The Daily Item

Shikellamy played extremely well defensively against a Loyalsock team that brought a scary arsenal to town Friday.

The Braves forced four turnovers and limited the Lancers’ rushing attack to just 79 yards on 28 attempts through three quarters.

Loyalsock freshman tailback Davion Hill, a name to remember given his speed and skill, found tough sledding with just 50 yards on his first 16 runs, five of which went for negative yardage.

“Our kids did a lot of good things,” said Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford.

Perhaps the best example was the third quarter, during which the Braves allowed 43 yards on 17 snaps and forced three fumbles, recovering them all in Loyalsock territory.

Kurtis Raker collected a Hill fumble at the Lancers 14 with 10:14 to play in the third. Coltyn Sempko snared a fumble by Loyalsock quarterback Chase Cavanaugh at the Lancers 35 with 7:35 showing. And Davis Marshall crunched Cavanaugh to force a fumble recovered by Nathan Minnier at the Loyalsock 41 with 1:18 left in the period.

“We were just putting our heads down and just kept on going,” said Marshall, a senior end. “Coach told us we’re blitzing, so we were in there and they really didn’t have time to attack.”

Shikellamy was unable to capitalize on any of the turnovers, and trailed 20-12 into the fourth quarter when the Lancers scored twice more to ice the game.

Three gains of 28 or more yards — including a pair of Hill runs — in the fourth helped the Lancers finish with 399 yards of total offense.

However, Loyalsock senior Rees Watkins, a 6-foot-2 receiver who began his varsity career this season with a pair of 150-plus-yard games, was held in check by the Braves (3 catches, 41 yards).

— Scott Dudinskie

Long road travelled

How does a high school 12.5 miles from Center City Philadelphia end up travelling 153 miles to face Midd-West on a Saturday afternoon in Beaver Springs?

Chris Shelley wanted to take his Sprinfield Township on the road for some better compeition. The Spartans play an independent schedule instead of the Suburban League.

“I played here at Susquehanna (Shelley was wideout that graduated in 1992). I just love it up here,” Shelley said. “We wanted a different level of competition to get us to level we would like.”

— Todd Hummel

Not ready to talk 2020

Of course, Friday’s scrap between Millersburg and Upper Dauphin is the last time the neighboring programs will collide on a football field — a rivalry for nearly 60 years — unless something happens to torpedo the pending cooperative agreement that will lead to a single team in 2020.

While Millersburg head coach Aaron Wright said previously in late July that he wants to be a part of the combined program, there’s also an on-going feasibility study trying to determine if merging districts is the proper outcome going forward.

Upper Dauphin skipper Kent Smeltz, whose Trojans are a perfect 3-0 and 2-0 in the Tri-Valley League while averaging just over 61 points per contest, is willing to table any co-op chatter until much, much later — and he should since his team sports 19 seniors.

“We’re not thinking about next year,” Smeltz said.

— Michael Bullock

Special player

While Upper Dauphin provided all sorts of issues for Millersburg’s defensive group — the Trojans’ movement and misdirection makes finding the football so difficult — once quarterback Macklin Ayers surveyed the situation and decided to go is when panic really set in.

Ayers wound up rushing six times for 169 yards and touchdowns of 55, 45 and 19 yards — all in the opening half — as Smeltz’s Trojans (3-0, 2-0 TVL) exploded to a 64-7 lead at the break. He also completed five of his six passes for 58 yards.

Upper Dauphin, with Ayers and many of the Trojans’ front-line players idled throughout the second half, wound up bouncing out of Millersburg with a 78-20 win.

Even before impacting the game with his play on the offensive end, Ayers pitched in from his spot on the left side of the UD defense. In fact, his 15-yard return after swiping an Aiden Harman pass ticketed for the right flat preceded all of his offensive scores.

“He’s a special player,” Smeltz said of Ayers. “I’ve been around a lot of high school players, but he’s special. … I’ve been saying all along, he’s the straw that stirs the drink here. I must’ve spent an hour this past week on the telephone with different recruiters who were calling me up and asking about him.

“He’s special. He’s special. I coached at Bloomsburg (University) and I was on the staff when we had a kid drafted by the NFL and we had two college free agents signed. He’s as good, if not better (than those guys),” Smeltz continued.

“When I’m saying he’s special, I have something to really compare it to. That happened a lot of years ago, but I have something to compare it to. … When you have a quarterback who can run, it’s tough for a defensive coordinator, it really is.”

— Michael Bullock

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