Written by Larry Etter
With a huge game looming this week against Milton Hershey, the Middletown football team got little resistance from visiting Boiling Springs in Saturday’s Homecoming contest at windy, chilly War Memorial Field.
The 42-6 victory, the Blue Raiders’ eighth straight and second Homecoming victory in a row, set the stage for what could turn out to be the Mid-Penn Capital Division’s game of the year.
The Raiders will face the Spartans at Henry Hershey Field on Friday night in a battle of division unbeaten teams. Milton Hershey, with just one loss on its record, is coming off a big win over Trinity heading into this weekend’s showdown.
For the Blue Raiders, the romp over the winless Bubblers was so complete that none of the offensive or defensive starters played a down in the second half. Not one to look ahead, coach Brett Myers still agreed that a tougher game would have been more beneficial for his players as they prepped for the upcoming clash at Milton Hershey. “But,” he said, “It was good to get our JV players on the field for the second half.”
“They made a nice, goal line stand, too,” he added, referring to a third-quarter stop at the 1 yard line.
The Bubblers finally scored against the reserves with just 27 seconds left in the game. Up until that point the visitors had victimized themselves with numerous mistakes, but were also victimized by the superior play of the Middletown squad.
It did not take long for the home team to establish its dominance. Four plays into the game quarterback Chase Snavely hooked up with junior receiver Tyreer Mills on a 42-yard touchdown pass that got the Raiders rolling. Mills got open near the 20, where he pulled in Snavely’s spot-on throw. From there, it was no contest as Mills raced to the end zone. Donovan Brady’s kick made it a 7-0 lead with 10:02 on the clock.
On Boiling Springs’ ensuing possession Jonah McCoy broke up a third down pass to force a Bubbler punt.
Mills caused more excitement when he returned the kick for an apparent touchdown. But a penalty erased the scoring run. It did not matter, however, as the Blue Raiders scored on the very next play when freshman running back Jose Lopez ran around the left side, picked up blocks down field and turned the sweep into a dazzling 63-yard touchdown sprint. With 8:04 still left in the first quarter, the Raiders led 14-0. Things simply got worse for the visitors after that.
On second and 9, Bubbler quarterback Evan Mancuso fumbled and Middletown’s Laron Woody recovered for the Raiders at the Boiling Springs’ 15 yard line. After Jaelen Thompson ran for 6 yards on first down, Brady Fox followed the lead block of Justin Mayersky into the end zone for Middletown’s third touchdown. There was still 6:22 left in the first period and the Raiders had expanded their lead to 21-0.
Trying to get back into the game, the Bubblers’ offense picked up 8 yards on a pair of runs, but lost a yard on third down and again were forced to punt.
Picking up the ball off a bounce at the 26 on the left side, Mills crossed to the right, picked up the necessary blocks from his teammates and blazed his way to the south end zone for a 74-yard touchdown return that padded the lead to 28-0.
The visitors did manage to pick up a pair of first downs on their ensuing possession before the Middletown defense shut off the drive. After losing 7 yards on two plays and facing a third and 17, the drive was stopped when linebacker Blake Jacoby dropped Josh Otto well short of the marker.
The Middletown offense lost a fumble on the first drive of the second quarter but the visitors could not cash in on the turnover. Instead a botched punt attempt gave the ball back to the Raiders at the Boiling Springs 34. Runs by Fox and Thompson moved the ball to the Bubblers’ 1 yard line before a high snap from center cost the Raiders 34 yards all the way back out to the 37.
Undaunted, the Raiders went 21 yards on a Snavely-to-Tre Leach pass connection that set up another touchdown by Mills. This one came on a 15-yard pass with 2:48 left in the first half. Brady’s PAT upped the Middletown advantage to 35-0 and pretty much iced the win for the Blue Raiders.
On Boiling Springs’ following possession, Kyle Truesdale, Haden Landis, Hunter Landis and Bob Grahem led the defense that forced another punting situation for the Bubblers.
And the Bubblers hurt themselves once more when an errant snap was chased down by kicker Otto at the 2 yard line.
