By Daniel Paulling
There’s a lot of change this week after Littlestown beat Delone Catholic, an upset by looking at my pick going in. How did that impact my ballot?
1. South Western — Even though the Mustangs are 1-2, they have played two challenging teams in Cedar Cliff and Central Dauphin. We should learn how they compare to teams such as Bermudian Springs after Friday’s game against New Oxford, which I’ll be covering.
2. Littlestown — The Thunderbolts jumped from fourth to second on my ballot after handling Delone Catholic on the road in a blowout. The game was close until about four minutes remained in the third quarter, but Thunderbolts quarterback Dustin Crouse took over. A lot of people want to talk about his arm, which is excellent, but his legs beat Delone.
3. Biglerville — Friday’s game between Littlestown and Biglerville should go a long way toward determining the Division III champion and who will be at the top of my ballot. I put the Thunderbolts at two and Biglerville three because the Canners haven’t faced a challenging team this season (James Buchanan, Fairfield and Hanover). That’s no fault of their own, but I want to see how the fare against a top-notch opponent.
4. Bermudian Springs — The Eagles dropped two spots after losing Ryan Markle, who has 144 rushing yards and 116 receiving yards, to a broken collarbone. Their defense should help them, but this was a significant loss.
5. Delone Catholic — The Squires lost big to Littlestown at home and are young in a few spots. Let’s see how the next few weeks play out. There’s still plenty of time for them to make a move.
6. New Oxford — I’ll get my first look at the Colonials on Friday, but they have performed well under first-year coach Jason Thurston. The defense has performed well, and New Oxford has a plus-5 turnover margin.
7. Spring Grove — The Rockets may be maturing a year ahead of time. They returned a lot of stats this season (one year after returning nearly nothing), and the team full of juniors and sophomores has already played a few close games.
8. Gettysburg — This has been a long season for the Warriors, who have allowed seven times as many points as they’ve scored. The offense has turned the ball over nine times, and they have averaged about just 75 yards of offense. They have ran into two tough teams in South Western and Chambersburg.
9. Fairfield; 10. Hanover — Fairfield built some goodwill with a close loss in week one to Clear Spring (Md.) but have been steadily losing it each week with blowout losses to Biglerville and York Catholic. I predicted before the season they would beat Hanover, but I’m not so sure right now.