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Frenzy Five | 5 playoff games to watch in Week 13

Central York's District 3 Class 6A semifinal clash with Harrisburg is the FOX43 Frenzy Game of the Week.

YORK, Pa. — We're in the thick of the high school football playoffs in Central Pennsylvania. 

While the District 3 playoffs wind down in Class 6A, 5A, 4A and 3A, the state playoffs get underway this week in Class 2A and 1A, where district champs Trinity and Steelton-Highspire are still dancing.

Here's a look at five of the juiciest playoff matchups this week. It's the Frenzy Five.


Harrisburg (8-2) at Central York (10-1): Harrisburg, the defending district champs, opened the playoffs with a 32-21 quarterfinal victory over Wilson -- the team they defeated in last year's title game. It was the seventh win in eight games for Harrisburg, which finished second to State College in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth race in the regular season.

Against Wilson, Harrisburg squandered an early 12-0 lead by allowing the Bulldogs to post a pair of second-quarter touchdowns. But the Cougar defense came up with the stops it needed in the second half, and Harrisburg QB Shawn Lee Jr. scored one of his two touchdowns on a short run and setting up a second score with a 31-yard scamper on fourth down to help secure the victory.

Lee finished with 84 rushing yards, and also threw for a touchdown. Mahkai Hopkins added 163 rushing yards and two TDs, while Kyle Williams Jr.  accounted for 96 yards and a pair of scores for the Cougars.

Central York beat arch-rival York for the second time in three weeks, rallying behind stars Nasir Still and Juelz Goff to post a 51-44 victory over the Bearcats in a game that featured 13 total touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards of combined offense.

Still, who missed Central's 43-38 victory over York High in Week 10, returned to the lineup to post 159 passing yards, 84 rushing yards, and four total touchdowns. Goff racked up 171 yards and two scores on the ground and added three catches for 104 yards and two more TDs.

It was enough to lift the Panthers, who survived a second straight huge game from York star Jaheim White. The West Virginia recruit rushed for 328 yards and three touchdowns in his final game for the Bearcats.

Central York, which bowed out to Wilson in last year's 6A semifinals, is the last YAIAA team standing in the playoffs. The Panthers captured a district title in 2020, becoming the first big-school program from the York-Adams league to do so.

Harrisburg is chasing its fourth district title in program history. 


Manheim Township (8-3) at Hempfield (9-2): These two Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 rivals met back in Week 5 of the regular season, with Hempfield posting a 17-14 victory. That win proved to be the difference in the section race for the Black Knights, who went on to capture the title and the No. 1 seed in Districts.

In its opener last week, Hempfield rolled to a 30-14 win over Carlisle, while Township held off Cumberland Valley 37-31. It was a nice response for the Blue Streaks, who dropped a 27-21 decision to Wilson in the final week of the regular season.

Hempfield lost one of its main offensive weapons, RB Grant Hoover, to an apparent concussion late in the first half against Carlisle last week. Hoover, who had rushed for 93 yards on 15 carries to that point, took a wicked hit with about two minutes left and was forced out of the game. His status for this week is uncertain. Hoover leads Hempfield with 951 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season.

If Hoover can't go, the Knights will turn to Stephen Katch, who shifted to the backfield from his normal spot at wide receiver after Hoover left the game and rushed for 59 yards and two touchdowns against Carlisle. Katch has 283 rushing yards and six scores on 73 carries this season. 

Hempfield could also lean more on QB Jackson Landis, who has thrown for 1,691 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Landis had a 41-yard TD run against Carlisle last week.

Township avenged a season-opening loss to Cumberland Valley with its victory last week. The Streaks took the lead on a touchdown pass from Hayden Johnson to Landon Kennel in the final minute of the game and held off one final charge from the Eagles to advance to the semifinal round for the fourth time in the last six years.

Johnson accounted for all five Township touchdowns against CV, passing for 298 yards and two scores and adding three short TD runs. Johnson has completed 216 of 292 passes for 2,381 yards and 25 touchdowns for the Streaks this season. He loves to spread the ball around; there are seven Township players with at least 10 catches, led by Landon Kennel (60-669, 14 TDs). 

The Streaks won their only district title back in 2017. Hempfield has never won a district title, and is seeking its first championship game appearance since 1984.

Cocalico (8-4) at Solanco (11-0): It's a battle between two former L-L League Section 2 neighbors in the Class 5A semifinals as the undefeated Golden Mules host the bracket's Cinderella squad.

Cocalico won its final three regular-season games to grab the 12th and final spot in the Class 5A playoffs. Once the Eagles were in, they dispatched No. 5 seed and L-L League neighbor Elizabethtown 42-2 in the first round and followed it up with a 23-13 victory over No. 4 Gettysburg in last week's quarterfinals. 

Last week, Cocalico trailed 13-7 in the third quarter, but rallied behind touchdown runs by Sam Steffy and Josh Meyer to take the lead for good. Steffy scored on a 1-yard plunge, while Meyer took a handoff 97 yards to the house for the Eagles, who later added a 34-yard field goal by Cole Roos to cap the scoring.

The Eagles racked up 417 rushing yards, while holding Gettysburg to just 13 yards on the ground (and 129 total yards). 

Steffy, who finished with 175 yards and two TDs against Gettysburg, boosted his season total to 1,477 yards and 19 TDs. 

