The next stage of the District 3 playoff odyssey begins Friday night, with the championship game in Class 2A, semifinal rounds in Class 6A and 3A, and quarterfinal clashes in Class 5A and 4A.
Here's a closer look at each matchup:
CLASS 6A SEMIFINALS
Wilson (8-3) at Harrisburg (10-1)
Saturday, 1 p.m. at Harrisburg's Severance Field
The top-seeded Cougars opened the District 3 playoffs with a 42-0 rout of Hempfield last Saturday, while Wilson blanked Red Lion 36-0 last Friday to punch its ticket to the semifinals.
Harrisburg is ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 6A by Pennlive.com. The Cougars' only loss came to No. 2 Coatesville in Week 1, so they've won 10 in a row. The Cougars scored two special teams touchdowns -- a 95-yard return of the opening kickoff by Rynell Gant and a 74-yard punt return by Donte Kent -- in their first-round blowout of the Black Knights. Harrisburg's defense held Hempfield to 14 rushing yards and 119 total yards. The Cougars average 323 yards and 41 points per game. QB Kane Everson has thrown for 1,984 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 827 yards and seven scores this season. His top targets are Kent (24-630, 10 TDs), Gant (19-434, six TDs) and Jahmir Plant (24-238, two TDs). Plant is also second on the team in rushing, with 651 yards and eight scores.
Wilson has won seven of its last eight games and has recorded back-to-back shutout wins over McCaskey and Red Lion. The Bulldogs' losses have all come at the hands of teams still alive in the playoffs -- Central Dauphin (23-7 in Week 1), Manheim Central (20-10 in Week 4), and Warwick (38-12 in Week 7). Wilson split the L-L League Section 1 championship with Warwick and Manheim Township in the regular season. The Bulldogs' balanced offense revolves around quarterback Anthony Futrick (1,432 pass yards, 14 TDs) and running back Elijah Morales (1,103 yards, 16 TDs). Morales rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries against Red Lion last week. The Bulldogs held Red Lion to 83 total yards and forced three turnovers, one of which was returned 42 yards for a touchdown. Wilson's defense allows 248 yards and 16.5 points per game.
Harrisburg and Wilson share two common opponents: Central Dauphin and Hempfield. The Cougars beat CD 20-5 in Week 6 and blasted Hempfield 42-0 last week. Wilson fell 23-7 to CD in its season opener, and defeated the Black Knights 26-16 in Week 7.
Central Dauphin (8-3) at Manheim Township (10-1)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Manheim Township's Memorial Stadium
The defending district champion Blue Streaks moved one step closer to a return trip to the finals with a hard-fought 20-17 triumph over Chambersburg. The victory sets up a rematch with Central Dauphin, whom they defeated 17-10 in Week 3. The Rams earned their second crack at Township by knocking off Central York 49-21 in the first round.
Township has won five in a row since it suffered its only loss of the season, a 16-14 setback against Wilson, in Week 6. The Blue Streaks are led on offense by QB Harrison Kirk, who has thrown for 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, which ranked second in the L-L League. He had a rough game in the rain against Chambersburg last week, completing just six of 16 passes for 113 yards, with two interceptions. But the Township ground game picked him up, as Jaden Floyd rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries. Floyd leads the team in rushing, with 727 yards and four scores on 146 attempts.
CD won six of eight games since its loss to Manheim Township, falling only to Harrisburg (20-5) and State College (35-28) over that span. Last week, the Rams roared to a 42-6 lead over Central York at halftime and never looked back, as RB Adam Burkhart scored three first-half touchdowns and racked up 148 yards on 22 carries. CD racked up 346 yards on the ground against Central York and won despite not completing a single pass. The Ram defense held Central York to 288 total yards and generated five turnovers. Burkhart has 1,160 yards and 16 touchdowns to power the CD rushing attack this season. QB Noah Hoffman has completed 81 of 128 passes for 1,111 yards and eight scores.
CLASS 5A QUARTERFINALS
Governor Mifflin (7-4) at Manheim Central (10-0)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Manheim Central's Rettew Stadium
The top-seeded Barons were idle last week after receiving a first-round bye, and now host the surging Mustangs, who pummeled Elizabethtown 30-0 in their playoff opener. Governor Mifflin has won seven of its last eight games, with only a 17-10 loss to Conrad Weiser over that span. The Mustangs held E-town to 53 total yards while racking up 280 yards themselves -- all but 12 coming on the ground. Nick Singleton rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown, while QB Kolbie Reeser added 92 rushing yards and two scores for Mifflin. The Mustangs have limited opponents to 211 yards and 16.5 points per game this season.
