HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Previews of the District 3 Class 3A Semifinals and Class 2A Championship
The District’s small-school brackets will be busy on Friday night, with a pair of semifinal matchups in Class 3A and the Class 2A championship game.
Meanwhile, newly crowned Class A champ Millersburg will take the week off and await the results of the District 4 championship game. The Indians will get the winner of that clash in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Nov. 15.
Here’s a look at this Friday and Saturday’s action.
Annville-Cleona (7-4) at Wyomissing (10-0)
The Little Dutchmen rolled to a 39-12 victory over Littlestown in last week’s quarterfinals, setting up a semifinal showdown with the top-seeded Spartans, the reigned Berks League Section 2 champions, Saturday. Wyomissing received a bye through the first round.
Wyomissing was barely tested during its romp through the regular season, winning all 10 of its games by an average margin of 31.1 points. Only one team — Pottsville — gave the Spartans a scare, falling 21-20 in double overtime back in Week 2. No one else came within 17 points of Wyomissing during the season. Running back Max Hurleman leads a tough Spartan ground attack that averages 280 yards per game. Hurleman, a 5-7, 170-pound senior, racked up 1,042 yards and 17 touchdowns on 99 carries. Evan Niedrowski (107-491, 14 TDs) and Jevin Tranquillo (57-486, nine TDs) are also players to account for in the backfield.
A-C got a huge game from running back Trevor Porsche against Littlestown; the 5-10, 195-pound fullback racked up 200 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. The Dutchmen churned out 327 rushing yards on their way to outgaining Littlestown 420-279 in total yardage.
Porsche is second in the L-L League with 1,605 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground this season. Quarterback Jeremy Bours is the team’s second-leading rusher, with 716 yards and 18 TDs on 139 attempts. Bours has also completed 39 of 94 passes for 885 yards and eight TDs for A-C.
Lancaster Catholic (10-1) at Middletown (9-1)
The other 3A semifinal features two teams who are no strangers to District 3 playoff success; Middletown and Lancaster Catholic have 11 championship trophies between them. It’s the third time these two proud programs have met in Districts; Catholic is 2-0 against the Blue Raiders, including a 48-14 victory in the 2008 Class 2A final.
This year, Middletown returns to action after a week off. The second-seeded Raiders received a free pass through the quarterfinals. Middletown finished second to Milton Hershey in the Mid-Penn Capital Division after suffering a 33-21 loss to the Spartans on Oct. 4. That defeat is the only blemish on Middletown’s record this year. The Raider offense relies on the big-play capabilities of running backs Jose Lopez and Tymir Jackson, imposing 6-4, 220-pound fullback Tajae Broadie, and quarterback Tony Powell.
After picking up another L-L League Section 3 title in the regular season, Catholic rolled through the quarterfinals with a 30-7 triumph over Bermudian Springs last Friday. The Crusaders got big games from quarterback Gavin Sullivan, who rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, and running backs Alex Cruz (13-98, two TDs) and Jeffrey Harley (11-144, TD).
Harley leads the Crusaders with 1,246 yards and 18 touchdowns on 136 rushes, while Sullivan has rushed for 551 yards and four TDs and added 940 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. Cruz (90-751, 10 TDs) is a factor in the Catholic backfield as well.
Delone Catholic (8-3) at Upper Dauphin (11-0)
The top-seeded Trojans rolled to their 11th straight victory with a 44-14 rout of Tri-Valley League foe Newport in last Friday’s semifinal. QB Macklin Ayers had a big night for UD, accounting for five Trojan touchdowns. Ayers rushed for 122 yards and three scores on 13 carries and completed all five of his pass attempts for 84 yards and two scores.
Ayers is one of two 1,000-yard rushers in the Trojan backfield. This season, he’s racked up 1,713 yards and 33 TDs on 156 attempts, while running back Jake Ramburger has 1,343 yards and 18 scores on 118 carries.
Delone appeared to be dead in the water at the beginning of the season, when the Squires dropped their first three games. But it’s been nothing but blue skies for Delone ever since. They roared to the YAIAA Division III crown in the regular season, and kept the good vibes going with last week’s 39-27 victory over Steelton-Highspire in the semifinals.
The Squires ranked near the top of the York-Adams league in total defense and yield just 134 yards per game on the ground. That defense will be tested this week. But the Squires have some offensive firepower for UD to contend with as well. Running backs Joe Hernandez (125-1,025, 11 TDs) and Josh Fulton (169-950, 13 TDs) power the ground game, while QB Kevin Mowrey has completed 62 of 118 passes for 962 yards and eight scores.