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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sunday Morning QB: Harrisburg returns; Hershey, Northern and Boiling Springs among the unbeatens; a new favorite in the Colonial and more

By Andy Shay: 

Welcome back to the Harrisburg Cougars.

The school district was one of those opting initially to completely take fall sports off the table. The decision makers reversed course, and this week Calvin Everett’s talented group introduced itself to COVID-19 World football.

Berks Catholic ﹘ which will play anybody, and plenty of other programs around Pennsylvania could learn something by following their lead in the approach that playing anybody in these strange times is better than playing nobody ﹘ was simply no match for Harrisburg.

For its first act, a road game in Berks County with a 5:00 p.m. kickoff Friday, the Cougars dropped 62 on the Saints powered by a combined six touchdown runs from backs Jaylon Johnston and Kiev Gregg. Who knows what the rest of the Cougars schedule will look like ﹘ lots of games these days are fluid in the pandemic world we live in. To me, the opponents are irrelevant at this point. Any game Harrisburg lands is gravy.

We are going to focus on some 3-0 teams that have accomplished what … well, frankly a month ago would not have been considered a realistic expectation at this point. Notice I didn’t say nobody believed they could win.

First, though, I absolutely must address my flat-out adoration for those Boiling Springs uniforms they dropped Friday night against Big Spring. Of course the Bubblers are one of those 3-0 teams, so I’m not straying far off the path here, but I feel compelled to address that unbelievably sweet yellow, purple and white color combination the Bubblers showed off Friday night.

Yellow jerseys with block purple and white numbers dressed up with purple and white stripes on the sleeves. Bubblers you had me right there. White pants, socks and shoes. Tip of the cap to the 1970s right there. Simple yellow and purple stripes on the white pants. That’s regal right there. The show stopper, though, is the white helmet. Same yellow and purple stripe combination as the pants. What brings it all together is a very large block letter purple “B” on one side with the same old-school style block numbers on the other.

Simply The Best!

If this was your brain-child, coach Brad Zell, go ahead and take a victory lap this morning, sir.

Back to football ﹘ sorry about that, but I’m grateful for indulgence.

The Bubblers passed a more thorough test against Big Spring and in flying colors in my book, winning 35-21. The hidden key was a defense that produced a pair of touchdowns, stopped Big Spring three times on fourth down, sacked the quarterback seven times and produced a dozen plays of zero or negative yards. That works.

Hershey is 3-0 after rolling over Palmyra by 30-plus points. The fact the Trojans didn’t win the game in the final minute was a contrast from its first two meetings. The offense is showing more pop, and I have a suspicion the deep pass will be a factor all season. Limiting Palmyra to six points marks the second time in three games the Hershey defense has held the opposition to single digits.

Don’t sleep on the Trojans’ D. It’s a huge key.

Is Northern a surprise at 3-0? It’s a 50-50 proposition for sure based on Shippensburg being game No. 3 on their schedule. The winless Greyhounds (shocking to write that) did put out a better version of themselves against the Polar Bears, but it still wasn’t enough. The running combo of QB Jordan Heisey and RB Tallon Belluscio teamed up for 215 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 26 carries.

Bishop McDevitt rolled to 3-0 thanks to a come-from-behind victory at Cedar Cliff where the Crusaders and Colts combined to score 47 points in an electric third quarter. After dropping two straight to Cedar Cliff, the Crusaders are now a heavy, heavy, heavy favorite to win the Keystone Division. This was my first in-person game of 2020, and I must agree with McDevitt coach Jeff Weacther that I, too, miss the band.

Related: Making the Grade: A position-by-position breakdown of Bishop McDevitt’s 40-28 victory against Cedar Cliff

Elements of this Crusaders team are young and extremely talented. They also have just enough of that veteran savvy experience in the right spots to be dangerous. QB Lek Powell is much better overall. He has at least four go-to receivers at his disposal. Cedar Cliff threw the kitchen sink at McDevitt, played about as well as it could and still lost 40-28. Mistakes, five turnovers and penalties, 12-105, could dog McDevitt.

Congrats to Cumberland Valley coach Josh Oswalt and his wife on the birth of twins last week. The Eagles’ new skipper was not in State College to witness in person the Little Lions’ 31-0 drubbing of the Eagles. Family First. Bottom line, at 1-2 the Eagles are definitely going to lose more games than they win in 2020.

Mechanicsburg is your Colonial Division favorite. The Wildcats are clubbing teams. And its defense is getting a wee bit more impressive with each passing week. QB Micah Brubaker had more than 200 yards on the ground, and RB Taylor Shearer added another 127 yards in a 48-0 drubbing of Greencastle-Antrim. The duo combined for six rushing touchdowns, and the total yards was 495-57. Woof!!

Waynesboro gives the MPC Colonial a trio of 3-0 teams after the Indians dominated Red Land 35-7 on the strength of three touchdown passes from QB Chance Eyler.

Best win of the week in a toss-up game goes to East Pennsboro’s 38-21 victory over winless West Perry. The Mustangs have played well enough to win a game, but losing the turnover battle 4-0 means a certain L. The Panthers piled up 334 rushing yards, led by Jacob Sheremyer’s 101 and two scores, and attempted only two passes. Yeah, that’s dominating the line of scrimmage.

CD East dropped to 0-3, and you have to feel bad for the Panthers defense at this point. Through three games the CDE defense has surrendered only 46 total points to Exeter Township, Cumberland Valley and Hollidaysburg. That’s 15 points a game. You do that, and you are going to usually win more games than you lose. Problem is the Panthers can’t score. Only 20 points all season. When you have a gap that big on one side of the ball it’s a brutal hurdle to overcome.

My under-the-radar performance of the week goes to Juniata quarterback Jacob Condo for leading the Indians to a mild upset of Lower Dauphin in overtime. His touchdown pass in the third quarter produced the points that forced OT, then he pushed across on a run in the first overtime to account for the winning points. Pretty sure that stand in the shadow of its own end zone by the Indians’ defense in OT was important. Still, a top performance doesn’t go to an entire side of the ball. That’s cheating. Well done, Condo and Juniata.

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