was capable of springing an upset here. This was much more than an upset, though. This was setting the table for the second season and what lies ahead. The defensive backfield holding the Rollers passing game in check and surrendering only 14 points was the hidden key.
Remember when Middletown was 2-3 and lost in the flood after getting upset by Juniata 8-7 and followed that up with a shutout loss to Steel-High? Well, the worm has certainly turned for the lads along the banks of the Susquehanna River. The Blue Raiders have won two of their last three and that loss was a 26-23 setback to Boiling Springs.
That’s a 50-50 game loss where Middletown didn’t need a win to make a statement. It just thrashed Trinity by 35 last Friday and has a high-flying Big Spring on deck. This team has found what it was looking for at the right time it appears.
Did you know that CD East running back Marcel McDaniels, the 155-pound wrecking ball inside the tackles who also has the jets to do damage in open spaces, never played running back before this season?
I ran into Panthers RB coach Jameel Poteat, the former Bishop McDevitt standout, after McDaniels shredded Central Dauphin for 178 yards on 30 totes with a couple touchdowns, and he was sharing how much of a blank canvas his star pupil was when they first looked at him playing RB. Behind an OL that leans on a defense, McDaniels has that you-can’t-teach vision and feel in tight spaces that makes him so effective. The Panthers are a running team that likes to be physical. And they have found a RB1 who can do a little of everything including 30 carries against the Rams.
I fully expect Steel-High to bounce back this week against Boiling Springs. But there have been signs this team wasn’t hitting on all cylinders, and the floodgates opened up big time in a 35-point loss to Big Spring. All teams, even good ones, lose games. But getting trucked by five scores isn’t your garden variety loss. Picking up the pieces and showing up for the finale this week against Boiling Springs will serve the Rollers well heading into the second season. They don’t have to beat the Bubblers. Just show up.
Some teams’ playoff odds
I have several concerns as we get ready to put a bow on the regular season as it relates to potential District 3 playoff teams from the Mid-Penn Conference. Why do I think unless Big Spring wins their season finale, the No. 8-seeded Bulldogs who currently own a 7-2 mark could be in serious jeopardy of missing the 10-team Class 4A field?
That would tick me off. Both Lower Dauphin and Mechanicsburg rest squarely on the 14-team Class 5A bubble currently occupying the last two spots. Why do I think only one of them makes it? Middletown and West Perry are going to make the eight-squad Class 3A bracket, but only one of them is going to get a home game.
Week 10 is all about playing in friendly confines for the Mustangs and Blue Raiders. Bummer that Greencastle-Antrim has to play undefeated Shippensburg to wrap up the 2021 campaign. Winning is unlikely, and without a win the playoffs appear mathematically impossible. As a lower seed, that team would have given a top seed fits. Don’t argue with me on that one, either.