HS Football Preview: East Pennsboro at Milton Hershey
Panthers: 3-2, 0-2 Mid-Penn Capital
Spartans: 3-2, 1-1 Mid-Penn Capital
Time/location: 7 p.m. Thursday, Henry Hershey Field, Hershey
Last time: 34-13, Milton Hershey
Breakdown: Consider this one a break for the Panthers, who are off consecutive dominating losses at the hands of division leaders Middletown and Steel-High (Palmyra is also 2-0 in the Capital). The Spartans don’t possess quite the offensive firepower either of those teams do. East Penn’s defense has struggled all season, allowing more than 7 yards a play. Of course, life is made easier whenever you have Onasis Neely on offense (118 carries, 1,049 yards, 15 TDs).
Key to the game: Spartans back Naeem Cross just lit up Camp Hill for 254 rushing yards and three TDs last week. The Panthers give up nearly 250 a game. If Cross can get going again, you’re talking about another shootout for Todd Stuter’s defense. That’s not a game you can play every week.
Our picks: Jake Adams: East Pennsboro 35, Milton Hershey 27: Don’t fault the Panthers for their recent 0-2 speed bump against Middletown and Steel-High. Those are two very good teams. Not-so-bold prediction: Onasis Neely cracks 200 yards again.
Geoff Morrow: Milton Hershey 23, East Pennsboro 20: Panthers have stalled last two weeks, while Spartans seem to have stabilized with Saturday’s takedown of Camp Hill. Tough call here, but MH has also won three straight in series.
HS Football Preview: Big Spring at Greencastle-Antrim
Bulldogs: 3-3, 0-2 Mid-Penn Colonial
Blue Devils: 2-3, 1-1 Mid-Penn Colonial
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Kaley Field, Greencastle
Last time: 49-21, Big Spring
Breakdown: The wheels have certainly fallen off the Bulldogs in recent weeks, and it’s come at arguably the worst possible time. A healthy team should’ve beaten Northern and West Perry, but now the Bulldogs, preseason favorites to contend with Shippensburg for the division title, are in danger of missing the District 3 Class 4A playoffs (current rank: 16, eight teams make playoffs) without a serious win streak.
Key to the game: The Bulldogs need to be healthy. Ryan Adams has been limited with an undisclosed injury and Ethan Lee was knocked out of last week’s loss and was on crutches after. If neither are healthy, this offense is in jeopardy, and the defense has been worn down with two straight weeks of being on the field well over half the game.
HS Football Preview: Boiling Springs at Camp Hill
Cougars: 2-3, 0-2 Mid-Penn Capital
Bubblers: 0-5, 0-2 Mid-Penn Capital
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Siebert Park, Camp Hill
Last time: 42-12, Camp Hill
Breakdown: Don’t think many people would’ve predicted these two teams would be at the bottom of the division together heading into this meeting. Both are working in new coaches and have struggled with consistency. Lions have more offensive firepower in this one, and a two-score lead early could be too much for the Bubblers to overcome. Camp Hill needs this one to feel good about itself going into a Saturday meeting with state powerhouse Middletown next week.
Key to the game: The Lions are averaging barely 100 yards per game on the ground, but 5.6 yards per carry. The Bubblers are susceptible to the ground game, allowing 6.5 a touch and 235 yards a game. Could be a good game for Camp Hill to get Nick Perry going.
HS Football Preview: Susquehanna Twp. at Carlisle
Indians: 3-2, 2-0 Mid-Penn Keystone
Thundering Herd: 3-2, 0-2 Mid-Penn Commonwealth
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Ken Millen Stadium, Carlisle
Last time: 35-6, Susquehanna Twp.
Breakdown: Hard to peg this one, as the Herd are fresh off facing two Commonwealth behemoths in a row, State College and Central Dauphin. Carlisle is already 2-0 against Keystone Division teams, but the Tribe are the best from that division that Brett Ickes’ squad will face this year. If the Herd offense gets going, this has the makings of a high-scoring affair.
