Berwick at Williamsport
Berwick PPG–40.0, YPG–344; PPA–0, YPA–126
Berwick facts: The Bulldogs bring back a strong core from last season’s District 2 Class AAAA finalist and have outscored their first two opponents, 80-0. After thumping Abington Heights, 40-0 in the opener, Berwick scored 38 points in the middle quarters to rout Crestwood last week. The Bulldogs surrendered just 72 yards last week and used a 22-point second-quarter flurry to break things open. Mason Laubach and Dallas Schecterly have two sacks each and linebacker Blane Cleaver has made a team-high 17 tackles. Laubach and Aiden Mason each have made three tackles for loss. Berwick has run the ball well offensively behind a strong line. Owen Shoemaker has run for 228 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Alex Force has become a dual threat. Force ran for 106 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries last week and he also has thrown for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Williamsport stifled Berwick’s running game last year, but Force threw for 244 yards in the Millionaires’ 32-27 win. Williamsport has won the last two in this series and last year was the first time that Berwick lost to the Millionaires on the road in the 2000s. Berwick went 10-3 last season, losing to Valley View, 24-17 in overtime in the district final.
Berwick player to watch–Teagan Wilk: An all-state linebacker who helped Southern Columbia reach the Class AA state final as a freshman two years ago made a big impact in his debut season at Berwick last fall. Wilk continues sparking the defense and has 13 tackles, along with an interception. Wilk also could play an offensive role after running for 24 yards and a touchdown on three carries last week.
Williamsport PPG–31, YPG–330; PPA–32, YPA–524.5
Williamsport facts: All-state running back Treyson Potts remains questionable for tonight’s game after missing Week 2 with a bicep injury. Still, as good as the Minnesota-bound running back is, one player’s absence cannot explain last week’s 38-0 loss at Altoona. The defense again was gouged, allowing more than 500 yards for a second straight game. The offense struggled in the pouring rain and Williamsport was shutout for the first time in coach Chuck Crews’s four seasons on the hill. The Millionaires have a chance to make a big statement if they bounce back tonight against an outstanding opponent. All-state quarterback Joe Fagnano played one of his best games against Berwick last season, completing 25 of 37 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns. Marcus Simmons broke the program single-season receptions record last year and scored a touchdown in that Berwick win. He has caught four passes in each of Williamsport’s first two wins. Potts ran for 150 yards and five touchdowns in the season-opening win over Central Mountain before missing last week’s game with a shoulder injury. Potts scored five first-half touchdowns against Central Mountain and Williamsport produced 62 first-half points. The defense, however, struggled in that game and showed no improvement last week. Sophomore defensive end Nassir Jones provided a bright spot in the opener, forcing a fumble, recovering a fumble, making three tackles for loss and adding five quarterback hurries. Brock Moyer also had an interception in that game. All four District 2-4 Class AAAAAA teams will reach the postseason and the good news for Williamsport is that no team in that field is undefeated. It, Delaware Valley and Hazleton are 1-1, while Scranton is 0-2.
Williamsport player to watch–Collin Esposito: The senior wide receiver caught two touchdowns against Berwick last season and is a good playmaker. Defenses are focused on slowing Simmons, so Esposito playing well will go a long in way in helping Williamsport’s fortunes. He caught seven touchdowns last season during a breakout campaign.
Outlook: This really is a matter of which Williamsport team shows up this week. Look for Berwick to try and impose its will with a punishing running game to try and keep the Williamsport offense off the field. Williamsport has to put together its most complete performance to have a shot in this one.