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High School Football: District 3 Class 4A semifinals preview

Top-seeded Bishop McDevitt hosts Berks Catholic in one semifinal showdown, while defending champ Lampeter-Strasburg takes on No. 3 Kennard-Dale in the other.
Credit: WPMT

YORK, Pa. — Lampeter-Strasburg and Bishop McDevitt have have been on a collision course in the District 3 Class 4A playoffs since the brackets dropped two weeks ago. But they can't meet until the championship game, and both face major obstacles this week in the semifinals.

The top-seeded Crusaders have to get past Berks Catholic tonight, while L-S, the two-time defending district champ, faces a test from upstart Kennard-Dale, which is looking to extend the best season in program history with its biggest win yet.

Here's a closer look at both matchups.

Berks Catholic (7-4) at Bishop McDevitt (9-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Rocco Ortenzio Stadium, Harrisburg

ABOUT BERKS CATHOLIC: The Saints reached the semifinals with a 21-7 victory over Cocalico last Friday, holding the Eagles' fearsome ground attack to nearly 100 yards under its average production. Cocalico dominated the first half, but could only find the end zone once over that span. BC forced a pair of turnovers to set up two touchdowns and held on for the victory, ending its late-season swoon.

BC lost two of its last three regular-season games, so the Cocalico win was much-needed. The Saints fell 33-21 to Exeter on Oct. 15, rebounded against Muhlenberg a week later, but dropped a 42-13 decision to Governor Mifflin in its last regular-season game.

RB Chris Cacchione (160-1,095, 19 TDs) fuels a potent BC ground game that averages 229 yards per game. Quarterback Mitchell Gatz has completed 42 of 68 pass attempts for 755 yards and 13 scores this season.

Berks Catholic is trying to get back to the district title game for the seventh time since 2014. The Saints have won three titles over that span, their last coming in 2017, when they beat Bishop McDevitt 45-24 in the Class 4A final. The Crusaders returned the favor one year later, knocking off BC 41-31. 

ABOUT BISHOP MCDEVITT: The Crusaders rolled to their ninth straight victory with a 62-0 rout of Northern York in the district quarterfinals. McDevitt rolled up 550 yards of offense while holding the Polar Bears to 44 total yards. 

Marquese Williams rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns for the Crusaders, while backfield mate Cyncir Bowers ran for 115 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, freshman QB Stone Saunders threw for 283 yards and a pair of TDs to Kamil Foster, who finished with 112 yards on three catches.

McDevitt hasn't lost since dropping a 21-0 decision to Philly-area powerhosue La Salle College in its season opener. Since then, the Crusaders have defeated their opponents by an average margin of 56.6 points per game. 

Saunders has thrown for 2,366 yards and 38 touchdowns on 105-of-150 passing this season, with just one interception. Williams has rushed for 1,318 yards and 22 scores, while Foster (25-691, 12 TDs) and Mario Easterly (38-754, 11 TDs) pace the receiving corps. 

McDevitt is chasing its 18th district title and its first since 2018. 

Kennard-Dale (10-1) at Lampeter-Strasburg (10-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Pioneer Field, Lampeter

ABOUT KENNARD-DALE: The Rams continued the best season in program history by rallying for a 28-14 victory over Donegal last week in the quarterfinals. 

It was the first playoff win in program history for Kennard-Dale, which fought back from a 14-13 fourth-quarter deficit with two touchdowns.

The scoreboard wasn't a great indicator of how the game went, as K-D trailed the Indians despite dominating yardage and time of possession. The Rams finished with 368 total yards, including 267 on the ground, while holding Donegal to 136 total yards. 

K-D averages 295 yards per game on the ground, but shares the ball among a handful of backfield rushers. There are five Rams that have logged at least 50 carries this season, led by senior Micah Partee (108-682, eight TDs). QB Jacob Copenhaver has completed 22 of 46 passes for 603 yards and four touchdowns. He had a 75-yard TD pass to Jed Peters during last week's victory over Donegal.

Since falling 18-16 to Octorara in Week 1, K-D has reeled off 10 straight victories. The Rams won the YAIAA Division II title in the regular season. 

K-D and L-S share two common opponents: Donegal and Solanco. In addition to last week's win over Donegal, the Rams defeated Solanco 33-15 on Sept. 3. 

L-S blasted Donegal 55-0 on Oct. 8, and defeated Solanco 28-14 on Sept. 17.

ABOUT LAMPETER-STRASBURG: The two-time defending 4A champs routed Big Spring 62-13 last week behind big performances from QB Berkeley Wagner and RBs Giovanni Malatesta and Payton Cunningham. 

Wagner completed seven of nine pass attempts for 205 yards and three touchdowns and added 96 rushing yards on 12 carries. Malatesta found the end zone three times and rushed for 43 yards on five carries, while Cunningham rushed for 115 yards and two TDs on eight attempts.

It was the 10th straight victory for Lampeter-Strasburg, whose only loss was a 45-22 decision at Warwick in the season opener. 

Wagner is the Pioneers' leading rusher this season, with 754 yards and 13 scores on 121 attempts. There are four L-S players with at least 50 carries, and nine Pioneers have notched at least one rushing touchdown this season.

L-S averages 392.9 yards per game on offense, while its defense limits opponents to 189.4 yards and 10.5 points per game. The Pioneers have shut out four opponents and held four others to 14 points or less.

The Pioneers are chasing their third straight district title and their fourth overall. They have made back-to-back visits to the PIAA semifinals. 

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