Key to the game: The Indians’ offense is largely predicated on QB Rahsaan Carlton hitting Roland Norfleet for big gains. Carlton goes to his top target nearly a third of the time (full stats for the season were not available), to the tune of more than 20 yards a reception. Carlisle is weak against the pass, allowing 9.3 yards per attempt, but only 143.4 yards a game.
HS Football Preview: Cedar Cliff at Hershey
Colts: 0-2, 2-3 Mid-Penn Keystone
Trojans: 0-1, 2-3 Mid-Penn Keystone
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey
Last time: 50-2, Cedar Cliff
Breakdown: Colts have dropped three straight (York, Lower Dauphin, Bishop McDevitt) but have progressively improved throughout the skid. This could or should be their chance to flip the result, as QB Chris Dare and WR Bobby Whalen seem to have settled into these roles while RB Mike Dubas has three straight games with 90-plus rushing yards. Trojans, meanwhile, have been throttled by a combined score of 108-21 last two outings vs. McDevitt and Harrisburg.
Key to the game: Cedar Cliff’s defense has been torched more than a few times during this losing skid, but the boys held relatively strong vs. a potent McDevitt attack. Challenge this week is containing RBs Sam Carlson, Jack Shea and QB Ryan Nerino. Do that, and Colts snap skid.
HS Football Preview: State College at Cumberland Valley
Little Lions: 5-0, 1-0 Mid-Penn Commonwealth
Eagles: 4-1, 1-1 Mid-Penn Commonwealth
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Harry Chapman Field, Silver Spring Twp.
Last time: 20-16, State College
Breakdown: It's not usually a surprise at this point in the year, but here's an interesting stat: the Commonwealth has a combined record of 25-10, and the top five teams are 22-3. No division is so top heavy, not even close. As for this game, the Little Lions have chewed up five inferior programs going into this one, while the Eagles have faced stiffer competition and have largely excelled (until last week).
Key to the game: The battle in the trenches determines this one. State College boasts a MAC/FCS recruit in d-end Jackson Heasley and Delaware-bound o-lineman in Robert Nachtman. The Eagles have Jacob Fetterolf and a crew that has moved the line of scrimmage well against most teams this year.
HS Football Preview: Lower Dauphin at Mechanicsburg
Falcons: 2-3, 2-0 Mid-Penn Keystone
Wildcats: 2-3, 0-1 Mid-Penn Keystone
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, John H. Frederick Field, Mechanicsburg
Last time: 55-0, Lower Dauphin
Breakdown: Two teams headed in opposite directions right now, as Greg Kratzer’s Falcons have shrugged off a 0-3 start with convincing victories over Cedar Cliff and Red Land, while Billy Furman’s Wildcats have been roughed up in back-to-back games after a promising 2-1 start. Mechanicsburg, without some key pieces in last week’s loss to Susquehanna Twp., is expected to be shorthanded yet again. That could spell trouble.
Key to the game: Whatever Wildcats are in uniform need to do better in the passing game. The ‘Cats struggled mightily against Susquehanna Twp., though RB David Butler and his linemen created some nice holes in the run game. To sustain drives, though, a useful passing game is necessary.
HS Football Preview: Shippensburg at Mifflin County
Greyhounds: 3-2, 0-1 Mid-Penn Colonial
Huskies: 0-5, 0-1 Mid-Penn Colonial
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Mitchell Field, Lewistown
Last time: 35-30, Shippensburg
Breakdown: The Greyhounds are far removed from last year’s district finalist, but QB Carter Van Scyoc (64-118, 820 yards, 8 TDs) and RBs Adam Houser and Philip Torres, plus a versatile collection of receivers, remain potent. However, Huskies gave them fits last year, and the team seems to have turned a corner with sophomore QB Jacob Krepps seizing control. Plus WR Kross Todaro (15-244 rec.) is a proven weapon.
Key to the game: Shippensburg continues to hunt consistency in the trenches, and the best thing for Eric Foust’s group would be to put together some lengthy drives to keep the improving MiffCo offense off the field. They can do that if the beefeaters up front create holes for Houser and Torres (combined: 99-462, 6 TDs).