Here are FOX43’s Five Games to Watch tonight
Week 9 of the 2017 high school football season is here. While many of the region’s division races are all but settled, several of this week’s games have major District 3 playoff implications.
FOX43 High School Football Frenzy Game of the Week, which pits Mid-Penn Keystone Division leader Bishop McDevitt against Lower Dauphin, is the rare game that will have major impact in both areas.
The Crusaders lead the Keystone Division by a half-game. And McDevitt is in a comfortable position in the District 3 Class 4A power rankings, which are used to determine the eight-team playoff field.
Lower Dauphin’s position in the Class 5A field is a little more precarious. The Falcons are currently ranked 10th, and would be on the outside looking in if the postseason started today. Lower Dauphin needs a win; a loss would probably scuttle its playoff hopes.
Here’s a closer look at the Game of the Week, plus a handful of other juicy matchups:
FOX43 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FRENZY GAME OF THE WEEK
Bishop McDevitt (6-2) at Lower Dauphin (4-4)
The Crusaders have won four in a row since falling 49-23 to Cumberland Valley in Week 4. During that span, they’ve outscored their opponents 173-62. McDevitt’s only other loss of the season was a 35-0 setback against crosstown rival Harrisburg, but there’s certainly no shame in falling to the powerful Cougars.
McDevitt has one of the district’s top quarterbacks in junior Chase Diehl, who has completed 98 of 138 passes for 1,836 yards and 19 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Diehl ranks fourth in the district in passing yards and is tied for third in TD tosses. His top targets are the tandem of juniors Nazir Burnett (33-695, nine TDs) and T’nyis Becker (31-485, three TDs).
Lower Dauphin shook off an 0-3 start by reeling off four straight victories, but their winning streak ended with last week’s 24-14 loss to Cumberland Valley. Senior quarterback Aiden Klassen has completed 80 of 146 passes for 1,075 yards and eight touchdowns, with four interceptions. Senior Brendan Shaffer (123-779, five TDs) powers a rushing attack that generates 208 yards per game.
Donegal (4-4) at Lancaster Catholic (4-4)
Moving over to the Lancaster-Lebanon League, this Section 3 clash will have an impact on both the section title and District 3 playoff races.
The news that Lancaster Catholic coach Bruce Harbach’s impending retirement at the end of the season adds a little more spice for the Crusaders, who would love to add another section title to Harbach’s long list of accomplishments and are hoping to extend his final season as long as possible. Harbach, who guided Catholic to eight Section 3 championships, four District 3 Class 2A crowns and a pair of PIAA titles in 2009 and 2011 in his 16 seasons at the helm, announced his plans to step down at season’s end this week. He’ll be replaced by former Penn Manor coach Todd Mealy, who is serving as an assistant under Harbach, according to LancasterOnline.
Catholic is currently tied with Northern Lebanon for first place in Section 3, with Donegal a game behind. The Crusaders face Northern Lebanon next week, so a win here would put them in a winner-take-all situation with the Vikings in Week 10.
Catholic started the season 0-4, falling to Camp Hill, Waynesboro, Trinity and Berks Catholic. But the Crusaders have rallied for four straight wins in section play, outscoring their opponents 173-17. Quarterback Gavin Sullivan (51-110-11, 783 yards, eight TDs) and running back Malkam Lawrence (100-702, six TDs) lead the Crusader offense.
Donegal also struggled early, opening the season with three straight losses. The Indians have also feasted on Section 3 competition, winning four of five in section play. Their only setback came to co-leader Northern Lebanon (35-21) three weeks ago. The three-headed monster of Nick Ketner (92-925, 14 TDs), Cameron Ellis (83-559, six TDs) and Tyler Rupp (59-304, five TDs) power a Donegal rushing attack that is averaging 251 yards per game.