Snavely went into the end zone on a keeper at 1:37 that gave the Raiders a 42-0 halftime cushion. And that pretty much ended the day for the Middletown starters.
In the second half, with the mercy clock running, the Raider reserves took over and the defense preserved the shutout until the waning seconds of the game.
The Raiders nearly gave up a score late in the third after the Bubblers had taken possession of the ball at the Middletown 24. The opportunity came for the visitors when a punt attempt by Tristan Maxwell went wrong.
But the Raiders held when Kaiden Karper was stopped at the one by several Middletown defenders.
Early in the fourth quarter, Antonio Gamble, Lopez and Edwin Figueroa moved the ball before a big run by Lamar Ventura was wiped out by a holding penalty. Later, with 2:29 left in the game, the Bubblers, lifted by a 40-yard pass play, broke into the scoring column with a 15-yard touchdown down pass that broke up the shutout.
Next Up: The Blue Raiders travel to Henry Hershey Field to take on the Milton Hershey Spartans 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 October 2016 11:58
The Middletown cross country teams traveled to Big Spring High School for the Mid-Penn League Championships on Saturday, and another runner qualified for districts.
The first Raider to cross the finish in the boys meet was Justin Shaffer in a time of 18:01, which is his personal best. He was the 76th overall finisher. The next Blue Raider was Dan Brenner (19:45), followed by Zach Malay (19:46), Caleb Ocker (19:52), Tanner Albright (20:53), Mark Cowan (22:37), Brayden Erickson (21:20), Kenny Britcher (24:41) and Jacob Buffington (22:09, a personal best).
Malay became the fourth boy to qualify for the District 3 championships, joining Justin Shaffer, Caleb Ocker, Dan Brenner, and Jaleena Marrero of the girl’s team.
The boys team finished ahead of the teams from Bishop McDevitt, Susquehanna Township, and Carson Long Academy. This avenges a loss by the score of 19-51 from the Bishop McDevitt squad in September.
In the girls championship, the Blue Raiders were led by Jaleena Marrero, in a time of 22:09 (73rd finisher overall). Other finishers included Maddie Garber (25:06) and Angela Hernandez (25:54).
“I feel very good about the progress of our team,” coach Pete Fox said. “Our runners have shown resiliency and determination in reaching a place where we can be competitive with established programs. I’m proud of our runners and grateful for the hard work of my assistant coaches, Jesse Woodrow and Tim Ebersole.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 12:26
By Mitch Spear
For the Press And Journal
The Middletown boys soccer team won two of its three games last week as it continues it push for the playoffs.
The Blue Raiders stood at 10-6 overall and 7-6 in the Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division after last week’s action.
Milton Hershey 2, Middletown 0
Milton Hershey started strong in the game Tuesday, Oct. 11, and within the first eight minutes generated a chance that was headed on frame that Thomas Lee had to push over the crossbar to keep the game scoreless. Just seconds later, another ball toward the Raider goal was unsuccessfully punched out of the goal box. After several bounces the ball fell to the foot of Austin Padmore of Milton Hershey to put the Spartans up one.
The Spartans added to their lead when Jide Olidipo passed the ball to David Fisher who placed a beautifully lofted ball over the head of Lee standing a few yards off the goal line.
With the Spartan lead at two, the Raiders began to apply tremendous pressure. The Spartans young goalkeeper, freshman Josh Parra, finished the game with a hard-earned shutout as he faced 30 shots, most of which occurred in the second half. Multiple shots required spectacular saves from close range, including several improbable kick saves.
Susquehanna Township 1
With the losing streak at three games, the Raiders looked to return to winning form at Susquehanna Township on Thursday.
In the 22nd minute Thomas Einolf provided a good service ball to Conner Golden from about 40 yards out from goal. Golden’s first touch was a good one, and was able to set up a successful strike far post beyond Alex MacMilan, in goal for the Indians.
Perhaps the most important moment in the game came late in the first half when a penalty kick was awarded to the Indians. However, the heavy shot struck the inside of the post but stayed out of net and took a strong carom out of the box, ending any chance of the Indians following the rebound for a second attempt.
