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A month ago, few would have expected the New Oxford football team to be in this position. The Colonials started their season 1-5 -- a sputtering stretch that also included three shutout defeats.

Now, three weeks and three wins later, New Oxford finds itself in a most unique position. It can earn an unlikely share of the YAIAA Division II title with an upset win tonight at undefeated front-runner West York. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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  • One more twist: Win-or-lose, this will almost certainly be the Colonials' final game of the season. They sit at No. 22 in the District 3 Class AAA power rankings. Only the top 16 teams make the playoffs.

    That's just one scenario to watch heading into the final Friday of the high school football season -- a night when division titles and district playoff spots will be up for grabs.

    "Who would have thought, really, that we'd be in this situation?" first-year New Oxford coach Jason Thurston said Thursday. "It's very improbable that we're going to be playing past this week. We realize that. But it would be great for New Oxford to be the team that knocks off West York's perfect record.


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    "But also, we realize how far our program has come the last few weeks."

    If nothing else, the Colonials (4-5, 3-1 Div. II) seem much improved following their slow start. Some of those struggles were owed to a underclassmen-heavy lineup that entered the season with one returning starter -- fullback Nick Slusser.

    But the message of Thurston and his staff has apparently started to set in. The Colonials have averaged 28.7 points in their last three games -- wins against Kennard-Dale, Susquehannock and Dover.

    Admittedly, none of those teams measure up to West York (9-0, 4-0), which would appear a heavy favorite. That's something Thurston acknowledges.

    "If we want to make a game out of this, we have to be perfect. We have to be flawless," Thurston said. "No penalties, no turnovers, and we have to create some turnovers and mistakes for them. ... They need to open the door up and we need to be ready to go through it."

    Here's a division-by-division look at what else is at stake tonight:

    Division I: Spring Grove has already locked up a share of its first division title since 2002, and it can earn an outright title with a victory at South Western.

    A win could also help the Rockets secure the first home playoff game in program history. Spring Grove sits at No. 9 in the District 3 Class AAA power rankings (the top eight play at home in the first round).

    If Spring Grove stumbles, Central York could still earn a share of the title with a win at home against William Penn. The Bearcats, meanwhile, sit at No. 17 in Class AAAA rankings and need a victory to sneak into the postseason.

    Division II: As mentioned, New Oxford could earn a tie for the division title with an upset of West York. That scenario could turn into a three-way tie if Northeastern beats winless Kennard-Dale on Saturday.

    The Bobcats also need a victory to hang onto the final District 3 Class AAA playoff spot. West York, meanwhile, has to win if it wants to hang on to a No. 2 seed -- and potential homefield advantage -- in a loaded district field.

    Division III: The division title comes down to one matchup -- a rivalry showdown between Biglerville and Bermudian Springs. If the visiting Canners win, they earn a share of the championship. An Eagles win would give them a second straight outright crown and their 19th consecutive division victory.

    That game will feature the area's top scoring offense against the league's best statistical defense. Biglerville's 360 points this season are 49 more than the next closest YAIAA team, while Bermudian is giving up just 4.9 points per game.

    Daily Record/Sunday News Week 10 predictions

    Tonight's games


    Biglerville (8-1, 7-1 Div. III) at Bermudian Springs (9-0, 8-0 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Bermudian Springs 35, Biglerville 20
       The skinny: The Division III title is on the line. So is playoff seeding in a tightly packed Class AA field.
       Canners must: Shore up a defense that allowed 38 points and 209 passing yards last week to York Suburban. This week, however, they get an Eagles squad that loves to run. Zach Stroup enters with 977 yards and 13 TDs for Bermudian, while Tristan Sponseller has 857 and 12 TDs.
       Eagles must: Get another stout performance from that defense. Bermudian faces its most efficient opponent, as the Canners can strike with multiple ground options or QB Tanner Cool's passing.
     
    Hanover (0-9, 0-8 Div. III) at Delone Catholic (6-3, 6-2, Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Delone Catholic 48, Hanover 6
       The skinny: The Squires enter holding the top spot in the District 3 Class A power rankings, but No. 2 Steel-High is a fraction of a percentage point back and faces a stronger opponent in Camp Hill (4-5).
       Nighthawks must: Give QB Brady Goodfellow time to get the ball to top targets Jose Gonzalez -- whose 33 catches are among the best in Division III -- Dylan Kreiger (27 receptions) and Ian Brown (23).
       Squires must: Take care of business on their end to lock up a top-two seed and a home game in the semifinals of the four-team bracket.
     
