District 3 Playoffs: 6A write ups

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District 3: 6A playoffs
** Home teams on left.
(All games are Nov 11 at 7 except Harrisburg-Wilson that is Nov 12 at 1PM)

Hempfield 8-2 (1) vs Carlisle 6-4 (8)
The Black Knights are sitting pretty atop the district in the postseason following a campaign where they won 3 of 5 games against high end comp, and playing half the field of 8 in the regular season. None were more impressive than conference road wins at Wilson 20-16 and Manheim Township 17-14 to secure the Lancaster Lebanon-1 championship. The other win was against York 35-32, with losses to Central York 30-20 and undefeated 5A Exeter (10-0, D3) 44-22. Unfortunately for Hempfield, they were coming off their biggest win in years (Wilson) with nothing left for Exeter’s big machine. The Knights averaged 28ppg and allow 18. Not bad against that schedule. They did it with a balanced attack with first year starter Jackson Landis throwing for 1561 yards at 61%. His 12/7 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions is telling as Pick 6’s of 90 yards against Central York and 89 vs Exeter were instrumental in those losses. Grant Hoover rushed for 858 yards with Landis spreading it out to 4 receivers pulling down 103 of his passes for 1408 yards. With heavy and key grad losses, combined with road games at Wilson and Township, no one expected this level of success from the Black Knights. But here they are!
The Thundering Herd from Carlisle come storming into this one with a 3-0 finish that included a surprising 26-20 road win at Cumberland Valley. Otherwise, they’re only 0-4 vs quality, losing big to Harrisburg 44-15, State College 44-20, York 54-47 and Central Dauphin, included per losing to them 42-14. That, combined with a D yield of 27ppg (2nd worst in field) sees them as the 8th seed. An offense which also averages 27ppg has them at the bottom in the field of eight. But they’re quick and athletic with a capable Qb in Louis Shank (60%, 6/6, 1277py, 97/266ry), a multi-talented Jeremiah Hargrove (5-9, 190, 101.523ry, 25/356py) and the versatile Ezeekai Thomas (6-0, 185) who will line up anywhere with 104 rush yards on 34 carries, 20 receptions for 196 yards and 7 completions on 12 attempts for 204 yards. Speedster Carson Swartz (5-10, 160) can motor, pulling down 28 throws for 552 yards. They have just enough to be a threat as evidenced by the narrow 54-47 loss at York and 26-20 win at CV.

Cumberland Valley 7-2 (4) vs Manheim Township 7-3 (5)
Cumberland Valley’s balance on offense against a quality schedule kept them in all games this year, with wins against Manheim Township (8-3) 31-27, Central York (9-1) 35-33 and Spring Ford (7-3) 28-16. But the defense slipped a little, allowing 24ppg (year ending) in losses to Harrisburg (7-2) 30-14, Carlisle (6-4) 26-20 and State College (10-0) 48-31. Their schedule is the hardest in the field, playing the above group of six who have a combined record of 47-13. At 31ppg, the ‘Spread’ in year three is taking hold, led by duel threat Qb Isaac Sines (61%, 15/3, 1061, 113-844ry/19Tds), Rb Bryce Staretz (6-1, 220) 104/574ry, Joshua Wagenheim 63/463ry and J D Hunter 60/780ry, 8/153py, 62 tackles. Four receivers with 38 catches have 672 yards in receptions, led by Griffin Huffman 21/314 and Paddy Hernjak 12/268. They have multiple weapons led by their centerpiece at quarterback where Sines has 34 touchdowns! The defense is supported by a solid line-backing corps led by Bryce Beutler (11, 225, 69 tackles), JD Hunter (6-0, 190, 62 stops), Josh Wagenheim (5-10, 195, 52 tackles) and Alex Sauve (6-1, 205, 65 tackles). They concluded the regular season with a 37-6 win at home against Altoona for some momentum following consecutive losses to Carlisle and State College.
Manheim Township’s pass heavy offense at 32ppg is sizeable with a defense allowing 16ppg in support. Their 3 losses were to high quality teams including Hempfield 17-14 and Wilson 27-21 in conference action, and Cumberland Valley 31-27 in the opener making this a rematch. Away games have not been an issue for the Streaks at 4-1 with solid wins at Spring Ford (7-3) 17-14 and powerful Harrisburg (7-2) 24-20. Qb Hayden Johnson is the focal point on offense, passing the ball 49.5 % of all attempts (run-pass) for 2077 yards. His Td to Pick ratio is 23 to 6, with a 73% completion rate. Four running backs factor in, led by Declan Clancy (77/622) and Shymere Covington (47/282). The receiver corps is deep with London Kennell (53/585) and Asher Wolfe (28/354), supported by Nick Palumbo (30/323) and Nick Good (23/279). Good is especially versatile with 53 carries for 191 yards. They’ll be a tough out, especially in a rematch.

