As the third week of the high school football season approaches, some conferences in Central Pennsylvania have already began league play, but for most, this week marks the final non-league tuneup on the schedule before teams turn their attention to their division races.
The FOX43 Game of the Week features one of Central Pennsylvania’s oldest rivalries, while our other games to watch all feature matchups between undefeated opponents.
Before we get into that, though, the Frenzy would like to give a special tip of the cap to the Ephrata Mountaineers of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, who snapped their 52-game losing streak last Saturday with a resounding 61-14 victory over Northern Lebanon in their Section 3 opener.
Prior to Saturday, Ephrata’s last win came on October 25, 2012, when the Mounts defeated Solanco.
Ephrata’s 52-game skid was approaching the state record of 58 straight losses, held by Kutztown.
Now, let’s take a look at some of this week’s top games on tap:
FOX43 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FRENZY GAME OF THE WEEK
Hershey (0-2) at Milton Hershey (2-0)
Throw out the records in this one; it’s the 76th edition of the Cocoa Bean Bowl, a crosstown rivalry that dates all the way back to 1943. Hershey has a slight edge in the series, with a 37-35-3 record. The Trojans defeated Milton Hershey 15-14 last season, snapping the Spartans’ run of three straight Cocoa Bean Bowl victories.
But this year, the Trojans are off to an 0-2 start after dropping decisions to Palmyra (21-17) and Cedar Crest (28-14) in Weeks 1 and 2. Hershey has had a bit of trouble getting the offense rolling so far, averaging just 250 total yards per game in its two losses. The defense has also struggled, allowing 340 yards per game, including 200 per game on the ground.
The Trojans’ standout player thus far has been quarterback Jay Rodriguez, who leads the team in rushing (63 carries, 277 yards, two touchdowns) and has accounted for three of the team’s four offensive touchdowns in the first two weeks.
Rodriguez has completed 14 of 31 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. He’s been picked off once.
Milton Hershey enters the Cocoa Bean Bowl with an unblemished record, having dispatched Annville-Cleona (39-13) and Susquehanna Township (14-8) in its first two games. Chiago Anyanwu’s 13-yard TD run with 3:34 left was the difference in last week’s victory over Hanna Township.
Milton Hershey is doing almost all its damage on the ground; the Spartans have just 29 passing yards in their first two games. Anyanwu is the top dog in the backfield, with 258 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries through Milton Hershey’s first two games. Naeem Cross has 192 yards and four scores on 16 carries for the Spartans.
Meanwhile, Milton Hershey’s defense is allowing just 177 yards per game through two weeks.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Warwick (2-0) at Manheim Central (2-0)
The Warriors have the look of a legitimate contender in Section 1 of the Lancaster-Lebanon League this season, having outscored its first two opponents by a combined margin of 125-6. Quarterback Adam Ricketts has completed a whopping 85 percent of his passes (17 of 20) for 414 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games, while top targets Trey Glass (7-293, four TDs) and Hayden Rucci (5-138, TD) have run wild in two games cut short by the Mercy Rule. Meanwhile, running back Nick Fucci has found the end zone seven times for the Warriors. Warwick is rolling.
But they’ll have their hands full with perennial District 3 title contender Manheim Central, which is off to a red-hot start itself. The Barons throttled Susquehanna Township 44-0 in their season opener, and knocked off Hempfield 28-7 last week, rolling behind quarterback Evan Simon (14-for-23, 300 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT), running back Tyler Flick (43-247, 5 TDs) and their traditionally dominant defense (173.5 yards allowed per game).
Bishop McDevitt (2-0) at Middletown (2-0)
It’s a battle between unbeaten Capital and Keystone Division contenders as the Crusaders roll into Middletown. McDevitt knocked off Cumberland Valley 48-21 in Week 1 and won a shootout with Gettysburg (48-35) last week. The Crusader offense is rolling behind QB Chase Diehl, who has 634 yards and eight touchdowns (no picks) on 31-of-46 passing. Top target Nazir Burnett, a Syracuse recruit, has 18 catches for 392 yards and five scores in his first two games. McDevitt is averaging a ridiculous 612 yards of offense per game.
Middletown doesn’t have McDevitt’s gaudy stats, but the Blue Raiders unblemished record is exactly the same. They rode the 1-2 punch of running backs Jose Lopez (41-342, four TDs) and Richie Sikes (24-220, TD) and some timely passing from quarterback Scott Ash (14-for-23, 251 yards, three TDs, one INT) to victories over Lower Dauphin and Northern York. It’s safe to say that McDevitt is the best team Middletown has bumped into so far, though.
York (2-0) at Cedar Crest (2-0)
The Falcons followed up their 42-19 blowout win over arch-rival Lebanon in the Cedar Bowl with a 28-14 triumph at Hershey last week. QB Logan Horn is emerging as one of the L-L League’s top dual threats; he’s completed 23 of 30 passes for 338 yards and three TDs and added 124 yards and two scores on the ground. Cedar Crest has outgained its first two opponents 718-437 in total yards.
York is off to another fast start; the Bearcats have outscored their first two foes, Reading and McCaskey, by a combined 118-16. Quarterback Seth Bernstein went on a tear against McCaskey last week, connecting for touchdowns on three of his four pass attempts and racking up 175 yards through the air. Bernstein also added two TDs on the ground. In Week 1, it was Rob Rideout and Dayjure Stewart who came up big for York; Rideout had 111 yards and a touchdown on three carries, a 36-yard TD catch and a 21-yard interception return for a score, while Stewart rushed for 258 yards and two scores and hauled in a 68-yard TD reception.
Littlestown (2-0) at Eastern York (2-0)
Another battle of unbeatens in York County. Eastern stomped its cross-river rival Columbia 41-13 in its season opener and blasted Hanover 47-21 last week. Quarterback Trevor Seitz had a huge game against Hanover, with 296 passing yards and five touchdowns on 10-of-11 passing. Seitz has eight touchdown tosses in his first two starts for the Golden Knights.
Littlestown survived a shootout with Boiling Springs in its season opener, hanging on for a 35-29 victory, then followed it up with last week’s 29-14 victory over Susquehannock. The Thunderbolts have racked up 764 yards of offense in their first two games. Quarterback Jakob Lane has completed 31 of 54 passes for 458 yards and four touchdowns for the Bolts.