Each week during the 2017 high school football season, each member of our team--and those working behind the scenes as well at 4th Down Magazine--will pass out game balls to top performers.
Players will earn five points per game ball. 4th Down will feature the player with the highest point total heading into the PIAA semifinals. We may even throw in a little swag for the overall winner.
4th Down Staff's:
Kane Everson, WR-QB, CD East: Everson is no stranger to the quarterback position. The 5-10 junior completed 83 passes a season ago for nearly 1,350 yards and eight touchdowns. So when the Panthers offense needed a boost Friday against Lower Daup0hin, head coach Aaron Blanding knew his converted wide receiver could handle the assignment. Swapping places with teammate Jaylen Hawthorne, Everson posted two second-half touchdowns runs that steered CD East’s 21-14 win. His last scamper, stretching 17 yards, came with 47 seconds remaining. He turned 11 carries into 121 yards in all.
Quinn Buffington, QB, Camp Hill: The Lions seem to be caught in a pattern, although Buffington has been Mr. Consistency under center. While Annville-Cleona ultimately claimed a 39-20 victory Friday, Buffington again give his side a chance in the second half. Buffington rushed nine times for 120 yards and a score, and the QB was 16 of 36 for 232 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two picks.
Isaiah Edwards, RB, State College: The Little Lions are not short on talent, and Matt Lintal saw another tough runner emerge Friday against Hollidaysburg. Edwards, a rising sophomore, hauled in five career carries but cleared the weekend with a bit more. Edwards only carried eight times against the Golden Tigers, but 169 yards and three touchdowns later, the Lions were recorded a 55-27 victory.
Geoff Morrow's Game Balls:
Trystin Sulich, RB, Carlisle: Even though he took handoff after handoff, especially in the Thundering Herd's decisive second quarter, Sulich's production kind of sneaks up on you. Built more like a receiver or even a tight end -- he checks in at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds -- Sulich isn't trying to race to the wings or zigzag past defenders like teammate Gavyn Barnes in the open field. Instead, he's a boomer, a no-nonse power back who loves to plow through holes created by his blockers, then carry defenders as far as he can. In a 17-14 victory over Red Land, Sulich carried 25 times for 144 yards and both Carlisle touchdowns. He was reliable with the ball and aided the Herd when the Patriots' tough defensive ends wouldn't give the passing game much of a chance. Carlisle has itself a pretty good back for the next few years. Should be exciting to watch Sulich's development.
Mason Frampton, LB and Jimi Hoffman, FS, Waynesboro: OK, so the Indians' offense still has plenty of work to do. The unit barely mustered 120 yards against Lancaster Catholic and didn't score. But, boy, did that defense have its share of stars. We're going with Frampton and Hoffman, as they accounted for all three touchdowns and had a strong say in the team's 23-10 victory. Frampton totaled 11 tackles, including two sacks, forced two fumbles and grabbed an interception. He also had a 37-yard fumble return TD to put the game away. Hoffman, meanwhile, played much bigger than his listed 165 pounds. He scored the first touchdown by recovering an red zone fumble forced by Frampton and returning it 6 yards to pay dirt. Then he added a 67-yard interception return TD. He also totaled nine tackles. Daniel Worthy and Layken Rouzer both contributed double-digit tackle numbers, and Tom Drumsta had safety when he tackled the Catholic QB in the end zone after a bad snap. Again, the entire 'Boro defense earned a bag full of game balls.
Shamar Manning, QB, Milton Hershey: Big numbers are nice, but they're not always necessary to get the job done. We're giving a nod to the Spartans' first-year QB for quality (not quantity) with his end zone distribution in a 34-23 victory on the road at Greencastle-Antrim, never an easy place to win. Manning fired touchdown passes to Chiago Anyanwu (32 yards), Naeem Cross (24 yards) and finally Carrington Smith (20 yards) as his team built a 28-3 advantage heading heading into the fourth quarter. Though he finished with just 96 yards passing, Manning showed the right touch at the right times to help Milton Hershey bounce back from a narrow Week 1 loss to CD East.
Andy Shay's Game Balls:
Evan Mancuso QB, Boiling Springs: The Bubblers are battling a string of not winning a football game (the number is not important). Boy did they come close to snapping that skid against Bermudian Springs in Week 2. Mancuso gave his team a shot by completing 12 of 17 passes for 230 yards with a pair of touchdowns and two intercetions. That’s 19.1 yards per completion. He also rushed for 52 yards on seven attempts and scored. That’s nearly 300 total yards and three scores. For a team desperate for a win, that kind of play shows a “W” is in the cards at some point.
Brady Fox, RB, Middletown: There’s a lot of preseason pressure on this guy and he’s been banged up. But the great news for Fox is the Blue Raiders are MUCH more than a one-player team. The emergence of Jose Lopez as a major force to join Fox in the backfield is a huge plus. After being a little banged up in Week 1, Fox went off in the first half against Northern. He carried the ball only nine times for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Fox is a big-play back who has a knack for finding the end zone.
