YORK, Pa. — The high school football postseason continues in Central Pennsylvania this week, with nine playoff showdowns on the docket.
Most of the action is scheduled for Friday night, as the District 3 Class 6A, 5A, and 4A playoffs continue with semifinal showdowns and the PIAA Class 2A playoffs begin with first-round action.
On Saturday, West Perry faces Wyomissing for the District 3 Class 3A championship and Steelton-Highspire opens the PIAA Class 1A playoffs with a home matchup.
Here's a look at the games on the schedule this week. All games are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, unless otherwise noted.
District 3 Semifinals
No. 5 Manheim Township (8-3) at No. 1 Hempfield (9-2): One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League's biggest rivalries gets another chapter as the Black Knights take on the Blue Streaks for the second time this season. Hempfield knocked off Township 17-14 back in Week 5 of the regular season, thanks in part to a Hail Mary TD pass to end the first half and a 93-yard TD return on the opening kick of the second half. The Knights went on to win the Section 1 title and earned the top seed in the playoffs.
Last week, Township won a rematch with Cumberland Valley, 37-31, avenging a 31-27 loss to the Eagles in their season opener. Hempfield had an easier time of it in the quarterfinals, rolling to a 30-14 victory over Carlisle.
No. 3 Harrisburg (8-2) at No. 2 Central York (10-1): The Panthers survived another Instant Classic with arch-rival William Penn in the quarterfinals last week, stopping the Bearcats on 4th-and-goal with 25 seconds left to pull out a 51-44 victory in a game that featured nearly 1,000 yards of combined offense and 13 total touchdowns. It was Central York's second straight win over York High in three weeks; the Panthers won 43-38 in Week 10 of the regular season before both teams had a bye week to prepare for the playoff rematch.
Harrisburg is coming off a 32-21 victory over Wilson in the quarterfinals (a rematch of last year's 6A title game, also won by the Cougars). The defending district champs have won three in a row since falling to State College 20-6 back in Week 8. The Cougars' only other loss was a 24-20 defeat to Manheim Township in Week 3.
District 3 Semifinals
No. 12 Cocalico (8-4) at No. 1 Solanco (11-0): The Eagles' Cinderella story continued through last week's quarterfinals with a 23-13 triumph over fourth-seeded Gettysburg. Cocalico, which had to win its final three regular-season games to grab the 12th and final spot in the district playoffs, dusted No. 5 Elizabethtown 42-2 in its postseason opener and followed it up with another impressive win last week.
Solanco, the top seed and reigning L-L League Section 3 champion, held off a late rally by Shippensburg to prevail 42-35 in its playoff opener. The Golden Mules led 28-7 at halftime and 35-14 in the fourth quarter, but Shippensburg pulled to within seven with 3:25 left in the game. That's as close as the score would get, though, as the Mules were able to use their punishing ground game to run out the clock.
No. 11 Northern (7-4) at No. 2 Exeter (11-0): The second-seeded Eagles rolled to a 42-12 victory over Dover in their playoff opener to punch their ticket to the semifinals and maintain their apparent collision course with Solanco intact. Exeter led 42-0 in the third quarter before Dover scored a pair of late touchdowns to spoil the shutout in a game shortened by the Mercy Rule.
As is the case with Cocalico, few people outside Dillsburg expected Northern to reach the semifinals after the Polar Bears entered the playoffs as the No. 11 seed. But Northern followed up its 21-20 first-round triumph over No. 6 South Western with a 20-7 victory over No. 3 New Oxford in last week's quarterfinal. The surging Polar Bears have now won four in a row.
District 3 Semifinals
No. 4 Twin Valley (7-4) at No. 1 Bishop McDevitt (9-1): The top-seeded Crusaders rolled to a 42-7 victory over East Pennsboro in the quarterfinals. It was the 60th district playoff victory in program history for McDevitt, which shares the record for most district wins with Manheim Central (though the Crusaders' overall record, at 60-9, gives them a higher playoff win percentage than the Barons, whose record is 60-15). McDevitt, the defending Class 4A champ, is seeking its 16th district title.
