District 3 State Playoff Teams/Games: Top 20


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Oct 13, 2001

District 3 State Playoff Teams/Games: Top 20 (12/7/22)

District 3 teams results in state semifinals.
Harrisburg beat State College 27-7
5A Cocalico lost to Pine Richland 34-12
4A Bishop McDevitt beat Crestwood 35-0
3A Wyomissing lost to Neumann Goretti 20-17
2A Trinity lost to Southern Columbia 42-7
1A Steelton Highspire beat Canton 28-21

Here is some information and thoughts (scores, stats, personnel, etc) on the PIAA State Finals involving District-3 teams, Harrisburg, Bishop McDevitt and Steel High, and brief write ups on the district teams that lost last week, Cocalico, Wyomissing and Trinity.

1 Bishop McDevitt 12-1 4A
McDevitt has been all about the mission this year of returning to the state final they thought they should have won last year. Consequently, they’ve played like a team possessed, especially on defense allowing 92 points all year. As big and multiple as their offense is averaging 49ppg, the defense at 7ppg may be underrated with their speed and athleticism, especially in the secondary. So while they stumbled around in the first quarter up 7-0 trying to figure it out against Crestwood (13-2), the D was brutal, allowing Crestwood nothing, ending with 2 yards rushing and 20 total yards of offense in a 35-0 semifinal win. The week before, Crestwood was impressing people with their performance against Bonner-Prendie (11-2), winning 21-7. For McDevitt, Rico Scott had a strong game catching 7 passes for 94 yards and a score, returning a kickoff 85 yards for another score, and rushing for 26 yards. Sophomore quarterback Stone Saunders completed 19 of 24 passes for 200 yards, many going to Tyshawn Russell who caught 7 for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns. Marquese Williams did the heavy stuff at running back with 17 carries netting 165 yards and a touchdown. What kept the score from being a total blowout were McDevitt’s 17 penalties for 165 yards.
They move on to play Aliquippa (13-0) in the 4A title game after the Quips defeated Allentown Central Catholic (9-6) 31-10. Aliquippa beat McDevitt in last year’s final 34-27. That team averaged 41ppg and allowed 12. This year’s team scores 39 and allows 9. For McDevitt, they’re 4 points above last year’s average scoring 50ppg with a D at last year’s level allowing 8. It might take these two behemoths a quarter to get used to each other with Aliquippa’s caliber of play being something McDevitt hasn’t seen since Imhotep at the top of schedule. Few have an offensive line as they do or as talented personnel behind it in running backs Tiqwai Hayes (235/1891) and John Tracy (112/738). Receivers Donavan Walker and Brandon Banks are dependable with a quarterback in Quentin Good (1911py, 54%, 22/4) who can get it out there. Their enormous line includes Nico Eberhardt 6-2 285, Braylon Wilsox 6-0 245, Jason McBride 6-3 295, Naquan Crowder 6-3 325, Kamari Mathews 6-3 335 and TEs Jayace Williams 6-2 235 and Cameron Lindsey 6-0 210. Collectively they are at least as challenging as Imhotep and perhaps more. For the Quips, they may find it difficult adjusting to McDevitt’s inordinately balanced offense that has more weapons than they’re used to keeping track of, eg, quarterback Stone Saunders (69%, 3217, 43/3 ratio), WRs Tyshawn Russel (1184), Rico Scott (990), Jeff Penn (339) and running back Marquese Williams (1332). And don’t lose track of the freshman FB Maurice Barnes (6-2, 195, 39/296). With both teams being so good in so many categories, the score may be in the 50s with special teams or an untimely turnover deciding.
2 Harrisburg 11-2 6A
