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High School Football | Trinity, Steel-High continue state playoff quests

The Shamrocks host Executive Education in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals Friday night, while Steel-High faces Northern Lehigh in Class 1A Saturday afternoon.

YORK, Pa. — The PIAA playoffs continue for a pair of Central Pennsylvania teams this weekend as Trinity hosts Executive Education in the Class 2A quarterfinals and Steelton-Highspire gets a visit from Northern Lehigh in Class 1A.

Elsewhere, Berks County powerhouse and Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 3 champ Wyomissing takes on Danville in the Class 3A playoffs.

Here's a look at all three games:


Northern Lehigh (12-1) at Steelton-Highspire (11-1)

Saturday, 1 p.m. at Steel-High

ABOUT NORTHERN LEHIGH: The Bulldogs captured the District 11 championship with a 40-15 victory over Tri-Valley on Nov. 4, then opened the state playoffs with a 40-7 rout of District 2 champion Lackawanna Trail last week. It was the eighth straight win for Northern Lehigh, whose only loss came against eventual District 11 Class 3A kingpin North Schuylkill (31-0) on Sept. 23.

That loss cost Northern Lehigh the Colonial-Schuylkill League Red Division title. 

Northern Lehigh's offense is paced by QB Nick Frame, who became the first player in program history to rush and pass for more than 1,000 yards in a season this year. Frame had 114 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and threw for 62 yards on 8-for-10 passing against Lackawanna Trail last week. 

RB Izaiah Ramos, who missed most of the season with a broken collarbone, rushed for a career-high 108 yards and scored twice for the Bulldogs last week. The injury cost Ramos seven games. 

Ramos provides the flash to backfield mate AJ Jiminez's thunder. Jiminez, who had 59 yards and a touchdown against Lackawanna Trail, had 575 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season.

Northern Lehigh relies heavily on defense, which held Lackawanna Trail to just 126 total yards and four first downs last week. The Lions, who scored at least 36 points in four of its last five outings, managed just one touchdown.

ABOUT STEEL-HIGH: The three-time District 3 champions followed up their impressive sub-regional victory over Belmont Charter with a 37-7 rout of District 5 champ Windber in last week's first round. The Roller defense shut down Windber's star running back, John Shuster, limiting him to 59 yards on 29 carries. 

Shuster came into the game with more than 2,600 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns, averaging 13.2 yards per carry. Against Steel-High, he managed just under two yards per carry, and his only touchdown came well after the Rollers had established control.

It was the ninth straight victory for Steel-High, whose only loss came all the way back in Week 2, a 39-18 setback against Westinghouse, an undefeated state-playoff qualifier in Class 2A.

Since then, Steel-High has defeated nine straight opponents by an average margin of 39.4 points per game. 

Last Saturday's victory over Windber followed a familiar formula. The Rollers got star performances from quarterback Alex Erby (17-for-20, 222 yards, three TDs) and Ronald Burnette (204 yards, three TDs on 22 carries), while their defense held Windber to 109 yards and forced two turnovers.

A talented junior, Erby already owns just about every passing record in Steel-High annals, and is trying to lead the Rollers to their second state title during his three-year tenure as a starter. Erby has already thrown for 8,165 yards and 110 touchdowns for Steel-High -- and he's got one more year to go before his high school career his over.

Slowing down Erby, who has 2,411 yards and 39 touchdowns this season, is tough enough. But defenses also have to contend with wideout Durrell Caeser Jr. (61 catches, 1,033 yards, 15 TDs) and multi-threat Jaeon Perry (29 catches, 508 yards, eight TDs) on the flanks.

To make matters worse for opposing coordinators, Ronald Burnette, who had 455 yards and eight TDs in the regular season, erupted for 204 yards and three scores against Windber last week. He needs to be accounted for as well.

Saturday's winner will take on either District 6 champ Northern Cambria (10-3) or defending state champ Canton (11-1) in the state semifinals.


Executive Education (8-3) at Trinity (9-4)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Trinity

ABOUT EXECUTIVE EDUCATION: A charter school based in Allentown, Executive Education competes in an independent schedule. The Raptors captured the District 11 title with a 32-29 victory over Catasaqua before defeating Lakeland 42-15 in the first round of States last week.

