For many people who follow Chambersburg football, the game this week at home against State College was circled on the calendar.
The Trojans entered the 2019 season with higher expectations than they’ve had for quite a few years. But the Little Lions have never tasted defeat at the hands of Chambersburg — could this be the year?
We will find out Friday night for Homecoming, when State College brings a 4-0 record and a state Class 6A ranking into Trojan Stadium against the 3-1 Trojans in a big Mid Penn Commonwealth battle.
“They are well-coached, physical and aggressive, and they are by far the best team we’ve played so far,” Chambersburg coach Mark Luther said.
But Luther also believes that he has a team that can hold its own against the Little Lions, ranked No. 3 in 6A this week by Pa. Football News.
“Our seniors beat these guys as ninth-graders, our JV team lost only 10-7 to them last year, and once we settled in last year, I think the kids realized, ‘Hey, we can play with these guys.’
“I think it will be a whole different mentality this year. Last year, even being 4-0, our kids were nervous and unsure at the start of the game and they got ahead big early. This year, we need to play well from the first snap.”
State College, as usual under coach Matt Lintal, are balanced on offense. Quarterback Brady Dorner (6-foot-0, 177) is a threat to run (29 carries, 194 yards, 2 TDs) or throw (28-for-40, 65%, 618 yards, 4 TDs, 2 int).
Dresyn Green (5-9, 160) is the top runner, with 393 yards (9.6 avg.) and 6 TDs on 41 carries. Isaiah Edwards (6-0, 211) has run 17 times for 189 yards (11.1 avg) for 3 TDs, and has caught 10 passes for 187 yards and a score.
Lokey Howell (5-8, 145) had a long scoring run last week against Carlisle, and has caught 7 balls for 175 yards and a TD.
Luther said, “They haven’t thrown the ball much yet, but that’s partly because they’ve been way ahead in two of their games. The quarterback is athletic and can scramble, and they try to hit the Edwards kid on slants and let him run.
“What we have to minimize is giving up big plays. That’s been our history against them, even last year. We have to make them earn everything they get.”
The Trojan defense that created four turnovers by Altoona last week will have to be at its best to limit the diverse Little Lions.
The Chambersburg offense — aided greatly by a defense that gave them excellent field position — was sharp last week. And that was, in Luther’s opinion, due to good play by the offensive line of Tucker Eiker, Brock Harmon, Chase Shaffer, Joey Fuller and Jake Corwell.
“The big thing they did was come out early and executed well,” Luther said. “Those big plays we had don’t happen without those blocks by the line. They executed their assignments, and when they do that we have a chance to win any game.”
Even with a 3-1 record, the Trojans are still smarting from the loss to Red Lion two weeks ago. A win Friday would be a fine way to get that bad taste out of their mouths.
“It’s going to come down to which team makes fewer mistakes,” Luther said. “I’m excited to see how our kids respond.”
NOTES: State College has beaten Mifflin County (42-6), St. Augustine Prep of N.J. (20-17), Hollidaysburg (42-7) and Carlisle (53-12) … Last week vs. the Herd, the Lions led only 13-12 near the end of the first half … Last Friday, the Trojans’ Keyshawn Jones had his jersey ripped, so for his final carry of 23 yards in the first half, he was wearing No 35 instead of 28.
TROJAN LEADERS: Rushing — Keyshawn Jones 43-352 (8.2 avg), 5 TDs; Brady Stumbaugh 33-245 (7.4 avg.), 2 TDs; Jayden Jones 16-179 (11.2), 5 TDs … Passing — Stumbaugh 31 of 63 (49%), 537 yards, 7 TDs, 2 int … Receiving — Tyler Luther 10-162 (16.2 avg.), 3 TDs; Terell Williams 6-97 (16.2 avg.), 3 TDs; Sam Vessah 3-44 (14.7); K.Jones 3-9.
Kicking — Ty.Luther 16-for-16 extra points, 0-for-2 FGs … Tanner Luther 7-for-7 extra points … Sacks — Tyrion Hodges 5 … Fumbles recovered — Carter Sollenberger 2 … Team turnover ratio is plus-2 … Trojans are averaging 376 yards and 42 points per game and allowing 254 yards and 17.5 points.