Week 9 staff predictions

Earlier this week, Northeastern coach Brendan Brown recalled a time four years ago when his then-fledging Bobcats program allowed 73 points in a loss to West York.

Back then, the term "rivalry" could hardly be used to describe the two Division II neighbors.

"We knew the only way it's going to become a rivalry is if we make it a rivalry," Brown said. "Last year was the very first year that it became a situation where West York seriously considered us to be a threat."

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  • Now, for the second straight season, West York and Northeastern will face off with plenty on the line. The winner of today's 7 p.m. showdown at Northeastern will earn at least a share of the Division II title.

    The Bulldogs and Bobcats met twice late last season in games with high stakes. The first, a 28-0 West York win, forged a three-way tie with Dover for the division title. The second, a 14-7 Bulldogs victory, came in the first round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.

    So while Northeastern (6-2, 3-0 Div. II), now in its fifth season of varsity football, has narrowed the gap with the division's perennial power, it hasn't yet beaten West York (8-0, 3-0).

    The Bobcats hope their senior night will provide a perfect opportunity.


    "There's no ifs, ands or maybes about it, this one is for all the marbles," Brown said. "To be able to have a division title game against West York is what these seniors dreamed of."

    If the teams' recent play is any indication, the Bobcats have quite the challenge in front of them. West York has steamrolled through the past month of its schedule; during the past five games, it has outscored opponents a combined 213-34.

    As that number might indicate, the Bulldogs' dominance has been the result of a complete effort. Their defense has been almost impenetrable in recent weeks. And the offense has thrived behind a balanced attack keyed by playmakers like seniors Brock Snellbaker (509 rushing yards, five touchdowns) and Zack Smith (league-best 772 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns).

    Meanwhile, quarterback Brandon Kinneman has completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns and three interceptions.

    A win would guarantee West York a share of its sixth straight Division II title.

    "We're just trying to temper in it, not try to get caught up in it," West York coach Ron Miller said. "It's that time of year where if you want to be successful, you have to run it and you have to stop the run."

    Stopping the run will be especially critical against the Bobcats and their workhorse tailback, Daniel Adams. The senior ranks fourth in the YAIAA with 1,070 rushing yards. He also has 12 touchdowns and 6 yards per carry average.

    Meanwhile, Brown said Bobcats senior receiver/linebacker Zach Moyer will be a "gametime decision" as he deals with a knee injury he suffered in practice a month ago.

    For his part, Miller said he expects a physical contest.

    "The playoff game (last year), they basically dismantled us up front," the coach said. "They're high-pressure. A lot of people in your face. They move around, they're aggressive. I just think they're a tough group of kids."

    Week 9 staff predictions

    Tonight's games

    Bermudian Springs (8-0, 7-0 Div. III) at Littlestown (6-2, 5-2 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Bermudian Springs 42, Littlestown 7
       The skinny: The Eagles can clinch a share of their second straight Division III title with a win in this rivalry matchup.
       Eagles must: Continue to establish the running back tandem of Zach Stroup and Tristan Sponseller, which has produced a combined 1,619 rushing yards and 24 TDs. Quarterback Michael Moore has kept opponents honest with a 62.2 completion percentage during the past four weeks.
       Thunderbolts must: Hold their own up front. Littlestown excelled against York Suburban last week despite a patchwork offensive line that has been hit by injuries. That group will need to stay strong against a big and physical Bermudian front.

    York Suburban (5-3, 4-3 Div. III) at Biglerville (7-1, 6-1 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Biglerville 17, York Suburban 10
       The skinny: The Canners can keep within a game, at worst, of Bermudian Springs if they can avoid a letdown against a dangerous Trojans team.
       Trojans must: Get their offensive weapons, Jaime Nixon-Alark and running back Isaiah Randall, in open space. Perhaps more importantly, their run defense must gain some consistency. Littlestown rushed for 386 yards on them a week ago.
       Canners must: Attack Suburban's weakness with their strength, which has been their running game. Biglerville has averaged 303 yards on the ground and has three backs (Oakley Fissel, Joe Hurda and Jordan Wenk) among the YAIAA leaders.

