Welcome to the second season. The curtain slams down hard on the regular season and the attention quickly shifts to the second season.
We prefer the right lane for our driving, so before we take a peek at what lies ahead for the 16 Mid-Penn Conference squads who will play at least one more game, we are going to slow down and give the final week of the 2022 season its proper attention.
Steel-High wrapped up the Capital Division title Saturday afternoon, stunning previously undefeated West Perry with a first-quarter 27-point haymaker that put any suspense surrounding this game to rest. The Mustangs battled the final three quarters, but the outcome was never in double after 12 minutes. Steel-High amassed 544 yards of offense and 53 points. Rollers are a Class 1A state title contender for sure.
The Mustangs are the unofficial – the District 3 Power Rankings are not official until Sunday – No. 3 seed in Class 3A and will get a home game in Elliottsburg. And a 9-1 regular season is no slouch. They will rattle a few cages in the playoffs with their offensive firepower.
Gettysburg secured a Colonial Division crown in its return to the MPC after an eight-year hiatus by edging the 2022 conference runaway winner of the surprise team, the Hanna Tribe. The Warriors needed a 50-yard fumble return by Preston Burnett in the dying seconds of the third quarter and some defensive back-up in the fourth quarter to salt away a 23-16 victory. You get the feeling if these squads played 10 times they each would win five. Both are playoff bound. Remember, head coach Joe Headen’s Indians were 0-10 last season and finished 6-4 and are playoff bound.
Cumberland Valley will march into the postseason feeling better about itself after QB Isaac Sines’ four touchdown performance against Altoona. The Eagles have faced adversity and when healthy they are a tough out.
Harrisburg also closed strong and will ride into the second season on a high note after drilling Central Dauphin 42-7 behind running back Mahkai Hopkins’ 150-plus total yards and a receiving touchdown.
Northern not only took out rival Mechanicsburg by a touchdown thanks to 168 yards and a couple scores from go-to running back Cole Bartram, the Polar Bears also earned a Class 5A playoff berth. But with a 6-4 record they are going to play one of the top seeded hammers on the road.
So here are the playoff thoughts for the Mid-Penn Conference squads starting in Class 1A where Steel-High will be the champions without a doubt. Trinity and Camp Hill were the final two teams to make it in Class 2A and will be on the road. The T-Rocks and Lions are separated by one game in terms of record but the two teams feel miles apart. Trinity is the favorite in my book to win Class 2A by a fairly healthy margin. They are a 6-4 team you don’t want to face in the second season.
Upper Dauphin will join West Perry in Class 3A bracket and thankfully with a strong finish to the season the 8-2 Trojans avoided hammer No. 1 seed Wyomissing in the first round.
Bishop McDevitt ended up as the No. 1 seed in Class 4A with Manheim Central losing in Week 10 to Exeter Township in the battle of unbeatens. Milton Hershey, Susquehanna Township and East Pennsboro, who qualified with a 4-6 record round out the Class 4A reps from the MPC.
Shippensburg, who was steamrolled by Greencastle-Antrim in Week 10, and Cedar Cliff join Gettysburg and Northern in the Class 5A bracket. A friendly reminder that the Cedar Cliff Colts were 2-3 at the midway point of the season and closed with five consecutive victories to earn a second season spot the hard way.
Carlisle nabbed the final spot in Class 6A to join Harrisburg and Cumberland Valley in the big-school bracket. This field is wide open and there is not a clear-cut favorite. That’s very unusual at the highest level.