Chambersburg ends season against always-solid Cumberland Valley
For one team, Friday night's game is the end of the road in 2015.
For the other, it's just one more game to get prepared for the postseason, a place it always seems to find itself after the regular season comes to a close.
The consistently good Cumberland Valley Eagles (7-2, 5-1 MPC) host Chambersburg (1-8, 1-5 MPC) in a Mid Penn Commonwealth Division clash at Chapman Field at 7 p.m.
The Eagles are tied for the top spot in the Commonwealth and with a win will clinch at least a tie for the title. They will then enter the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs as one of the contenders.
The Trojans, on the other hand, are coming to the close of another frustrating season.
At least Chambersburg has shown plenty of life in the last half of the season under the direction of interim head coach Scott Mitchell, especially on offense.
In its last two games, the Trojans have scored 35 and 34 points, albeit not against the top defensive teams in the league. But it's a great improvement, especially in the running game.
In the last two games, three different backs have put up over 100 yards in a game. The latest to do so was bullish Brandon Miller, who had 28 carries for 105 yards in the 38-34 loss to Harrisburg last Saturday.
Mitchell said, "Miller was running hard, breaking tackles and carrying people with him. He was part of the game plan, but when Carter (Edmondson) got hurt, he became a lot more of the game plan.
"Carter should be able to play this week, so we'll be able to use both him and Miller, and Darius Johnson. So we can mix up who gets the ball and that can be tough for a defense, as long as you get good blocking up front.
"The kids are playing hard. We're moving the ball and mixing things up. We're trying to be unpredictable, and that's the mark of a good offense."
Chambersburg had a pair of healthy leads over the Cougars last week, but a leaky pass defense enabled Harrisburg to throw for over 300 yards and five touchdowns.
Mitchell said, "One play would have been the difference, but the big thing is we made four turnovers, and you're not going to win many games like that.
"Initially, the kids were down because we didn't win, but they know they could have won if they'd just done X, Y and Z. And that's at least better than if you know there was nothing you could do that would have added up to a win. If you make a mistake you can go back and know what to work on."
Cumberland Valley also has a variety of backs who can cause some damage.
Joey Heikel (121 carries, 611 yards, 9 TDs), Nicholas Rhodes (87-546, 4), Connor Long (40-328, 4) and quarterback Josh Ferguson (58-111, 5) will split up the work load. Ferguson has hit on 41 of 74 passes for 664 yards and eight TDs, and has been intercepted only three times. Long (19 catches, 317 yards, 5 TDs) and Charlie Katshir (14-238, 3) are the top receivers and Katshir has made seven of CV's 15 picks on defense.
"CV is solid. They're a typical CV team – they do what they do, and you have to find a way to stop it," Mitchell said. "They have three good backs and the quarterback can run, too. Their defense is disciplined and runs to the ball. We'll have to bring our helmets and have them strapped down, because it's going to be physical."
For the Trojans, there will be no need to hold anything back.
Mitchell said, "It's the last game of the year, and it means a lot to everybody for different reasons. For the seniors it might be their last game ever, and for the underclassmen it helps propel them into the offseason."
Or, in the Eagles' case, into the postseason.
Trojans-Eagles at a glance
Game data: Chambersburg Trojans at Cumberland Valley Eagles ... Friday, 7 p.m. at Chapman Field ... Mid Penn Commonwealth Division game.
Teams: Chambersburg is 1-9 (1-5 MPC) after a tough 38-34 loss to Harrisburg ... CV is 7-2 (5-1 MPC) and is ranked No. 8 in District 3-AAAA after a 21-7 loss to State College.
Series: Cumberland Valley leads 30-5, after a 41-0 win last year, and has 22 straight wins in the series.
P.O. pick: Eagles by 13. Trojans are playing better, but CV is one team that always seems to be focused.