Executive Education has won five in a row. The Raptors suffered through a three-game skid in September, falling to Upper Moreland (42-19), Tri-Valley (19-18) and Jersey Shore (65-12) before righting their ship. 

The pass-happy Raptors scored a dramatic win over Catasaqua for their first-ever district title, as QB Darmel Lopez hit wideout Jyhmiek Roman for a 62-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-25 with just three seconds left on the clock. Lopez scrambled to his right and heaved the ball across his body to Roman, who eluded two defenders and raced to paydirt.

Last week, Lopez threw for three more touchdowns as the Raptors reeled off 20 straight points in the second half to turn a close game into a blowout win. 

Lopez has more than 2,000 passing yards and 20 this season for the Raptors, who are making their first state playoff appearance in their young program's history.

Executive Education won an Eastern Conference title last year, their first season as a team.

ABOUT TRINITY: The Shamrocks picked up their first-ever state playoff victory last week with a 24-0 shutout of West Catholic, holding the Burrs to 123 total yards. It was the eighth win in the last nine games for Trinity, which shook off a 1-3 start to capture the District 3 title. 

Trinity's only loss during its current hot streak was a 35-28 overtime setback against Steel-High on Oct. 20. Their early season losses came against Philly powerhouse Roman Catholic (41-14), perennial state title contender Wyomissing (35-14) and Class 3A district finalist West Perry (40-14).

Against West Catholic, Trinity QB Caleb Wray found Trey Weiand for a 32-yard touchdown, while backfield mates Max Schlager and Messiah Mickens scored on short TD runs and John Paukovits added a 39-yard field goal.

That's been the winning formula for Trinity for most of the season. Wray has thrown for 1,062 yards and 12 TDs, while Mickens (894 yards, 16 TDs) and Schlager (832 yards, 11 TDs) lead a potent ground attack.

Friday's winner faces either perennial powerhouse Southern Columbia (10-3) or District 6 champ Bishop Guifoyle (10-3) in the state semifinals.


Wyomissing (12-0) at Danville (12-0)

Friday, 7 p.m.

ABOUT WYOMISSING: The Spartans captured their fourth straight District 3 championship with a 63-7 rout of West Perry in last week's title game. Now Wyomissing embarks on another state-playoff run. The Spartans have reached the last two state title games, but are 0-2 in the finals over that span.

Wyomissing joined the Lancaster-Lebanon League along with 15 other Berks County programs this fall, and captured the Section 4 championship in its first season. The Spartans' winning formula revolves a punishing ground game anchored by its massive offensive line and the backfield trio of Charlie McIntyre, Matt Kramer and Drew Eisenhower, who have combined for 2,589 yards and 46 touchdowns.

Wyomissing averages 326 yards per game on the ground, while the Spartan defense yields just 165.3 total yards per game.

The Spartans captured a PIAA Class 2A championship in 2012, when they beat Aliquippa 17-14. Wyomissing has reached the Class 3A state title game in each of the past two seasons, but fell to Central Valley both times. (Central Valley faces Aliquippa this week in the WPIAL final, which doubles as the state quarterfinals.)

ABOUT DANVILLE: The Ironmen defeated Loyalsock Township 41-20 to capture their third straight District 4 championship last week. It was Danville's second victory over Loyasock this season; the Ironmen also won their regular-season meeting with the Lancers, 17-14.

This year, Danville rode a balanced offense and powerful defense to 12 consecutive wins. The Ironmen have won eight games by shutout and outscored their opponents 598-56. The only team to come within 35 points of Danville this season is Loyalsock, which did it twice but lost both games.

Senior quarterback Zach Gordon leads the Danville offense, which averages 406 yards per game. Gordon has completed 90 of 120 passes for 1,856 yards and 27 touchdowns. Senior Ty Stauffer is the Ironmen's leading rusher, with 1,021 yards and 18 scores on 136 attempts.

Senior Carson Persing is the top receiving threat for Danville, with 968 yards and 21 touchdowns on 44 receptions.

While Danville has won seven district titles in program history, the Ironmen have never won a state title, nor have they ever appeared in a championship game.

Friday's winner will face either District 12 champion Neuman-Goretti (8-3) or District 11 champ Northwestern Lehigh (11-2) in the state semifinals.

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