If the District 3 playoffs began today, only two Times Area teams would earn invitations.
In a normal season – raise your hand if you remember what that was like – being out of the playoff loop at the halfway mark would be cause for major concern. And for some programs, it still may be.
But the most precarious positions just might be held by those teams which are currently inside the playoff cutline. Why so?
Because it must be difficult to play winning football while also holding your breath.
COVID has made a mess of the YAIAA regular-season schedule already, and while we’d love to think it will be smooth sailing from here, we know better. Three area teams have had games affected, two of those with multiple postponements/cancellations.
With only 10 games on the schedule, losing even one is a big setback. Especially for those teams off to terrific starts with the district playoffs squarely in their sights. No opposing quarterback with a hot hand or blitzing linebacker can derail a Friday night like COVID, which has proven to be a great eraser, among many other dastardly things.
With that in mind, teams will look to toe the line in terms of precautions and savor those Friday nights that go off without a hitch. Hopefully there will be many to come.
EXCLUSIVE CLUB: Only the Colonials and Knights are shining up their dancing shoes at the moment.
New Oxford (3-1) sits in ninth place in Class 5A, where the top 14 make the cut in the District 3 playoffs. Fairfield would also get the nod based on its standing in Class 1A, where it is second among four teams. The Knights (1-1) are just ahead of Delone Catholic (1-3), which received a power ranking boost without stepping on the field: The Squires received a forfeit when their game against York Tech was called off due to COVID issues for the Spartans.
With only two playoff spots available in 1A, Fairfield and Delone are jostling behind unbeaten Steel-High, which is averaging 64 points per game over its first four contests.
Gettysburg is only five spots under the cutline in 5A. The Warriors host Susquehannock tonight in a battle of 2-2 clubs and will face YAIAA-2 foes in each of the next five weeks before closing the campaign with Twin Valley.
Bermudian Springs has righted the ship after a couple of tough losses to kick off the season. The Eagles (2-2) are currently ninth in 3A, where eight teams are invited. Berm is just behind Schuylkill Valley (1-3) for eighth entering tonight’s play.
Fellow 3A teams Biglerville, Littlestown and Hanover are well off the pace with just one combined win among them.
CANNER’S CAN’T GET ON TRACK: The scoreboard reads: COVID 3, Canners 2.
For the third time this season, Biglerville had its game called off due to COVID. The Canners were slated to face York Catholic in a YAIAA-3 matchup on Friday but that game was postponed earlier in the week.
Biglerville (0-2) was unable to play last week’s Homecoming game against Fairfield and had its season opener against Pequea Valley pushed to Nov. 5 when a positive test halted all training camp activities.
If – and that’s a massive two-letter word – the Canners are able to clear protocols, they’ll host Delone Catholic next Friday in what will be their first game in three weeks.
York Catholic sits atop the District 3 Class 2A power rankings at 3-0, with convincing wins over Lancaster Catholic, York Suburban and Littlestown. The Irish had a Week 2 clash with Trinity scrubbed over COVID.
GREAT 8: Entering Week 5 there are eight undefeated football teams in District 3. Central York, led by gunslinging QB Beau Pribula, a Penn State recruit, is the lone 4-0 team in Class 6A. There is a quartet of 4-0 squads in 5A, including surprising Spring Grove. Governor Mifflin, Shippensburg and Manheim Central are also unblemished.
Perennial power Wyomissing is the lone 3A club to stand at 4-0, likewise for Steel-High in 1A. York Catholic is spotless thus far in 2A.
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA LEADS NATION: Things appeared dire for powerhouse Southern Columbia last Friday as it trailed Wyoming Area 24-7 at halftime of their game. The Tigers, who were riding a 63-game winning streak, are strangers when it comes to deficits. But they are very, very familiar with winning.
And back they came in the second half, rallying to within 30-29 in the game’s final minute. Senior Gavin Garcia put Southern Columbia in front with a 1-yard TD plunge with 31 seconds left to play. The ensuing 2-point conversion made it 37-30, and the Tigers held on from there.
Garcia was the workhorse, rushing for 258 yards and 5 touchdowns on 22 carries. Garcia is also a standout wrestler who has placed fourth, third and third at the last three state tournaments in Hershey. He owns a career record of 86-8.
With its 64th-straight win, Southern Columbia now owns the longest high school football winning streak in the country. Caledonia of Minnesota, which had won 71 consecutive contests, held that distinction until a stunning 30-13 defeat at the hands of Lake City High School. Lake City hasn’t posted a winning season in nearly a decade.
RAMS RETURN: It’s been a minute since the Central Dauphin football team competed. In fact, the Rams last took the field 21 days ago, when they dumped Berks Catholic, 41-22. Because of COVID issues, they haven’t played since.
That should change tonight as CD (1-1) will travel to face Chambersburg (2-2) in a Mid-Penn matchup.