HSFF 2018 week 9 preview


Delone Catholic (8-0) at York Catholic (8-0): The winner of this battle of unbeatens locks up the York-Adams Division III championship, and probably assures itself of the top seed in the four-team District 3 Class 2A playoff bracket.

Points could be hard to come by Friday night; this matchup features the two stingiest defenses in the league. Delone Catholic comes in allowing just 151 yards and 5.4 points per game, while York Catholic yields just 193 yards and 9.6 points per game.

Delone has a clear advantage on offense, averaging 100 yards per game more than the Fighting Irish (347-247). The Squires' ground attack is ranked third in the league, producing an average of 276 yards per game. Logan Brown, Delone's top rusher, is ranked eighth in the league with 652 yards and 12 TDs on 71 carries. Tyler Monto (51-514, 10 TDs) is another player to keep an eye on for the Squires.

Massimo Antilock (64-283, seven TDs) is the Irish's top threat on the ground.

Cedar Cliff (6-2) at Susquehanna Township (6-2): The winner of this Mid-Penn Keystone clash will grab sole possession of first place heading into the final week of the season. Cedar Cliff closes the regular season against Red Land (1-7), while Susquehanna Township still has a Week 10 showdown looming with second-place Bishop McDevitt (7-1).

For Cedar Cliff, the path to the title is clearer. The Colts need to win this week, take care of business against Red Land, and the crown is theirs. Hanna needs to win this week and hold off McDevitt next week to claim the championship outright.

Both teams are also looking at playoff positioning as well. Hanna is currently ranked third in the Class 4A power rankings, and while the Indians are assured of a playoff berth, they'd love to lock up a first-round bye. (The top six teams in the field get them.) Cedar Cliff is ranked sixth in the eight-team Class 6A race; by cracking the top four, the Colts would earn a first-round home game.

The Indians will have their hands full with Cedar Cliff, which boasts the Keystone Division's second-ranked passer in QB Chris Dare (108-159, 1,514 yards, 22 TDs), its leading rusher in Jaheim Morris (147-1,099, 14 TDs) and its No. 2 and 3 receivers in Bobby Whalen (52-684, 12 TDs) and Jahiem Reynolds (27-425, six TDs).

Susquehanna Township counters with a balanced attack led by QB Rahsaan Carlton (45-87, 601 yards, four TDs) and running back Troy Ambush (56-508, seven TDs).

Lancaster Catholic (8-0) at Donegal (5-3): Having already dispatched second-place Elco with a resounding 48-0 rout earlier this season, the Crusaders can wrap up the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 3 title with a win over the Indians on Friday.

But the real thing to focus on here is playoff positioning; Catholic is trying to lock up the top seed in the six-team Class 3A field, while Donegal is fighting for its playoff life in the 10-team 4A race, where it currently occupies the No. 10 spot in the power rankings. A loss wouldn't necessarily be fatal to Donegal's chances, but it would make things very uncertain heading into its Week 10 date with Northern Lebanon.

The key matchup here will be Catholic's run defense, which has allowed just 89 yards per game through eight weeks, against Donegal's offense, which depends almost entirely on establishing the run. The Indians have attempted just 52 passes all season, while their run game churns out an average of 258 yards per game. Shut down the run, and you shut down the Indians.

That's no easy task, though. Zion Gibbs (93-756, 13 TDs) and Jordan Minick (92-719, six TDs) are a formidable backfield tandem.

Catholic counters with a more balanced approach led by QB Gavin Sullivan, who has completed 43 of 72 passes for 623 yards and eight TDs, and is second on the team in rushing with 522 yards and five scores on 89 attempts. Jeffrey Harley (50-680, 11 TDs) is the Crusaders' top rusher.

Solanco (6-2) at Cocalico (6-2): Neither of these teams are likely to catch L-L League Section 2 front-runner Manheim Central, but both are still very much in the race for a Class 5A playoff berth and are looking for the best possible draw.

Cocalico is currently ranked second in the power rankings behind top-seeded Central. The top two teams on the 14-team bracket earn byes through the first round, so the Eagles are looking to maintain their current position. Solanco is ranked No. 7 in Class 5A, and is trying to hold on to a first-round home game.

This game is a clash between two of the L-L League's most punishing ground attacks. Solanco ranks first overall among L-L League teams in both total offensive yards and rushing yards; the Golden Mules average 458 yards per game overall, most of that total (416) coming on the ground. Led by quarterback Joel McGuire, who leads the league in rushing with 1,411 yards and 26 touchdowns on 136 carries, the Mules have scored a league-high 358 points this season.

Cocalico's defense has been effective against the run this season, allowing an average of 171 yards per game on the ground. But the Eagle defense will be tested this week.

On the other side of the ball, Cocalico QB Noah Palm leads a ground-heavy attack that churns out 336 yards per game, including 259 yards per game on the ground. Palm has rushed for 571 yards and 12 scores and passed for 598 yards and 10 scores. Fullback Garrett Longenecker (711 yards, five TDs) is an effective weapon for the Eagles as well.

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