YORK, Pa. — The high school playoffs are here!
The District 3 postseason gets underway this weekend with 10 first-round matchups Friday night. (Plus the Class 1A championship between Steelton-Highspire and Fairfield on Saturday.)
With four games on tap in the Class 5A playoffs Friday night, most of the focus will be on that class this week. That includes our Frenzy Game of the Week, featuring 10th-seeded Garden Spot's visit to No. 7 Dover.
Here's a look at the Frenzy Five.
FOX43 FRENZY GAME OF THE WEEK
Garden Spot (7-3) at Dover (8-2): It's a 10-7 matchup in the District 3 Class 5A playoffs as the Spartans travel to York County to take on the Eagles.
Garden Spot dropped a 35-20 decision to Solanco last week, snapping a three-game winning streak. The Spartan offense found a new gear in the season's second half, peaking with a 66-21 rout of Elizabethtown in Week 9. Garden Spot finished the regular season ranked third among L-L League teams in total offense, averaging 408 yards per game.
Quarterback Kye Harting is the main catalyst on offense for Garden Spot. He's completed 120 of 217 pass attempts for 1,737 yards and 19 touchdowns (with just two picks) and has 1,076 yards and 12 TDs on the ground. His top target is wideout Zac Nagle, who has hauled in 47 receptions for 797 yards and eight scores.
Dover finished the regular season as the runner-up to New Oxford in the YAIAA Division 2 title race. (The Colonials, who are the No. 3 seed in the Class 5A playoffs, received a first-round bye and are idle this week.) The Eagles are riding a six-game winning streak into the postseason; their only losses came to South Western (41-13 in Week 2) and New Oxford (36-18 in Week 4).
Dover finished second among YAIAA teams in total offense (395 yards per game). Junior QB Aric Campbell played a large role in padding those numbers. His 2,033 passing yards led the league, while his 18 passing TDs ranked third. Senior Gavin Mullins was one of six YAIAA players to break the 1,000-yard milestone in the regular season; he finished with 1,033 yards and 11 TDs on 165 carries. WR Thomas Smyser ranked second among YAIAA receivers with 49 catches, and his 962 yards ranked first. Smyser has eight TD catches this season.
Dover is in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Eagles are 1-7 in seven previous appearances.
Garden Spot hasn't been in Districts since 2014. The Spartans are 4-11 overall and are looking to snap a five-game losing streak in the postseason.
The winner of this matchup advances to the quarterfinals, where they will face No. 2 Exeter (10-0).
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Cedar Cliff (7-3) at Shippensburg (7-3): We'll stay in the Class 5A bracket for this showdown, a rematch of a Week 1 meeting won by the host Greyhounds, 28-10.
Shippensburg finished third in the highly competitive Mid-Penn Colonial division race and enters the postseason smarting from a 42-26 upset loss to Greencastle-Antrim in Week 10. Their other two losses came to playoff qualifiers Gettysburg (17-14) and Northern York (17-6).
Quarterback Tucker Chamberlain leads the Shippensburg offense, with 1,225 yards on 64-of-128 passing. He's been picked off eight times and thrown for 13 touchdowns, so he'll have to protect the ball. RB Traevon Kater (119-898, five TDs) and wideout Erby Weller (30-655, eight TDs) are key cogs in the offense as well.
After struggling to a 2-3 record at the season's midpoint, Cedar Cliff righted its ship in the second half to reel off five straight victories, earning the Colts a third-place finish in the Mid-Penn Keystone race.
Sophomore quarterback Bennett Secrest completed 105 of 184 passes for 1,243 yards and 17 touchdowns to lead Cedar Cliff's pass-heavy attack. Six of his touchdown tosses went to leading receiver Nathan Lusk, who has 33 catches for 402 yards.
Cedar Cliff is making its 17th appearance in the District 3 playoffs. The Colts have a 14-13 overall playoff record, which includes a 3-3 mark in six title-game appearances.
Shipp is back in the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. The Greyhounds have a 6-14 playoff record.
Friday's winner will visit top-seeded Solanco (10-0) in the quarterfinals.
Cocalico (6-4) at Elizabethtown (8-2): The Frenzy Five's final 5A playoff matchup features a pair of Lancaster-Lebanon League foes and former Section 2 neighbors.
The 12th-seeded Eagles had an up-and-down season, finishing third in Section 4. They won their last three games to grab the final 5A playoff berth. Cocalico's four losses all game to district playoff qualifiers; they've dropped decisions to top-seeded Solanco (21-7), Class 4A second seed Manheim Central (35-19), Class 4A third seed Lampeter-Strasburg (23-14), and Class 3A top seed and statewide powerhouse Wyomissing (38-7).
The Eagles love to run the ball and average 296 yards per game on the ground. Their main workhorse is RB Sam Steffey, who has 1,128 yards and 15 TDs on 181 carries, but seven other Eagle players have carried the ball at least 10 times this season.