Central York 9-1 (2) vs York 6-3 (7)
Second seeded Central York was maybe a notch below Hempfield in terms of expectations for this season as they also graduated key personnel, namely, Beau Pribula now at Penn State. But they returned a core, with players developing perhaps beyond expectations. Quarterback Nasir Still has blown everyone away with a 68% completion rate, (79/116) for 1232 yards, and rushing for 499 yards on 47 attempts. Running back Juelz Goff has been a true gem rushing for 1390 yards and snagging 17 tosses for 226 yards. Veteran Parker Hines returned to the receiving corps to provide stability there, catching 36 passes for 618 yards. This core of old and new won their fourth straight York-Adams title fielding a team that averaged 42ppg! Talk about a streak; they haven’t lost a conference game since 2018. They’re undefeated on the road with the only loss being to Cumberland Valley in the opener by 2 points, 35-33. They have quality wins against top seeded Hempfield (8-2) 30-20 at Hempfield, a 30-28 win against South Western (7-3) and closed the regular season with another strong road win at conference rival York 43-38 for their eighth straight win.
York High awaits their crosstown rival looking to settle a score with the most explosive team in the field averaging 45ppg. They’re also the worst defense in the group allowing 31ppg. No one said they weren’t exciting! Quarterback Sam Stoner is a handful completing 68% of his passes for 1998 yards. His Td to Pick ratio is 24/6. He has great options in the backfield where he can hand off to Jaheim White who has 1590 rush yards, or hit him rolling out where he’s caught 33 passes for 428 yards. Stoner’s number one target is David Warde, who has 61 receptions for 927 yards. York got through the season with some very narrow losses, losing the opener to Woodland Hills 28-24, at Hempfield 35-32 and last week against Central York. Wins of note include a 54-47 home win against Carlisle and South Western (5A, 7-3) 32-14. Their explosiveness keeps them in every game.

Harrisburg 7-2 (3) vs Wilson 8-2 (6)
As powerful as Harrisburg is on paper and in fact, they still lost home games to Manheim Township (7-3, 5th seed) 24-20 and State College (10-0) 20-6, the top seed in district-6 and the Mid Penn-Commonwealth champ. The Township loss was a bitter one, with the Blue Streaks scoring on a 4-yard toss with 4 seconds left to play. The 20-6 loss to State College came with their star sophomore quarterback Shawn Lee absent. Nevertheless, they come in to the playoffs with one of the more dynamic offenses in the state, scoring 35ppg, and one of the best defenses in the state allowing 9ppg! You don’t see that nowadays with the elevation of the Spread. The team revolves offensively around a few players. Soph Qb Shawn Lee heads the list with a 70% completion rate for 1416 yards and a 14/4 ratio. He’s also rushed for 292 yards on 52 carries. Their bruising FB Mahkai Hopkins (6-2, 215) has 848 yards on 126 carries. Wide-outs Ameer Grandberry (28/346) and super freshman Elias Coke (21/359) are athletic and quick receivers. What ties all this together and makes it go is the versatile Kyle Williams who has 535 rush yards on 82 (9Tds) carries and 508 yards in receptions on 38 (6 Tds) receptions. And, there’s a lot of beef upfront, most of it underclassmen (6-4, 295, 6-1, 270, 6-4, 305, 5-10, 295, 6-1, 250) that opens huge holes and protects well enough with a mobile quarterback in Lee. When they’re ‘on’, they are one of the best teams in the state.
Wilson and Harrisburg did this last year where the Cougars edged Wilson 14-10 in the district final. Once again, this year finds Wilson without a threatening pass attack with Tommy Hunsicker completing 54% of his throws for 842 yards with a 9/7 Td/Pick ratio. Also like last year’s quarterback, he runs well, gaining 842 yards as their second leading rusher. Cam Jones leads that category with 965 yards on 102 carries for 18 scores and 188 yards on 14 receptions. He is also one of the best return men in the state with 5 punts returned for touchdowns totaling 346 yards. Cleveland Harding (some injury issues) is a talented back with 29 carries for 264 yards, while Edison Case is their leading receiver with 23 receptions for 264 yards. With Cam Jones and others often providing excellent field position, they’re getting the job done on offense averaging 35ppg. As always, the defense is there at 14ppg, second only to Harrisburg’s in the playoff field, holding 7 teams to 10 points or less. A 5-0 road record speaks to this as does their great coaching and veteran staff that has them well prepared for any opponent.
 

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