By Andy Shay:
Good morning, and hello East Pennsboro Panthers. The Panthers are riding a three-game winning streak under first-year coach John Denniston and get to be part of the conversation in the crazy Mid-Penn Colonial Division.
Taking out previously undefeated Waynesboro by double digits is attention worthy. Storming back from two touchdowns down at halftime to zip past the Indians takes it to another level.
This is how I see the Panthers to date in 2020:
- New head coach and all the stuff that comes with that was a factor in getting rolled 37-7 in the opener by unbeaten Northern. The result makes sense.
- Nice bounce back with some offensive pop to outscore Fleetwood to get win No. 1 for coach.
- Kept the momentum going into Week 3 and used a fast start to the tune of 28 first-half points to outgun winless West Perry. Another solid win.
This one, though, is a bit shocking ﹘ not so much in the result but how it came about.
Despite leading by two touchdowns at halftime, Waynesboro didn’t have much say in the outcome of this game. It was always the Panthers’ result to get. Waynesboro used a pair of special teams gems to build their lead ﹘ a blocked punt recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and a 97-yard kickoff return.
This victory was all about East Pennsboro’s defense locking down the Indians and giving the Panthers’ offense enough chances to get rolling in the second half.
How do you give up two special teams daggers and win going away? You hold the opposition to fewer than 100 total yards, hog the ball, limit the snaps to only 36 and only allow 2.8 yards per play from those snaps.
The Panthers’ defense had seven tackles for a loss, a sack and an interception. Of course, they were helped out by Sy Burgos and Devin Shepherd each climbing over 100 yards with five combined touchdowns.
For the record, I took a peek at the District 3 power rankings. I quickly shut it down after I saw what was going on in Class 5A. Look, I’m grateful we are playing football in 2020, right. And the format of limited brackets is the right decision.
But as it sits right now Mechanicsburg would not make the limited Class 5A field. Yeah, that’s all I have to say about that.
Micah Brubaker and that Mechanicsburg offense continue to roll. After tossing a second consecutive 40-plus spot on the board against Susquehanna Township, the Wildcats have now scored 151 points in four games. The hidden key is probably a defense that is surrendering only 10 points a game. Brubaker had another “typical Micah” game with 283 total yards (214 passing, 69 rushing) and four touchdowns.
Boiling Springs strolled into War Memorial Field in Middletown with an undefeated record and something to prove. Yes, the Bubblers fell 20-16 to the Blue Raiders in a splendid football game. I would argue despite the loss the Bubblers proved they are a quality team in 2020.
Middletown coach Brett Myers agreed, and he knows what it looks like.
“That’s a really good football team we just beat,” Myers said. “Give them credit.”
Boiling Springs has a trio of backs that each fill those critical roles in the Wing-T nicely, the OL has improved greatly and the defense ﹘ despite giving up 253 rushing yards to Middletown, which was always going to happen because the Blue Raiders are also good ﹘ showed some grit with a couple goal-line stands. When it comes to my eye test, the Bubblers pass and have the look of a playoff team.
This score ﹘ Central Dauphin 49, Altoona 20 ﹘ tells me that despite going down by four touchdowns Altoona played well. It was a one-score game at halftime before the Rams lit the fuse and pulled away.
That’s what CD can do at any time, though. They are explosive. Solid road win for the undefeated Rams. Malachi Bowman had a TD reception and returned a kickoff 84 yards to the house. Lots and lots of weapons for CD makes them nearly impossible to slow down.
Bishop McDevitt quarterback Lek Powell has thrown nine touchdowns the last two games after tossing four in the Crusaders’ drubbing of Cumberland Valley. He went for 330 yards and five touchdowns the week prior in the win over Cedar Cliff. And my bad on saying he had an interception against the Colts. I was wrong. My stat sheet let me down.
The Northern Polar Bears went to 4-0 with a narrow victory over Greencastle-Antrim. When it comes to Northern, they have the right stuff on offense triggered by QB Jordan Heisey, and his key pieces are all showing up, too. They have a solid kicking game ﹘ that always comes in handy. I’m not sure about the Polar Bears defense, though. They surrendered 27 points to the Blue Devils, a squad that had scored only once in the previous eight quarters, and have allowed 20 or more points to each of its last three opponents ﹘ who combined have exactly two wins. Hey, 4-0 is all that matters, right?
Hershey stayed the course and is 4-0 for the first time since 2011 when it started the season 7-0 before getting steamrolled by Bishop McDevitt. It wasn’t easy to hold off struggling Mifflin County. That goal-line stand by the Trojans defense was HUGE. QB Jackson Bouslough had a nifty 7-yard TD run and tossed a pair of touchdowns.
My under-the-radar performance of the week goes to Red Land RB-LB Dylan Rodenhaber. This is his first year as a running back, and he’s a much better linebacker than he is a running back. I’m a big fan of his play on defense. But out of necessity he’s forced to carry the load for a Patriots offense that struggles to score points.
In the victory over winless Lower Dauphin he carried it 23 times for 116 yards. The defense helped out with a pair of interceptions, and Parker Lawler took a blocked punt 19 yards to the end zone for a critical Red Land touchdown. Rodenhaber runs hard and does most of his work between the tackles. Never underestimate the value of a grinder playing out of position by necessity and still producing.