    Central York (5-3, 2-1 Div. I) at Red Lion (1-7, 0-3 Div. I)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Central York 49, Red Lion 7
       The skinny: The Panthers visit Red Lion with their YAIAA Division I hopes still alive but their playoff standing in better shape.
       Panthers must: Use their speed to their advantage on the turf at Red Lion. They were able to use it Saturday on the grass at Dallastown, as they scored a pair of 70-plus yard touchdowns during a 21-7 victory.
       Lions must: Get a better performance from their defense. Red Lion does have the ability to move through the air with QB Blake Cahill third in the league in passing yards, but the Lions have yielded 33.6 points per game.

    Dallastown (3-5, 1-2 Div. I) at Spring Grove (6-2, 3-0 Div. I)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Dallastown 27, Spring Grove 6
       The skinny: With a win, Spring Grove can clinch a share of its first Division I title since splitting one with New Oxford in 2002.
        Wildcats must: Finish. Two weeks ago, they gave up a 16-0 halftime lead at William Penn. Although Central York built a 14-0 lead on the Wildcats last week, Dallastown controlled the ball with advantages of 77-32 in plays and 22-6 in first downs.
       Rockets must: Continue to ride the wave of momentum they've built since a close loss to West York early in the season. This week's task will be to slow down Dallastown running back Robert Catchings, who has 296 yards rushing in his past two games.

    Delone Catholic (5-3, 5-2 Div. III) at Eastern York (3-5, 3-4 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Delone Catholic 49, Eastern York 14
       The skinny: Alex Cooley and the Knights try to spring their second home upset in as many weeks when they host the Squires.
       Squires must: Work the running game, something Delone has done effectively the past two weeks despite the absence of top offensive options Lance Reneker and Nick Braun. Last week against Fairfield, Nate Miller led the way with 156 rushing yards and three total TDs (one receiving).
       Golden Knights must: Finish as strong as they did Saturday, when Eastern scored the final 15 points of a 36-33 upset of York Catholic. The Knights struggled late in games during the early part of the season, especially on defense.

    Fairfield (0-8, 0-7 Div. III) at Hanover (0-8, 0-7 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Hanover 14, Fairfield 13
       The skinny: A battle of winless Division III foes sees the Knights hoping to end a 37-game losing streak.
       Green Knights must: Improve a defense that has allowed 43.3 points per game this season. Fairfield has a legitimate threat on offense in Thomas Bollinger (691 rushing yards) but it can't afford to play from far behind.
       Nighthawks must: Work the passing game that has been Hanover's biggest strength all season. Hawks QB Brady Goodfellow ranks fourth in the YAIAA in passing yards (983) with five touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

    West Perry (6-2, 4-1 Mid-Penn Colonial) at Gettysburg (3-5, 3-2 Mid-Penn Colonial)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: West Perry 39, Gettysburg 21
       The skinny: The Warriors try to continue their resurgence when they host a Mustangs team on a four-game win streak of its own.
       Mustangs must: Get another big game out of dual-threat senior QB Zach Smith, who has thrown for 889 yards and 12 touchdowns while also leading West Perry in rushing (842 yards, 11 TDs).
       Warriors must: Keep improving on defense. After allowing 42 points per game during its first six contests, Gettysburg allowed 21 combined during wins over Big Spring and James Buchanan.

    Dover (3-5, 1-2 Div. II) at New Oxford (3-5, 2-1 Div. II)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Dover 20, New Oxford 15
       The skinny: Two rebuilding teams can inch closer to a .500 finish with a victory here.
       Eagles must: Be more disciplined. Dover had chances last week against Northeastern, but seven fumbles (two lost) and eight penalties short-circuited its upset hopes.
       Colonials must: Feed off the momentum of their two-game win streak. The Colonials had a rough start to the season, including three shutout losses. But the offense has found itself lately, scoring 26 and 38 points in wins over Kennard-Dale and Susquehannock, respectively.

