High School Football: District 3 Playoff First-Round Preview

The playoffs are here for high school football.

A total of 44 Central Pennsylvania football teams will begin their postseason quests on Friday as the District 3 playoffs get underway.

FOX43’s High School Football Frenzy will be held from Annville, Lebanon County, the site of the Class 3A quarterfinal clash between Bermudian Springs and Annville-Cleona.

Here’s a closer look at all of the first-round matchups:

CLASS 6A

No. 8 Hempfield (5-5) at No. 1 Harrisburg (9-1)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. at Harrisburg’s Severance Field

The Cougars captured the Mid-Penn Commonwealth title in the regular season and enter the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak. Their only loss came in Week 1, a 37-6 setback to Coatesville, and there’s no shame in that — the Red Raiders are undefeated and ranked second in the state by Pennlive.com. Harrisburg features one of the district’s top quarterbacks in senior Kane Everson, who completed 106 of 153 passes for 1,984 yards and 26 touchdowns and added 827 yards and seven TDs on the ground. Everson ranked third in the Mid-Penn in passing yardage. That’s not great news for Hempfield, which has allowed 2,018 yards through the air this season, the worst mark in the L-L League. They were shredded by Manheim Township QB Harrison Kirk in their last game; Kirk threw for 306 yards and three TDs on 19-of-27 passing as the Blue Streaks won, 48-13. That loss snapped Hempfield’s modest two-game winning streak.

No. 5 Red Lion (8-2) at No. 4 Wilson (7-3):

Friday, 7 p.m. at Wilson’s Gurski Stadium

The Bulldogs split the L-L League Section 1 title with Warwick and Manheim Township in the regular season; it’s their 26th Section 1 crown. Now they’re looking to grab their seventh district crown (their last came in 2016, when they won the inaugural Class 6A title). Wilson shook off a 38-12 loss to Warwick in Week 8 with consecutive wins over Cedar Crest and McCaskey. After battling through injuries for most of the season, the Bulldogs hope they’re finally getting healthy. Red Lion, the YAIAA Division I co-champ, enters the game on a four-game winning streak. The Lions dropped a 28-19 decision to Chambersburg in Week 3 and a baffling 23-16 loss to Northeastern in Week 6; the latter defeat cost them sole possession of the division crown. Red Lion QB Zack Mentzer ranked third in the YAIAA in passing, with 1,779 yards and 21 TDs on 115-of-194 passing. Wilson features a balanced attack paced by QB Anthony Futrick (121-of-216, 1,354 yards, 13 TDs) and RB Elijah Morales (157-963, 13 TDs). The Bulldogs and Lions have one common opponent: McCaskey, whom the Bulldogs hammered 39-0 in Week 10 and the Lions defeated 35-12 in Week 1.

No. 7 Chambersburg (7-3) at No. 2 Manheim Township (9-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Manheim Township’s Memorial Stadium

The Blue Streaks will have to defend their district title as the No. 2 seed after finishing behind Harrisburg in the district power rankings. They enter the postseason on a three-game winning streak; their only loss was a 16-14 setback to Wilson, one of two teams they split the L-L League Section 1 title with (the other was Warwick). Chambersburg got off to a 4-0 start before running into the meat of its Mid-Penn Commonwealth schedule; the Trojans’ three losses came to the teams that finished ahead of them in that race — State College (35-16), Harrisburg (28-13) and Central Dauphin (35-14). Chambersburg’s offense revolves around RB Keyshawn Jones (194-1,422, 13 TDs) and QB Brady Stambaugh (89-178, 1,344 yards, 12 TDs). Township QB Harrison Kirk (142-237-4, 2,046 yards, 19 TDs) finished second in the L-L League in passing yards. The Streaks and Trojans both faced CD and CD East this year; Township went 2-0 in those games, winning 22-12 and 17-10. Chambersburg beat CD East 26-20, but lost 35-14 to CD.

