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Week 9 preview: Central, Dallastown battle for playoffs

It's crunch time for the Central York football team.

After losing a tough contest to undefeated Red Lion last week, the Panthers are virtually out of the Division I title race. But at 5-3, they hold the eighth and final playoff spot in District 3 Class 6A.

On Friday, the Panthers have a chance to firmly keep themselves in the bracket when they travel to Dallastown for a 7 p.m. contest. The Wildcats are 7-1 and still fighting to win another Division I title, and they hold the No. 5 spot in the district rankings.

While Dallastown has won its last two games by a combined score of 90-13, it now faces an explosive Central team that just gave Red Lion its toughest test of the season in a 28-18 loss. With the Wildcats scheduled to play the Lions in the season finale, they'll be determined to keep their momentum going.

The game will feature two of the league's best running backs in Central's Noreaga Goff and Dallastown's Zion DeVance. And with both teams' defenses playing well of late, it should be a battle.


Friday's games

Biglerville at Hanover

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Biglerville, 42-21.
The skinny: While last year's matchup had major Division III title implications, this year's game won't have nearly as much on the line. The Nighthawks are striving for their second-straight winning season, while the Canners are looking for their first win. 
Canners (0-8, 0-5) must: Slow down Hanover's rushing attack. The Canners have struggled to stop the run this season, and Hanover has relied heavily on the ground attack since quarterback Cam Mumma was injured earlier this season. 
Nighthawks (4-4, 2-3) must: Keep spreading the ball around. Hanover split carries between Justin Barnes, Jeffrey Jacoby and Logan Brown during last week's win over win against York County Tech. That approach could keep Biglerville off balance.

Central Martinsburg at Eastern York

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Did not play.
The skinny: It won't help Eastern York in the Division II title race, but a win will keep the Golden Knights over .500 going into their season finale against York Suburban. 
Dragons (6-1) must: Stop the run. Eastern York has relied on its rushing attack for most of this season, especially last week when starting quarterback Seth Bernstein missed the game. 
Golden Knights (4-4) must: Slow down Alex Hoenstine. Central Martinsburg's top offensive player has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this season and occasionally passes, too.

READ MORE: Can Eastern York end its 26-year title drought? 

Dover at West York

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: West York, 39-14.
The skinny: Dover looks to bounce back from two straight losses, while West York will try to continue its momentum from last week's thrilling win over Susquehannock. 
Eagles (2-6, 1-3) must: Keep running the ball strong. Despite losing to a tough York Suburban team last week, the Eagles finished with over 200 yards rushing. 
Bulldogs (2-6, 2-2) must: Keep their offense humming. West York scored 29 points against Susquehannock as quarterback Corey Wise threw for 223 yards, and added the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion.

Gettysburg at York Suburban

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: York Suburban, 45-14. 
The skinny: This game will have major implications in the Division II title race with Gettysburg just a game behind York Suburban. 
Warriors (5-3, 3-1) must: Keep running the ball. Edny Celius continued his terrific season last week, rushing for 170 yards against Daniel Boone and going over the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Giving him the ball will likely remain Gettysburg's game plan. 
Trojans (6-2, 4-0) must: Keep forcing turnovers. York Suburban recovered three fumbles against Dover last week. That could be key against run-heavy Gettysburg.

Kennard-Dale at Susquehannock

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Susquehannock, 35-17.
The skinny: The Warriors will try to bounce back from last week's heartbreaking loss to West York in a southern York County rivalry game against the winless Rams. 
Rams (0-8, 0-5) must: Slow down Jack Allred. Susquehannock's workhorse back has rushed for more than 1,100 yards and scored 14 touchdowns this season. 
Warriors (2-5, 1-3) must: Play strong for four quarters. The Warriors led West York by 14 twice in the fourth quarter last week but couldn't hang on for the win.

