York Daily Record staff Week 11 predictions
The reality hit West York running back Brock Snellbaker on Monday of this week.
The senior realized this could be his last few days of practice with his teammates. That Friday's District 3 playoff opener could his last high school game.
Who knows, maybe his last time on a football field.
"I obviously don't want it to be and don't think it will be," Snellbaker said, "but it could be the last time I'm practicing for a full week."
Suddenly, all that West York accomplished during the regular season -- the 10-0 record, a sixth straight YAIAA Division II title -- faded into the background.
All that mattered was the team in front of them. And it's one the Bulldogs know quite well.
Unbeaten No. 2 seed West York will host division rival Northeastern (7-3) in a Class AAA first-round playoff contest Friday at 7. It will be the fourth time in the last 12 months the two teams have played. They also met in the first round of last year's postseason, a game West York won, 14-7.
So you can forgive both teams for feeling a bit of déjà vu.
"We have each other's films. We had each other broken down," West York coach Ron Miller said. "Obviously they're going to have some tricks for us and make some adjustments, just like we will. But at the end of the day we're going to do what we do, and they're going to do the same."
Northeastern, the No. 15 seed, has not beaten West York in six previous tries, the most recent of those a 35-14 defeat on the Bobcats' home field two weeks ago. But Brendan Brown's team can pick some positives from that game. Northeastern was tied at halftime and gained nearly 200 first-half yards against a normally unyielding Bulldogs defense.
If not for four turnovers, the Bobcats might have had a shot at the upset.
"It was a very serene environment today," Brown said of his team's practice Thursday. "There were no tears or anything like that. These guys don't feel like it's their last game."
The same could certainly be said for the Bulldogs, whose 24 seniors have harbored lofty goals since the season's start.
The biggest of those: A return to Hersheypark Stadium, where West York hasn't been since its district championship season in 2008.
"It was fun while it lasted, going 10-0," Snellbaker said. "But it's all about going 1-0 every week now."
No. 9 Chambersburg (6-4) at No. 8 Central York (7-3)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: The Panthers try to recapture the magic of last year's postseason run, when they upset Governor Mifflin and nearly beat eventual state-champ Central Dauphin in the district semifinals. First up: A well-rounded, physical team from Chambersburg.
Trojans must: Keep Central York from hitting too many big plays while getting another consistent performance from their own offense. The Panthers -- led by playmakers such as RB Marquis Fells, WR Darian Hampton and QB Corey Hartz -- can score in a hurry. But Chambersburg's offense is pretty good in its own right. The Trojans have averaged 39.4 ppg this season, led by QB Ryan Martin (1,377 passing yards, 16 TDs).
Panthers must: Match Chambersburg's physicality up front. Central York thrives, thanks to its speed at the skill positions, but the Panthers' offensive and defensive lines will need to hold their own against what Central coach Brad Livingston called a "very big" Trojans team. "It's probably going to be a size and strength thing for them, versus our speed and athleticism." Livingston said.
No. 16 Dallastown (4-6) at No. 1 Wilson (9-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: A longshot one week ago, Dallastown got enough help and jumped from 20th to make the postseason. The Wildcats' reward: A trip to West Lawn to face District 3's top seed.
Wildcats must: Find a way to crack Wilson's defense. The Bulldogs have kept opponents to one touchdown or fewer for six straight weeks. They have yielded just 65 points through 10 weeks and have four shutouts. The Wildcats might need to get creative with junior 1,000-yard rusher Robert Catchings to have a chance.
Bulldogs must: Make sure their slow start last week against Lancaster-Lebanon League opponent Warwick does not become a habit. Wilson won that game, 28-0, to win the L-L's Section 1 title for a fifth straight year. The Bulldogs struggled to move the football early last week (only four first downs and a 7-0 lead at halftime), but the defense made up for that. Defensive end Junior Joseph is bound for Connecticut, and linebacker Dominic Moyer is always a threat to produce sacks.
No. 12 South Western (6-4) at No. 5 Governor Mifflin (8-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: South Western makes the trek into Berks County hoping to become the second YAIAA team in as many years to end Governor Mifflin's season. Mifflin lost to Central York in last year's district quarterfinals.
South Western must: Replicate the energy and spirit they showed last week during an upset of Division I co-champion Spring Grove. The Mustangs were outgained by more than 100 yards in that one but came up with some key stops and a game-winning, 55-yard fumble return by Jerome Robinson. They'll need to be similarly opportunistic against Mifflin -- also known as the Mustangs.
Governor Mifflin must: Take away top South Western rusher Dillon Thomas and keep the Mustangs from controlling possession. That's Mifflin's specialty, thanks to a grinding, option attack led by running back Ryan Barbon (856 yards, eight TDs). But Thomas can take over games himself, as evidenced by his 1,351 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
No. 15 Northeastern (7-3) at No. 2 West York (10-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: It's déjà vu, as two YAIAA Division II rivals meet for the fourth time in 12 months. The Bobcats and Bulldogs also squared off in the first round of last year's District 3 playoffs, a game West York won, 14-7.
