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The Preview: Greencastle-Antrim at East Pennsboro

7 p.m. Thursday, East Pennsboro HS Stadium

THE BLUE DEVILS (4-0, 1-0): You see the sterling record, so of course this Franklin County program has all its cylinders well-oiled and firing. It’s been a combination of a strong push up front, which has allowed RB Tavon Cooper to routinely break into the second level, and a hardcore defense that just doesn’twant to break. It’s true that rival Waynesboro stood even at 21-all with the Blue Devils early in the second half. Indians’ back Mikel Holden was tough to lasso. But Cooper flashed TD runs of 19 and 29 yards down the stretch to wrap a 35-21 G-A win.The RB finished with 229 stripes and three scores.You don’t hit those elevated numbers without help. Opponents must pay attention to versatile Darren Kline and QB Logan Alvey, as well. Both have pitched in big plays when needed. In all, Greencastle-Antrim banked 422 offensive yards vs. the Indians, a robust 287 on the ground. Devin McCauley’s crew is equipped to run off script in needed, but no opponent has forced it through four weeks.

THE PANTHERS (3-1, 0-1): No one said the regular season would be easy, and coach John Denniston and his Panthers knew week 4 opponent Gettysburg would be its toughest to date. The good news is one setback doesn’t break a season, so there’s plenty of fight remaining for what should be a wild run inside the Colonial ranks. QBs Keith Oates and Dakota Campbell paced the early action, which led to EP’s 3-0 start and brought some momentum to Gettysburg on Friday. A couple of second-half rips from the Warriors, including a Landon Keefer pick-6, took it and sealed the Panthers’ fate in a 27-11 final. The Panthers, like the Blue Devils, are most comfortable when powered by rushing attack, but EP only managed 3.2 yards per carry vs. the Warriors. Top receivers Aaron Angelo and Chase Deibler can provide a bit more balance in tight situations.In addition, tough DL’s Colin Benoist, Josh Angelo and LB Aaron Angelo have the grit to close rushing lanes. That assignment is top priority.

THE SERIES: The all-time series between East Pennsboro and Greencastle-Antrim is tied at 8 games apiece. The Panthers won last year’s matchup 27-19.

THE X-FACTOR: Campbell and Greencastle-Antrim’s Jackson Eby are two proven kickers. But, in a battle between rush-heavy offenses that have the ability to sustain drives for long minutes, settling for 3-pointers probably won’t cut it. Every possession will matter Thursday, so protecting the ball better than the other side is paramount.

THE PICK:

Andy Shay: Greencastle-Antrim 28, East Pennsboro 7: Should the Blue Devils clear this hurdle and reach 5-0, they are without question the biggest surprise team of 2022. G-A defense has surrendered only five touchdowns through 16 quarters.

Geoff Morrow: East Pennsboro 23, Greencastle-Antrim 17: This has quickly become a VERY important game for the Panthers, whose Colonial title hopes move to life support already if they fall to G-A. I’m expecting a battle, but I like the home team’s chances to bounce back against an opponent who is probably starting to feel a bit invincible.

Andy Sandrik: Greencastle-Antrim 35, East Pennsboro 25: And just like that, the Blue Devils are one of the teams to beat in the Colonial. 

Adam Kulikowski: Greencastle-Antrim 21, East Pennsboro 20: The Panthers will need to find another gear to stop the Blue Devils achieving the best start to its season since 2015 (4-0). 

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