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Red Lion at South Western: A few pregame thoughts

It's already week six of the YAIAA high school football season. Another Friday night and another great slate of football games under the lights...and maybe the storm clouds.

I'll be at South Western tonight to see the Mustangs (1-4, 1-1) take on Red Lion (3-2, 2-0). But before I head out to the Corral, here are some pregame thoughts to get you ready:

The weather: The area as a whole has been lucky all season when it comes to weather. There have been quite a few clear, mild nights, but tonight might be a little different. The Weather Channel is calling for a line of storms to pass through the area right around 8:00, just as the first quarter should be wrapping up, followed by some light rain after that.

Both teams' rushing attacks have been in the middle-of-the-pack among YAIAA teams, so a sloppy, slug fest doesn't favor one team in particular. It could, however, damper some halftime homecoming festivities.

District implications: The Mustangs are still in 24th in Class AAAA, eight spots out of the final playoff spot. The window to bounce back is closing and the teams that are currently in playoff slots are pulling away.

That 16th team, however, is Red Lion. A win for either team could go a long way toward making a playoff push.

Division implications: Red Lion has won two in a row in division play against Northeastern and William Penn and are tied for first place, but are still trying to prove themselves as serious contenders in Division I. South Western is 1-1 in division play and could be 2-0 if the Mustangs hadn't lost a fourth quarter lead to Central York. A win would keep them within a game of the top spot or tie them for the lead, depending on other results around the league.

Hartlaub vs. Boyd-Gillespie: Sophomore sensation Andrew Hartlaub has been a welcome surprise for the Mustangs this season, racking up 10 touchdowns (4 rushing, 3 receiving, 3 kickoff returns) in five games. Kendrick Boyd-Gillespie has five scores for the Lions, including four in a loss against West York. But he missed last Friday's game after an emergency appendectomy. His status for tonight is uncertain. If he plays, which team's star shines brightest?

Where's the defense?: Both defenses have struggled with giving up yards, in fact, they both have been out-gained by roughly 500 yards this season. Red Lion's turnover ratio is at -5 and South Western has given up an average of 234 rushing yards a game. Mustangs Head Coach Damian Poalucci said earlier this week that his team has been working on being more physical on defense and it showed in the overtime loss to Central. Poalucci also wants his team to refocus and not think about the Central game or the controversial ruling that ended it.