Must-wins for Annville-Cleona, Palmyra in Week 10
High school football teams endure those dog days of summer practices and weightlifting sessions for one reason and one reason only - the chance to accomplish something special by the time the end of the season rolls around.
It's not a chance that comes around for every team, but it will arrive for Annville-Cleona and Palmyra on Friday night.
With their regular season finales beckoning, A-C and Palmyra each have a great deal to play for this week in front of their respective home crowds.
For Annville-Cleona, a share of, or perhaps the whole enchilada if Northern Lebanon can beat Lancaster Catholic, the Section 3 title will be on the line when it hosts Donegal at 7 p.m., while Palmyra's home tussle with Milton Hershey at 7:30 p.m. comes with a 5A District 3 playoff berth at stake. A win and the Cougars are all but in. A loss and they'll need a lot of help to keep their season alive.
So their missions are clear. Now let's take a look at what they need to do accomplish them, as well as the rest of the Week 10 regular season finale action.
Donegal at Annville-Cleona, 7 p.m.
As noted above, it's all right there for the Dutchmen, who enter Friday's contest at 6-3 overall and 4-1 in Section 3. A win and they will at least share the section crown. A win and a Lancaster Catholic loss to Northern Lebanon and the title belongs to A-C alone.
So no lack of motivation here. And after a disheartening 32-14 loss to Northern Lebanon three weeks back, followed by a bye, the Dutchmen got back on track by blasting Pequea Valley 55-13 last week behind five touchdown passes from quarterback Noah Myers, who was named the L-L Quarterback Club's Section 3 Back of the Week for his effort. In addition, A-C's Drew Speraw grabbed Lineman of the Week honors after recording six tackles and three assists, a high blocking grade on offense and a rushing touchdown in the win over Pequea.
Donegal won't be lacking for inspiration, either. After a dreadful 0-3 start in which they did not score a point, the Indians have won four out of six with both losses coming by just a touchdown.
Milton Hershey at Palmyra, 7:30 p.m.
A second straight District 3 playoff berth would be quite the accomplishment for the Cougars, but there is a lot of work to be done to take care of the explosive Spartans, who come in averaging a shade under 35 points a game.
That's bad news for 7-2 Palmyra, which has struggled on defense the last two weeks to the tune of allowing 29 points a game after being dominant on that side of the ball earlier in the season.
Don't worry, there is good news, too. Palmyra, led by running backs Carl Reigle and Alon Rhette and quarterback Peter Robertson, has been increasingly potent on offense in recent weeks, and the common opponents theory is working in its favor, too.
While unbeaten Middletown handled Milton Hershey 49-20 last week, the Blue Raiders had a devil of a time with Palmyra in a bruising 14-10 mid-season win. In that sense, advantage Palmyra.
Lancaster Catholic at Northern Lebanon, 7 p.m.
For the first time since 2013, the Section 3 championship will not reside in Fredericksburg. But, the Vikings will still have a say on who does get to claim the crown, or at least a share of it.
The visiting Crusaders enter Friday night locked in a three-way tie for the top spot, so Northern Lebanon can play spoiler, as well as lock up a .500 record with a win this week.
Won't be easy, though. Catholic has won four straight since a Sept. 30 loss to Annville-Cleona and certainly wants that share of the title in it s first season back in Section 3.
Lampeter-Strasburg at Cedar Crest, 7 p.m.
The Falcons came up with a most impressive 27-0 win at Elizabethtown last week to halt a three-game losing skid and can now sew up a winning season with a win over an explosive L-S club that has piled up 313 points to date.
The Pioneers (6-3) also give up points in bunches, so if Cedar Crest can find its top form on Friday night, especially defensively, it could be a happy end to the season for Rob Wildasin's club and a stepping stone to bigger and better things down the road.
Elco at Pequea Valley, 7 p.m.
The Raiders' two-game win streak came to an end in last week's 41-27 loss at Muhlenberg, but its hopes for a .500 season remain intact with this week's trip to Kinzers looming.
Pequea (4-5) has lost its last three by a combined score of 127-13 and would appear to be ripe for the picking for an Elco squad looking to send senior cornerstones Tyler Horst and Kyle Knight out on a positive note.
Hempfield at Lebanon, 7 p.m.
The Cedars say goodbye to a difficult first season in Section One by hosting the Black Knights at Alumni Stadium.
Hopefully it won't be a black night for Lebanon (1-8) but despite being 3-6 Hempfield has won two of its last three and must be favored to make it three out of four.
The Cedars figure to go down swinging, though, given that they've averaged 20 points a game the last three weeks.