Littlestown at Bermudian Springs

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Bermudian Springs, 35-0.
The skinny: Two longtime rivals will face off in a game with major District 3 playoff implications. Littlestown is in second place in Class 3A, while Bermudian occupies the fourth and final spot. 
Thunderbolts (7-1, 4-1) must: Keep their offense balanced. Littlestown has a strong one-two running punch in Wes Storey and Drew Matthews but also a capable quarterback in Tanner Noble. Staying multi-dimensional will be key against the Eagles. 
Eagles (6-2, 4-1) must: Play stronger in the trenches. Bermudian struggled to get movement up front against York Catholic last week. That can't happen again.

READ MORE: Littlestown circles in on playoffs amid turnaround season

Northern York at Greencastle-Antrim

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Northern York, 38-14.
The skinny: Currently two spots out of the Class 4A playoffs, the Polar Bears now face a struggling Blue Devils squad.  
Polar Bears (5-3, 3-2) must: Get the running game on track. Northern York ran for just 53 yards on 21 carries in a win over Shippensburg last week, but should have an easier time against Greencastle-Antrim. 
Blue Devils (1-7, 1-4) must: Figure something out on defense. The Blue Devils have given up an average of 38 points the last four games.


Red Land at Central Dauphin

Kickoff: 7 p.m
Last year: Did not play. 
The skinny: Red Land is sitting in the eighth and final spot in the Class 5A playoffs, but the Patriots now take on the top team in Class 6A. 
Patriots (5-3) must: Keep the Rams' offense in check. Central Dauphin has scored 30 or more points five times this season. 
Rams (7-1) must: Stop Justin Johnson. The Red Land running back has more than 1,000 yards this season and is the key to the Patriots offense.

Red Lion at Spring Grove

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Red Lion, 28-14.
The skinny: The Lions look to stay undefeated and in first place in Division I against a pesky Rockets team. 
Lions (8-0, 5-0) must: Stay focused. The Lions are no doubt excited for their season finale against rival Dallastown, but because the Division I title isn't locked up yet, they can't afford to look past the Rockets. 
Rockets (4-4, 2-3) must: Find some success on offense. Spring Grove's defense put up a valiant effort against Northeastern last week but couldn't put any points on the board. The Rockets will need to cut down on the turnovers and get something going in the run game.

South Western at Northeastern

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: South Western, 24-7.
The skinny: The Bobcats are looking to keep pace in the District 3 playoff hunt, while the Mustangs are mostly playing for pride. 
Mustangs (4-4, 3-2) must: Slow down Anu Johnson. Northeastern relies heavily on the senior running back, with both of its losses coming in games in which he was injured. If Johnson gets going, the Bobcats will be tough to stop. 
Bobcats (6-2, 3-2) must: Get its offense going sooner. The Bobcats struggled to move the ball in the first half last week against Spring Grove, with both of their touchdowns coming on return scores. It won't be easy to rely on that strategy in two straight weeks.

York Catholic at Fairfield

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: York Catholic, 59-14. 
The skinny: York Catholic looks to wrap up the Division III title against a Fairfield team that has lost four straight. 
Fighting Irish (7-1, 5-0) must: Key on Charlie Burnett. The sophomore running back makes Fairfield's offense go. 
Knights (4-4, 1-4) must: Contain Jakkar Kinard and Dan Yokemick. This won't be easy. York Catholic's running back and quarterback duo have been terrorizing defenses all season.

Saturday's game


New Oxford at William Penn

Kickoff: Noon.
Last year: New Oxford, 26-14
The skinny: Someone has to win, right? There are no ties in Pennsylvania high school football.
Colonials (0-8, 0-5) must: Keep it close. Keep the game within striking distance in the fourth quarter, and see if a fortuitous bounce comes their way.
Bearcats (0-8, 0-5) must: Believe and compete. The Bobcats have fought hard in 2016, but grabbing a win for their efforts is essential.

Delone Catholic at York County Tech

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Last year: Delone Catholic, 49-28
The skinny: Delone likes to run the ball, while Tech utilizes the talents of quarterback Josiah Smallwood and wide receiver Jordan Ray.
Squires (5-3, 2-3) must: Stack wins. The Colonials look to record consecutive victories for the first time since ripping off three straight to start the season.
Spartans (4-4, 2-3) must: Which team will show up? The Spartans would like to bounce back following a home loss to Hanover.