Central ranked second in the L-L League in total defense (206 yards per game)and scoring defense (8.2 points per game). The Baron offense ranked third in yards (384 per game) and scoring (42.1 points per game). Central, ranked second in the state in Class 5A by Pennlive, defeated its opponents by an average margin of 33.3 points this season. QB Evan Simon completed 83 of 149 passes for 1,539 yards and 16 touchdowns, while RB Tyler Flick rushed for 1,447 yards and 28 scores on 198 attempts.
The Mustangs share three common opponents with Central -- Cocalico, Wilson and E-town. Mifflin fell 42-28 to Wilson and 35-21 to Cocalico before beating E-town in the playoffs. Central went 3-0 against that trio, beating Wilson 20-10, Cocalico 41-23 and E-town 50-0.
Friday's winner will face either Warwick or Cedar Cliff in the semifinals.
Warwick (9-2) at Cedar Cliff (9-2)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Cedar Cliff's West Shore Stadium
Warwick rode a wave of emotion to victory in the first round, roaring past Palmyra 64-0 to set up a potential quarterfinal shootout with Cedar Cliff. The Colts blasted Exeter Township 50-6 in the first round.
Cedar Cliff has one of the most dynamic offenses in the district, averaging 395 yards and 39.6 points per game. The Colts have scored at least 30 points in eight straight games, and haven't allowed opponents to score more than 14 points over that same span. Cedar Cliff's only losses were to Cocalico (31-21 in Week 2) and Harrisburg (46-13 in Week 3). QB Chris Dare has thrown for 1,871 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Colts, while RB Jaheim Morris has rushed for 1,672 yards and 21 scores.
Warwick's offense has also burned up the turf this season, averaging 414 yards and a Lancaster-Lebanon League-high 49 points per game. The Warriors have won four straight and seven of their last eight; the only loss over that span was a 28-20 setback to Manheim Township in Week 7. The only other team to defeat the Warriors was Manheim Central, which held on for 27-20 victory in Week 3. That's the closest anyone has come to beating the Barons all season. Warwick's QB platoon of Joey McCracken and Adam Ricketts has combined for 3,136 passing yards and 35 touchdowns this season. RB Nick Fucci has 865 yards and 18 scores, while wideout Trey Glass leads the L-L League with 69 catches for 1,285 yards and 14 TDs. Fucci rushed for three touchdowns against Palmyra, while Glass had five catches for 155 yards and two scores.
The Warwick-Cedar Cliff winner will face either Manheim Central or Governor Mifflin in the semifinal round.
Solanco (7-4) at Cocalico (8-2)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Cocalico
The second-seeded Eagles got a first-round bye, so they'll be well-rested for their rematch with their L-L League Section 2 neighbors, who moved into the quarterfinals with a 49-0 romp over Waynesboro. The Golden Mules racked up 401 yards -- all on the ground -- in last week's victory. That's par for the course for Solanco, which led the L-L League in total offense by averaging 423 yards per game -- mainly on ground. QB Joel McClure led the L-L League in rushing in the regular season, and boosted his total to 1,651 yards and 30 touchdowns with another strong effort against Waynesboro. Nafis Moore is the Mules' second-leading rusher, with 1,027 yards and 17 scores. Solanco's biggest issue has been on the other side of the ball; the Golden Mules have been shredded for an average of 330 yards per game on defense.
Cocalico closed the regular season with four straight wins after dropping consecutive decisions to Manheim Township (36-24) and Manheim Central (41-23) in the middle of the year. The Eagles have outscored their opponents 208-65 over their current win streak. QB Noah Palm (957 yards, 20 TDs) and fullback Garrett Longenecker (933 yards, eight TDs) are the main cogs in a ground game that churns out an average of 291 yards per game for Cocalico, which has also held foes to 288 yards and 21.1 points per game this season.
Cocalico plowed through Solanco 42-7 in Week 9 of the regular season.
The winner of this game will take on either York or Shippensburg in the semifinal round.