Bobcats must: Resemble the team that showed up during the first half of a 35-14 defeat to West York two weeks ago. Northeastern used the passing game to open up its trademark running attack, and was tied with the Bulldogs at halftime, 14-all. But the Bobcats were wasteful with their chances -- four turnovers, two in the red zone. They'll need to be more opportunistic this time. Northeastern will be without starting receiver Braheem Riley, who was ejected from last week's win at Kennard-Dale.
Bulldogs must: Wear Northeastern down, which they were able to do in the second half of the teams' meeting two weeks ago. The bedrock of West York's team is a big, experienced offensive line; and unlike Northeastern, the Bulldogs' depth allows them to platoon players and keep them fresh. If West York can establish its run game and slow leading Bobcats runner Daniel Adams (1,380 yards), then those factors pay dividends in the second half.
No. 14 Red Land (6-4) at No. 3 Susquehanna Township (8-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: If this matchup sounds familiar, it's because these two Mid-Penn Keystone Division foes met last week to close the regular season. Susquehanna Township beat Red Land, 26-0, giving the Indians plenty of confidence entering this week's rematch.
Patriots must: Find a fix to their struggles in the second half of the season. Red Land has lost three straight games -- all by at least 20 points -- against Township, Hershey and Bishop McDevitt. A good place to start would be stopping Indians running back Colby Grant, who rushed for 177 yards on 19 carries against the Patriots last week.
Indians must: Keep rolling. While Red Land's last three have been ones to forget, Township has enjoyed the opposite of the spectrum. The Indians have won five straight, including the last three by at least 26 points. Township's speed can present problems for any team.
No. 10 Spring Grove (7-3) at No. 7 Shippensburg (9-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: On the verge of a home playoff game, Spring Grove must now take to the road against Shippensburg, a team riding a seven-game win streak.
Rockets must: Forget last week's 19-17 loss at South Western. This season the Rockets have shown the ability to run with RB Jeff Delaughter and throw behind QB Matt Runge. However, they did not complete a pass last week. Defensively, the Rockets will have the task of stopping three Shippensburg players who can run the football. William Burt (1,081 yards), Tyrell Kater (919) and Tony Johnson (630) have even rushed for 100 yards in the same game once this season.
Greyhounds must: Keep doing what's gotten them this far, during a season that included the school's first league championship since 1988. Shippensburg wrapped up the Mid-Penn Colonial title with a 35-6 thrashing of Gettysburg. The Hounds' lone loss this season, however, came to a YAIAA team: Northeastern.
No. 6 Biglerville (8-2) at No. 3 Trinity (9-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: Expect plenty of points in this matchup of high-powered offenses. The Canners led the YAIAA in scoring this season (38.1 ppg), while the Shamrocks can also light up the scoreboard (35.5 ppg).
Canners must: Get a defensive performance that matches the play of their offense. Biglerville boasts a three-headed monster at running back, in Oakley Fissel (1,207 yards, 18 TDs), Joe Hurda (727, 12) and Jordan Wenk (680, 7). QB Tanner Cool is also completing 65.9 of his passing attempts. But the Canners defense has been vulnerable, allowing at least 28 points in each of its last four games.
Shamrocks must: Get ahead early and force Biglerville to abandon -- or least limit -- that stellar running game. Trinity boasts plenty of weapons of its own: namely, QB Mike Boguski (1,717 passing yards, 18 TDs) and workhorse RB Adam Geiger, whose 1,334 rushing yards came in just eight games.
No. 7 Susquenita (7-3) at No. 2 Bermudian Springs (10-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: The undefeated YAIAA Division III champions get Susquenita, which finished tied for second in the Mid-Penn Capital Division behind Trinity.
Blackhawks must: Regroup from two straight losses -- to Trinity and East Pennsboro -- which dropped them from the top of the division. The worst of those might have been last week's 14-point defeat to East Pennsboro, when Susquenita yielded two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Blackhawks' task this week will be to stop or slow Bermudian running backs Zach Stroup (1,127 yards, 14 TDs) and Tristan Sponseller (950 yards, 14 TDs).
Eagles must: Take away Blackhawks leading rusher Todd Mullen, who gained 1,097 yards and scored 15 touchdowns during the regular season. Susquenita will throw the ball and has thrown 12 interceptions this year. Susquenita QB Brett Morrison passed for 1,140 yards, 10 TDs and 11 of those picks.
No. 8 Littlestown (7-3) vs. No. 1 Wyomissing (10-0) at Governor Mifflin H.S.
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The skinny: Littlestown hopes to fare better than last year's first-round contest, when it saw its season ended by Wyomissing in a 49-26 defeat.
Thunderbolts must: Avoid an early onslaught. Wyomissing has outscored opponents 156-7 in the first quarter this season, and the Spartans defense (9.9 ppg allowed) has made overcoming those early deficits nearly impossible. Figuring out a way to neutralize Notre Dame-recruit Alex Anzalone would also help. He leads the Spartans with 810 rushing yards and 19 TDs.
Spartans must: Continue their stellar play on defense. Wyomissing has allowed just 3.5 yards per rush this season, and is coming off a 14-0 defeat of formerly unbeaten Berks Catholic. The Spartans have been somewhat more vulnerable against the pass (7 yards per play allowed), although that number could be skewed because Wyomissing has been so far ahead late in games. Littlestown might need a big game out of QB Dustin Crouse.