The second half started with better pressure and possession from the Raiders, but did not generate any significant goal scoring opportunities. Einolf recorded his second assist in the game following a direct kick that was well taken to find David Alcock standing a few yards from goal to put the Raiders up 2-0.
The third Raider goal came when Blake Gill worked to dispossess the Indians and turned defense to instant offense as he sliced up a ball to Einolf standing wide open far post.
Lee had to make a big save with less than 10 minutes remaining as he pushed an Indians’ attempt just over the crossbar. With five minutes remaining, a second penalty kick was issued to Susquehanna Township. Tyger Evans buried the shot for the 3-1 final and a Raider victory.
Middletown 3, Red Land 1
The first goal of the game Saturday vs. non-division opponent Red Land came the Raiders way when Jacob Spear was fouled from behind. Spear found David Alcock at the 18-yard mark and passed to Nate Nelson who quickly passed to Thomas Einolf who found some space on the left flank. Following a nice sequence of passing, Einolf dribbled towards the keeper, who made the initial save but the ball bounced back to the body of Einolf and into the goal for the Raider 1-0 lead.
Red Land with three minutes left in the first half got the equalizer after a defensive turnover lead to the ball finding Chad Stout of Red Land who shot beyond the reach of Lee.
In the early part of the second half, Griffin Meyer made a good run on the left side of goal and drew with him two defenders. This freed up Tyrelle Gallatin-Scott standing just a few yards out near the center of goal to receive the pass from Meyer a take the shot that regained the Raiders lead at 2-1.
The third goal came when Gallatin-Scott was fouled about 30 yards out. Donovan Brady took the direct kick. He shot low and hard beyond the Red Land keeper who had just entered the game as a result of disciplinary action to the starting goaltender.
The Raiders junior varsity team ended the week with three more victories to improve to 11-2-2. They beat Milton Hershey, 7-1, with two goals by Ben Knisely and individual goals by Joe Cuneo, Billy Cleland, Griffin Meyer, Jacob Idowu and Derrick Miller.
They followed this offensive output with a 5-2 victory over Susquehanna Township. The Raiders earned goals from Meyer, Cuneo, Knisely and Clayton Wagner as well as one own goal.
They finished the week with a 5-1 victory over Redland. Meyers started off the scoring, followed by goals from Cuneo (2), Gallatin-Scott and Wagner.
The JV team finishes its season Wednesday night against the Crusaders of Bishop McDevitt.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 11:55
By Gabe Mink
For the Press And Journal
Lower Dauphin gave up two touchdowns in the first quarter vs. Susquehanna Township on Friday and couldn’t recover, losing 26-7 in the Falcons’ Homecoming game.
Lower Dauphin’s Kurt Cain scored their only touchdown with less than two minutes left to avoid the shutout at Hersheypark Stadium.
“We needed more effort,” Cain said of the Falcons’ defense. “Our offense wasn’t really giving us anything.”
The team stands at 3-4 on the season and 2-2 in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division. Susquehanna Township is 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the Mid-Penn.
The turning point in the game came right before halftime. With Susquehanna up by 12 and less than 30 seconds on the clock, the Indians punted the ball into Lower Dauphin territory. There was confusion as to which player on which team made contact with the ball first.
“From my vantage point, the box and everybody else, Susquehanna touched it first, so it would have been dead right there,” coach Greg Kratzer said.
One referee ruled that Susquehanna touched it first and one ruled that Lower Dauphin’s Clay Spencer touched it first. It eventually was ruled that Susquehanna Township had recovered the muffed punt at the Lower Dauphin 6 yard line.
“That was their call, and they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do.” Kratzer said.
A sack pushed back Susquehanna. However, as time ran out, Jalik Smith hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass, putting the Indians up 19-0.
The Indians opened up the fourth quarter of the game with their final touchdown of the night in the first 30 seconds. Cain’s short touchdown run capped the scoring.
