HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: District 3 Class 6A Semifinals Previews

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The District 3 Class 6A playoffs continue with a pair of intriguing semifinal matchups.

So far, the postseason has lined up according to chalk in the 6A bracket. All four of the top seeds advanced through the quarterfinals, but the top two seeds both got off to shaky starts.

Wilson and Manheim Township will need to tighten things up if they want to advance to next week’s championship round. They’ll both have their hands full with a pair of Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division teams in the semis.

Here’s a look at the matchups.

Harrisburg (8-3) at Wilson (10-1)

The top-seeded Bulldogs spotted Chambersburg an early 13-0 lead in last Friday’s quarterfinal clash, sounding Upset Alert alarms across Twitter. But Wilson quickly settled down and reeled off 41 straight points to turn the game into a rout. The Bulldogs racked up 467 yards of offense, led by QB Kaleb Brown and RB Avanti Lockhart. Brown went 9-of-12 for 101 yarsd and two touchdowns through the air, and added 137 yards and a score on the ground. Lockhart finished with 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, and hauled in one of Brown’s TD tosses. The Bulldogs gashed Chambersburg for 366 yards on the ground to earn their 40th District 3 playoff victory.

For the season, Brown has completed 94 of 150 passes for 1,234 yards and 21 TDs, and is second on the team in rushing with 738 yards and four scores on 102 attempts. Lockhart (138-884, 17 TDs) is Wilson’s leading rusher, and is one of five Bulldog receivers to haul in at least 10 catches this season.

Wilson averages 407 yards per game on offense, while its defense yields 242 yards per game.

Harrisburg rolled through its playoff opener, pummeling Central York 47-14 to rack up its fifth straight victory. Other than a slight midseason dip that saw them drop back-to-back decisions to Central Dauphin (15-14) and State College (21-6) and a 42-14 loss to Archbishop Hoban in Week 2, the fourth-seeded Cougars have been almost unstoppable.

QB John McNeil completed 13 of 20 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns against Central York, adding 29 yards and a pair of TDs on the ground. Jahmir Plant racked up 153 yards and a pair of TDs on just 13 carries for the Cougars.

Harrisburg held Central York to 228 yards of offense and forced two turnovers in the blowout win.

Wilson and Harrisburg share two common opponents: Chambersburg and Central Dauphin. Harrisburg edged Chambersburg 27-25 and lost by a point to CD, though the ending of the latter game was marred by controversy over a game clock issue that denied Harrisburg a chance to run one last play from inside the Rams’ 5-yard line.

Central Dauphin (9-2) at Manheim Township (11-0)

These teams ran into one another early in the regular season, with Township escaping with a 10-7 victory back in Week 3. That was the closest shave the Blue Streaks had all season — at least, until last week.

In their district playoff opener, Township barely survived an upset bid from Cumberland Valley, prevailing 32-26 in the quarterfinals. The second-seeded Streaks spotted the Eagles a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, and trailed by nine points in the fourth, victimized by an uncharacteristically sloppy four-turnover performance.

Township finally took the lead for good when Jaden Floyd scored the second of his two touchdowns on a nine-yard run with 1:07 left in the game. Floyd finished with 72 rushing yards and two scores for the Streaks. Township QB Harrison Kirk completed 15 of 27 passes for 285 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Kirk’s performance pushed him over the 2,000-yard plateau for the season. He’s got 2,234 yards and 21 touchdowns on 133-of-216 passing. Floyd (139-890, 12 TDs) is the Streaks’ top rushing threat, while five different receivers have collected at least 19 catches for Township, led by Nathan Carpenter (24-300, three TDs) and Floyd (20-419, four TDs).

Central Dauphin, the No. 3 seed in the 6A bracket, hasn’t lost since that Week 3 heartbreaker against Township.  The Rams roll into the rematch riding an eight-game winning streak. They shook off a 1-2 start (they also fell 21-13 to Wilson in their season opener) to capture the Mid-Penn Commonwealth title, and buried Cedar Crest 36-6 in last week’s quarterfinals, led by a two-touchdown performance from running back Timmy Smith and a swarming defense that generated four turnovers and two scores in the third quarter.

Sophomore QB Max Mosey has completed 109 of 170 passes for 1,606 yards and 13 TDs with just two interceptions this season. Smith is the Rams’ top rusher, with 809 yards and eight scores on 127 attempts. Senior Nick Chimienti has a team-high 39 catches for 735 yards and six TDs.

CD and Township met in last year’s District 3 semifinals, with the Rams rolling to a 37-0 victory. The Rams and Blue Streaks have met 14 times since 2010, including four straight meetings in the postseason. CD has a 10-4 advantage over that span, including a run of nine straight victories at one point. Township has won the last two regular-season meetings.

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