YORK, Pa. — At this time last year, Steelton-Highspire was on the first leg of a long postseason journey that ended with District 3 and PIAA Class 1A championships.
And for most of this season, it looked like the Rollers were gearing up for another deep playoff run.
That could still happen, but Steel-High has to be a bit concerned entering Saturday afternoon's District 3 final against Delone Catholic. The Rollers finished the regular season with two straight losses, which ultimately cost them the Mid-Penn Capital title.
The regular season went the opposite way for Delone. The Squires had to dig their way out of an 0-3 hole to start the season. They did so with five straight wins, but a loss to arch-rival York Catholic in Week 9 cost them their YAIAA Division III championship.
Delone responded with an 8-0 victory over Hanover two weeks ago to enter the playoffs with some momentum.
Will the Squires be able to maintain that momentum on Saturday, or will Steel-High right its ship in time to defend its title?
Let's take a look at the matchup.
Delone Catholic (6-4) at Steelton-Highspire (7-2)
Saturday, 1 p.m. at War Veterans Memorial Stadium, Steelton
ABOUT DELONE CATHOLIC: The Squires were staring at a potential lost season after opening with losses to Trinity (34-14), Lancaster Catholic (14-7) and Greencastle-Antrim (34-13). But once the YAIAA portion of the schedule began, Delone managed to turn things around. Their 13-6 loss to York Catholic on Oct. 22 ended their shot at a third straight division title, but the Squires at least enter the playoffs with some momentum.
Delone relies heavily on its ground game and defense. The Squires average 243 rushing yards per game, generated mostly by the trio of Coltyn Keller (100-662), Landen Eckert (117-625), and Dylan Staub (85-577). QB Ryder Noel has attempted 78 passes this season, completing 36 for 577 yards and seven scores.
Delone's defense, meanwhile, has given up 224 yards and 15.1 points per game.
The Squires are looking to avenge a 21-13 loss to Steel-High in last year's district final. Delone has won eight titles in its rich program history.
ABOUT STEEL-HIGH: The Rollers looked practically unbeatable for most of the regular season, reeling off seven straight victories by an average margin of 43.1 points. But then they suffered a stunning 49-14 blowout loss to Big Spring in Week 9, and followed it up with a 29-28 loss to Boiling Springs a week later.
They've had two weeks to stew over those defeats.
Steel-High averaged 49.5 points per game on offense this year, thanks mostly to the prowess of quarterback Alex Erby, who led the Mid-Penn with 2,807 passing yards and 33 touchdowns in his nine-game regular season. Most of those passes went to the trio of conference receiving leader Tyrone Moore (55-1,120, 13 TDs), Rell Ceasr Jr. (40-645, 12 TDs), and Jaieon Perry (19-433, six TDs).
The Rollers are 1-1 all-time against Delone Catholic in the district finals. They lost 28-13 to the Squires in the 2012 title game. Steel-High has won 12 district championships in 14 previous finals appearances.