H.S. FOOTBALL: Game of the Week: Undefeated Greencastle-Antrim faces biggest test yet
There's an eerily similar feeling in the air for Greencastle-Antrim's football team, one that it felt one year ago.
Heading into Week 5 in 2014, the Blue Devils were undefeated. They had just come off a Mid Penn Colonial Division opening win against Big Spring. They were about to face their toughest test yet.
This year heading into Week 5, the Blue Devils are undefeated, just beat the Bulldogs in the league opener and are about to face their toughest opponent so far.
"This is absolutely our biggest test," G-A coach Chuck Tinninis. "East Pennsboro is a good team. They can run the ball, they can throw the ball. Defensively, they get to the ball quickly. They're a very solid team."
On Friday, Greencastle hosts the co-defending Colonial champion Panthers (3-1, 1-0 MPC), and although East Penn has one more loss than it did at this time last year, it's going to be no easy feat.
East Pennsboro is a well-rounded squad that has not lost since its season opener to Palmyra. The Panthers have thrown for 556 yards and have gained 581 yards on the ground.
They are led by quarterback Kyle Purnell, who is 36-for-69 (52.2%) for all of East Penn's passing yards. He has thrown seven touchdowns and three interceptions. His top target is Matt Dunkleberger, who has 10 catches for 223 yards. No other receiver has more than 76 yards.
On the ground, the Panthers have a fine 1-2 punch. Sophomore Onasis Neely has racked up 259 yards and three touchdowns on just 30 carries. Ky Dennis has totaled 170 yards.
"You have to be able to defend against everything," Tinninis said. "They have two really good running backs. Their offensive line isn't huge, but they're well-coached. They're very aggressive, and they can throw the ball and spread you out a bit. All their kids offensively are athletic, including their linemen, so we have a big challenge in front of us."
But if anyone can match East Penn's skill players, it might be Greencastle.
Spencer Meyers has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in Franklin County. He is 46-for-78 (59.0%) for 633 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He also has a cast of strong runners around him.
Demetrius Burton has gained 380 yards on 49 carries, James Hines follows with 314 yards on 51 carries, and Derek Measell is a double-edged prong with 144 rushing yards and 114 receiving yards.
Defensively, the Blue Devils are more well-rounded than they were a year ago. Tyler Jeffreys leads the way with 37 tackles, while four other players have 20 or more.
"Jeffreys led the team in tackles again last week, and he just keeps getting better and better," Tinninis said. "Jeremy Anderson was right up there with him, too. If they're double- or triple-teaming him, he's making plays. For a nose guard to be in the top five in tackles on the team, that's saying something."
Now they just have to put it to the test.