Hard to believe, but we’re approaching the halfway mark of the regular season in Central PA high school football.
There are some huge games on the docket this week. Here’s a look at some of the top games:
FOX43 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FRENZY GAME OF THE WEEK
Solanco (4-0) at Conestoga Valley (3-1)
A share of first place in Section 2 of the Lancaster-Lebanon League will be on the line Friday when the Golden Mules visit the Buckskins in Lancaster.
Solanco comes in with the L-L League’s top offense, averaging 460 yards per game on the ground. Quarterback Joel McGuire leads the league in rushing yards and touchdowns by a large margin, with 733 yards and 13 scores on 46 carries — a whopping average of 15.9 yards per carry. In last week’s 48-21 win over Garden Spot, McGuire scored on TD runs of 70, 20, 90, and 40 yards and racked up 241 yards on just six carries. While he has only attempted 13 passes in Solanco’s first four games, he’s completed seven of them, for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Running backs Nick Yannutz (68-361) and Nafis Moore (26-315, nine TDs) are also potent cogs in a ground game that is averaging 409 yards per game.
Solanco has scored a league-high 175 points, while allowing just 68 — the sixth-lowest total in the league. The Mules dusted Garden Spot 48-21 last week to open Section 2 play with a resounding win.
Conestoga Valley is tied with Solanco at the top of the standings after the Buckskins upended Lampeter-Strasburg 20-7 last week. CV’s balanced offense is guided by quarterback Bradley Stoltzfus, who has 545 passing yards and five touchdowns of 43-of-65 passing. Mammoth running back Keegan Martin — he’s 6-3, 235 — is the league’s No. 3 rusher with 544 yards and seven TDs on 95 carries. WR Joe Cardina ranks seventh in the league with 13 catches for 194 yards and two scores.
CV’s defense has given up just 59 points, which ranks fourth in the league. The Buckskins average 312 yards per game on offense.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Cocalico (4-0) at Manheim Township (4-0)
This L-L League-mandated crossover game pits the defending Section 1 champ against a perennial Section 2 title contender, and is also a battle between two of the league’s five remaining unbeaten teams.
Township, which this week joined Pennlive’s state rankings for the first time this season as the No. 10 team in Class 6A, recorded its second shutout in four games with a 41-0 drubbing of Penn Manor in its section opener last week. The Blue Streaks have surrendered a league-low 22 points this season, and are ranked fourth in team defense (217 yards per game). Quarterback Harrison Kirk has completed 56 of 92 passes for 766 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception. Kirk likes to spread the ball around; there are 10 different Township players with at least two catches, and six different players have caught touchdowns. The top two targets are Hilton Ridley (12-137) and Jon Engel (11-103, TD). Jaden Floyd (51-256, two TDs) is Township’s leading rusher.
Cocalico picked up its fourth straight win with a 41-14 rout of Elizabethtown last week. The Eagles have posted middling offensive numbers, averaging 319 yards per game, but their defense (249 yards and 18 points per game) is stout. Quarterback Noah Palm (46-284, three TDs) and running back Garrett Longenecker (62-359, four TDs) are the main cogs of Cocalico’s run-heavy Veer attack. Palm has also completed 15 of 27 passes for 355 yards and seven scores without an interception.
Middletown (3-1) at Steelton-Highspire (3-1)
It’s an early season clash in the Mid-Penn Capital Division between its two highest-scoring teams. The Blue Raiders come into this one averaging 37 points per game; the Rollers are averaging 38.
Middletown, the defending District 3 Class 3A champion, rebounded from a 40-14 loss to Bishop McDevitt in Week 3 by pasting Camp Hill 63-0 last week. Steel-High also bounced back from a Week 3 loss to Delone Catholic by knocking off Trinity 35-14.
Middletown’s offense is paced by the trio of quarterback Scott Ash and running backs Jose Lopez and Richie Sykes. Ash has completed 28 of 47 passes for 534 yards and six touchdowns, while Lopez (56-393, four TDs) and Sykes (40-325, four TDs) power the ground game.
Steel-High counters with one of the Mid-Penn’s most potent passing attacks, fronted by quarterback Nicari Williams. The 6-3, 175-pound junior has completed 34 of 73 passes for 889 yards and six touchdowns; his yardage total is second only to Bishop McDevitt’s Chase Diehl in the conference. Henry Flemester (13-325, TD) and Mehki Flowers (8-287, three TDs) are Williams’ top targets for the Rollers.
Central Dauphin (3-1) at Carlisle (3-1)
Football took a back seat to tragedy this week for Central Dauphin, which is mourning the loss of Harrison Fenstemaker, who was killed in a motorcycle crash last weekend. Fenstemaker, who played on the offensive line for the Rams, died when his motorcycle was struck by a suspected drunk driver on Route 443 in Lebanon County.
Difficult as it will be to continue on without their teammate and friend, the Rams will be tested with Friday’s visit to Carlisle, which features one of the Commonwealth Division’s top rushers in Tristyn Sulich, who has 438 yards and six touchdowns on the ground this season. The Thundering Herd is coming off its first loss of the season, a 56-17 defeat at State College last week.
CD bounced back from a 20-12 loss to Manheim Township in Week 3 by defeating Cumberland Valley 37-7 last week. The Rams are paced by the tandem of quarterback Noah Hoffman (16-36-1, 263 yards, TD) and running back Adam Burkhart (59-336, three TDs).
Delone Catholic (4-0) at Littlestown (3-1)
The Squires are one of four teams that won their YAIAA Section 3 openers last week, blasting York County Tech 55-0 to keep their record unblemished. Littlestown is coming off its first loss of the season; the Thunderbolts fell 22-19 to York Catholic in Week 4.
Friday night’s game looks almost dead-even on paper, though. Delone comes in ranked second in the league in scoring offense (54.5 points per game), and has a league-high point differential of plus-192. The Squires average a league-low 6.5 points per game on defense, and are tops in the league at stopping the run (61 yards per game). Delone’s offense ranks second in the league in rushing (192 yards per game), and features one of the league’s most prolific backs in Tyler Monto, who ranks seventh in the league in rushing yards with 392 on 39 attempts (six TDs).
Littlestown ranks seventh in scoring offense (30.8 points per game), and scoring defense (19.8 per game). The Thunderbolts are the league’s fifth-best rushing offense (393 yards per game), and are the league’s third-best team when it comes to stopping the run (93 yards allowed per game). Littlestown has one of the league’s top passing attacks, averaging 185 yards per game. Quarterback Jakob Lane ranks fifth in the league, with 740 yards and four touchdowns on 60-of-106 passing. Brady McClintock is his top target, with 14 catches for 276 yards.