Catholic is currently ranked sixth in the District 3 Class 3A power rankings; only four teams make the cut. It’s unclear whether the Crusaders can score enough points in the season’s final two weeks to get Harbach into the playoffs, but a loss Friday would surely be fatal. Donegal is also on the wrong side of the bubble in Class 4A; the Indians are 11th and need to jump up three spots to earn a berth.
Elizabethtown (5-3) at Cedar Crest (5-3)
This L-L League Section 2 showdown features two teams that are out of the title chase, but still very much alive in the race for a Class 5A playoff berth.
E-town is currently on the outside looking in; the Bears are No. 9 in the district’s power rankings, and only eight teams get in. Clearly, this is a must-win game for E-town. Cedar Crest is currently ranked sixth in 5A, so the Falcons are looking to maintain their status as a district playoff contender.
The Bears have won two in a row to snap out of a mid-season funk. E-town started off with three straight wins, but fell to Cocalico (14-0), Solanco (28-27) and Manheim Central (35-12) during the meat of the Section 2 schedule. Quarterback Cole Patrick (88-150-6, 1,324 yards, 11 TDs) and running backs Devyn Clair (112-623, seven TDs) and Cayden Livingston (72-356, five TDs) power a balanced attack on offense.
Cedar Crest 6-1 start lost some of its luster with last week’s 42-6 drubbing at section leader Manheim Central. The Falcons need to right their ship fast if they want to make the district playoffs. Quarterback Logan Horn is one of the league’s most lethal two-way threats, with 1,094 yards and 10 TDs on 89-of-148 passing and 481 rushing yards and eight scores.
Bermudian Springs (6-2) at Littlestown (7-1)
It’s a showdown between two of the three teams tied at the top of the York Area Interscholastic Athletic Association Division III standings and in the thick of the chase for the District 3 Class 3A playoffs. Bermudian Springs fell 41-26 to York Catholic last week, costing the Eagles sole possession of first place. Now they need to knock off Littlestown to preserve their chance at earning at least a share of the title.
That’s not all that’s on the line, though. Both Bermudian Springs and Littlestown are vying for a spot in the four-team District 3 Class 3A playoff field. The Eagles are currently ranked fourth, while Littlestown comes in at No. 3. A loss for either team could put their postseason chances in jeopardy.
Bermudian Springs has been riding the performances of quarterback Chase Dull, wideout Kolt Byers, and the backfield tandem of Darren Beall and Ryan Curfman. Dull (67-132-1, 1,176 yards, 12 TDs) ranks third in the league in passing yardage, while Byers has hauled in 20 catches for 516 yards and five scores. Beall and Curfman have combined for more than 1,000 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
Littlestown has won two in a row since suffering its only loss of the season, a 21-14 setback against York Catholic, on Oct. 6. The Thunderbolts’ offensive numbers don’t exactly leap off the page — quarterback Jakob Lane has thrown for just 669 yards and six TDs, and no one has rushed for more than 500 yards — but they do have the league’s stingiest defense, with just 101 points allowed.
Central York (6-2) at Dallastown (6-2)
It’s the first of two huge weeks for the Panthers, who face two of the three teams tied for second place in the final two weeks of the season (they already knocked off the third team, Red Lion, on Oct. 20). After this week’s showdown at Dallastown, Central York visits York High in Week 10.
This game will also have an impact on the District 3 Class 6A playoff race, where Central York ranks sixth and Dallastown eighth. Friday night’s loser could find their playoff hopes in danger.
The Panthers have one of the league’s most potent passing attacks, led by quarterback Cade Pribuila, who ranks second in the league with more than 1,300 passing yards. Top target Tim Sturgis ranks fifth in the league in receiving yards (489 on 18 catches), and his seven TD receptions are tied for the league lead.
Dallastown counters with the league’s top-ranked offense; the Wildcats are No. 1 in total yards (3,139), rushing yards (2,568) and scoring (305 points). Nyzair Smith (111-1,293, 19 TDs) ranks second in the league in rushing yards and first in scores.