No. 6 Central York (8-2) at No. 3 Central Dauphin (7-3)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Central Dauphin’s George “Speed” Ebersole Stadium

CD finished third behind Harrisburg and State College in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth race, falling 20-5 to Harrisburg and 35-28 to State College in the regular season. The Rams’ other loss was a 22-12 setback against Manheim Township. CD won its final two regular season games. Central York finished second to York High and Red Lion in the YAIAA Division I race after getting pummeled 54-14 by the Bearcats last Friday. The loss snapped Central York’s five-game winning streak. The Panthers’ other loss was a 56-28 setback to Red Lion in Week 4. CD quarterback Noah Hoffman completed 81 of 128 passes for 1,111 yards and eight TDs, while RB Adam Burkhart has 1,012 yards and 13 TDs on 150 attempts. Central York QB Cade Pribula led the YAIAA with 2,731 yards and 30 touchdowns on 136-of-203 passing. Central York averaged 44 points per game during the regular season.

CLASS 5A

The top two seeds, Manheim Central (10-0), and Cocalico (8-2), receive first-round byes

No. 9 Governor Mifflin (6-4) at No. 8 Elizabethtown (6-4)

Friday, 7 p.m. at E-town’s Thompson Field

E-town enters having won four of its last five games, including a 30-3 shelling of Conestoga Valley in Week 10. The Bears’ only loss during that stretch was a 20-13 setback to Lampeter-Strasburg in Week 9. The Bears finished tied for third in the L-L League Section 2 title race, finishing behind Manheim Central and Cocalico. But E-town finished in a distant third; the Barons crushed them 50-0, while Cocalico hammered them 41-14. Governor Mifflin shook off an 0-3 start to win six in a row and get back in the Berks League Section 1 race, but the Mustangs’ title hopes were squashed by a 17-7 loss to Conrad Weiser in Week 10. E-town boasts the L-L League’s No. 2 passing attack, as QB Cole Patrick finished the regular season with 2,530 yards and 26 touchdowns on 151-for-249 passing. GM allows just 105.6 passing yards per game. The Mustangs lost 35-21 to Cocalico in Week 3. The winner of this matchup faces top-seeded Manheim Central in the quarterfinals.

No. 13 Exeter Township (6-4) at No. 4 Cedar Cliff (8-2)

Friday, 7 p.m. at West Shore Stadium

Cedar Cliff captured the Mid-Penn Keystone Division title, finishing a game ahead of Bishop McDevitt, whom they defeated 50-43 in Week 5. The Colts went on to win their next five games, outscoring their opponents by an average margin of 40.2 points per game. Cedar Cliff’s offense features the trio of QB Chris Dare (1,719 passing yards, 25 TDs), WR Bobby Whalen (47-806, 12 TDs) and RB Jaheim Morris (1,531 yards, 18 TDs). Exeter will counter with Berks League passing leader Kolby Haag, who has 1,531 yards and 15 TDs on 93-of-147 passing. The Eagles won two of their last three games, but have never won more than two in a row this season. They share one common foe with Cedar Cliff: Governor Mifflin. The Colts beat Mifflin 30-0 in Week 1, while Exeter fell 34-17 to the Mustangs in Week 9.

No. 12 Palmyra (8-2) at No. 5 Warwick (8-2)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Warwick’s Grosh Field

The Warriors were part of a three-way logjam at the top of Section 1 in the L-L League, along with Class 6A qualifiers Wilson and Manheim Township. Warwick had the No. 2 offense in the L-L League in the regular season, averaging 417 yards and 43 points per game. Sophomore Joey McCracken has assumed lead QB duties after platooning with senior Adam Ricketts for much of the year. McCracken lit up Wilson for 530 passing yards in the Warriors’ 38-12 victory in Week 8. The McCracken-Ricketts combo has accounted for 2,908 passing yards and 31 touchdowns this season. Both prefer to look for wideout Trey Glass, who has hauled in 64 catches for 1,130 yards and 12 scores. Palmyra finished third in the Mid-Penn Capital race behind Middletown and Milton Hershey, who handed the Cougars both of their losses this season (28-12 by Milton Hershey in Week 8, and 42-6 by Middletown last week). Senior Grant QB Haus (96-159-6, 1,325 yards, 13 TDs) and RB Caleb Hawkins (186-1,179, 14 TDs) are the players to watch for Palmyra.

