We’re down to the final three weeks of the regular season in high school football, so we can safely say we’re in the stretch run. Not only are division titles on the line in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, Mid-Penn Conference, York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association and Tri-Valley League, but now most matchups also have district playoff implications as well.
Here are five games to keep an eye on this week.
FOX43 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FRENZY GAME OF THE WEEK
Wilson (5-2) at Warwick (5-2): The Bulldogs (3-0 in section play) are back in their familiar position atop the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 standings, a half-game up on Warwick (3-1), which dropped a 28-20 decision at Manheim Township last week to suffer its first loss in section play.
Wilson is trying to return to the pinnacle of Section 1 after what would be a one-year hiatus; Township beat the Bulldogs twice last year — once in the regular season, and once in the playoffs. The Streaks’ regular-season victory ended the Dawgs’ 68-game Section 1 winning streak and, ultimately, their nine-year run of section titles.
This year, Wilson has won two in a row since falling 20-10 to Manheim Central. The Bulldogs’ other loss came to Central Dauphin in their season opener. The Dawgs already have a victory over defending section champ Manheim Township to their credit, so a win on Friday would solidify Wilson’s position in first place.
That won’t be easy, though. Warwick comes in with the league’s No. 2 scoring offense (42.7 points per game) and its third-stingiest scoring defense (11.1 points per game). The Warriors are also ranked fourth in total offense (372 yards per game) and sixth in total defense (268.4 yards per game).
Friday’s game could hinge on how Warwick’s run defense (109 yards per game) fares against Wilson running back Elijah Morales, who leads all Section 1 rushers with 678 yards and eight touchdowns on 110 carries.
Wilson, which has the section’s top defense (241 yards per game), could have its hands full trying to slow down the Warriors, whose balanced attack features quarterback Adam Ricketts (68-109-5, 1,207 yards, 10 TDs) and receivers Trey Glass (47-713, seven TDs), Hilton Michael (17-390, four TDs) and Hayden Rucci (17-356, four TDs). Ricketts ranks fourth in the league in passing yards, while Glass is No. 1 among league receivers in catches and yardage.
This game could have major playoff implications for both teams. Wilson is currently ranked fifth in district’s power rankings, which are used to determine the eight-team field in Class 6A. Warwick is ranked sixth in the 14-team Class 5A field.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Central York (6-1) at Northeastern (4-3): Bitter rivals and two of the teams involved in a ridiculous five-way tie for first place in Division 1 of the York-Adams league square off Friday in Manchester.
Central York (3-1 section) has the better overall record and is riding a three-game winning streak. The Panthers’ only loss was a 56-28 setback at Red Lion on Sept. 14. Since then, they’ve outscored their opponents 172-49 during their current streak. They smashed Spring Grove 58-14 last week.
Northeastern shook off an 0-2 start to win four of its last five games. Arguably the biggest win during that stretch for the Bobcats was their 23-16 triumph over Red Lion on Sept. 28, a win that thrust Northeastern into the Division I title conversation.
Central and Northeastern are joined by York High, Red Lion, and Dallastown in first place. Their clash on Friday is the first in a series of showdowns over the next three weeks that will determine the outcome of the division title race.
Next Friday, there are two key Division I showdowns: Dallastown at Central York and York High at Northeastern.
Then, in the regular season finale on Oct. 26, Central faces York High and Red Lion visits Dallastown.
Stay tuned. This race will go down to the wire.
One player to watch this week for Central York is quarterback Cade Pribula, who leads all York-Adams passers with 2,166 yards and 27 touchdowns. Pribula, a 6-1 senior, has completed 106 of 159 passes, and has been intercepted just four times. Pribula’s top targets are wideouts Saahir Cornelius (28-617, 11 TDs) and Taylor Wright-Rawls (23-612, eight TDs). The Panthers have the league’s best passing attack, averaging 310 yards per game.
The outcome of Friday’s clash could hinge on how well the Bobcats’ passing defense holds up against Central York’s air attack. Northeastern currently ranks No. 3 in the league against the pass, allowing just 91.4 yards per game.
Junior quarterback Zech Sanderson has 772 passing yards for Northeastern.
Central York is ranked sixth in the District 3 Class 6A power rankings, while Northeastern is No. 11 in Class 5A. The top eight teams in Class 6A make the playoffs, while the top 14 teams in Class 5A get in.