York (10-1) at Shippensburg (10-1)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Shippensburg's Memorial Field
The Bearcats advanced to the quarterfinal round with another offensive outburst, hammering Northern York 42-7. It was York's first postseason victory since 2008. Shippensburg rode its defense to victory in its playoff opener, blanking Northeastern 6-0.
York got a record-breaking performance Dayjure Stewart in its victory over Northern. Stewart snapped the District 3 single-game rushing record by racking up 468 yards on 39 carries in spite of the monsoon-like weather conditions. He scored on TD runs of 1, 58, 76 and 86 yards. For the season, the 6-0, 200-pound senior has 2,708 yards and 36 touchdowns. He is the main cog in a Bearcat attack that led the York-Adams League in the regular season, averaging 506 yards and 50 points per game. QB Seth Bernstein has thrown for 1,279 yards and 17 touchdowns for York High. Meanwhile, the Bearcat defense has given up 224 yards and 16.7 points per game. York has won four straight since suffering its only loss of the season, a 21-20 setback at Red Lion.
Shippensburg enters the quarterfinals on a six-game winning streak. The Greyhounds' only loss was a 26-21 upset at Mifflin County on Sept. 21. They have shut out three of their last four opponents. Paced by running back Adam Houser, who has racked up 1,869 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, Shippensburg averages 334 yards and 27.6 points per game. Sophomore QB Zach Manning doesn't throw it often, but he has completed 40 of 86 passes for 739 yards and seven scores.
York and Shipp share two common opponents: Northern and Northeastern. Both are 2-0 in those games, but with wildly different scores. Shipp blanked Northern 7-0 on Oct. 12 and defeated Northeastern 6-0 last week, while York pounded Northern 42-7 last week and held off Northeastern 32-28 on Oct. 19.
Friday's winner faces either Cocalico or Solanco in the semifinals.
CLASS 4A QUARTERFINALS
West Perry (8-3) at Bishop McDevitt (9-1)
Friday, 7 p.m. at McDevitt's Rocco Ortenzio Stadium
The top-seeded Crusaders earned a first-round bye and will now host a quarterfinal matchup with West Perry, which held off West York 33-22 in its playoff opener.
McDevitt's only loss of the season was a 50-43 shootout against Cedar Cliff on Sept. 21. Since then, the Crusaders have reeled off five straight victories, outscoring their foes by an average margin of 39.2 points per game over that span. McDevitt, ranked sixth in the state in Class 4A by Pennlive, averages a ridiculous 525 yards and 46.2 points per game on offense. The Crusaders have scored at least 38 points in 10 games. QB Chase Diehl has thrown for 2,850 yards and 34 touchdowns on 139-of-197 passing, and has been intercepted just three times. Wideout Nazir Burnett has hauled in 61 catches for 1,368 yards and 21 scores, while RB CJ Reyes-Diggs has 1,038 yards and 11 TDs on the ground.
West Perry started the season 7-0, but lost three of its final four games before rebounding with an impressive effort against West York. The Mustangs racked up 450 yards on the ground to beat the Bulldogs, riding RB Terrence Quaker's 293-yard performance. Quaker, who does a little bit of everything for the Mustangs, scored his only TD on a 56-yard fake punt, then booted the extra point for good measure. QB Kenyon Johnson added 100 yards and three scores on 14 carries for West Perry. Johnson is the team's second-leading rusher, with 1,138 yards and 19 touchdowns, and he's also completed 56 of 97 passes for 995 yards and eight scores. Quaker has 1,184 yards and 15 touchdowns on 138 attempts for the Mustangs.
West Perry and McDevitt have one common opponent: Waynesboro. The Mustangs fell 43-40 to the Indians on Oct. 19, while McDevitt crushed Waynesboro 49-7 on Sept. 28.
Friday's winner will face either Gettysburg or Conrad Weiser in the semifinals.
Gettysburg (8-2) at Conrad Weiser (8-2)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Conrad Weiser
Both teams will be getting their first taste of playoff action on Friday, as they received first-round byes.
Gettysburg shook off a 1-2 start to win its last seven games, outscoring its opponents 164-14 over its last four (including two shutouts). The Warriors hammered Greencastle-Antrim 50-0 in their last outing. The York-Adams Division II champions ranked fourth in the league in scoring offense (39.4 points per game) and 10th in yardage (340 per game). The Gettysburg defense allows 254 yards and 13.5 points per game. RB Ammon Robinson ranks third in the York-Adams League with 1,439 yards and 29 touchdowns this season.