    Littlestown (6-3, 5-3 Div. III) at Fairfield (1-8, 1-7 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Littlestown 47, Fairfield 12
       The skinny: Fairfield coach Darwin Seiler said Tuesday he had not seen the field, partly because he knew just getting there would be a challenge. Expect field conditions to be a factor in this one.
        Thunderbolts must: Get another solid showing from their offensive and defensive fronts, which have performed well during stretches despite being undermanned because of injuries.
       Green Knights must: Hope QB Mason Flickinger has recovered enough from his Week 8 concussion, which will allow go-to Knights RB Tommy Bollinger to be the focal point on what should be a soft, muddy field.
     
    New Oxford (4-5, 3-1 Div. II) at West York (9-0, 4-0 Div. II)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: West York 28, New Oxford 0
       The skinny: The Colonials can earn a surprise share of the Division II title, but they'll have to pull a stunner against the Bulldogs.
       Colonials must: Mix it up on offense. Northeastern had some success early against the Bulldogs last week by establishing the pass to set up its running game. New Oxford QB Anthony Lippy has completed 37.7 percent of his passes this season for 677 yards.
       Bulldogs must: Create turnovers on defense, something West York has done plenty of this season. The Bulldogs have a takeaway in every game and forced four last week against the Bobcats. But The Ox (plus-13 turnover ratio) has taken care of the ball well this season.
     
    Red Lion (1-8, 0-4 Div. I) at Dallastown (3-6, 1-3 Div. I)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Red Lion 27, Dallastown 24
       The skinny: No division or (in all likelihood) district implications in this one, but that shouldn't diminish the intensity of this neighborhood rivalry.
       Lions must: Force a turnover or two early. Red Lion's defense needs a boost after allowing 570 yards and 56 points to Central York last week, and Dallastown has been prone to untimely errors at times this season.
       Wildcats must: Finish, finish, finish. In four of its losses this season, Dallastown has been ahead or within one score in the fourth quarter. For whatever reason -- or reasons -- the Wildcats simply haven't been able to make the final push.
     
    Susquehannock (1-8, 1-3 Div. II) at Dover (3-6, 1-3 Div. II)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Dover 62, Susquehannock 13
       The skinny: Two rebuilding teams hope to finish out their season on a positive note.
        Warriors must: Bottle up the confidence gained from last week's win against Kennard-Dale -- Susquehannock's first victory since September 2010. That losing streak is gone now, so the Warriors must continue to play with belief.
       Eagles must: Not settle for another sluggish start. It could be easy to focus on the last-minute touchdown Dover allowed during last week's 22-15 loss to New Oxford. But the Eagles' biggest regret might have been the 12-0 halftime hole they dug themselves.
     
    William Penn (3-6, 2-2 Div. I) at Central York (6-3, 3-1 Div. I)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Central York 41, William Penn 12
       The skinny: The Bearcats are playing for their postseason lives, while Central probably could secure a home playoff game with a victory.
       Bearcats must: Not allow Central York's explosive offense to get unleashed. The Panthers rank second in the YAIAA in points scored (311), and William Penn has given up 555 and 435 yards in its last two games, losses to Spring Grove and South Western, respectively.
       Panthers must: Continue the defensive progress they have made since a 41-34 defeat to Spring Grove in Week 6. Since then, Central has won its last three games and given up 34 total points in that span.
     
    York Catholic (4-5, 4-4 Div. III) at York Suburban (5-4, 4-4 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: York Suburban 48, York Catholic 14
       The skinny: The Irish likely need to win and get plenty of help to sneak into the District 3 Class A playoffs.
       Fighting Irish must: Not get burned by the likes of Isaiah Randall (781 rushing yards, eight TDs) and big-play receiver Jaime Nixon-Alark. Even with a win, York Catholic might need losses by both Columbia and Camp Hill to wiggle into the postseason.
       Trojans must: Tighten up a defense that has allowed 41 or more points in each of Suburban's four losses. That unit needs to find a way to slow Irish QB James Dougherty, who leads the YAIAA with 2,340 passing yards.
     