Harrisburg took care of business last week in a big way by pounding previously undefeated State College (13-1). As Mid Penn-Commonwealth rivals, this game always has an edge with both fancying themselves ‘the’ alpha of the division. That’s an argument with Cumberland Valley and Central Dauphin going 74-42 and 81-33 respectively the last 10 despite a few recent hick-ups. Harrisburg and SC locked horns early as they often do for the first half when the Lions held a 7-0 lead. But the second half belonged to Harrisburg who erupted for 20 third quarter points on the way to a thorough 27-7 win. SC won the regular season game 20-7 with Harrisburg’s quarterback sidelined by injury. This one had bruising FB/MLB Mahkai Hopkins sidelined with a leg injury. Didn’t matter as the super-fast Cougar D held State to 56 yards rushing on 23 attempts and 158 total yards of offense. Kyle Williams saw heavier duty than usual with Hopkins out, rushing for a career high 264 yards with touchdowns of 1, 33, 1 and 49 yards. Quarterback Shawn Lee had extra carries with 52 yards on 12 totes while completing 5 of 5 passes for 26 yards. All totaled, they rushed for 336 yards on 48 attempts. State’s passing game was ineffective, completing 11 of 32 passes between two quarterbacks while freshman sensation D’Antae Sheffey (1231 season) was held to 31 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Now that Harrisburg demonstrated they’re the best public school 6A team in the state, it’s on to the final for the overall championship against St. Joseph’s Prep (11-1) Saturday at Cumberland Valley High’s Chapman Field. The Hawks are fresh off an easy win against previously undefeated Garnet Valley (13-1) 48-7 where they mercy ruled the Jags with a 48-0 first half outburst (?), scoring on their first seven possessions. As athletic, fast and talented as Harrisburg is, St. Joe’s is that and more, with a real advantage in talent depth. Harrisburg’s first 22 are high end with little behind them, suiting up maybe 28 with many going both ways. For the Hawks, they beat you up with a monster line averaging 284 with numbers behind it and a dual threat quarterback. No one goes both ways. As much as Samaj Jones, Anthony Sacca, Josiah Trotter et al get much of the attention, and deservedly so, linebacker Cole Niles was very impressive in the few vids/clips seen. Point being, the team is loaded from front to rear on defense and, top to bottom on offense, meaning it will take a herculean effort for the Cougars to pull this one out. That’s not to say they don’t have weapons. Check out sophomore Qb Shawn Lee at 68%, 1591 yards and a 16/7 ratio while rushing for 556 yards on 100 carries. FB Mahkai Hopkins has 1312 yards with Rb/Receiver Kyle Williams rushing for 1101 and receiving 567 yards. They’re a ‘Mid Penn’ team and will battle so let’s see how it goes.
3 Wyomissing 13-1 3A
Wyomissing’s season came to a sudden conclusion when Neumann Goretti scored in the final 8 seconds of the game on a 44-yard touchdown pass to Qaasim Major from Mehki Wharton, winning 20-17. This followed Wyomissing’s 80-yard, 9-play scoring drive where Charlie McIntyre caught a 10-yard Td toss from Ben Zechman with 34 seconds left after trailing 14-10 with 2 minutes to go! But credit Neumann for keeping Wyo off the field with an effective ground game that netted 266 yards on 35 carries. Shawn Battle led the way with 188 yards rushing on 19 carries. Also credit Neumann for holding the Spartan attack to 258 total yards. Only 140 coming on the ground. The loss ends another outstanding season for one of the top programs in the state. Their run has been a special one, recording a 123-22 mark since 2012. That’s the year they won the state title after defeating Imhotep 35-13 in the semifinal and Aliquippa in the final 17-14. In 2020 and 21, they had back to back appearances in the finals losing to Central Valley. For next season they have holes to fill in quarterback Ben Zechman (951, 63%, 12/1) graduating and the top 3 running backs; Matt Kramer (1142, 25 Tds), Charlie McIntyre (1028, 12 Tds) and Drew Eisenhower (884, 12 Tds). Also gone are OL stalwarts Jven Williams (6-5, 310) and Pacen Ziegler (6-4, 275).
For Neumann Goretti, it was an exciting win that advances them to the 3A final at Mechanicsburg’s Chapman Field Saturday Dec 10th to play Belle Vernon (11-2). BV got hot, winning their last 10 games following a 1-2 start in games they could have won. They’re going to line up and run it with Quinton Martin (1180) and Jake Gedekoh (653) doing most of the damage. Neumann can clearly bang with Belle given the outcome against Wyomissing and a somewhat underrated defense allowing 10ppg.
4 Manheim Township 9-4 6A
5 Steelton Highspire 13-1 1A