Twin Valley opened the playoffs with a 43-29 triumph over Milton Hershey in the quarterfinals last week. The Raiders, who finished tied for fourth in the L-L League Section 3 standings, have won four of their last five games.
No. 3 Lampeter-Strasburg (9-2) at No. 2 Manheim Central (9-1): These two former Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 2 rivals both rolled to impressive victories last week to set up a semifinal showdown. L-S squashed Susquehanna Township 52-6, while Central stomped York Suburban 63-14.
L-S finished second to Wyomissing in the L-L League Section 4 race after falling 21-0 to the Spartans in Week 9. The Pioneers' only other loss was a 40-35 setback against Solanco in their season opener. Central, the runner-up in the L-L League Section 2 race, fell 21-17 to section champ Exeter in Week 10 before rebounding last week.
District 3 Championship
No. 3 West Perry (11-1) at No. 1 Wyomissing (11-0): The Spartans, who are the three-time defending District 3 Class 3A champions, booked their fourth straight finals appearance with a 49-14 rout of Berks County neighbor Hamburg in last week's semifinals. It was the eighth consecutive District 3 playoff victory for Wyomissing, which is making its 19th overall title-game appearance. The Spartans have won 10 district titles during their program's rich history.
Wyomissing is a daunting opponent, but West Perry is coming off an impressive blowout win over previously unbeaten Lancaster Catholic in last week's semifinals. The Mustangs racked up 468 rushing yards and raced to a 35-7 halftime lead against the Crusaders. West Perry's only loss of the season came in Week 10, when they fell 53-34 to perennial Class A powerhouse Steelton-Highspire in the de facto Mid-Penn Capital division title game.
NOTE: This game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Wyomissing HS.
PIAA Playoffs: First Round
West Catholic (4-7) at Trinity (8-4): Trinity, fresh off its 58-27 dismantling of top-seeded Annville-Cleona in the District 3 Class 2A title game, now moves into the state playoffs. The Shamrocks host West Catholic, which struggled to a 3-7 record in the Philadelphia Catholic League's Blue Division in the regular season but rolled to a 54-7 rout of Bristol in a PIAA sub-regional clash last week.
Trinity started the season 1-3, but has been steadily gaining momentum as the weeks progressed. The Shamrocks have now won seven of their last eight games.
West Catholic is an eight-time District 12 champion with one state title to its name (2008). The Burrs waged some memorable state playoff wars with Lancaster Catholic a decade ago on their way to a title in 2010 and a runner-up finish in 2008. This year, their record doesn't tell the whole story. West Catholic has a ton of team speed, notably in RB Jaire Greene and QB Kai-EL Durham, who both had huge games against Bristol last week.
PIAA Playoffs: First Round
Windber (10-1) at Steelton-Highspire (10-1): After capturing their third straight District 3 title at the beginning of the month, the Rollers punched their ticket to the state playoffs with a 46-6 victory over Belmont Charter in Philadelphia last Saturday. The commute to Philly proved to be much more of a challenge than the opponent for Steel-High, whose bus picked up a flat tire during the trip, causing the game to be delayed a half-hour. Once the action began, the Rollers got seven combined touchdowns from QB Alex Erby (247 passing yards, four TD passes, one TD run) and WR Jaeion Perry (two TD catches, plus another score on a fumble recovery).
Windber captured the District 5 championship last week with a 14-0 rout of previously Northern Bedford. It was the seventh shutout of the season for the Ramblers, who have given up just 49 points all season and haven't been scored on in a month.
Interestingly, Windber and Steel-High share one common opponent: Fairfield. The Ramblers wrecked Fairfield 57-0 in their season opener, while the Rollers posted a 62-6 rout over the Knights in Week 10.
NOTE: This game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday at Steel-High.