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High School Football: Bishop McDevitt faces Bishop Shanahan in PIAA Class 4A semifinals

The Crusaders take on the District 1 champion Eagles Friday at 7 p.m. at Coatesville High School

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Note: The video is from Nov. 26.

After surviving a stiff battle against both Lampeter-Strasburg and the elements in last week's District 3 championship game, Bishop McDevitt -- the last Central Pennsylvania high school football team standing -- advances to the state 4A semifinals. 

The Crusaders will have another battle on their hands Friday night, when they take on District 1 champ Bishop Shanahan at 7 p.m. at Coatesville High School.

The winner advances to the PIAA Class 4A Championship Game, where they'll face either Jersey Shore (14-0) -- the state's current No. 1 4A team -- or WPIAL champ Aliquippa (11-1). 

The 4A state final is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9 in Hersheypark Stadium.

McDevitt dethroned L-S, the two-time defending district champ, in a defensive battle last week, scoring the game's only points on a touchdown run by Marquese Williams in the third quarter in a game beset by gusty wind and plunging temperatures.

To get a shot at state gold, they'll have to get past the battle-tested Eagles, who staged a fourth-quarter rally to knock off District 2 champ Valley View 35-25 in the state quarterfinals last week.

Here's a closer look at Friday's matchup.

ABOUT BISHOP MCDEVITT: The Crusaders earned their 11th straight victory despite being outgained 220-215 in total yards by L-S in last week's district final. But McDevitt's defense stood tall, forcing five Pioneer fumbles and recovering three to keep L-S out of the end zone. It was McDevitt's sixth shutout of the season.

Williams' 30-yard TD run in the third quarter proved to be the difference for the Crusaders, whose scoring output was their lowest since they were shut out 21-0 by LaSalle College in their season opener -- the only blemish on their record so far.

It's safe to say that low scoring output was an anomaly for McDevitt, which averages 48.9 points and 473 yards per game on offense this season. 

Williams, who finished with 124 yards on the ground against L-S, leads McDevitt's ground game with 1,549 yards and 24 touchdowns on 126 attempts. Junior Cyncir Bowers (72-935, seven TDs) is another weapon to contend with for the Crusaders on the ground.

Freshman QB Stone Saunders went just 3-for-14 for 38 yards and an interception in the windy conditions last week, but he has been sensational this season. He's thrown for 2,711 yards and 42 touchdowns in 12 starts, completing 127 of 195 pass attempts. 

Mario Easterly (48-896, 13 TDs) and Kamil Foster (33-808, 13 TDs) lead a dangerous Crusader receiving corps.

McDevitt, which captured its 15th District 3 title with the win over L-S, is chasing the second state title in program history. The Crusaders won the Class 2A crown in 1995, and have made 10 visits to the state semifinals in the years since.

ABOUT BISHOP SHANAHAN: The Eagles rallied from a 25-21 deficit against Valley View in the fourth quarter, surviving a pair of safeties produced by special teams gaffes by forcing three turnovers in the final stanza. 

Quarterback Cooper Jordan turned one of those turnovers into points with a two-yard sneak to give Shanahan a 28-25 advantage. Then Sean Bracken snagged a tipped ball and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown to end Valley View's last threat in the game's final seconds.

Bracken's pick was one of 30 interceptions produced by the Shanahan secondary this season. The Eagles were singed a bit by Valley View's punishing ground game, which produced 204 yards, but held the Cougars to just eight passing yards.

Jordan, the main playmaker for Shanahan, completed 10 of 12 passes for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go along with his 61 rushing yards. Colin McGrory added 30 rushing yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 58 yards and a score for the Eagles. 

Jordan, a four-year starter for Shanahan, is one of 30 seniors on the Eagles' roster. He's accounted for more than 3,100 yards and 46 touchdowns as both a rushing and passing threat this season, and will likely be the focus of McDevitt's defensive game plan.

Coach Paul Meyers has been in charge of the team since the early 2000's, when football returned to Bishop Shanahan.

Despite its smaller student population, Shanahan competes with a bunch of 6A programs -- including perennial powerhouses Downingtown East, Downingtown West, and Coatesville -- in the competitive Ches-Mont League National Division. 

The Eagles went 1-3 against division foes in the regular season, but thrived once the postseason started -- and they were playing against schools their own size. They dusted Pottsgrove 40-6 to win the District 1 title, then knocked off Bonner-Pendergast 14-7 in the first round of States. 

That victory was Shanahan's first state playoff win in program history.

The Eagles also won a District 1 title in 2019. This is their first visit to the state semifinals. 

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