    Gettysburg (3-6, 3-3 Mid-Penn Colonial) at Shippensburg (8-1, 6-0 Mid-Penn Colonial)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Shippensburg 37, Gettysburg 13
       The skinny: Shippensburg is bound for the postseason, while Gettysburg is not. But the Warriors can play spoiler, with Shippensburg holding one-game lead in the Colonial Division.
       Warriors must: Shake off a second-half shutout last week against West Perry, which erased Gettysburg's 12-7 halftime lead. The Warriors' task won't be any easier tonight.
       Greyhounds must: Not get distracted as they go for their first outright football title in 24 years. Shippensburg has won six straight since a 32-27 loss to Northeastern in Week 3.
     
    Northern York (7-2, 5-1 Mid-Penn Colonial) at West Perry (7-2, 5-1 Mid-Penn Colonial)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Northern York 20, West Perry 12
       The skinny: The winner likely secures a playoff berth, while the loser will have to sweat it out. West Perry and Northern enter tonight 14th and 15th, respectively, in the District 3 Class AAA power rankings.
       Polar Bears must: Keep doing it with defense. Northern has allowed more than 14 points only once this season and is giving up 9.8 points per contest.
       Mustangs must: Not rely on another second-half comeback. West Perry looked sluggish early last week against Gettysburg, but it scored 21 unanswered in the second half to earn a 28-12 victory.
     
    Susquehanna Township (7-2, 5-1 Mid-Penn Keystone) at Red Land (6-3, 3-3 Mid-Penn Keystone)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Red Land 31, Susquehanna Township 19
       The skinny: This game is all about playoff positioning, as Township enters third in the District 3 Class AAA rankings, just behind West York and Mid-Penn Keystone leader Bishop McDevitt. Red Land is 11th.
       Indians must: Use their speed. While Township has put 127 combined points on the scoreboard during the past three weeks, Red Land likely would prefer a slower-paced slugfest.
       Patriots must: Stop the bleeding from back-to-back losses in which they have given up 47 (to Hershey) and 44 points (to McDevitt). Red Land gets another explosive offense this week.
     
    Spring Grove (7-2, 4-0 Div. I) at South Western (5-4, 2-2 Div. I)
       Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
       Last year: South Western 54, Spring Grove 21
       The skinny: The Rockets look to take the Division I title for themselves, while South Western is fighting for a playoff bid in Class AAAA.
       Rockets must: Adjust to the grass and what could be a soft surface. Papermakers Stadium -- where Spring Grove has averaged 46.7 points during its last three games -- is artificial turf, but the Mustangs' Corral is natural grass and the setting for tonight's game.
       Mustangs must: Improve their pass protection and pass defense, which were not strengths last week against William Penn, except for two key interceptions. South Western has struggled against quality offenses this season, allowing 54 points or more three times.

    Saturday's games

    Northeastern (6-3, 3-1 Div. II) at Kennard-Dale (0-9, 0-4 Div. II)
       Kickoff: 1 p.m.
       Last year: Northeastern 55, Kennard-Dale 28
       The skinny: It's simple for the Bobcats: They need to win to hold onto the 16th and final seed for the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.
       Bobcats must: Hold onto the football. In three losses this season, Northeastern has committed a combined 13 turnovers, including four last week against West York. In the Bobcats' six wins, they have given the ball away a combined five times.
       Rams must: Finish strong. The winless record aside, Kennard-Dale has played four of its last five games at least somewhat close. The one exception was a 35-0 loss to unbeaten West York.
     
    Eastern York (3-6, 3-5 Div. III) at York County Tech (2-7, 2-6 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 2 p.m.
       Last year: Eastern York 40, York County Tech 0
       The skinny: Two of the YAIAA's premier running backs will be on display as Eastern's Alex Cooley and York Tech's Calvin Savary take to their respective backfields.
       Golden Knights must: Enjoy their final game with Cooley while going out on a positive note with the underclassmen. The senior enters with a league-best 2,338 yards. Eastern's line is young, and QB Thomas Taylor will return next year.
       Spartans must: Put it all together. Savary's 1,383 yards rushing this season is second to Cooley in the YAIAA, and Tech has another running dimension with QB Dalmar Dickson. The defense, however, has yielded 44 points or more in three straight games.

    @johnsclayton, 771-2045;
    @mgoul, 771-2076

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