    Kennard-Dale (0-8, 0-3 Div. II) at Susquehannock (0-8, 0-3 Div. II)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Kennard-Dale 32, Susquehannock 27
       The skinny: Someone will finally get to celebrate Friday night when these two winless teams meet.
       Rams must: Brush off last week's game vs. West York and get their running game going. They enjoyed some success against New Oxford two weeks ago, but a big day for leading rusher Mike Young (465 yards) will help.
       Warriors must: If they can, avoid the hard-luck injuries that have plagued them this year. Susquehannock recently returned top threats Sammy Miller at running back, receiver Steven Nalls and linebacker Steven Martinez, but the Warriors again lost Miller last week to injury.

    James Buchanan (0-8, 0-5 Mid-Penn Colonial) at Northern York (6-2, 5-1 Mid-Penn Colonial)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Northern 40, James Buchanan 13
       The skinny: The Polar Bears look to shake off last week's loss to Shippensburg that knocked them into second place of the Colonial Division.
       Rockets must: Get off to a fast, positive start. Quarterback Caleb Martin threw for 177 yards in last week's 24-14 loss to Gettysburg. He was sacked eight times, however.
       Polar Bears must: Get their offense back on track after last week's 14-7 loss to Shippensburg. Northern was held to 90 yards rushing.

    Red Land (6-2, 3-2 Mid-Penn Keystone) at Hershey (5-3, 2-3 Mid-Penn Keystone)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: Hershey 13, Red Land 3; Red Land 42, Hershey 41 (District 3 Class AAA first-round)
       The skinny: The Patriots get a third straight opponent to nab a win after they met twice last year during their run to the district semifinals. This time it's a Hershey team fighting to keep its playoff hopes alive.
       Patriots must: Stick with what works and limit turnovers after throwing three interceptions in a 44-21 loss Saturday to Bishop McDevitt. Red Land's strength has been running the football.
       Trojans must: Also rebound from a loss last week -- in their case, a 49-14 setback to Susquehanna Township. Hershey gained only 28 yards in the first half of that loss.

    South Western (4-4, 1-2 Div. I) at William Penn (3-5, 2-1 Div. I)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: South Western 46, William Penn 13
       The skinny: While the Mustangs look to build from their first Division I win, the Bearcats will try to rebound from their first loss.
       Mustangs must: Control the football, and they can do so with running back Dillon Thomas. The junior ranks third in the YAIAA in rushing with 1,071 yards.
       Bearcats must: Find another receiving option if they are without senior Derek Wilson, who left last week's loss at Spring Grove after aggravating a hairline clavicle fracture. Bearcats coach Shawn Heinold said Wednesday night Wilson was limited in practice and his return is questionable. Dakeem Dennison (five catches for 120 yards last week) and Bryshon Sweeney will likely be called upon to lift the burden.

    York County Tech (2-6, 2-5 Div. III) at York Catholic (3-5, 3-4 Div. III)
       Kickoff: 7 p.m.
       Last year: York Catholic 32, York County Tech 8
       The skinny: On senior night, the Irish will try to halt a three-game losing skid and boost their wavering playoff hopes.
       Fighting Irish must: Figure out a way to stop the run. That has been a problem each of the last two weeks, during defeats to Delone and Eastern York. This week, York Catholic will have to contend with junior fullback Calvin Savary (1,208 yards, 11 TDs).
       Spartans must: Shut down -- or at least slow -- the Irish's passing attack. QB James Dougherty has put up some huge numbers this season (YAIAA-best 2,142 passing yards, 19 TDs), but York Catholic has been prone to turnovers at times.

    More football

  • John Clayton's Week 9 power rankings
  • Who's in good shape heading toward the District 3 playoffs?
  • GameTimePA Podcast: Preview Week 9