Conrad Weiser, the Berks League Section 1 champion, enters the quarterfinals on a three-game winning streak. The Scouts dropped a 21-13 decision to Class 5A second-seed Cocalico in their season opener, Conrad Weiser reeled off five straight wins before falling 19-6 in a non-league clash with Susquehanna Township in Week 7. The Scouts' offensive numbers don't jump off the page; they average 273 yards and 30 points per game. QB Alex MacKenzie is the team's leading rusher, with 617 yards and 11 touchdowns on 113 attempts. MacKenzie has also completed 61 of 115 passes for 766 yards and seven scores. RB Dalton Moyer has 515 yards and eight TDs on 108 carries.
Lampeter-Strasburg (6-5) at Berks Catholic (8-2)
Friday, 7 p.m. at BC's Forino Athletic Complex
The second-seeded Saints received a first-round bye. They'll face L-S, which blasted L-L League Section 3 runner-up Elco 37-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Berks Catholic, the Berks League Section 2 champ, is seeking its third straight district title. The Saints reached the PIAA Class 4A semifinals last year before falling 42-24 to eventual champ Erie Cathedral Prep for the second year in a row. This year, BC has won five in a row by an average margin of 43 points. Their only losses came to Central Dauphin (7-0 in Week 2) and Malvern Prep (42-32 in Week 5). BC is ranked fifth in the state in Class 4A by Pennlive. The Saints average 341 yards and 38.3 points per game on offense, while their defense has held foes to 185 yards and 10.4 points per game. QB Terrence Derr has completed 58 of 101 passes for 988 yards and 14 TDs. RBs Abdul McFoy (87-725, 15 TDs) and Brandon George (84-586, nine TDs) power the ground game.
L-S slipped into the playoffs despite losing four of its last five regular-season games, but the Pioneers proved to be a tough draw for Elco, limiting the Raiders to 97 total yards while racking up 341 yards themselves. QB Sean McTaggert racked up 153 yards and three touchdowns on the ground for L-S, which also scored on the return of a blocked punt by Joey Underwood in the third quarter. L-S averages 404 yards per game, but spent most of the season being plagued by defensive lapses. The Pioneers allow 314 yards and 25.5 points per game. McTaggert has completed 107 of 203 passes for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, and also leads the Pioneers in rushing with 722 yards and six scores.
Friday's winner will face either Susquehanna Township or Milton Hershey in the semifinals.
Susquehanna Township (6-4) at Milton Hershey (9-1)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Milton Hershey's Spartan Stadium
Both teams received first-round byes, and will be in action for the first time Friday night. The two teams squared off in Week 2 of the regular season, with Milton Hershey hanging on for a 14-8 triumph.
Susquehanna Township enters the playoffs on a two-game skid after closing the regular season with losses to Cedar Cliff (30-0) at Bishop McDevitt (42-14), both of whom are still vying for district titles in other classifications. The Indians also started the season with back-to-back losses, falling to Manheim Central (44-0) and Milton Hershey. Susquehanna Township then went on a six-game winning streak, but wound up finishing third in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division behind Cedar Cliff and McDevitt.
Milton Hershey finished second behind Middletown in the Mid-Penn Capital race. The Spartans' only loss was a 32-21 setback against Middletown on Oct. 4. Milton Hershey closed the season with three straight wins. The vast majority of Milton Hershey's offensive output comes from the rushing attack, which averages 228 yards per game. The tandem of RB Chiago Anyanwu (1,110 yards, 12 TDs) and QB Naeem Cross (836 yards, 11 TDs) does most of the heavy lifting for the Spartan offense.
In the first meeting, Milton Hershey held Hanna to 124 total yards and five turnovers. Anyanwu's 13-yard TD run with 3:34 remaining lifted the Spartans to victory.
Friday's winner faces either Lampeter-Strasburg or Berks Catholic in the semifinals.
CLASS 3A SEMIFINALS
Bermudian Springs (8-3) at Lancaster Catholic (10-0)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Catholic's Crusader Stadium
The top-seeded Crusaders were off last week after receiving a first-round bye, while Bermudian Springs defeated Annville-Cleona 14-7 to reach the quarterfinals.
