Shippensburg defense set for tough test against Northern York

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

We may get the answer to that question on Friday, when Shippensburg travels to Northern York in a Mid Penn Colonial Division football matchup.

Through seven games, the Greyhounds (7-0, 4-0 MPC) sport a perfect record and have won every game by at least 21 points. Their starting defense has allowed just three touchdowns and have stymied both the run and the pass.

But Northern York (5-2, 3-0 MPC) is a different animal. Led by running back Kyle Swartz, the Polar Bears will be the biggest test for the Hounds this regular season, and this game will also likely decide the winner of the Colonial Division.

“I don’t know if we really have an answer to that yet,” said Ship coach Eric Foust when asked about stopping Swartz, “Their offensive line does a great job for him, and he runs the ball very hard. He is probably one of the best players in the division, if not the best, so he’s doing something right.”

In just five games this season, Swartz has been nearly unstoppable. He has rushed for over 200 yards in every game and amassed 1,335 yards on 140 carries (9.5 yards per carry) with 16 touchdowns.

But Shippensburg’s rush attack is no joke, either. Jacob Loy, the team’s leading rusher, has 842 yards on 131 carries (6.4 yds/car), and Alex Sharrow is averaging nearly 11 yards per rush, with 643 yards on 59 carries. Max Kalb has also contributed with 39 carries for 294 yards, a 7.5 average.

“The way I would compare our running games is that we have more power on the line with more speed in our backs, where as Northern has more speed in the line and power with Swartz. I’m not saying Swartz isn’t fast or our guys aren’t strong, but I think that’s the best way to compare our styles,” said Foust.

With both teams bringing a lot to the table on the ground, defense may be the deciding factor in the game. The Greyhounds’ have allowed an average of just 7.4 points per game. Meanwhile, Northern’s opponents have averaged just over 21 points per game.

“I would say we had our best week of practice of the season,” Foust said. “Our kids know there is a lot riding on this game. A win means we, at worst, have a share of the conference championship and we keep our eyes on a bye in the first round of playoffs.”

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