High school football season is upon us!
Friday night marks the beginning of the 2018 season — and also the first edition of the FOX43 High School Football Frenzy.
Friday night’s slate includes 45 games involving teams from the Lancaster-Lebanon League, York Area Interscholastic Athletic Association, Mid-Penn Conference and Tri-Valley League; three other teams will be in action Saturday.
Here are a few of the games we’re looking forward to in Week 1:
FOOTBALL FRENZY GAME OF THE WEEK
Bishop McDevitt at Cumberland Valley: Two of the Mid-Penn Conference’s perennial powerhouses clash in a season-opening showdown in Mechanicsburg. CV and McDevitt have combined to capture 24 district championships, and both are expected to compete for the top spot in the Commonwealth and Keystone divisions this season.
The host Eagles are coming off a 10-3 campaign in 2017 that saw them get all the way to the District 3 Class 6A title game before bowing out with a 24-21 loss to Manheim Township. CV lost a lot of offensive production from last year to graduation, but the Eagles always seem to have plenty of talent in the pipeline to draw from. Quarterback Jared Plessinger, who passed for 1,196 yards and scored 15 touchdowns last season, is back to lead CV’s vaunted Wing-T attack.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Wilson at Central Dauphin: Only in West Lawn could an 8-4 record and a run to the district semifinals be considered a down year, but that’s the position Wilson finds itself in as the 2018 campaign looms. The Bulldogs’ 68-game winning streak against Section 1 competition was ended by Manheim Township, a loss that eventually brought Wilson’s nine-year stranglehold on the Section 1 crown to a close. Wilson then lost a second matchup with Township in the District 3 Class 6A playoffs, bringing the Bulldogs’ season to an end. To return to prominence in the L-L League and the district title scene this season, Wilson will have to find a way to replace the loss of Berks County’s all-time rushing leader, Iggy Reynoso, and quarterback Connor Uhrig.
CD is coming off an uncharacteristically average 6-5 season, that saw the Rams bow out in the first round of the District 3 Class 6A playoffs. The CD defense is expected to be stout, with almost the entire front seven back in the fold, paced by linebacker Adam Burkhart. The Rams should earn the 400th victory in program history this fall; they are currently just four wins shy of the milestone.
Hempfield at Dallastown: The Black Knights and the Wildcats met twice last season, with Hempfield taking both matchups. Hempfield defeated Dallastown 38-14 last year’s season opener, then knocked off the Wildcats 31-28 in the first round of the District 3 Class 6A playoffs. Hempfield went on to bow out to Cumberland Valley in the district semifinals. This year, Hempfield brings back four starters on the offensive line, but graduation losses cleaned out the skill position spots.
Dallastown is making its debut under new head coach Ron Miller, who takes over on the Wildcat sidelines after a successful tenure at West York. He inherits a team that tied with York High for the YAIAA Division I title last season and is hoping to claim the crown for itself this year. Dallastown brings back five starters on offense and six on defense. One of the biggest returning stars is senior running back Nyzair Smith, the reigning York County Offensive Player of the Year, who racked up 2,087 yards and 31 touchdowns last year. Smith is currently mulling scholarship offers from Morgan State and Sacred Heart.
Middletown at Lower Dauphin: Hersheypark Stadium has not been a fun place to play for Middletown in recent years; the Blue Raiders’ last visit came last December, when their bid for a perfect season and a PIAA Class 3A title was ended with a 41-24 loss to Quaker Valley. Middletown also lost to Beaver Falls in the 2016 PIAA Class 3A final, which means that in the last two seasons, the Raiders have compiled a 29-2 record, with both of those losses coming in Chocolatetown. This year, Middletown has some graduation holes to fill, but the Raiders bring back junior running back Jose Lopez, who rushed for more than 1,800 yards last season, and QB Scott Ash, a 3,000-yard passer.
Lower Dauphin managed a .500 record for the second straight season last year. That’s not up to the Falcons’ usual standards. This year, they’ll have to replace all-conference running back and primary offensive weapon Brendan Shaffer. And that could be a challenge, given that their most experienced rusher, Isaac Buck, carried the ball just 10 times last year.
Manheim Central at Susquehanna Township: The Barons are coming off a District 3 Class 5A title and a deep run through the PIAA playoffs, which ended with a heartbreaking 31-28 loss to Gateway in the semifinals. It was the first and only loss of the year for Central, which finished 13-1. This year, the Barons bring back junior quarterback Evan Simon, a 2,600-yard, 29-TD passer last season. Simon is already reportedly sifting through offers from West Virginia, Lehigh, Temple, Rutgers, Pitt, UConn and UMass. RB Tyler Flick and the bulk of the Baron offensive line is back in the huddle as well.
Susquehanna Township is coming off a disappointing 4-6 campaign, which is substandard for a team that used to district playoff appearances under coach Joe Headen. On the bright side, they bring back a ton of experience, led by QB Rashaan Carlton, a 1,600-yard passer last year. Facing Central is a challenge right off the bat for Susquehanna Township, but don’t count them out.