HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Central Dauphin will try to slow down Downingtown West in PIAA Class 6A semifinals

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Central Dauphin’s run through the District 3 playoffs was nothing short of spectacular, culminating in an instant-classic double-overtime victory over Manheim Township in the semifinals and an epic win over arch-rival Harrisburg in the championship.

The Rams had a bye week to rest up for the state playoffs, where they’ll face what is arguably their biggest challenge of the season: a date with District 1 kingpin Downingtown West in Friday’s semifinals.

Here’s a preview of the game:

PIAA Class 6A Semifinals

Central Dauphin (11-2) vs. Downingtown West (13-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Coatesville High School (Chester County)

ABOUT DOWNINGTOWN WEST: The Whippets captured the District 1 championship with a 48-36 victory over Coatesville last Friday, avenging their only loss of the season. Coatesville held off Downington West 29-21 in their regular-season meeting on Oct. 18.

In the rematch, the Whippets jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and held on from there to earn their first victory over Coatesville in five seasons. Downingtown West’s offense churned out 441 total yards, led by quarterback Will Howard, who completed 18 of 25 passes for 302 yards and a touchdown and added a scoring run on the ground. Tyrik Lewis found the end zone twice on the ground for Downingtown West, while wideout Julian Williams caught five passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. The Whippets added a pair of defensive scores, taking two interceptions to the house.

The Whippets have playmakers all over the field. Howard, a Kansas State recruit, has completed 151 of 238 passes for 2,543 yards and 27 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Lewis has rushed for 1,665 yards and 30 scores, and is among the team’s leading receivers with 31 catches for 402 yards and four TDs. Alex Rosano leads the team with 39 catches for 713 yards and three scores, while Williams has hauled in 33 grabs for 709 yards and seven TDs.

Downingtown West has scored at least 29 points in every outing and averages 45 points per game. The Whippets average 419 yards per game on offense.

ABOUT CENTRAL DAUPHIN: The Rams were idle last week, receiving a bye through the state quarterfinals after surviving a 27-20 victory over arch-rival Harrisburg in the District 3 championship game. It was the second time this season that CD knocked off the Cougars.

Prior to that, the Rams avenged a 10-7 regular-season loss to previously unbeaten Manheim Township by knocking off the Blue Streaks 35-34 in double overtime in the district semifinals.

CD’s only other loss was a 21-13 setback to Wilson in their season opener. After starting the season 1-2, the Rams have reeled off 10 straight victories, capturing the Mid-Penn Commonwealth title on their way to the district crown.

The Rams’ balanced offense averages 332 yards per game, split about equally between the ground and air attacks. Sophomore quarterback Max Mosey has flourished in the playoffs, and has completed 143 of 229 pass attempts for 1,886 yards and 13 touchdowns for the season. His top target, senior wideout Nick Chimienti, has caught 52 passes for 990 yards and nine scores. Timmy Smith, the Rams’ workhorse in the backfield, has rushed for 993 yards and 13 touchdowns on 158 carries.

Friday’s winner will take on either District 12 champ St. Joseph’s Prep (10-2) or District 7 champion Pittsburgh Central Catholic (12-1) in the state championship game on Saturday, Dec. 7 in Hersheypark Stadium. The game will kick off at 6 p.m.

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