This weekend's football game capsules
Here are the District 3 playoff preview capsules for games involving York-Adams League teams. All games begin at 7 p.m. Friday.
No. 5 Biglerville (7-3) at No. 4 Hanover (9-1): These are the only two Y-A League schools to make the AA field and they just happened to draw each other.
Trust me, that's not a bad thing.
After all, the Canners were the only team separating the Nighthawks from a perfect regular season and an outright Division III title. These two teams squared off in Week 9 at Biglerville, which turned into a 42-21 victory for the Canners. As a result, the two teams ended up sharing the D-III crown. However, now the Nighthawks welcome the Canners to their home venue, Sheppard-Myers Field, and are looking to avenge the defeat.
Biglerville is very careful with the football, finishing the year as the only team in the Y-A League to not turn the ball over double-digit times (nine). Meanwhile, Hanover possesses the second-leading passer in the league in Kyle Krout, who has thrown for 1,756 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions, while also completing 56 percent of his passes.
A match-up like this is what the playoffs are all about.
No. 15 Northern Lebanon (8-2) at No. 2 Northeastern (8-2): Talk about a tough draw for the second-rated team in Class AAA.
The Bobcats did everything they could to gain respect in the district power ratings and are rewarded with a match-up against a team that hasn't lost a game on the field all year. Sure the Vikings' record might read 8-2, but those two losses are only because of forfeits at the beginning of the season for using an ineligible player. Had Northern Lebanon not had to forfeit those games, it would be 10-0 and one of the top teams in AAA.
In the eight wins that do count as wins for the Vikings, they're outscoring their opponents by an average margin of 18.3 points per game. So yeah, you could say this isn't your typical 15th seed.
As for Northeastern, for much of the season, it's been getting some love as possibly being the one Y-A big school that could do some damage in the District 3 playoffs. With quarterback Shannon Valenti back healthy, the Bobcats could be a team that makes a run at the AAA semifinals.
However, for that to happen, they need to get past Northern Lebanon, which could actually be a tougher match-up than a potential second-round showdown with the winner of No. 7 Susquehanna Township and No. 10 Conrad Weiser.
Pick: Northern Lebanon
No. 9 York Suburban (8-2) at No. 8 Northern York (7-3): As in most tournaments, you can pretty much flip a coin to determine the winner of a No. 8-vs.-No. 9 match-up.
Such is the case in this showdown, too.
The Trojans finished the year as the hottest team in the Y-A League, winning their final eight games after beginning the year 0-2.
Suburban has one of the most lethal quarterback-wide receiver combos in the mid-state region in Thomas Merkle and Collin Mailman. Merkle led the Y-A League in passing with 2,287 yards and became York County's all-time passing yards leader. Meanwhile, Mailman was the only 1,000-yard receiver in the league, totaling 1,094 yards on 55 catches. But those two are hardly the only weapons on the No. 3 scoring offense in the Y-A League, which averaged 33.2 points per contest.
As for the Polar Bears, they could've avoided this showdown between two York County foes had they won either of their final two games. Instead, Northern York dropped both of those contests and now finds itself in this tricky game. The Polar Bears are complete opposites from the Trojans. They like to run the ball a lot more than throw it. Northern York has three rushers with more than 300 yards on the ground, while only passing for just under 800 yards.
Pick: York Suburban
No. 14 Spring Grove (5-5) at No. 3 Manheim Central (8-2): This is basically the Rockets' second straight playoff game.
After all, last week's win over South Western was a win-or-go-home game. Had Spring Grove lost, its season would've ended. Instead, the Rockets shocked their Division I rival and moved from 17th to 14th in the power ratings, earning a trip into the postseason and to Lancaster County.
There isn't anything flashy about Spring Grove, nor is there anything that makes you cringe and want to look away. If anything, the Rockets are inconsistent.
Meanwhile, the Barons have won seven of their last eight games and three in a row. Manheim Central's two losses came by a combined 20 points, while its eight wins are by a combined 179, or 22.4 points per game.
This isn't a game where Spring Grove can afford to come out slow, or else it might find itself trying to play a game of catch-up that won't be successful.
Pick: Manheim Central
No. 10 Central Dauphin East (6-4) at No. 7 Dallastown (9-1): Don't let the Panthers' 6-4 record fool you.
C.D. East is a lot better than its record, which is a product of playing in a loaded Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division. Of the eight teams in that division, six qualified for the District 3 playoffs, with C.D. East finishing fourth. Wins over playoff teams Carlisle and Harrisburg highlight the Panthers' season.
As for the Wildcats, this is a team that could've finished the regular season undefeated, but a Week 10 loss to rival Red Lion cost them that opportunity. It didn't help that senior quarterback Cade Gold missed that game with an injured foot and is questionable for this game as well.
With Gold playing, Dallastown will have a good shot at beating the Panthers. Without him, the Wildcats could be one and done.
No. 11 Red Lion (7-3) at No. 6 Cumberland Valley (8-2): The Lions ended Dallastown's perfect season, and now they will try to knock off one of the kings of Class AAAA football.
It was always expected that Red Lion would take the next step under Head Coach Jesse Shay this year, and for the most part, it did. The Lions improved on their record from last season, but still finished second in Division I.
Unfortunately, the 7-3 record for Red Lion means making a trip north up I-83 to face the Eagles, one of the legit contenders in the District 3-AAAA playoffs every year. Cumberland Valley went 8-2 and still only earned a No. 6 seed, showing you how strong the top part of the AAAA field is. But the Eagles' seeding doesn't mean they won't end up in the final four of the district tournament.
CV already made easy work of two York County teams at the beginning of the year, thrashing Spring Grove and Central York by a combined score of 81-6. The Eagles very well could make it 3-0 vs. York County foes in 2015.
Pick: Cumberland Valley
No. 12 South Western (7-3) at No. 5 Hempfield (8-2): I'm sure there was some disappointment in the Mustangs' locker room after the Week 10 defeat to Spring Grove.
Not only did the loss put them in a worse position going into the playoffs, but it also cost them a shot at sharing the Division I title with Dallastown.
The postseason, however, can quickly erase those bad memories. That's just the recipe that South Western needs. The Mustangs actually did a nice job playing up to their competition this season, going 2-1 against the other three premier schools in Division I — Dallastown, Northeastern and Red Lion. The only loss vs. that group was an eight-point defeat that came down to the final play against the Wildcats.
However, there are some concerns with South Western's performance outside of the league. That doesn't bode well for this match-up. South Western suffered a 42-14 defeat to Cedar Cliff in Week 2. The Colts are the No. 9 seed in the AAAA field.
Meanwhile, the Black Knights have won three of their last four games, with the only loss coming vs. Manheim Township last week. Hempfield has a plus-138-point differential this season and is allowing 18.3 points per game. That means that the Black Knights are averaging 32.1 points per game, so they know how to put up some points, while also preventing them.
This one looks to be a tall task for the Mustangs.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.