Lancaster Catholic cruised to a perfect regular season and captured the L-L League Section 3 title without breaking much of a sweat, beating its opponents by an average margin of 28.2 points. The Crusaders' closest victories came against Lebanon (27-21), Annville-Cleona (23-14) and Donegal (22-14). Catholic allowed a league-low 82 points in 10 games, and also led the league in yards allowed (194 per game). The Crusaders offense generated an average of 367 yards and 36.4 points per game. QB Gavin Sullivan has passed for 804 yards and 11 touchdowns, and is second on the team in rushing with 593 yards and five scores. Jeffrey Harley leads the team with 834 yards and 14 scores on 71 carries.
Bermudian Springs finished third in the YAIAA Division III race behind York Catholic and Delone Catholic, both of whom beat the Eagles during the season. (Shippensburg knocked them off as well.) BS has relied primarily on its defense, which allows 203 yards and 12.5 points per game -- both of which ranked third in the York-Adams league. The Eagle offense ranked more toward the middle of the pack, averaging 293 yards per game. QB Chase Dull has thrown for 943 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, while RB Trace Grim leads the team with 703 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
Friday's winner will face either Wyomissing or defending champion Middletown in the title game.
Wyomissing (9-2) at Middletown (9-1)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Middletown's Memorial Field
The second-seeded Blue Raiders were idle last week, while Wyomissing knocked off Littlestown 27-9 in the quarterfinals.
Middletown is chasing its third straight district championship. The Blue Raiders have gone all the way to the PIAA title game in each of the last two seasons, but fell short in the final both times. This year, Middletown captured another Mid-Penn Capital title after winning nine of 10 regular-season games. The Raiders' only loss came to Bishop McDevitt in Week 3; they've won seven in a row since. The Raider offense is led by the tandem of RBs Jose Lopez (1,321 yards, 15 TDs) and Richie Sykes (987 yards, 13 TDs) and QB Scott Ash (56-101-5, 909 yards, 11 TDs).
Wyomissing finished second to Berks Catholic in the Berks League Section 2 race, dropping a 28-7 decision to the Saints in Week 10 that proved to be the difference. The Spartans also fell to Pottsville (21-7) in Week 2. Wyomissing has Berks County's third-ranked offense, averaging 337 yards and 37 points per game. Wyomissing does most of its damage on the ground, with RB Tim Kowalski (978 yards, 17 TDs) leading the charge. The Spartan defense has done a great job against the run, allowing just 96 yards per game.
Friday's victor gets either Lancaster Catholic or Bermudian Springs in the district final.
CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP
Delone Catholic (10-1) vs. York Catholic (11-0)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Southwestern High School's Mustang Corral
The YAIAA Division III rivals will square off again for District 3 title gold after both scored impressive semifinal victories. The top-seeded Fighting Irish shut out Steelton-Highspire 21-0, while the second-seeded Squires routed Upper Dauphin 48-23.
That sets up a rematch of a showdown in Week 9 of the regular season, which York Catholic won decisively on their way to the York-Adams Division III title. The Fighting Irish trounced the Squires 35-7, riding a stellar performance from RB Cole Witman, who racked up 220 yards and two touchdowns, including a 58-yard scamper.
Witman, the son of former Penn State standout and NFL player Jon Witman, has rushed for 543 yards and 12 touchdowns this season despite missing a handful of games due to an unspecified team infraction. He forms an effective backfield tandem with Massimo Antilock (511 yards, 11 TDs) to power the Irish offense. York Catholic also ranks first among York-Adams teams on defense, allowing just 196 yards and 8.4 points per game.
Delone ranked near the top of the York-Adams league in offense (394 yards per game), scoring (44.4 points per game), defense (202 yards per game) and points allowed (10.5 points per game). The Squires average 301 yards per game on the ground, thanks in large part to RB Logan Brown, who has 1,072 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. QB Evan Brady has eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau through the air, completing 68 of 108 passes for 1,014 yards and 15 scores.
York Catholic is seeking its second district title in three years. Delone has won eight titles overall, the most recent in 2007.
Halifax (10-1) will be idle this week after capturing the District 3 championship with a 37-6 triumph over Fairfield last Friday. The Wildcats' next opponent has yet to be determined, but it will likely be the District 4 champion, either Canton (10-1) or Muncy (8-3).