Hard as it might be to believe, we’ve almost reached the halfway point of the regular season in high school football.
The division races are heating up in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, Mid-Penn Conference, York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association, and Tri-Valley League. And, before you know it, teams will have to start paying closer attention to the power rankings that determine the District 3 playoff field in all six classifications.
Here’s a look at five of the games in Central Pennsylvania we’ll be keeping an eye on this week, starting with the FOX43 High School Football Frenzy Game of the Week, where we’ll be hosting
FOX43 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FRENZY GAME OF THE WEEK
West Perry (4-0) at Mechanicsburg (3-1)
This game is an intra-division battle between the Mustangs, who are tied with Shippensburg and Northern York for the lead in the Mid-Penn Colonial race, and the Wildcats, who are part of a first-place logjam in the Mid-Penn Capital division with Steel-High, East Pennsboro, and Milton Hershey.
Mechanicsburg has won three in a row since its season-opening loss to Carlisle, including a 26-3 drubbing of Hershey last week. Quarterback Micah Brubaker led the way against the Trojans, throwing for 192 yards and three scores and adding another TD on the ground fof the Wildcats. One of the junior’s three TD strikes went to his twin brother, Caleb, in the first quarter. Brubaker has passed for 559 yards and eight touchdowns and added five TDs on the ground for Mechanicsburg during its three-game winning streak. RB Keegan Neill is another player to watch for the Wildcats.
West Perry has been on fire to start the season, racking up four easy victories. No one has come within 24 points of the Mustangs so far; they blasted Greencastle-Antrim 56-32 last week. Kenyon Johnson had a gigantic game against G-A, accounting for six touchdowns and 354 total yards (216 rushing, 138 passing) in the blowout win. Johnson scored on five touchdown runs — the longest a 40-yard burst in the first quarter — and took the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards to the house for West Perry. He has rushed for 610 yards and 12 touchdowns in four games for the Mustangs. He’s also completed 20 of 27 passes for 395 yards. This after he accounted for 2,115 total yards and 27 touchdowns during West Perry’s playoff run last season.
Manheim Township (4-0) at Cocalico (4-0)
It’s a battle of undefeated section front-runners as the Blue Streaks head to Denver to take on the Eagles.
It’s been an impressive start to the season for Manheim Township, which ranks third in the L-L League in scoring offense (43.5 points per game), second in total offense (421.8 yards per game), tied for first in scoring defense (6.8 points per game), and first in total defense (135.3 yards per game). Quarterback Harrison Kirk has completed 65 percent of his passes, for 730 yards and six touchdowns. His yardage total ranks second in the league. Running back Jaden Floyd ranks third in the league in rushing, with 445 yards and five scores, and is second on the team with nine catches for 150 yards and one score. Kirk likes to spread the ball around; nine different Streaks have recorded at least one catch this season. Township is coming off a 65-7 rout of Penn Manor in its Section 1 opener last week.
Cocalico joins Township as one of seven undefeated teams in the L-L League. The Eagles are part of a three-way tie for first in Section 2, with fellow unbeaten Lampeter-Strasburg and Solanco. Led by senior quarterback and defensive back Noah Palm, who has had a hand in 14 of the 23 touchdowns the Eagles have scored this season, Cocalico has the league’s fifth-ranked scoring offense (40 points per game) and its fifth-ranked rushing attack (266.3 yards per game). Palm is the main catalyst, with 444 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground to go along with the 327 yards and two scores he’s generated on 17-of-27 passing. The Eagle defense ranks fifth in points allowed (13.75 per game), but is near the middle of the pack in yards allowed (278.5 per game). Cocalico stomped Elizabethtown 49-12 in its section opener last week.