“It’s the same thing we’ve talked about earlier in the year. We can’t make that many mistakes in the first half,” Kratzer said. The Falcons had four turnovers in the first quarter of the game.
“The bottom line, the turnovers, some of them were our fault and some of them were not necessarily our fault,” he said.
Falcon quarterbacks Ryan Kutz and Aidan Klassen shared time. Klassen was 6 of 10 for 60 passing yards. Kutz was 3 of 9 passing for 34 yards. Kutz carried it twice for 5 yards and had the team’s only fumble.
Junior running back Brendan Shaffer led the team with 38 rushing yards; he added a sack on defense. Senior defensive end Justin McIntyre had the other Falcons sack of the night.
The Falcons play host to the Cumberland Valley Eagles on Friday.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 15:56
Written by Larry Etter
Following their tense win over Palmyra the previous week, the Middletown football players filed out of the locker room with looks of disgust on their faces.
Sure, they had won the big showdown with the Cougars, but it was the way they had won that had them upset. Mistakes, penalties and missed chances nearly cost them the victory, and they were disappointed in their performance.
The Blue Raiders traveled to Camp Hill on Friday with chips on their shoulders and a strong desire to show, not only themselves, but their coaches and fans that they were better than that. And the host Lions ended up on the receiving end of the Raiders’ ire. Starting off strong on defense and precise on offense the Raiders crushed their hosts 49-14, proving their point.
“Yeah, they weren’t happy last week. But sometimes you need a little adversity to stay focused,” Middletown coach Brett Myers said after the rout at Camp Hill’s Seibert Park. “They worked hard this week and got the job done.”
Myers had his regular stars to thank for the win.
“Jaelen Thompson and Brady Fox ran very well, and Chase Snavely had a big game, too,” he noted. “But,” he added, “make sure you give credit to the linemen. They blocked well and had a great game.”
Credit can also go to the defense, a unit that held Camp Hill running back Bill Williams to 0 net yards rushing.
With their own Homecoming festivities coming this weekend, the Blue Raiders totally wrecked Camp Hill’s own celebration on a cool night that was nearly perfect for football.
Jumping out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, the Middletown squad rolled to a 35-7 halftime advantage. Two more scores in the third period put the game away early and the Blue Raiders cruised to the victory, raising their unbeaten streak to seven games.
Fox, a junior, ran 14 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns while Thompson finished up with 86 yards on 15 carries and a pair of scores to lead the way. Snavely completed 8 of 13 passes for 210 yards and two touchdown connections with junior receiver Tyreer Mills.
Everyone anticipated a good, hard-hitting football game and that’s exactly what the Mid-Penn Capital Division contest turned out to be. And it showed early when the Middletown defense forced a fumble that the Raiders recovered on Camp Hill’s opening drive.
Two plays after a Laron Woody interception was erased by a penalty, Camp Hill receiver Jordan Moore lost the ball at then end of an 8-yard gain. The Blue Raiders took over at their own 46.
A Fox run of 18 yards and a catch by Mills that went for 19 set up Fox’s five-yard touchdown run at the 6:39 mark. Fox went left and fought his way into the end zone for the score. Mr. Automatic, Donovan Brady, added his first of seven extra point kicks and the Raiders led 7-0.
The Lions went nowhere on their ensuing possession and were forced to punt. Starting at the Camp Hill 47, the Middletown offense struck quickly, the 6-play drive capped by a Snavely-to-Mills connection of 33 yards. Set up on the left side, Mills ran a post to the middle and used his speed and moves to score the touchdown at 3:58.
Following the score, Bob Graham dropped Williams for a pair of losses on the Lions’ second and third plays to force another Camp Hill punt. With a 19-yard return by Mills, the Raiders were back on offense at the hosts’ 46. On third and 4, Chris Plummer went high in the air to snag Snavely’s throw and the play went for 24 yards to the 16. Fox went in from the 8 two plays later to give the Raiders a 21-0 lead with 2 seconds left in the first quarter.
Camp Hill’s Zack Kuntz caught a pair of passes covering 14 and 19 yards to keep the Lions’ possession moving and it appeared as if the hosts were ready to score. But Middletown’s pass defense tightened up and Mills broke up a fourth down throw in the end zone to end the threat.