Solanco held off a late rally by Shippensburg to clip the Greyhounds 42-35 in its first playoff action last week. The Golden Mules, who won the Section 3 title, received a first-round bye after earning the top seed. 

The Mules led 28-7 at halftime, but allowed Shippensburg to tighten the game with four second-half touchdowns. Shippensburg put up 357 total yards against Solanco, but allowed the Mules' punishing ground game to churn out 425 yards. 

Josiah Forren led Solanco with 175 yards and a pair of TDs on 14 carries, while Brody Mellinger had 131 yards and scored three times on 13 carries.

The Mules have four players with at least 500 rushing yards this season, led by Forren (110-979, 12 TDs) and Cole Harris (195-968, 9 TDs). Mellinger, Solanco's quarterback, has 527 passing yards and eight TDs to go along with his 835 yards and a team-high 20 TDs on the ground.

Cocalico is making its 23rd playoff appearance and is seeking its fourth district title. The Eagles' last crown came in 2019.

Solanco is in the playoffs for the eighth time. The Mules have never won a title and have never made it out of the semifinals.

Lampeter-Strasburg (9-2) at Manheim Central (10-1): It's a battle of former L-L League Section 2 rivals in this District 3 Class 4A semifinal. Both teams are coming off impressive victories last week in the quarterfinals. L-S crushed Susquehanna Township 52-6, while Central stomped York Suburban 63-14. 

L-S, the L-L League Section 4 runner-up behind Wyomissing, has won eight of its last nine games. The Pioneers' only losses came to the powerful Spartans (21-0 in Week 10) and to Solanco (40-35 in Week 1).

Against Hanna, L-S got a 113-yard, three-TD rushing performance from Carson Coleman and a pair of touchdown passes from QB Trent Wagner, who completed 10 of 16 passes for 160 yards.

Coleman's performance allowed him to break the 1,000-yard rushing milestone this season. He's got 1,042 yards and 17 TDs on 176 carries. Wagner has completed 85 of 140 passes for 1,476 yards and 20 scores. Hunter Hildebrand, the team's top receiver, has 31 catches for 742 yards and 10 TDs. He's also second on the team in rushing with 318 yards and three scores.

Central, the L-L League Section 2 runner-up behind Exeter, had an extra week to stew over its Week 10 loss to the Eagles thanks to its first-round bye. The Barons wasted little time dispatching York Suburban, building a 21-0 lead after one quarter and a commanding 49-7 edge at the half. Brycen Armold led the way with a 250-yard, six-TD rushing performance for Central, while QB Zac Hahn threw for 152 yards and two TDs.

Central has the L-L League's top offense, averaging 448 yards and 58.1 points per game this season. 

Armold has 1,973 yards and 31 touchdowns on 212 carries this season, while Hahn has completed 118 of 189 passes for 2,047 yards and 28 touchdowns. His top target, Aaron Enterline, has caught 34 passes for 901 yards and 11 scores.

Central is the most successful program in District 3 playoff history. The Barons share the record for playoff wins with Bishop McDevitt with 60, and they've collected a record 18 district championships -- including a memorable run from 1992 to 2001, where they won a record 10 straight titles. This is the Barons' 34th playoff appearance, which is also a district record.

L-S has won three district championships in program history, and is making its 17th appearance. The Pioneers have a 22-13 playoff record.

West Perry (11-1) at Wyomissing (11-0): The District 3 Class 3A title will be on the line when the Mustangs travel to Berks County to take on the three-time defending champs at 1 p.m. Saturday. 

Wyomissing, which captured the L-L League Section 4 title in its first season in the league, crushed Berks County neighbor Hamburg 49-14 in the semifinals last week, holding the Hawks' potent offense to season lows in both points and yardage (194). Meanwhile, the Spartan offense churned out 268 yards (259 on the ground) and got touchdowns from six different players.

The Spartans average 299 yards per game on the ground, fueled by their mammoth offensive line and the backfield committee of Charlie McIntyre (66-781, 10 TDs), Matt Kramer (93-754, 21 TDs), and Drew Eisenhower (64-650, 9 TDs).

Wyomissing has outscored its opponents by an average margin of 35.2 points per game on its way to a perfect record. The Spartans, who have made it all the way to the state championship game in each of their last three seasons, appear primed for another deep playoff run this year.

But they'll have a challenge on their hands this week, because West Perry is no slouch. The Mustangs' only loss of the season was a 53-34 defeat against Class 1A powerhouse Steelton-Highspire in Week 10, and they've crushed Schuylkill Valley (45-21) and previously unbeaten Lancaster Catholic (63-20) so far in the playoffs.

West Perry got huge performances from quarterback Marcus Quaker and RB Brad Hockenberry in last week's triumph over Catholic. Quaker ran for 105 yards and a pair of TDs, while Hockenberry added 102 yards and three scores on the ground as the Mustangs racked up 420 yards.

Quaker has thrown for more than 2,000 yards, rushed for 1,165 yards, and accounted for 47 touchdowns for the Mustangs this season.

West Perry's 11 wins this season set a new high-water mark for the program, and this Mustang squad is the first team in program history to win two playoff games. West Perry is in a district final for just the second time -- its last appearance was a 28-21 loss to Manheim Central in the 1999 Class 3A title game.

Wyomissing is in the district finals for the 18th time in program history. The Spartans have won 10 titles overall and have a 39-18 record in 29 playoff appearances.

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