SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — The 2022 Pennsylvania high school football season kicks off Friday night, with a whopping 50 games on the schedule here in Central PA.
FOX43 had plenty of candidates to choose from when picking the season's first High School Football Frenzy Game of the Week, but in the end it's just impossible to resist a playoff rematch.
That's why Friday night's Game of the Week will be a battle of Mid-Penn Conference neighbors who met in last year's District 3 Class 5A quarterfinals: Cedar Cliff and Shippensburg.
The game will kick off at 7 p.m. in Camp Hill. FOX43 will set up all the action with the High School Football Frenzy pre-game show at 6, live from the Cedar Cliff sidelines.
Then we'll mop up all of Friday night's action with a newly expanded, half-hour High School Football Frenzy Post-Game Show at 11 p.m.
To whet your appetite, here's this week's Frenzy Five -- a glance at our Game of the Week, plus four other notable Week 1 matchups elsewhere in Central PA.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Shippensburg at Cedar Cliff
Shippensburg captured the Mid-Penn Colonial title with a perfect 10-0 regular season and won its playoff opener last year, but the season ended on a bitter note with a surprising 10-7 loss to Cedar Cliff in the district quarterfinals. It's a loss that still stings months later.
This year, Greyhounds will have to replace some key losses on defense. QB-stalking defensive end Anthony Smith graduated, taking his talents to the University of Minnesota, and several other impact players from last year along the defensive line and at linebacker are also gone.
Those players, the heart of a defense that allowed fewer than 10 points a game last year, will be sorely missed.
But Shipp brings back the bulk of its offensive skill players, as quarterback Tucker Chamberlin, wideout Erby Weller and running backs Amari Kerr and Traevon Kater all return to the fold.
Chamberlin passed for 1,144 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior, while Weller hauled in a team-high 36 receptions for for 744 yards and 10 scores. Kerr and Kater combined for more than 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns to power the ground game.
After an 8-2 regular season and a second-place finish in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division, Cedar Cliff stunned Shipp in the district playoffs before bowing out with a 42-35 loss to eventual champion Exeter Township in the semifinal round.
This year, the Colts will have to overcome the loss of running back Jontae Morris, a 2,100-yard rusher who scored 23 touchdowns in his senior season and is now plying his trade at Millersville University.
Trenton Smith, the Colts' top wideout last season (59-947, eight TDs) is gone as well.
But quarterback Ethan Dorrell, who passed for 1,690 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, returns to spearhead the offense. He's protected by senior offensive tackle Lucas Andrezeski, a 6-4, 270-pound behemoth that Pennlive considers to be one of the best linemen in the conference.
Several key members of the Cedar Cliff defense return to their starting roles as well.
It's a tough challenge right out the gate for two teams that will be looking to get right back into the playoff chase this fall.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Manheim Township at Cumberland Valley: The Blue Streaks qualified for the District 3 Class 6A playoffs last year as the No. 8 seed, falling 26-14 to top-seeded Central York in the first round to finish 6-5. Cumberland Valley just missed a playoff berth after a 5-5 regular season. Both teams are looking for improvement this year. Friday night's matchup pits Township QB Hayden Johnson, a 2,000-yard passer last season, against an experienced CV defense that could power a resurgence for the once-mighty Eagles, who are expected to contend in a crowded Mid-Penn Commonwealth division.
Warwick at Cocalico: It's the first of eight road games this season for Warwick, whose home stadium is undergoing renovations and won't be open until later in the season. To make things even more challenging for them, the Warriors have arguably the toughest schedule in the L-L League, now that they're part of a reconfigured Section 2 grouping that also features Berks County invaders Governor Mifflin and Exeter Township along with perennial district powerhouse Manheim Central. Cocalico has moved to a new-look Section 4 that includes back-to-back state finalist Wyomissing, fellow Berks interloper Berks Catholic, and perennial Lancaster County contender Lampeter-Strasburg, so it's unlikely the Eagles will have much sympathy for Warwick's plight. It's imperative for both Cocalico and Warwick to start strong -- because their schedules only gets harder from here.
Central Dauphin at Central York: The host Panthers will play their first game in four years without quarterback Beau Pribula, who took his talents to Happy Valley after a brilliant high school career. The heir to the starting QB job, Nasir Still, does not have Pribula's local Q-rating, but the senior is ready to make a name for himself after spending three years as Pribula's understudy. The good news for Stills is that Central York has a ton of experience talent back in the fold, and looks like another solid season is in the works. Central Dauphin missed the playoffs last year during a COVID-shortened eight-game campaign. The Rams went 5-3 and sat out the month of November for the first time in 18 years. The returning players -- and there are a ton with starting experience -- want to take the program back to its former glory, but they've got a tough non-league schedule to contend with. After Friday's challenge with the powerful Panthers, CD takes on Coatesville and Wilson before jumping into the always challenging Mid-Penn Commonwealth slate. Yikes.
York Catholic at Lancaster Catholic: The big news for York Catholic is the offseason departure of coach Eric Depew, who resigned to take another coaching gig at his alma mater, Red Land. Depew led the Fighting Irish to four District 3 titles and 10 state playoff berths in his 10-year stint. YC won the district's 2A title last season and went 11-1. Former Depew assistant Brad Hayek inherits a team that brings back a ton of experience on both sides of the ball and looks like another playoff contender. Lancaster Catholic, a former two-time state champ, has struggled in recent years, though the Crusaders did make a brief district playoff appearance (a 56-10 loss to Boiling Springs in the first round) last year despite its 4-6 regular-season record. Third-year coach Chris Maiorino hopes for a turnaround behind experienced QB Will Cranford.