Countdown to Kickoff: 2021 season begins on Friday, full preview

Friday Night Football

The 2021 high school football season is less than 24 hours away in the Midstate. It’s the second season for teams during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year, there’s a renewed sense of hope.

Join the abc27 sports team as they break down what you should expect from Week 1 of the season, who the teams to watch will be and meet some of the newest coaches in the Midstate. Plus get your kickoff forecast with Chief Meteorologist Eric Finkenbinder to help plan your Friday evening.

Matchups to Watch

CD East vs. Manheim Township (Friday at 7:00 p.m.) – Manheim Township and Central Dauphin East feature two Penn State commits on either side of the line. The Blue Streaks feature WR Anthony Ivey, while the Panthers benefit from Steel-High transfer Mehki Flowers joining the roster for his senior season.

Ivey played in just four games last season totalling 546 yards on just 23 receptions (Manheim Twp QB Evan Smion is a walk-on QB at Penn State). Future Penn State safety Flowers won a state title with the Rollers in 2020, and joins first-year head coach Lance Deane at CD East (Deane was the defensive coordinator at Steel-High last season).

Central Dauphin vs. Wilson (Friday at 7:00 p.m.) – This game features two of the top contenders in Class 6A to win the District III title this fall. The Rams were the 2019 Class 6A state runner-up, but lost in the first round of the 2020 district playoffs (although they did lose to eventual District III Champion Central York, who lost in the state finals). On the positive side, Central Dauphin returns third-year starting quarterback Max Mosey who told abc27 he’s setting the bar high for 2021.

“The guys in this program know there are big expectations,” said CD Head Coach Glen McNamee. “Not just from the outside, but within. We have a culture where we really push toward excellence and the kids are always pushing to be the best version of themselves.”

Wilson ended the 2020 season with a 6-1 record, and was just one spot shy of making the district playoffs, but were the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 champions The Bulldogs will start a new quarterback and have to replace most of the 2020 offensive line. (Note: The Bulldogs have 45 consecutive winning seasons, that’s the longest streak in the state)

Delone Catholic vs. Trinity (Friday at 7:00 p.m.) – Trinity is another program looking for immediate success under first-time head coach Jordan Hill. The Steelton-native and Super Bowl Champion wants to immediately change the culture of a program that went winless in 2020, however, Delone Catholic may be a tough test out of the gate.

The last three seasons haven’t been ideal for Delone, losing to York Catholic in 2018 District III title game in overtime, falling one touchdown shy of forcing OT against Upper Dauphin in the 2019 District III title game, and then lost to Steel-High (eventual state champions) in the 2020 District III Class 1A championship. With only four teams in Class 1A, the path back to the Championship is laid out for the Squires, and it starts with a Week 1 win over Trinity.

Central York vs. Exeter Township (Friday at 7:00 p.m.) – Central York is coming off the best season in YAIAA history under then-junior quarterback Beau Pribula (Penn State commit). The Panthers look to start the season off with a tough road test against Exeter Township. CY graduated 15 starters from that defending District III Class 6A championship team, but still has experience from younger guys who played a lot of second half football. (Remember: Central York outscored opponents by an average of 59-2 in their six regular season games)

Also in the show

Logan Reever and Allie Berube will explore how the offseason went for teams, including reflection on the differences between the first and second season during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 season was delayed by two weeks and schedules drastically altered amid the pandemic. In 2021, the playoffs have been re-expanded to the full brackets and schedules have largely returned to normal.

Some teams have had to postpone games already this season, including the ELCO vs. Susquenita matchup (due to COVID-19 protocol for Susquenita) and Lower Dauphin vs. Middletown has been postponed to November.

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