Steelton-Highspire (1-0, 4-0) at Middletown (1-0, 4-0)
Middletown is off to a typical start, approaching the regular season’s midway point with an unblemished record. The Blue Raiders are 4-0 for the third time in the last four seasons; they were 3-1 at this point last year. Middletown is trying to win its fourth straight District 3 championship, so fast starts are not uncommon. This year, the Raiders have rallied behind Tymir Jackson, who took over for Jose Lopez in the backfield and scored five touchdowns and 327 rushing yards in Middletown’s 41-12 victory. Lopez had been Middletown’s main cog in the first three games, rushing for more than 400 yards and six touchdowns for the Raiders. It’s unclear whether he’ll be back in the lineup Friday night.
Steel-High announced its intention to be a player in this year’s Capital race last week with a 78-34 drubbing of early season surprise Trinity. Quarterback Nyles Jones accounted for seven Roller touchdowns and racked up 372 total yards as Steel-High stomped the Shamrocks. Jones rushed for 185 yards and four touchdowns and completed 8 of 18 passes for 187 yards and three scores. Mehki Flowers and Odell Greene added rushing touchdowns for the Rollers, who also scored on a pair of defensive TDs. But Steel-High will need to shore up a defense that was gouged for 525 yards last week if the Rollers want to upset the Raiders.
State College (1-0, 4-0) at Chambersburg (1-0, 3-1)
The host Trojans bounced back from a heartbreaking Week 3 loss at Red Lion with a 56-24 rout of Altoona in their Mid-Penn Commonwealth opener last week. Chambersburg was one of the Mid-Penn’s biggest surprises last year, going 7-4 and reaching the district playoffs one season after going 0-10. This year, they’re riding the strong legs of RB Keyshawn Jones and the arm of quarterback Brady Stambaugh, who power an offense that is averaging 42 points per game. Jones had two rushing touchdowns for Chambersburg last week, while Stambaugh had 90 rushing yards and completed 7 of 12 passes for 108 yards and two scores in an abbreviated effort against Altoona. Stambaugh, Jones and most of the other starters watched most of the second half from the sidelines after building a 48-0 halftime lead over the Mountain Lions.
State College is riding a four-game winning streak, and is currently ranked No. 8 in the state in Class 6A by Pennlive. The Little Lions’ most recent win was a 53-12 drubbing of Carlisle fueled by first-year quarterback Brady Dorner, who accounted for 218 total yards and four touchdowns. Dorner, a converted wide receiver, rushed for 80 yards and three scores on just eight carries and completed 7 of 10 passes for 138 yards and another score as State College erupted for 33 unanswered points in the second half. William Howell added an 87-yard TD run for the Lions, while Isiah Edwards chipped in with 90 rushing yards and was on the receiving end of a 34-yard TD strike from Dorner.
Susquehannock (1-0, 3-1) at Gettysburg (1-0, 3-1)
The nicknames are the same, and so are the records in this showdown between two of the three teams tied at the top of the YAIAA Division II leaderboard. Gettysburg has won three in a row since opening the season with a 28-9 loss to Bishop McDevitt, including last week’s 44-13 throttling of West York. Gettysburg hasn’t posted stellar offensive numbers, averaging near the bottom of the York-Adams league in yardage (224.5 per game) and 10th in scoring (25.5 points per game). But the Warrior defense is solid, ranking fourth in points allowed (14.3 per game) and yards allowed (228.3 per game). Quarterback Zach Ketterman (21-45-1, 274 yards, three TDs) and running back Charles Warren (33-347, six TDs) are two players to keep an eye on for Gettysburg. Ketterman is a baseball star headed for Western Carolina.
Susquehannock boasts the York-Adams league’s top defense, allowing just 203 yards and 9.3 points per game. The Warriors’ offensive numbers won’t blow you away, but twin brothers Daniel Clapp (61-492, four TDs) and Allen Clapp (23-257, four TDs) are the main workhorses in the backfield and are the first priority for opposing defenses to game plan around. Susquehannock is two years removed from its last division title, and its 40-3 loss to Gettysburg last season had to sting. Susquehannock will look to avenge that loss this time around.