No. 10 Solanco (6-4) at No. 7 Waynesboro (6-4)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Waynesboro High School

The Indians finished second behind co-champs Mifflin County and Shippensburg in the Mid-Penn Colonial race. In addition to its losses to the co-champs, Waynesboro was also bested in non-league action by Red Lion and Bishop McDevitt, but the Indians enter the postseason on a three-game winning streak. Dual-threat QB Jay Shawn Alvarez leads the Indian offense; he’s passed for 943 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 575 yards and nine scores. Solanco barely finished over .500 despite leading the L-L League in total offense (424 yards per game) and having two 1,000-yard rushers in QB Joel McGuire (1,531, with 26 TDs) and RB Nafis Moore (1,004 yards, 17 TDs). The problem? A defense that allowed an average of 345 yards and 28 points per game.

No. 14 Northeastern (5-5) at No. 3 Shippensburg (9-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Shippensburg’s Memorial Park

The Bobcats finished tied with Dallastown for third in the YAIAA Division I race, behind co-champs York and Red Lion and runner-up Central York. They defeated New Oxford 49-14 in Week 10 to snap a two-game losing streak. QB Zech Sanderson (1,300 yards, nine TDs) leads the Northeastern offense. Shippensburg split the Mid-Penn Colonial Division title with Mifflin County, who handed the Greyhounds their only loss of the season, a 26-21 setback in Week 5. Shipp has won five in a row since. The Greyhounds rely mainly on a run game that centers around senior Adam Houser, who has 1,779 yards and 23 touchdowns on 211 carries.

No. 11 Northern York (6-4) at No. 6 York (9-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at York’s Smalls Field

York High clinched a share of the York-Adams Division I title by throttling Central York 54-14 in Week 10. The Bearcats have put up ridiculous offensive numbers this year, led by RB Dayjure Stewart, who has shredded opposing defenses for 2,240 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns. RB Rob Rideout racked up 468 yards on just 30 carries this season, and also led the team in catches, with 23 for 752 yards. Northern York finished tied for third in the Mid-Penn Colonial race. The Polar Bears got off to a fast 4-1 start, but faltered to a 2-3 record in the season’s second half. They’re coming off a 26-14 loss to Waynesboro in Week 10. RB Kyle Swartz has rushed for 1,121 yards and 19 touchdowns for Northern.

CLASS 4A

The top six seeds — Bishop McDevitt (9-1), Conrad Weiser (8-2), Gettysburg (8-2), Berks Catholic (7-1), Milton Hershey (9-1), and Susquehanna Township (6-4) — receive first-round byes

No. 9 West York (5-5) at No. 8 West Perry (7-3)

Friday, 7 p.m. at West Perry’s Mustang Stadium

West York finished a distant second to Gettysburg in the York-Adams Division II title race, but looks are deceiving. Left for dead after an 0-5 start, the Bulldogs have reeled off five straight victories to enter the playoffs on a hot streak. The only team with a winning record they faced during their run was Dover, whom they defeated 49-22 last week, but it’s an impressive streak nonetheless. West York’s offense revolves around QB Cody Wise (1,922 yards, 18 TDs) and RB Ay’juan Marshall (1,107 yards, 13 TDs). West Perry rushed out to a 6-0 start, but lost three of its last four games to fall out of Mid-Penn Colonial title contention. Still, the Mustangs have a potent offense that features QB Kenyon Johnson (995 pass yards, eight TDs; 1,038 yards, 16 TDs) and RB Terrence Quaker (891 yards, 14 TDs). The winner of this game takes on top-seeded Bishop McDevitt in the quarterfinals.

No. 10 Lampeter-Strasburg (5-5) at No. 7 Elco (8-2)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Elco High School

The Raiders finished tied with Annville-Cleona for second place in the L-L League Section 3 race behind undefeated Lancaster Catholic. Besides falling 48-0 to the Crusaders in Week 3, Elco also was bested 31-19 by A-C in Week 8. The Raiders ranked near the bottom of the league in both total offense (259 yards per game), but were fourth in the league in total defense (259 yards per game). Quarterback Braden Bohannon is the main cog on offense, throwing for 436 yards and five scores and rushing for 703 yards and 15 TDs. L-S struggled in a loaded Section 2 race, losing four of its last five games. But the Pioneers ranked fifth in the L-L League in total offense (370 yards per game). QB Sean McTaggart passed for 1,646 yards and 13 TDs and rushed for 520 yards and seven scores this season. The winner of this game faces second-seeded Berks Catholic in the quarterfinals.

