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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Sunday Morning QB: Branstetter and the Lions do it again; Crusaders roll; Cougars line up rematch against Manheim Twp.; and initial thoughts on the Mid-Penn realignment

For the second week in a row Camp Hill quarterback Drew Branstetter guided his team to a touchdown in the dying minutes of the game to secure a victory. That’s what a junior taking his game to the next level looks like.

Only difference this time around, compared to last week’s win against Trinity in the District 3 Class 2A championship game, was the Lions trailed West Catholic by a point when it got the ball back instead of being tied. Big difference. Same result.

It took a 2-yard TD toss to Kobe Moore with 25 seconds left to get the win in a game where Branstetter accounted for more than 400 yards of offense (310 passing, 101 rushing).

For a team that was 4-5 after a loss to West Perry on Oct. 20, to celebrating a state playoff victory less than a month later is borderline unthinkable.

It proves anything is possible when you have a quarterback with ice in his veins running the show. Well done to the Lions.

Bishop McDevitt in class by itself

Friday night provided a perfect example of the ridiculous level this Bishop McDevitt Crusaders offense is operating at in defense of its PIAA Class 4A state championship.

Entering The Roc, visiting Lampeter-Strasburg had not  yet surrendered 100 total points this season through 11 games and brought a tidy 9-2 record to the table with its only losses coming to Cocalico and Wyomissing — two teams still playing late November football — in tight, low-scoring affairs.

By halftime, McDevitt had put 23 points on the board, amassed 355 total yards, orchestrated two scoring drives that each covered 99 yards and was in complete control against an opponent who was battle tested and had the potential to slow down this offense.

Before the third quarter was five minutes old, McDevitt had added another TD to its ledger and eventually led 43-7 after three quarters to kickstart the mercy rule clock.

The Crusaders rocked L-S for nearly half as many points in three quarters as the Pioneers had surrendered all season. That is what other teams in Class 4A are up against.

Steel-High’s worst enemy? Mother Nature

If you were out at a game anywhere in District 3 Friday night, you noticed a drizzle of rain every now and then. It was nothing that impacted how any game was played.

That was not the case in Claysburg  where Steel-High was up against undefeated District 5 champion Northern Bedford. It was a full-scale deluge for the first half, which should explain 0-0 halftime score that would’ve been a surprise to casual observers. Throwing was impossible, and holding onto the football with any consistency was a struggle.

Once the heavy rain moved out, Steel-High posted 21 second-half points and cruised to a 14-point victory. Remember, the Rollers can play some defense, too. The Northern Bedford touchdown came with 2:21 to play.

The Rollers’ D picked off three passes and limited Northern Bedford to 158 yards of total offense while surrendering that lone late touchdown.

Having this much adaptability to prevail in a variety of ways, shapes and forms is what makes Steel-High such an impossible out at the Class 1A level.

Harrisburg gets chance at redemption against Manheim Township

Storms forced Harrisburg’s Week 3 game with Manheim Township to be moved to Saturday after the Cougars made the trip on Friday and took the field ready to play.

When they returned the next day, Harrisburg was a no-show and the Blue Streaks drilled the visitors 38-6. Even in September you kind of figured these two squads would most likely see each other again.

Yep. Harrisburg gets another bite of the Manheim Township apple after a rock solid 28-21 victory over previously undefeated Central York on Saturday.

Safe to say the Cougars will be ready for this one with a District 3 Class 6A title on the line.

Hat tip to some Mid-Penn teams knocked out this weekend

Cumberland Valley went down swinging, eh? The Eagles took an early haymaker from Manheim Township, steadied the ship and fired back round after round. Deep into the second half this was a one-score game with the outcome in doubt somewhat. Just to be in that spot is a testament to the Eagles’ mettle, and losing 37-27 is a loss of the highest quality.

I was hinting around at Hershey hitting a wall a week ago against a well-rested New Oxford side. To the Trojans’ credit, that didn’t happen. But Hershey ran into that wall this week and was drilled by Ephrata 47-7 in the Class 5A semifinal. Two playoff wins was a next-level accomplishment.

West Perry’s magic carpet ride came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon, and for the most part it looked the same as it did a year ago in the District 3 Class 3A championship game at Wyomissing. Less than a minute into the third quarter, the powerhouse Spartans put the running clock into play when they went up 35-0 on their way to a commanding 42-14 win. West Perry had no say in the outcome of this title tilt.

First thoughts on Mid-Penn football realignment

The Mid-Penn Conference has approved realignment for the 2024 seasoness. The conference will go from five divisions to four, comprising two 10-team divisions and a pair of nine-team divisions.

Here’s some initial quick takes.

Cedar Cliff to the Commonwealth is a big jump for the Colts. That’s a tough one. Bishop McDevitt going back to the big-school division, jumping from the Keystone to Commonwealth, feels like an overdue move.

The new-look Keystone will take some time to figure out if it works or not, but I like the initial lineup of teams. Putting Steel-High and Camp Hill among the former Liberty Division squads makes sense in terms of school enrollment, but from a competition standpoint it appears as if the Rollers and Lions are the alpha dogs.

I love the new-look Colonial Division. It’s like a box of chocolates. Overall, 20 of the 38 teams in the conference are changing divisions. Structurally, the realignment makes a lot of sense.

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