HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: District 3 Class 6A Playoff Previews
The District 3 playoffs get underway this week with postseason action in six classes.
The district’s heavyweights tee it up in the Class 6A bracket, where eight teams from the district’s largest classification qualify for the playoffs.
Defending champion Harrisburg is back, as are Wilson and Manheim Township, who won titles in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Here’s a breakdown of each quarterfinal matchup:
No. 8 Chambersburg (6-4) at No. 1 Wilson (9-1)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Wilson High School (West Lawn, Berks County)
The visiting Trojans snapped a late-season two-game slump and grabbed the last playoff spot in the 6A bracket with a 49-7 victory over Carlisle last Friday. Chambersburg finished fourth in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division race behind Central Dauphin, State College, and Harrisburg, all of whom defeated the Trojans in the regular season (Chambersburg’s other loss was a 26-21 setback at Red Lion in Week 3). The Trojans rely a lot on running back Keyshawn Jones, one of the district’s top rushers. This is Chambersburg’s second straight appearance in the District 3 playoffs; the Trojans fell 20-17 to Manheim Township in the first round last year. Overall, Chambersburg is 1-9 in its District 3 playoff history.
Wilson is a perennial District 3 powerhouse, with seven championship trophies in its case, the most recent coming in 2016. The Bulldogs have made 28 appearances in the district playoffs and have a 39-20 record. This season, Wilson finished second to Manheim Township in the L-L League Section 1 race, but edged the Blue Streaks for the top spot in the power rankings to earn the No. 1 seed. Wilson’s only loss was a 30-14 setback to Township on Sept. 27. The Bulldogs have won four straight since. Quarterback Kaleb Brown completed 85 of 138 passes for 1,133 yards and 19 touchdowns and was third on the team with 601 yards and three scores on the ground. Avanti Lockhart (121-771, 15 TDs) and Mason Lenart (45-635, four TDs) are also weapons in the backfield for Wilson.
No. 5 Central York (9-1) at No. 4 Harrisburg (7-3)
Saturday, 1 p.m. at Severance Field, Harrisburg HS
The visiting Panthers captured the YAIAA Division I championship last Friday with an impressive 35-14 victory over York High, their eighth straight victory. Central York’s only loss was a turnover-marred, 13-12 setback at Cumberland Valley in Week 2. The Panthers averaged a league-leading 50.2 points per game on offense, while giving up a league-low 9.2 points per game. Central also ranked second in total offense (349 yards per game), and first in total defense (172.8 yards per game). Sophomore quarterback Beau Pribula completed 60 of 101 passes for 899 yards and six touchdowns for Central York, while the backfield tandem of Imeire Manigault and Isaiah Sturgis have combined for 1,103 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Panthers are 8-12 in their District 3 playoff history and have never won a championship.
Harrisburg finished third behind Central Dauphin and State College in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth race after falling to the Rams and the Little Lions in the regular season. The Cougars also dropped a 42-12 decision to Archbishop Hoban in Week 2. Harrisburg closed the regular season with three straight wins — a 27-25 nail-biter over Chambersburg and back-to-back blowouts over Carlisle (62-0) and Altoona (66-14). The Cougars have speed to spare, with burners like junior QB John McNeil, wideouts Kamere Day and Donte Kent, and running backs Jahmir Plant and Jaylon Hosby. Harrisburg captured a District 3 6A title last year and has won three district crowns overall. The Cougars have a 17-14 record in the district playoffs.
No. 7 Cumberland Valley (5-5) at No. 2 Manheim Township (10-0)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Manheim Township HS, Neffsville
The visiting Eagles are back in the district playoffs after an uncharacteristic sub-.500 season last year. CV’s three-game winning streak was ended with a 33-21 loss to State College in the regular season finale at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium Saturday. Prior to that, the Eagles had knocked off Carlisle, Altoona, and CD East. In the preceding month, CV lost four straight games, falling to Coatesville (28-7), Central Dauphin (13-7), Harrisburg (37-10), and Chambersburg (30-0). The Eagles’ Wing-T offense centers around workhorse back Max Dell’Anno, who rushed for 124 yards in CV’s Week 10 loss to State College. CV has a 50-15 playoff record and has won 13 District 3 championships in its storied postseason history.
Township captured the L-L League Section 1 title this season; it’s the third straight year that the Blue Streaks have won at least a share of the crown. Township led the L-L League in scoring offense (47 points per game), total offense (418 yards per game), scoring defense (5.5 points per game) and total defense (125.9 yards per game). QB Harrison Kirk’s 1,949 passing yards ranked fifth in the league. He completed 118 of 189 passes, and had 19 passing touchdowns. Township won the Class 6A title in 2017 and has a 9-12 playoff record.
No. 6 Cedar Crest (7-3) at No. 3 Central Dauphin (8-2)
Friday, 7 p.m. at Ebersole Stadium, Central Dauphin MS, Harrisburg
The visiting Falcons finished fourth in the L-L League Section 1 race after suffering blowout losses to the three teams that finished ahead of them: Manheim Township (62-0), Wilson (35-7), and Warwick (34-14). Cedar Crest’s biggest win came back in Week 3, when the Falcons upended YAIAA Division I runner-up York, 17-14. Quarterback Chris Danz (88-175, 1,526 yards, 14 TDs) and running back Tyler Cruz (218-1,249, 19 TDs) power the Falcon offense. Cedar Crest is making its second straight appearance in the District 3 playoffs, but it’s the Falcons’ first as a Class 6A team. Cedar Crest is 2-5 overall. They lost 42-7 to Cocalico in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs last year.
Central Dauphin captured the Mid-Penn Commonwealth championship with an unblemished 7-0 league record. The Rams’ two losses this season came to L-L League Section 1 runner-up Wilson (21-7 in Week 1) and champion Manheim Township (10-7 in Week 3). CD has faced five of the seven other Class 6A qualifiers and has a 3-2 mark against them. The only teams the didn’t see are Cedar Crest and Central York. The Rams are seeking to get back to the 6A title game after falling 16-6 to Harrisburg in last year’s final. They have won three championships overall and have a 26-18 playoff record.