When we (and by that, I mean me) last checked in about the District 3 football playoffs n this space late last Friday night, Chambersburg’s chances to get in looked pretty bleak.
The Trojans had slipped behind Red Lion to No. 9 in the power rankings and only the top eight qualify.
But things have changed since then, and in a positive way for Chambersburg, so now your loyal sportswriter (that would also be me, the idiot who never checked the rankings again until much later in the week) can report that things are looking up.
Yes, the Trojans (5-4) are still ranked No. 9, but sitting ahead of them are Hempfield (4-5) at No. 8 and Cumberland Valley (5-4) at No. 7. The Black Knights play at 9-0 Manheim Township and CV plays 8-1 State College on Saturday at Beaver Stadium (yeah, that Beaver Stadium).
So, if Chambersburg can post a win over rival Carlisle (2-7) at Trojan Stadium on Friday night, and Hempfield and CV lose, the Trojans could finish either No. 7 or No. 8.
“I think the worst case — if we beat Carlisle and Hempfield loses — is that we end up No. 8,: Trojan coach Mark Luther said. “Manheim Township has some incentive because they dropped behind Wilson to No. 2 in the rankings, so they’ll want to move up.
“But we have to take care of our business first.”
And that means dealing with Carlisle running back Tristyn Sulich, one of the top backs in the Mid Penn Commonwealth.
Sulich has carried the ball 144 times and gained 969 yards for the Thundering Herd, and he’s scored 10 touchdowns.
Luther said, “He’s their focal point. He’s got good size (6-1, 190), he runs hard and he’s a tough football player. He’s the type of kid that you’d love to have 25 of on your team. So, absolutely, he’s our focus on defense.”
The Herd uses a lot of wing-T, and their bread-and-butter play is a buck sweep to Sulich.
“Their kids execute that play well and Sulich has had a lot of big gainers from that, so we’ll have to take that away,” Luther said.
Carlisle’s quarterback is Owen Hacker (49-for-125, 39%, 682 yards, 3 TDs, 7 int.), who has also scored five times rushing. Robert Lissner (21-319, 1 TD) and Matthew Trollinger (16-239, 2 TDs) are his top targets.
Three weeks ago, the Herd gave CV all it could handle, falling 31-28, but in the last two weeks have lost 36-7 to CD East and 62-0 to Harrisburg. Teams are averaging 34.7 points a game vs. Carlisle and the Herd have scored 16 points per game.
Last week, Chambersburg had a chance to win against Central Dauphin, but three lost fumbles proved to be costly.
Luther said, “The kids showed some resiliency and we clawed back into that game, but you can’t lose the ball like that against a good team and win. We’re still looking for that complete game.
“I’d love to see that Friday night, and then see where things fall for the playoffs. We want to use this as a spring board and then prove we are a good team. Nobody has dominated us. We can play with all of these teams and the kids know that. But we have to execute on the field.”
NOTES: It is Senior Night for 21 Trojan players … Carlisle’s turnover ration is minus-3; Chambersburg’s is plus-4 … Luther confirmed that South Western will not be on the schedule next year and will be replaced by Spring-Ford, a District 1 team that is 7-2 this year … Red Lion (5-4) plays 2-7 Dallastown on Friday, so its chances to jump over Chambersburg are slim.
TROJAN LEADERS: Rushing — Keyshawn Jones 140-894, 11 TDs; Brady Stumbaugh 87-422, 3 TDs; Jayden Jones 29-275, 6 TDs … Passing — Stumbaugh 83-for-155 (54%), 1,085 yards, 12 TDs, 7 int. … Receiving — Tyler Luther 29-324, 4 TDs; Terell Williams 13-203, 7 TDs; Sam Vessah 13-185; Kevin Lee 10-142; K.Jones 10-50 … Kicking — Ty.Luther 29-29 extra points, 7-9 FGs … Interceptions — Lee and J.Jones 3 … Fumbles recovered — Carter Sollenberger 4 … Sacks — Tyrion Hodges 6, Garner Funk 4.