CLASS 3A

The top two seeds, Lancaster Catholic (10-0) and No. 2 Middletown (9-1), receive first-round byes

No. 5 Bermudian Springs (7-3) at No. 4 Annville-Cleona (7-3)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Annville-Cleona High School

The Little Dutchmen finished tied for second with Elco behind L-L League Section 3 champion Lancaster Catholic in the regular season and have won three of their last four games. A-C relies heavily on its ground game; the Dutchmen attempt an average of just 7.9 passes per game. Quarterback Jeremy Bours and running backs Trevor Porche and Caleb Turner have combined for 2,242 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground. A-C’s rushing attack averages 326 yards per game. Bermudian Springs finished third behind York Catholic and Delone Catholic in the YAIAA Division III race; two of the Eagles’ three losses came against the division leaders (the other was a 37-17 setback against Shippensburg). BS enters the playoffs on a three-game winning streak. While their offensive numbers don’t jump out at you, the Eagles had the third-ranked defense in the York-Adams League, allowing just 14 points and 233 yards per game.

No. 6 Littlestown (7-3) at No. 3 Wyomissing (8-2)

Saturday at either 1:30 p.m. at Wyomissing or, if Wyomissing’s field is unplayable, at 7 p.m. at Albright College. (Final determination will be made Friday morning)

The Thunderbolts finished fourth in the YAIAA Division III chase, falling to York Catholic (22-19), Delone Catholic (27-7) and Bermudian Springs (28-19). Littlestown had the York-Adams League’s fourth-ranked defense, yielding just 17 points and 242 yards per game. Wyomissing finished second to Berks Catholic in the Berks League Section 2 race, falling 28-7 in its Week 10 showdown with the Saints. That loss snapped Wyomissing’s seven-game winning streak. Wyomissing’s offense focuses on the ground game, where the duo of Tim Kowalski and Max Hurleman have combined for 1,547 yards and 25 touchdowns.

CLASS 2A

No. 4 Steelton-Highspire (4-6) at No. 1 York Catholic (10-0)

Friday, 7 p.m. at York Catholic High School

The Fighting Irish held off Delone Catholic to capture the YAIAA Division III title in the regular season. Their 35-7 victory over the Squires in Week 9 proved to be the difference in that race. York Catholic boasted the York-Adams League’s top-ranked defense in scoring, allowing 6.5 points per game, and ranked second in yards allowed (216 per game). But that defense will face its stiffest test this week against a Steel-High team that boasts one of the district’s top passers in quarterback Nicari Williams, who has thrown for 2,123 yards and 19 touchdowns this season on 104-of-209 passing. The Rollers are limping into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak after falling to East Pennsboro (21-20), Boiling Springs (56-55) and Mid-Penn Capital Division runner-up Milton Hershey (55-13). The Rollers also lost shootouts to Capital champ Middletown (48-40) and Palmyra (42-36) this season.

No. 3 Upper Dauphin (9-1) at No. 2 Delone Catholic (9-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Delone Catholic’s John Flaherty Stadium

The Squires finished second to York Catholic in the YAIAA Division III race during the regular season, and would probably love to get a rematch with the Fighting Irish in the district final. But to get there, they’ll have to get past the Tri-Valley Conference co-champions, who are entering the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak. Upper Dauphin’s only loss was a 41-28 setback to Halifax, who split the conference title with the Trojans. Quarterback Macklin Ayers (875 passing yards, 945 rushing yards, 24 combined TDs) and running back Jake Ramberger (1,057 yards, 16 TDs) carry the Trojan offense. Delone’s offense revolves around QB Evan Brady (64-101-7, 945 yards, 16 TDs) and RB Logan Brown (957 yards, 10 TDs).

CLASS 1A

No. 2 Fairfield (2-7) at No. 1 Halifax (9-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Siebert Park in Camp Hill

Two of the district’s three Class 1A participants earn berths in the title game. Halifax split the Tri-Valley Conference title with Upper Dauphin, rebounding from a 16-14 loss to Williams Valley in Week 9 with a 20-16 victory over Pine Grove last week. The Wildcat offense features QB London Johnson (1,490 passing yards, seven TDs) and the RB duo of Jay Zerby (693 yards, 14 TDs) and Evan Billow (610 yards, seven TDs). Fairfield closed the regular season with a 47-0 loss to Littlestown. The Knights’ only wins came against winless York Tech (47-16 in Week 9) and James Buchanan (31-23 in Week 2).