Here are FOX43’s Five Games to Watch this week

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In regards to the Central Pennsylvania high school football landscape, to paraphrase legendary pro wrestling announcer Jim Ross, “business is picking up.”

With the first three weeks of the regular season in the books, league play is getting underway in most of the area’s conferences. Which means there are some tasty matchups on this week’s docket.

You can catch all the highlights Friday at 10 p.m. on FOX 43’s High School Football Frenzy.

Here are some of the games we’ll be keeping an eye on this week, starting with the FOX 43 Game of the Week.

FOX 43 GAME OF THE WEEK

Manheim Township (2-1) at Hempfield (2-1)

Both of these Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One foes are off to solid starts, but you can throw the records out the window when it comes to this one. Township-Hempfield is one of the L-L League’s fiercest rivalries in any sport.

Township suffered its first loss of the season last week, a surprisingly lopsided 49-14 setback at home against Governor Mifflin. The Blue Streaks were humbled by the Mustangs’ powerful rushing attack, which generated 367 yards, most of that coming from fullback Isaac Ruoss, who rambled for 279 yards and four touchdowns. Three other Mifflin players found the end zone as well as the Mustangs shredded Township’s defense, which had allowed just 70.2 rushing yards and seven points per game in its first two outings.

Meanwhile, the Streaks managed just 110 total yards of offense in the loss to Mifflin, after averaging 296 yards per game in impressive season-opening wins over Central Dauphin (17-14) and South Western (42-0).

Quarterback Luke Emge (35-for-55, 405 yards, three TDs, one INT), running back Grayson Sallade (152 total yards, TD) and wideout Rece Bender (14 catches, 145 yards, two TDs) are the main cogs of Township’s offense, while 6-4, 240-pound senior Drake Puffenbarger anchors the Streaks’ defensive line.

Hempfield picked up its second win last week with a 24-21 victory over Central York. QB Mark Himmelsbach rushed for 133 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns for the Black Knights, who won despite allowing 254 passing yards and a pair of long TD bombs (71 and 94 yards) by the Panthers.

Defense has been a bit of a problem for Hempfield, whose 376 yards allowed per game average ranks fifth-worst in the L-L League. But when you’re averaging 429 yards per game (sixth in the league) on offense, that has a way of evening things out.

Himmelsbach (65-382, five TDs) and RB Stephen Wentzel (33-307, TD) form a potent 1-2 punch in the backfield for the Knights, while David Martin-Robinson (13-223, two TDs) is the primary receiving weapon.

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

Cocalico (3-0) at Elizabethtown (3-0)

This Section Two battle of unbeatens pits one of the L-L League’s most potent offenses against one of its stingiest defenses. With its punishing ground attack leading the way, Cocalico has racked up a league-high 167 points in its first three games, while E-town has allowed a league-low 19 points in its first three outings.

The Eagles bludgeoned Upper Perkiomen 56-0 last week to earn their third straight victory. Eight different players found the end zone for Cocalico. Sophomore quarterback Noah Palm looks like a seasoned veteran under center for the Eagles, with 293 yards and four touchdowns on 35 carries. He’s also completed eight of nine passes for 178 yards and three scores.

After recording back-to-back shutouts to open the season, E-town finally allowed an opponent to find the end zone last week. But even though they gave up three scores to Lebanon, the Bears still got the job done with a 38-19 victory. E-town scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to pull away.

In addition to their stifling defense, the Bears have a balanced offensive attack led by the backfield tandem of Devyn Clair (32-271, five TDs) and Cayden Livingston (39-253, four TDs) and quarterback Cole Patrick (24-for-35, 403 yards, four TDs).

York (3-0) at Red Lion (3-0)

The Bearcats have already tripled their win total from last season, and are off to their best start in eight years. A road victory over Red Lion this week would establish them as the team to beat in the York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association’s big-school division. But that won’t be easy; Red Lion hasn’t lost a regular-season game since October 9, 2015.

To beat the Bearcats and extend that streak, Red Lion will have to find a way to slow down York running back Khalid Dorsey, who has rushed for 690 yards and eight touchdowns in his first three games.

York, meanwhile, will have to contend with Red Lion quarterback Zach Throne, a first-year starter who has passed for five touchdowns in his first two games. (Red Lion got a week off last week after Chambersburg, citing a security threat that circulated on social media, forfeited the game.)

Carlisle (3-0) at Central Dauphin (2-1)

The Thundering Herd picked up its third straight victory with a 28-19 triumph over South Western last week. Carlisle hasn’t exactly been blowing people’s doors off so far; its three wins have come by a combined total of 19 points. Running back Tristyn Sulich (56-258, four TDs) is the main workhorse on the ground, while Gavyn Barnes (13-234, four TDs) is Carlisle’s top receiving threat.

Central Dauphin rebounded from its 17-14 loss to Manheim Township on September 1 by beating another L-L League Section 1 team, Wilson, last week. The Rams built a 28-6 lead in the third quarter and held off a furious rally by the Bulldogs to escape with a 28-20 triumph. Quarterback Brady Straub (30-for-58, 466 yards, three TDs) is the main cog of Central Dauphin’s offense.

Line Mountain (3-1) at Williams Valley (4-0)

The outcome of this one will provide a little clarity to the crowded Tri-Valley League title race. Williams Valley and Newport are the league’s only remaining unbeaten teams, while Line Mountain and Juniata are both just a game behind.

Dylan Rabuck (80-919, 15 TDs) is already closing in on the 1,000-yard milestone after carrying Williams Valley’s offense for most of the season. The Vikings have outscored their first four opponents 174-39 so far.

Line Mountain has won three in a row since dropping a 48-14 decision at Tri Valley in its season opener. The Eagles get it done through the air on offense, as quarterback Evan Herb has connected on 51 of 90 attempts for 924 yards and eight touchdowns this season.