Friday, August 26, 2011

Top Games No. 5: Harrisburg at Cumberland Valley

The last two years these teams have put on quite a show. Both encounters were at Severance Field. This time around the battle will at Chapman Field on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.

While this still might be a thrilling game, we're doubtful that it will have Commonwealth Division title implications.

CV (12-3 in 2010) lost most of its starters to graduation and Harrisburg (9-3), which was also hit hard in June, is replacing legendary coach George Chaump, who bolted for the greener grass at Central Dauphin East.

Still, we're excited for this game.

Harrisburg, the defending division champion, looked good in the second half of its scrimmage Friday against J.W. Robinson, Va., and always has speed.

CV won't beat itself and will play fundamentally-sound football. Whether a division crown is on the line or the only thing to play for is a better spot in the 16-team District 3 Class AAAA playoffs, this is one game to see.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pennsylvania Football News preseason rankings

Late last night, the Pennsylvania Football News released its preseason rankings.

The only area team to crack the top 10 in any of the four classes was Trinity, which checks in at No. 5. The Shamrocks open the season next Friday at 7 p.m. against No. 2 Lancaster Catholic at COBO Field.

Cumberland Valley is listed in the Others to Watch category in Class AAAA.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic (AAAA), Allentown Central Catholic (AAA), West Catholic (AA) and Clairton (A) are the top-ranked teams.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Top Games No. 6: Red Land at Cedar Cliff

Really, what else is there to say?

It's a game between Red Land and Cedar Cliff. Maybe not as heated as some other sports, the annual football game is not one of miss. The rivalry returns to West Shore Stadium on Sept. 30.

On the surface, this one looks like it could be a blowout. Cedar Cliff, literally, has everyone back on offense. The defense won't be too shabby either.

Red Land, on the other hand, is in a transition period. The Patriots are coming off back-to-back losing seasons and are under the guidance of first-year coach Chad Weaver. Hopefully by the time this game rolls around, the Patriots have worked out the kinks because we expect Cedar Cliff to be firing on all cylinders from the start.

The good news for Red Land and junior quarterback Kyle Biddle, above, is that it does boast veteran offensive and defensive lines. Those guys could keep Cedar Cliff's offense off-balance and, if the running game clicks, Red Land could keep the ball away from the Colts' powerful offense.

Don't sleep on Red Land for a minute. The Patriots are a tough bunch who could pull the upset. Whether they do or not is yet to be seen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thumbs up to Mifflin County

It will be years until we know whether the addition of District 6 schools State College and Mifflin County as full-time Mid-Penn Conference members works or not.

And, at least in terms of Mifflin County, it will be quite some time until it's clear whether or not the Huskies can compete in the difficult Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division.

But the school is OK in our book because it went above and beyond to design its own logo. And, the school's football helmet looks amazing.

We haven't seen photos of the football team's uniforms so we have no opinion on them. If you've read this blog over the last few years, you know we love to discuss uniforms, helmets and game hats. Mifflin County's helmet is one of the most unique and creative that we've come across.

We absolutely love the fact that the school didn't go down the generic path and slap a big white or purple paw on the helmet, an interlocked MC or just leave it plain white or purple.

Good job, Mifflin County, and welcome to the Mid-Penn.

Top Games No. 7: Boiling Springs at Milton Hershey

Last year was a little bit different than what we're used to when the Bubblers and Spartans tangle.

For the first time since 2004, the annual meeting between these teams was decided by more than seven points. Boiling Springs won at home, 20-7, it snap its four-game losing streak against Milton Hershey.

Expect things to tighten back up this fall when the rivals meet Sept. 16 at Spartan Stadium.

Milton Hershey, always an athletic bunch, figures to be improved from last year's 3-7 record. It's not often that a team coached by Jeff Boger suffers through a losing season and it's very hard to imagine that happening again.

But, the Capital is expected to be a very balanced league this year. The common opinion is that Trinity is the favorite, but beyond the Shamrocks whoever comes in second is any one's guess.

That's why this early-season game is so important.

Boiling Springs and running back Drew Hunter, above, dropped its season opener last year before running off seven straight wins. The Bubblers staged a huge rally in Week 2 to upend Palmyra before taking out the Spartans. Don't think for a second that win over Milton Hershey didn't do wonders for that the team's confidence.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

USA Today high school football rankings

Much like the season-ending baseball polls, Pennsylvania is without a team in the USA Today Super 25 preseason high school football poll.

But, there is hope.

Normally, the Pennsylvania Class AAAA champion cracks the rankings by season's end. We'll see if that's the case this year.

If you're looking for the favorite to win that title, check out Pittsburgh Central Catholic. It appears that the Vikings are going to be very good this year. Now, whether they escape the WPIAL is something else altogether.

And, here's a really cool story about Delaware private school Red Lion Christian and it's hopes of building a national football power.

Top Games No. 8: Lampeter-Strasburg at Cedar Cliff

Last season, this game was a measuring stick for the up-and-coming Colts.

This year, it's a game Cedar Cliff and senior quarterback Tyler Orris, left, will be expected to win. The teams meet Sept. 16 at West Shore Stadium.

The Colts were on a roll last season after winning their first two games by an average of 33-14 before being blasted by Lampeter-Strasburg, 28-7, at Pioneer Field.

Lampeter-Strasburg, mind you, was no slouch last season. The Pioneers finished 11-2 and advanced to the District 3 Class AAA semifinals before falling to Bishop McDevitt.

But there's no hiding the fact that Cedar Cliff has a ton of talent returning and will be expected to challenge for the Keystone Division title and make some noise in the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs.

Colts coach Jim Cantafio hasn't won a playoff game in two trips to the postseason at Cedar Cliff. He's worked wonders by building this program into a respectable one, but until if the Colts want respect across the board, they'll need to beat Lampeter-Strasburg and then win at least one 3-AAAA playoff game.

If anyone can help a team reach its expectations, it's Cantafio. We expect big things out of the Colts and would be surprised if they fail to deliver.