Brendan Shaffer, RB, Lower Dauphin: The Falcons senior RB gave his team a chance for victory No. 1 of the season against CD East. Shaffer was stellar despite the 21-14 loss. Shaffer rushed for 141 yards on 26 carries and trust me those were not easy yards. Shaffer was effective inside and outside. He scored on a rushing touchdown, but his best play of the night came on a 36-yard touchdown pass on a well thrown ball, but the route he ran down the middle was splendid. And, he also played inside linebacker and was a force. Double-duty game ball effort for sure!
Michael Bullock's Game Balls:
Trent McGuire, RB, Susquenita: Recognized for the second consecutive weekend following yet another impressive outing, the Blackhawks’ 6-1, 180-pound senior blur piled up a career-best 267 rushing yards and one touchdown on 28 carries as Susquenita (2-1, 2-1 TVL) popped previously unbeaten Halifax 26-7. Working almost exclusively out of the Wildcat formation, McGuire did not need much time to make an impact on the game as he wheeled 71 yards for his lone score on just his third attempt. McGuire’s mark is the third-highest single-game total in Susquenita history, trailing only a pair of Kevin Kenny efforts. The win also was the first over a team with a winning record in Scott Acri’s two-plus seasons at the ‘Nita helm.
Kolt Schaeffer, DE, Tri-Valley: A pain in neighboring Upper Dauphin’s offensive backside all night long, the 6-0, 200 junior totaled 11 stops from his defensive end position — including three solo tackles and three quarterback sacks — as Mike Ulicny’s growling Bulldogs (2-1, 2-1 TVL) rebounded from their Week 2 loss at Newport by drilling the Trojans 49-6. Schaeffer leads Tri-Valley with a team-best five sacks.
Tevin Gonzalez, WR, Newport: A dangerous perimeter threat capable of going yard on any play, the slippery 5-9, 150-pound senior tormented host Millersburg by catching six Nik Grabiec passes for 112 yards and three scores in Newport’s convincing 49-0 victory. Gonzalez scored on TD receptions of eight and nine yards, respectively, in the opening quarter as Todd Rothermel’s Buffaloes (3-0, 3-0 TVL) bounced to a 14-0 advantage. Gonzalez was not done, however, as he tacked on a 40-yard reception for his third score in the third quarter as the three-time TVL champs won going away.
Breven Derk, WR and Brenden Cregger, WR, Line Mountain: Arguably the Tri-Valley League’s top receiving combination, Derk and Cregger combined to catch 11 passes for 194 yards as Brandon Carson’s Eagles (2-1, 2-1 TVL) rallied for a 41-7 victory at Pine Grove. Derk pocketed six of Evan Herb’s throws — Herb, who was picked off once, finished 12 of 23 passing for 215 yards and one score — for 100 yards as the Mountain rattled off 41 unanswered points. Cregger added five receptions for 94 yards, including a 47-yard dish from Herb that had Carson’s bunch up 34-7 in the final quarter.
Jake Adams' Game Balls:
Cain Fullerton, DL, Mechanicsburg: Look at the big man coming up with the pick-6! Fullerton, who also plays tight end for the Wildcats, came up with a momentum-shifting 40-yard interception return for a touchdown, helping Mechanicsburg finally, mercifully snap that 21-game losing streak in a 41-28 win over Spring Grove. Yours truly didn't think the win would come for another week (Billy Furman already busted my chops for it), but Fullerton made sure the streak wouldn't last another week. The INT came with 5:08 left in the third and made it 28-21. Mechanicsburg never lost the lead after that. It was Nick Shaqfeh's only interception of the night.
Cumberland Valley LBs: Central York coach Josh Oswalt called Charlie Katshir the best athlete to come out of CV, period, and he certainly had a great game in the 35-0 Eagles win, but let's give some props to someone else. Really, it was the entire front seven that led CV's defense on the day, but Christian Arrington, Austin Kupko and the 'backers made life miserable for the Panthers. While three DBs (Cole McCoy, Jake Palmer, Zack Snow) recorded picks, it was the pressure Cade Pribula felt all night that helped cause those turnovers. Pribula got happy feet after the edge rush beat CY's line, and the linebackers flowed to contain the shallow routes and stuff in the middle of the field, taking away Pribula's preferred options. And the same group held CY to less than 80 yards. Defense had a day. I thought the linebackers were a big reason why.
Onasis Neely, RB, East Pennsboro: We're gonna see this name a lot this year, I fear. Neely is already over 500 yards just two games in and wasn't just satisfied with that. He scored a whopping six times, five on the ground and once through the air in the Panthers' 47-21 road win over West Perry. If he's not the best back in the Mid-Penn, he sure is close.