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District 3 football preview: York Suburban takes show on the road

What a season it was for the York Suburban Trojans. Quarterback Thomas Merkle shattered the county's all-time passing record. Wide receiver Collin Mailman broke the school's career receptions record. And the team won it's last eight games to secure its first division title in nearly three decades.

For an encore, can the Trojans make a postseason run? They'll get their first test Friday night when they travel to Robert F. Bostic Field to take on the Northern York Polar Bears at 7 p.m. Up until the final two weeks of the regular season, Greg Bowman's squad looked like one of the best teams in Class AAA. But two losses in Weeks 9 and 10 by a combined 52 points dropped Northern to the No. 8 seed. Still, making the postseason after winning just three games in each of the last two seasons was a major accomplishment for the program.

This will come down to who gains the upper hand between York Suburban's high-powered offense and Northern's stout defense.

Eight other teams from York and Adams counties reached the postseason and seven of those will play Friday night at 7 p.m. York Catholic is the lone exception because Class A plays its first playoff games Nov. 20.

Northern Lebanon (8-2, 6-0 L-L Section 3) at Northeastern (8-2, 5-2 YAIAA Division I)

KICKOFF >> 7 p.m.

THE SKINNY >> Northeastern goes for its first-ever district football win when it hosts the Vikings, whose only two losses came retroactively by forfeit.

VIKINGS MUST >> Quiet the crowd. Northeastern, which has never hosted a district playoff game, will be fired up. Score early to take them out of it.

BOBCATS MUST >> Cover Corey Teasdale and Michigan Daub. The Vikings' receiving duo combined for 17 catches, 291 yards and three touchdowns last week.

Spring Grove (5-5, 4-3 YAIAA Division I) at Manheim Central (8-2, 6-1 L-L Section 2)

KICKOFF >> 7 p.m.

THE SKINNY >> After sneaking back into the playoff picture in Week 10, the Rockets travel to Elden Rettew Stadium to take on the Barons.

ROCKETS MUST >> Play loose. A week ago, it looked like Spring Grove wouldn't be playing in Week 11, so they'll be taking the field with metaphorical house money. All the pressure will be on the Barons.

BARONS MUST >> Dare the Rockets to run the ball. Drop back in coverage and make the Rockets, who were the YAIAA's third-worst running team, rush the ball.

Central Dauphin East (6-4, 4-3 Mid-Penn Commonwealth) at Dallastown (9-1, 6-1 YAIAA Division I)

KICKOFF >> 7 p.m.

THE SKINNY >> Dallastown makes its ninth-consecutive district playoff appearance when it hosts CD East from the Mid-Penn.

PANTHERS MUST >> Stack the box. Make the Wildcats, who threw for nine yards last week, pass the ball, especially if starter Cade Gold can't go because of a leg injury.

WILDCATS MUST >> Wipe the slate clean. Yes, the Red Lion loss will sting for a long time, but the playoffs offer a chance at a fresh start. Start fast and put the loss in the past.

Red Lion (7-3, 5-2 YAIAA Division I) at Cumberland Valley (8-2, 6-1 Mid-Penn Commonwealth)

KICKOFF >> 7 p.m.

THE SKINNY >> Can the Lions stay hot and upset perennial powerhouse Cumberland Valley?

LIONS MUST >> Build momentum. While Dallastown may want to put last Friday behind them, the Lions should use their dominating 26-0 win over their arch rival as a confidence boost heading into the postseason.

EAGLES MUST >> Pressure the Red Lion offense. Other than a lopsided loss to Bishop McDevitt, the Eagles defense didn't give up more than 21 points in a game all season. They'll be tested against the YAIAA's highest-scoring offense.

Biglerville (7-3, 6-1 YAIAA Division III) at Hanover (9-1, 6-1)

KICKOFF >> 7 p.m.

THE SKINNY >> Hanover looks to avenge its only loss of the season, while Biglerville looks to beat the Nighthawks for the second time in three weeks.

CANNERS MUST >> Limit big plays. The Nighthawks scored on a 30-yard pass play and an 80-yard pass play during their last meeting. The Canners need to limit those plays in case points become harder for the offense to come by.

NIGHTHAWKS MUST >> Slow Colton Sentz. The Canners' running back ran for 179 in their last meeting and consistently picked up big gains on first down. The Nighthawks can't allow Biglerville to keep getting into manageable situations.

South Western (7-3, 5-2 YAIAA Division I) at Hempfield (8-2, 5-2 L-L Section 1)

KICKOFF >> 7 p.m.

THE SKINNY >> The Mustangs are coming off a surprising loss to rival Spring Grove.

MUSTANGS MUST >> Limit turnovers. The Mustangs lost scoring opportunities on two interceptions last week and have committed 15 turnovers this year.

BLACK KNIGHTS MUST >> Defend the Geiman-Staub connection. That South Western pair can be lethal to opposing defenses, and Hempfield struggled to stop Manheim Township's Erik Benjamin-to-Kade Kubicki combo last week.