Taking over at their 22, the Raiders needed just three plays to pad their lead. On first and 10 at the 32, Mills took off on a streak down the field and Snavely lofted a perfect pass, hitting Mills in stride at the 40. From there it was no contest as Mills raced to the end zone with Middletown’s fourth touchdown. At that point the Raiders lead had grown to 28-0.
On Camp Hill’s first play, Kyle Truesdale, subbing for the injured Corbin Stetler, held Williams to a 1-yard gain on a pass play. On second down Williams was smothered in the backfield and lost the ball that was recovered by defensive end Tristan Maxwell. The 11-yard loss gave the Raiders a first down at the Camp Hill 20. Thompson took it from there with a great run. Starting right and finding the lanes clogged up, Thompson changed direction and instead found room on the left side, darting into the end zone with 4:44 left in the first half. And just that quickly the Blue Raiders were well out in front 35-0.
The Lions finally did get on the scoreboard on their ensuing possession when Williams got open down the middle and scored on a 61-yard pass play with 1:35 left. With Thompson’s 11-yard run and a pair of pass completions from Snavely to Ryan Hughes and Fox that covered a combined 25 yards, the Raiders threatened again. But the Lions intercepted Snavely’s next pass at the 2 yard line to prevent further scoring. Using that turnover as momentum, the Lions were on the move. But Tre Leach’s interception inside the 5 yard line ended the hosts’ hopes for a score and the first half ended with the Raiders out in front 35-7.
A bit of trickery by the Lions that caught the Raiders by surprise started off the second half with some excitement for the home side. A successful onsides kick gave the Lions the ball at the Middletown 48. On first down, a well-executed halfback pass from Williams to Moore went the distance and cut the Middletown lead to 35-14. But, thanks to the solid work of the Middletown defense, that turned out to be the Lions’ big show of the game.
Unfazed by the early strike by their hosts, the Blue Raiders came right back and showed they were the better team. Runs by Fox and Thompson, along with a reception by Hughes that went for 19 yards, quickly moved the ball to the Camp Hill 2 yard line. Following a false start by the Raiders, Thompson scored from 7 yards out to cap the march. The Raiders now led by a commanding 42-14 score with 8:46 left in the third quarter.
The Raiders inflicted further damage when, two plays into Camp Hill’s offensive series, Mills intercepted a pass and set the stage for yet another Middletown score.
Shaking off a holding call the Raiders got a lift when the Lions were flagged for a personal foul and, following a Snavely-to-Fox connection of 22 yards, the offense had a first down at the 15. With Ethan Newton, Tommy Staker, Trey Michal, Griffin Radabaugh, Brendan Douglass and tight end Malik Noon leading the way, Fox got the call. Picking his way through the defense, Fox scored with 6:16 left and pretty much iced the Middletown win as the Raider climbed to a 49-14 lead.
The Lions threatened to score again on a long drive that started late in the third and carried into the fourth. But the Hunter Landis- and Laron Woody-led defense shut down the drive at the Middletown 16. Taking over from there, the Raiders ran four minutes off the clock before their first punt of the game.
After reaching the 35 against Middletown’s second defense, the game ended when Dustin Holliman, Doug Carpenter and John Etter ganged up on Moore following a short run as the clock ran out.
Next Up: Boiling Springs
The Middletown Blue Raiders will play host to Boiling Springs in this year’s annual Homecoming football game at War Memorial Field, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.
Boiling Springs is 0-7 for the season and 0-4 in the Mid-Penn Capital Division.
This will be the first time the Raiders will host the Bubblers on Homecoming weekend. The two teams have met six times with each team winning three games. The Raiders were victorious in 2008, 2009 and 2015. Middletown won 49-14 last fall.
Homecoming games have been played since 1963 and previous teams have been successful in 31 of the 53 games. Last year’s 49-13 victory over Palmyra snapped a four-game losing streak for the Blue Raiders.
— Larry Etter
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 15:41