The District 3 playoffs continue with 12 matchups Friday night and one contest Saturday afternoon, and FOX43 will be in the midst of it.
This week’s High School Football Frenzy will be LIVE at 6 p.m. from the site of our Game of the Week: the Class 6A semifinal showdown between Central Dauphin and Manheim Township in Neffsville, Lancaster County.
But that’s far from the only juicy matchup on this week’s docket.
Here are five games we’ll be keeping a close eye on this week:
FOX43 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FRENZY GAME OF THE WEEK
Central Dauphin (9-2) at Manheim Township (11-0)
They might play in two different conferences, but there’s certainly no lack of familiarity between the Rams and the Blue Streaks, who have met 14 times over the last 10 seasons — including a non-conference clash earlier this year. While Manheim Township won this year’s matchup 10-7, Central Dauphin holds a 10-4 advantage since 2010. The Rams defeated Township 37-0 in last year’s district playoffs, avenging a regular-season loss to the Streaks.
Township would love to avenge that defeat — and wipe away the sting of last week’s narrow 32-26 escape against Cumberland Valley in the quarterfinals. The Streaks trailed 13-0 early and were down by nine points in the fourth quarter before rallying to defeat the Eagles. Township turned the ball over four times in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance.
Still, a win is a win — and the Streaks haven’t lost yet this season. Township boasts the L-L League’s top offense (416 yards and 50.2 points per game) and its stingiest defense (129 yards and 8.1 points per game) and one of its top quarterbacks in senior Harrison Kirk, who has passed for 2,234 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 133 of 216 attempts.
RB Jaden Floyd scored two touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner, against CV last week. He’s got 890 yards and 12 scores on 139 attempts. Five different receivers have collected at least 19 catches for Township, led by Nathan Carpenter (24-300, three TDs) and Floyd (20-419, four TDs).
Central Dauphin, the No. 3 seed in the 6A bracket, hasn’t lost since that Week 3 heartbreaker against Township. The Rams roll into the rematch riding an eight-game winning streak. They shook off a 1-2 start (they also fell 21-13 to Wilson in their season opener) to capture the Mid-Penn Commonwealth title, and buried Cedar Crest 36-6 in last week’s quarterfinals, led by a two-touchdown performance from running back Timmy Smith and a swarming defense that generated four turnovers and two scores in the third quarter.
Sophomore QB Max Mosey has completed 109 of 170 passes for 1,606 yards and 13 TDs with just two interceptions this season. Smith is the Rams’ top rusher, with 809 yards and eight scores on 127 attempts. Senior Nick Chimienti has a team-high 39 catches for 735 yards and six TDs.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Warwick (9-2) at Manheim Central (9-2)
It’s the second time this season that these two northern Lancaster County neighbors have met; Warwick rolled to a dominating 37-7 victory over Central in the FOX43 Frenzy Game of the Week in early September. Now they meet again in the District 3 Class 5A quarterfinals.
The host Barons fell 49-14 to Wilson a week later, dropping their record to 2-2 and raising questions about the longterm outlook for the season. But Central has righted things since then, rolling to seven straight victories and a 26th L-L League Section 2 championship. The Barons hammered Waynesboro 48-0 in last week’s first round.
Quarterback Evan Simon has thrown for 2,411 yards and 23 touchdowns and leads Central with 282 yards and 14 scores on the ground. His top target, wideout Colby Wagner, is second in the L-L League in receptions (68), first in yardage (1,361) and second in touchdowns (12).
Powered in part by its blowout win over Central in Week 3, Warwick roared to a 6-0 start before hitting a mid-season slump, falling to Manheim Township (28-7) and Wilson (14-7) in consecutive weeks. Those losses dropped the Warriors into third place in Section 1, which is where they finished the season. But Warwick has won three in a row since then, including a 34-6 blowout of Mechanicsburg in last week’s quarterfinals.
Warwick QB Joey McCracken has completed 136 of 214 passes for 2,338 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. He’s only been picked off twice. McCracken’s top targets, Conor Adams and Caleb Smitz, have a combined 90 catches for 1,613 yards and 19 scores. RB Colton Miller (181-934, 23 TDs) is closing in on the 1,000-yard plateau for the Warriors.
Susquehanna Township (7-3) at Bishop McDevitt (7-3)
This is a rematch of a Mid-Penn Keystone Division clash in the final week of the regular season, won 17-13 by McDevitt. That was enough to give the Crusaders the No. 4 seed in the 4A bracket and ensure they had home field advantage for the rematch. Both teams earned a bye through the first round, so this is the first time they’ll be in action since that Week 10 clash.
The win over Hanna was the fifth straight for McDevitt, whose only losses came to Cedar Cliff (20-17), Middletown (6-2) and Cumberland Valley (21-7).
McDevitt’s offense is carried by a trio of underclassmen: junior QB Lek Powell (128-201-6, 1,663 yards, 15 TDs), freshman RB Marquese Williams (121-817, 12 TDs) and sophomore wideout Mario Easterly (51-739, seven TDs).
But it was the Crusader defense that led the way in the first matchup with Hanna; McDevitt held the Indians to just 27 total yards. Both of Hanna’s scores were special teams touchdowns — a 42-yard punt return by Jacob Seigle and an 88-yard kickoff return by Stevie Graves.
Hanna closed out the regular season with back-to-back losses. In addition to their defeat against McDevitt, the Indians fell 21-14 to Cedar Cliff in Week 9. Hanna’s only other loss was a 16-7 defeat against Manheim Central in Week 1.
The Indians’ offense is paced by quarterback Rahsaan Carlton, with Seigle doing damage at running back and Graves doing a little bit of everything.
The Hanna defense is anchored by Penn State commit Fatorma Mulbah up front and Maine recruit Tyshawn Stewart at linebacker.
Lancaster Catholic (10-1) at Middletown (9-1)
This Class 3A semifinal features two teams who are no strangers to playoff success; Middletown and Lancaster Catholic have District 3 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, second-seeded Middletown returns to action after a week off, having received a bye through last week’s 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.