The Steamrollers used their diverse offense to defeat what looked like the best team they encountered this year outside of undefeated 2A Westinghouse (14-0), when they beat Canton (12-2) 28-21. This one was deadlocked until the very end; tied 7-7 at the half and after three quarters at 21 all. Canton threw seven running backs at them, trying to wear them down. And they did controlled things with fresh legs to a point rushing for 232 yards on 35 carries. However, that’s all they had with quarterback Weston Bellows and Bailey Ferguson completing 3 of 4 passes for 31 yards. At the same time, Steel High’s junior quarterback Alex Erby was completing 25 of 34 passes (74%) for 226 yards. Good luck keeping track of receiver Jaeion Perry catching 10 passes for 104 yards and a score and Daquan McCraw who caught 11 for 95 yards. The air lanes are always open with a grinding back like Ronald Burnette who had 104 yards on 20 carries, and touchdowns of 24, 1 and 10-yards; the last with :34 left in the game on a 10 yard burst up the middle for the win. 11 penalties for 80 yards slowed but didn’t stop them with the defense stepping up to recover 2 fumbles. So make that 11 straight wins since losing on Sept 2nd to Westinghouse 39-18. Since then, they reeled off 577 points, or, 52ppg on average. This includes wins against Bishop Canevin of District-7, Trinity and West Perry from District-3, then playoff wins against Windber of District-5, Northern Lehigh of District-11 and Canton of District-4. Combined, they have a won-loss of 68-15.
The opponent in the Single-A final is Union (12-3) out of Lawrence County. Not exactly a football hotbed but here they are with a dangerous team that may just be peaking at the right time. They opened with a 31-18 loss to Canton who Steel High beat last week. Since then, they really turned on, winning playoff games against quality comp like Rochester (7-5), 18-16, Bishop Canevin (12-2) 26-0, another team the Rollers beat in their opener, and Port Alleghany (12-2, D9) last week in a wild one, winning 46-36. Quarterback Braylon Thomas is a dual threat that has to be managed with 650 pass yards and 572 rushing. And while Coach Kim Niedbala is in his first season heading the program, he was an assistant last year with Bob Palko and Mt. Lebanon, helping to guide them to the state title. With some of the talk that last week’s opponent Canton was the final, this is definitely the wrong team to get cocky with as they too are clearly on a roll. Should be a good one!
6 Cocalico 10-5 5A
Cocalico and Trinity at the 2A level (below) were two of the major surprises out of the district this year with both advancing to the state semifinal. The surprise was in the degree of success for Cocalico given graduations they survived. Their record has always been strong, going 86-34 from 2012 through 2021, then 10-4 this season. They run a veer which is a puzzle until figured out. Then, there’s nowhere to go without a competent passing game. Against Pine Richland in the state semifinal, they rushed for 260 yards but completed just 4 of 10 passes for 50 yards. And they had no answer for Qb Ryan Palmieri who rushed for 84 yards with a 8 yard touchdown and completed 8 of 9 passes for 180 yards with touchdowns of 61, 56 and 17 yards. Pine moves on to the state final while Cocalico returns to the drawing board with plans to field another strong group next year.
7 Manheim Central 11-2 4A
8 Central York 10-2 6A
9 Exeter Township 12-1 5A
Cumberland Valley 7-4 6A
10 Trinity 10-5 2A

Trinity’s surprise run to the Double-A state semifinal caught everyone off guard knowing it followed 9 non-winning seasons (5-5 in ‘19) where they garnered a 22-64 record. The opening schedule that included Roman Catholic (9-3), Wyomissing (13-1) and West Perry (11-2) further misled with the 1-3 start. But wow did they recover, albeit with a young team finishing on a 9-2 run. Along the way, they took Steel High to overtime before losing then routed four playoff teams by an average score of 43-15 before a far more mature and established team in Southern Columbia crushed them 42-7. Southern was simply too much, with Wes Barnes rushing for 252 yards, Braeden Wisloski at 132, and the team total at 503 rush yards. Southern Columbia moves on to the final against Westinghouse going for their fifth consecutive title while Trinity looks to next year with that young team a year older and wiser.
11 Hempfield 9-3 6A
12 Wilson 8-3 6A
York (William Penn) 6-4 6A
13 Solanco 11-1 5A
14 West Perry 11-2 3A
15 Gettysburg 8-3 5A
16 Northern York 8-5 5A
17 Lampeter Strasburg 9-3 4A
18 Shippensburg 8-4 5A
19 Carlisle 6-5 6A
20 South Western 7-4 5A
Twin Valley 7-5 4A
Garden Spot 7-4 5A
Hamburg 9-3 3A
Cedar Cliff 7-4 5A
New Oxford 8-3 5A
Dover 9-3 5A
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