After an entire season of Friday night competition, the Littlestown High football team faces some new obstacles when the District 3 Class AA playoffs begin this weekend.
For one thing, the Thunderbolts (7-3) will face their first Saturday game against a team named Spartans since a matchup with York County Tech in 2011.
The eighth-seeded Bolts will travel to Governor Mifflin High School in Shillington for a 1 p.m. quarterfinal against top-ranked Wyomissing (10-0).
There, Littlestown will face quite another hurdle -- Alex Anzalone. This particular Spartan, seriously recruited by Notre Dame, has been the talk of Berks County for his ability on both sides of the football.
However, Anzalone is just one of several standout players which Hanover area teams will face when the playoffs begin for five of the six qualifiers.
One game will be played in the Hanover area. Bermudian Springs (10-0), coming off its second straight undefeated regular season to rank behind only Wyomissin in the Class AA bracket, will host Susquenita (7-3) in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal start. The Black Hawks are a new opponent in the Eagles' playoff history, which includes three district crowns.
Meanwhile, South Western (6-4), fresh off its emotional victory over Spring Grove, enters the Class AAAA bracket as the 12th seed. The Mustangs will face another set of Mustangs, Governor Mifflin (8-2), at 7 p.m. Friday, mere hours before the Littlestown-Wyomissing matchup on the same field.
Elsewhere, YAIAA Division I co-champion Spring Grove (8-2) will travel to Mid-Penn Colonial champion Shippensburg (9-1) in a 7 p.m. Class AAA first-round game.
In Class AA, Biglerville (8-2) will be the sixth seed, which sends the high-powered Canners to Camp Hill to oppose third-seeded Trinity (9-1) in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal.
Delone Catholic's qualification for its first foray into the Class A playoffs since 1995 means the top-seeded Squires (7-3) will get the week off before hosting Columbia (4-6) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16.
Those two teams have not met in the playoffs since 1994, while Littlestown's matchup with Wyomissing is much different. The Spartans ended the Bolts' season a year ago with a 49-26 triumph.
Therefore, Littlestown is familiar with Anzalone, the focus of the Reading newspaper's preseason football cover story.
Since that story, he has fulfilled the hype. He has rushed for just 810 yards, but has scored 19 touchdowns and had sparkled on defense. In Saturday's 14-0 shutout of Berks Catholic, he rushed for 113 yards, but the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder also had two quarterback sacks and an end-zone interception.
Anzalone will not be the only Berks County standout on display against a Hanover area team next weekend.
South Western will have to deal with Governor Mifflin's Thomas DePaul, who has 23 pass receptions, and Ryan Barbon, who needs seven yards for 1,000 this season.
In other action, Spring Grove makes its first Class AAA playoff appearance after its Class AAAA first-round exit in 2010.
Meanwhile, Biglerville, the leading offensive team in the Hanover area, has qualified for the district playoffs for only the second time. The Canners lost 42-14 in the first round to Lancaster Catholic in Class AA in 2008.
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