Well, this is it. It’s hard to believe that the regular season will be finishing up this weekend. While some teams will be singing their swan songs on Friday, others are priming themselves for a playoff run. While a lot of things are already decided, there is still plenty to play for this week.
LAST WEEK: 9-3
THE GAME: McCaskey (0-8) at Lancaster Catholic (4-5)
THE WINNER: Lancaster Catholic
THE REASON: The Crusaders are embedded into a district playoff spot but need a victory against the winless Red Tornado to feel a bit more at ease about their seeding. A win over Cedar Crest last week ended a two-game Catholic losing streak and I expect the Crusader offense to continue their rhythm against a McCaskey squad that has lost twelve straight games dating back to last season.
THE GAME: Conestoga Valley (2-7) at Lampeter-Strasburg (4-5)
THE WINNER: Lampeter-Strasburg
THE REASON: The young Pioneers lost their third game in a row last week when they got out-gunned, 48-44. Meanwhile, the Buckskins are on a two-game skid which included a 77-0 blowout loss to Manheim Central last week. CV simply doesn’t generate enough offense (11.6 ppg) to keep up with L-S who has scored over 30 points in six games this year. L-S needs a win to clinch a district playoff spot.
THE GAME: Donegal (6-3) at Annville-Cleona (3-6)
THE WINNER: Donegal
THE REASON: This could have been a Section Three title game but Annville-Cleona had a rough road loss to Elco last Friday (26-14). With Donegal on the outside looking in when it comes to district playoffs and A-C also on the brink, both teams have no choice but to win if they want to continue their seasons.
THE GAME: Ephrata (0-8) at Cocalico (8-1)
THE WINNER: Cocalico
THE REASON: The Eagles are currently no. 3 in the AAA Power rankings need to win over the struggling Mountaineers to maintain their chances of a favorable first round playoff matchup. Cocalico was still able to defeat Elizabethtown last week without quarterback Jhet Janis so look for the Eagles to finish the regular season strong against Ephrata.
THE GAME: Elizabethtown (3-6) at Lebanon (6-3)
THE WINNER: Lebanon
THE REASON: The Cedars are clinging to a district playoff spot and have no room for error this week against the Bears. While they are still prone to giving up a lot of points on defense, Lebanon should still be able to outscore E-Town who hasn’t scored over 20 points since Sept. 27.
THE GAME: Manheim Township (5-4) at Hempfield (6-3)
THE WINNER: Hempfield
THE REASON: The two teams are close in the power rankings with Hempfield at no. 11 and Township at no. 14. Township may need this game to make the playoffs while Hempfield would like to improve their seeding with a seven-win season. Both defenses are stingy but I like Hempfield in this matchup because of their dynamic offense.
THE GAME: North Schuylkill (6-3) at Elco (4-5)
THE WINNER: North Schuylkill
THE REASON: Elco has little to play for other than the satisfaction of a .500 season and ending the year on a four-game winning streak. The Raiders played Section Three spoiler to Annville-Cleona last week but may have some trouble scoring this week on a Spartans team than is allowing just 15 points per game.
THE GAME: Northern Lebanon (2-7) at Columbia (3-6)
THE REASON: Both teams are on losing streaks with Northern Lebanon losing their last four games and Columbia dropping their last three. Neither team has district playoff aspirations anymore so this is strictly a pride game. I’ll go with the Vikings simply because last year’s 24-0 loss to the Crimson Tide will be some added motivation.
THE GAME: Penn Manor (7-2) at Cedar Crest (3-6)
THE WINNER: Penn Manor
THE REASON: The Comets almost dethroned Wilson last week but gave up 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and ultimately lost, 21-14. Despite the loss, Penn Manor looks like a different teams since their September loss to Lancaster Catholic. The Comets are currently no. 10 in the Class-AAAA power rankings and certainly want a chance to improve their playoff seeding with a win over a Cedar Crest team that has lost four of their last five games.
THE GAME: Pequea Valley (3-6) at Garden Spot (7-2)
THE WINNER: Garden Spot
THE REASON: Garden Spot needs a win and some help to squeak into the district playoffs. Although their “drive for five” ended last week, Pequea Valley still has an outside shot at the Class-AA playoffs. It’s hard to predict anything but a Spartans victory though since Pequea Valley hasn’t won a game since Sept. 13.
THE GAME: Warwick (3-6) at Wilson (9-0)
THE WINNER: Wilson
THE REASON: The Bulldogs wrapped up their sixth straight Section One title last week with a gritty win over Penn Manor. With the no. 1 spot in the power rankings in hand, don’t expect any hiccups from a Wilson team that proved that it has the mental strength to come from behind to win games.
THE GAME: Manheim Central (9-0) at Solanco (2-7)
THE WINNER: Manheim Central
THE REASON: Central is currently no. 2 in the Class-AAA rankings and have an opportunity to complete an undefeated season this Friday when they roll into Solanco. The Mules have won two consecutive games but it’s hard to think that they can keep up with a Barons squad that has outscored its opponents 142-0 in the past two weeks.