This was nothing short of a job well done by the Mid-Penn Conference squads in the opening weekend of the second season.
A rock solid 9-5 overall record included six victories that were expected and comfortable. West Perry, Trinity, Line Mountain, Juniata, Altoona and District 3 Class 1A champion Steel-High were all solid favorites to win and performed at a level comfortable enough to advance.
You could have made a case going into the weekend for one-loss West Perry having the least comfortable path to victory, as the Mustangs were likely a little hazy after suffering their first defeat of the season to Steel-High a week earlier. Nothing to worry about in a 21-point victory, though. Expect the lads from Elliottsburg to be back in top form next week.
It was good to see Trinity all-around weapon Messiah Mickens have a big game in the convincing 28-3 triumph over Delone Catholic. The sophomore had been dogged by lower-body injuries most of the season that limited his production. His 178 total yards and two touchdowns is a welcome sight.
The victories by Camp Hill, Milton Hershey and Hershey all qualify as upsets for sure. As the No. 4 seed in Class 2A, Camp Hill took top seed Annville-Cleona out behind the woodshed in a 35-14 victory. Really the win by the Lions isn’t a big-time shocker, but the utter domination was the upset.
Playing against the Capital Division showed up in this one for sure, as the battle-tested Lions used 299 passing yards and four touchdowns from QB Drew Brandstetter to power the offense. And Camp Hill can play some defense. Neighbor and Capital Division mate Trinity awaits in the Class 2A final.
Hershey was staring at a 21-0 halftime hole Friday night. It was hard to see an avenue to success for the home squad in the final 24 minutes. Honestly, it looked like a game waiting to go to mercy rule at the break more than anything.
Hershey helped dig its own halftime grave with a pair of turnovers in the Exeter Township red zone. But the Eagles returned the favor in the second half, turning the ball over three times, and Hershey’s offense had enough short fields and built momentum behind four Angel Cabrera touchdown runs to post an improbable 28-27 victory.
Yes, Cabrera was a beast, as expected. He carried 35 times for 175 yards, and his last 10 carries he was running dudes over at his leisure. The difference-maker for Hershey overall was senior Derek Guzman. He made five or six impact plays that had me shaking my head. And he made plays on both sides of the ball. He finished with more than 100 yards receiving and rushing, had an interception and recovered a fumble. Go watch the highlights. He wrecked this game.
Milton Hershey came out like a flamethrower at home in the always popular 8-9 seed contest and flashed to a 22-0 halftime lead behind three touchdown passes from QB Jason Burney. That was just enough cushion for the Spartans against Eastern York. The visitors rallied and made it a one-score game before Angel Roberts returned a kick 79 yards for a score in the fourth quarter to earn the Spartans another date with Class 4A No. 1-seed Bishop McDevitt.