FOX43 Sports: Here are the top 5 high school football games to watch this week
While several schools around District 3 kicked off their seasons last week, for most of the teams in Central Pennsylvania, the season starts Friday.
And even though it’s just Week 1, there are some huge matchups on the docket.
Here are five of the biggest games to watch this week:
FOX43 GAME OF THE WEEK
Lebanon at Cedar Crest: FOX43 will be there for this rivalry game between the two Lancaster-Lebanon League crosstown neighbors. The 46th Cedar Bowl will kick off at 7 p.m. at Earl Boltz Stadium in Cornwall.
The host Falcons lead the all-time series 29-15-1, have won the last five meetings, and are 3-0 against Lebanon under head coach Rob Wildasin.
Junior quarterback Logan Horn and senior running back AJ Apple are two players to keep an eye on for the Falcons. Horn threw for 102 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s 26-14 victory over Lebanon, while Apple had 398 rushing yards and three touchdowns in eight games with the Falcons in 2016.
The Falcons are looking to get off to a good start as they prepare for a challenging L-L League Section 2 slate. Cedar Crest went 6-4 overall and finished third behind co-champs Manheim Central and Cocalico in Section 2 last year with a 4-3 mark.
Lebanon, meanwhile, is looking to shake of a 1-9 campaign last year. The Cedars’ only victory came over Ephrata — they of the active 41-game losing streak — in Week 2. But the Cedars bring back an experienced (and huge) offensive line, along with a talented junior quarterback, Zakee Sailsman (2,239 pass yards, 20 TDs in 2016).
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
York Suburban at York Catholic: Suburban captured the York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association Division I title last year with a perfect 6-0 mark, went 8-3 overall, and made an appearance in the District 3 Class 4A playoffs. Catholic claimed the YAIAA Division III crown with a 6-0 mark, won the District 3 Class 2A title and reached the PIAA playoffs before bowing out in the first round.
Both teams suffered a ton of graduation losses, so the majority of their starters Friday night will be newbies. York Catholic does have some experience along the offensive line, though, led by massive 6-4, 290-pound senior Matt Knauer. That could help stabilize things while the backfield — which will have to replace QB Dan Yokemick and RB Jakkar Kinard, last year’s top offensive weapons — gets some seasoning.
Suburban is looking for a third straight Division II title, but the Trojans are replacing the bulk of their offensive line, their top two offensive weapons and their leading tackler on defense. Their top returning rusher had 67 yards last season, and their quarterback (Max Reinacker) is a sophomore with one start under his belt.
It’s safe to see neither team has an established identity just yet, but this remains an intriguing matchup of division champions.
Central Dauphin at Manheim Township: The Rams dusted Manheim Township twice last year, beating them 31-9 in the season opener and 34-14 in the first round of the District 3 Class 6A playoffs. Between that time, they also captured a share of the Mid-Penn Commonwealth conference title.
But Township — which probably underachieved a bit in 2016 — has been vocal about its desire to break Wilson’s stranglehold on the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 championship. This might be the year the Blue Streaks do it; Harvard-bound quarterback Luke Emge leads a talented cast that returns virtually intact from last season. Emge passed for 1,500 yards and 14 TDs as a junior. A strong showing against Central Dauphin — a perennial playoff contender — would go a long way toward establishing Township as a player this season, both in the L-L League and the district.
The Rams already have a game under the belts; they knocked off Susquehanna Township 30-7 in “Week Zero.” CD held Susquehanna Township to minus-22 yards rushing and forced two turnovers.
Manheim Central at Warwick: If one team has dominated for decades, can it really be called a rivalry? Maybe not, but don’t try selling that to Warwick, which has yet to beat the Barons under veteran coach Bob Locker, but still gets amped up for every matchup. Locker told Blue Ridge Cable 11 TV Wednesday night that a win over Central would be bigger for his team that a win over Wilson, the Warriors’ Section 1 foe that has captured nine straight section titles.
Warwick is coming off a breakout 8-3 season last year that saw them return to the District 3 playoffs for the first time in six years. They finished second in the section to Wilson, but gave the Bulldogs all they could handle in a 26-22 regular-season defeat. Now Warwick brings back its entire receiving corps, including standout tight end Hayden Rucci, and will debut new starting quarterback Grayson Kline — who transferred in from…Wilson (subplot alert!).
Meanwhile, Manheim Central remains Manheim Central. The Barons have some graduation holes to fill, but are once again expected to contend for a L-L League Section 2 title and make a deep run in the District 3 playoffs. Watch out for sophomore quarterback Evan Simon, who will be making his first career start under center but is expected to be the latest in a long line of standout signal-callers in Manheim.
Bishop McDevitt at Harrisburg (Saturday, 1 p.m.): Quite possibly the best rivalry in the Mid-Penn — or at least it was before McDevitt moved to the ‘burbs — this is still an intriguing matchup. Both teams already have wins under their belts; McDevitt hammered Red Land 27-0 in Week Zero, while Harrisburg blasted Imhotep Charter 33-14.
The Cougars are the defending District 3 Class 5A champions and a state playoff runner-up, and they look like they’re loaded up for another deep playoff run. In addition to two-way standout Micah Parsons, who is being recruited by…pretty much everybody, Harrisburg has quarterback Yahmir Wilkerson, who threw for four touchdowns in last week’s romp past Imhotep.
McDevitt got upended by Shippensburg in last year’s District 3 Class 4A semifinals, and the Crusaders are not accustomed to bowing out that early. They have the normal army of talented skill players and plenty of beef up front, but they might have their hands full with the loaded Cougars.