E-town led the L-L League in offense this season, averaging 458.8 yards per game. The Bears finished second behind undefeated Solanco in the L-L League Section 3 race after falling 35-32 to the Golden Mules in Quarryville. E-town's other loss was a 66-21 beatdown at the hands of Garden Spot.
Cocalico will have to find a way to slow down E-town's three-pronged attack of quarterback and L-L League passing leader Josh Rudy (2,733 yards, 26 TDs), WR Braden Cummings (a league-high 61 catches, 1,493 yards and 17 TDs) and workhorse rusher Logan Lentz (1,039 yards, 15 TDs).
Cocalico has a long, storied history in the District 3 playoffs. This is the Eagles' 24th appearance. They have a 26-19 record and made 10 championship game appearances, winning the title three times.
E-town is 4-6 in six previous playoff appearances, the most recent in 2018.
Friday's winner advances to a quarterfinal matchup with No. 4 Gettysburg (8-2).
Schuylkill Valley (6-4) at West Perry (9-1): Moving to the Class 3A bracket, the host Mustangs will be looking to shake off their first loss of the season, a 53-34 setback to powerhouse Steelton-Highspire in Week 10.
That loss cost West Perry the Mid-Penn Capital division title. The Mustangs gave up 544 yards in the loss, which is far from normal for their defense. But it's notable that the Mustang offense put up 340 yards and scored five times against the Rollers.
Quarterback Marcus Quaker is one of the main cogs on offense for West Perry. He's ranked second in the Mid-Penn in passing yardage (1,960 with a 124-of-194 completion rate) and third in TD passes (21) and has an additional 962 yards and 20 scores on the ground. RB Trent Herrera (139-867, 9 TDs) is another weapon for the Mustangs, while wideout Ian Goodling's 64 catches, 1,182 yards and 15 touchdowns all led the conference in the regular season.
Schuylkill Valley finished in a three-way tie for second in the L-L League Section 5 race. The Panthers dropped a 44-41 decision to unbeaten section champ Lancaster Catholic in Week 10 and fell 42-10 to Annville-Cleona in Week 9. Their other two losses came in the first two weeks of the season, against Upper Perkiomen and Twin Valley.
RB Dom Giuffre is the main guy to look out for on offense for Schuylkill Valley. His 1,424 yards rank fifth among L-L League rushers, while his 25 TDs tied for second. Giuffre is also a dangerous receiver, with 16 catches for 243 yards and two scores. QB Michael Goad has completed 76 of 124 pass attempts for 874 yards and a pair of TDs, but he's been picked off eight times.
Schuylkill Valley is coached by former Lancaster Catholic coach Bruce Harbach, who led the Crusaders to two state titles and four district titles during his 16-year tenure there. The Panthers are making their first district playoff appearance since 2014. They have never won a title and have a 1-6 overall record.
West Perry is in the playoffs for the second straight year and the seventh time overall. The Mustangs' last playoff win came in 2018, and their record stands at 2-6.
Friday's winner advances to face Lancaster Catholic, the No. 2 seed, in the semifinals. The Crusaders, along with top-seeded Wyomissing, are idle this week.
Trinity (6-4) at Delone Catholic (7-3): Two of the district's most successful small-school programs will meet in one of two Class 2A semifinals Friday night when the Shamrocks visit McSherrystown to take on the Squires for the second time this season.
Trinity defeated Delone 35-7 in Week 1 and went on to finish second to Steel-High in the Mid-Penn Capital race. The Shamrocks won five of their last six games after starting the season 1-3. The only loss during their hot streak was a 35-28 overtime heartbreaker against the Rollers on Oct. 20.
Trinity relies on a run-heavy offensive philosophy anchored by running backs Messiah Mickens and Max Schlager, who have almost evenly divided the carries this season and have accounted for nearly 1,000 rushing yards and more than a dozen touchdowns as a tandem.
The Squires started the season 0-3, but thrived once they got into the YAIAA Division 3 portion of their schedule, going 7-0 in the conference to capture their second straight title and return to the postseason.
Like Trinity, Delone prefers to keep the ball on the ground. The Squires ranked second among all YAIAA teams by averaging 221 rushing yards per game, paced by junior Brady Dettinburn, who racked up 1,030 yards and found the end zone 11 times.
QB Denver Ostrum completed 75 of 115 pass attempts for 1,055 yards and 13 TDs this season. His top target, Ryder Noel, hauled in 29 catches for 451 yards and 13 scores.
Delone is in the playoffs for the 25th time and has an overall record of 25-16. The Squires have won eight titles, the most recent coming in 2012.
Trinity is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. This is the Shamrocks' 10th overall appearance. They've got a 9-7 overall record and two championships, including one win over Delone in the 2022 Class 2A final.
Friday's winner faces the winner of the other semifinal between Camp Hill (5-5) and Annville-Cleona (7-3).