Under just about any circumstances, a football game between Adams County neighbors Biglerville and Bermudian Springs is bound to stir the allegiances of both communities.
But a second showdown in 15 days?
A trip to Hersheypark Stadium on the line?
Those are the stakes that await the Canners and Eagles, when they renew their rivalry at 7 p.m. Friday in a District 3 Class AA semifinal at Bermudian Springs.
Rest assured, neither team will need a formal introduction.
"We could go play it out in some corn field with nobody around and both kids would get up for it," Biglerville coach Alex Ramos said. "It's just that kind of game."
Add to all that a super-charged atmosphere -- one which should resemble the standing-room crowd that packed Bermudian for the teams' first showdown, a 37-21 Eagles win that secured their second straight YAIAA Division III title.
That might have the biggest meeting ever between the two teams.
Until now, of course.
"It's unique in the sense that usually at this point you're not playing somebody you've already played," Bermudian Springs coach Jon Defoe said. "And on top of that, it's your next-door neighbor. It certainly adds to it a little bit, but it doesn't change what's at stake."
The second-seeded Eagles (11-0) will try to secure their fifth District 3 title game appearance. The sixth-seeded Canners (9-2), on the
Biglerville had never won a district playoff game before last week's 28-26 upset of Trinity -- a game in which Ramos said his Canners offense was "able to do whatever we wanted."
Then again, offense has not been an issue all year for Biglerville. It led the YAIAA in scoring during the regular season, spurred by the running back trio of Oakley Fissel (1,094 yards), Joe Hurda (868) and Jordan Wenk (730). The Canners are still the only team this season to score more than a touchdown against Bermudian's vaunted defense.
The key for the Canners tonight, however, likely will come from the other side of the ball. Biglerville's defense has given up 24.6 points per game and allowed the Eagles to grind out 384 yards during the teams' first meeting.
"We need to get off the field on third-and-long," Ramos said. "We had them in some third-and-long situations and they made some plays.
"They may not hit those 40- or 50-yard plays, but they'll get 6, 7, 8 consistently."
Task No. 1 for Biglerville's defense: Slowing down Eagles running backs Zach Stroup (1,230 yards) and Tristan Sponseller (1,062). But Bermudian quarterback Michael Moore can also keep teams honest. He completed 8-of-10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown last week, during the Eagles 42-7 rout of Susquenita.
For Bermudian, this will be its third straight trip to the District 3 semifinals. The Eagles lost in this round to Trinity in 2010 and to Wyomissing last year.
"Right now they're one complete, 48-minute effort from taking that next step," Defoe said.
Class AAAA quarterfinal
No. 8 Central York (8-3) at No. 1 Wilson (10-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: Wilson has proved to be the end of the road for many YAIAA teams' postseason hopes, including Central, which lost to the Bulldogs in the 2009 quarterfinals. Dallastown saw its season end last week with a visit to West Lawn.
Panthers must: Challenge the Bulldogs' secondary with their ability to stretch the field. Darian Hampton (44 catches for 849 yards, 14 TDs) and Marquis Fells (26 catches for 567 yards and six TDs) will try to lead that attack. Proficient passer Corey Hartz (2,042 yards through 11 weeks) will pull the strings. A big strike early on offense would do wonders.
Bulldogs must: Maintain the offensive rhythm they discovered a week ago. After Wilson's 48-0 win against Dallastown, Bulldogs coach Doug Dahms said finding that continuity was essential. They started fast, racing to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, as opposed to a slow start the week before. Wilson has relied on its defense all season long. The Bulldogs have gone seven straight weeks without yielding more than one touchdown in a game. They're allowing just 5.9 points per game this season.
Coach's take: "Harrisburg got them for 21 (points), and Harrisburg was able to get them by hitting a couple of big plays. I don't know that anybody I've seen has been able to drive the ball the length of the field on them and stick it in the end zone."
-- Central York's Brad Livingston on his offense's big-play ability
Class AAA quarterfinal
No. 10 Spring Grove (8-3) at No. 2 West York (11-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: The Rockets get another shot at the team they nearly knocked off in Week 3, when the Bulldogs squeaked out a 21-17 win. Both teams are coming off dominating first-round wins -- Spring Grove shut out Shippensburg, 24-0, while West York ripped Northeastern, 49-20.
Rockets must: Follow the formula of their first game against West York, except finish this time. Spring Grove outgained West York that day, 274-189, and its defense is coming off perhaps its best performance of the season last week against the Greyhounds. On offense, the Rockets are paced by the tandem of running back Jeff Delaughter (1,496 yards, 14 TDs) and QB Matt Runge.
Bulldogs must: Establish the run, something it failed to do during the teams' first meeting. The good news: Unlike that game, the Bulldogs' stable of running backs is healthy this time. James Johnson had the hot hand last week, rushing for 116 yards against Northeastern. And West York has a go-to receiving option in Zack Smith, the league's leading pass catcher (58 catches, 1,034 yards, 14 TDs).
Coach's take: "They controlled the line of scrimmage completely. If it weren't for a big play here or there, we would have been in trouble."
-- West York's Ron Miller on his team's previous meeting with Spring Grove
"I just think the kids get better each week. ... They literally just went out and decided they were going to be the better them that night."
-- Spring Grove's Russ Stoner on the Rockets' win over Shippensburg
Class A semifinal
No. 4 Columbia (4-6) at No. 1 Delone Catholic (7-3)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: The Squires take the field after a week off, thanks to the Class A playoffs having only four teams. They get last season's district champion, but this is not the same team from a year ago. Delone moved down after qualifying for the Class AA playoffs last season.
Crimson Tide must: Slow the Squires' running game, which has become a greater strength later in the season. Although Delone did not have a 1,000-yard rusher, five of its top six ballcarriers this season averaged at least 5 yards per touch. Matt Giuffreda rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his last two games to close the regular season.
Squires must: Zero in on Columbia's Andrew Combs, who's been one of the Tide's leading playmakers all season. Combs was just shy of the 1,000-yard mark rushing this season. He had 925 and 10 TDs through Week 10. The question is, can Delone Catholic adjust to having a week off? With the move to Class A, the bye week is something new to the Squires, who were mostly healthy after their fourth straight win to close the regular season.
Coach's take: "No I didn't like it. You start to get in the routine. I hate anything that gets you out of the routine."
-- Delone's Steve Wiles on his team's bye week