Greencastle-Antrim at Shippensburg: Game of the Week!

Waynesboro (Virginia)John Baker

Greencastle-Antrim and Shippensburg play Friday night for the Mid Penn Colonial Division title. Over two thousand votes made this our Game of the Week for Week 9!

Here is a closer look at the matchup:

Greencastle Shippensburg 44.8 Points per game 35.9 121 First downs 110 318.9 Rushing off. 307.8 69.5 Passing off. 42.6 388.4 Total offense 350.4 +18 Turnover margin +17 7.4 Points allowed 10.1 70.4 Rushing def. 102.7 84.5 Passing def. 63.3 154.9 Total defense 166.0

On paper, the Greencastle-Antrim and Shippensburg football teams are mirror images. Both teams are hovering in the top five in the midstate in total offense, total defense, points per game and points allowed. The Blue Devils and Greyhounds have a combined 15-1 record, are a plus-35 in the turnover department and together have outscored their opponents by 505 points. G-A is No. 2 in the District 3 Class AAA power ratings, Shippensburg is No. 6.

But delve deeper into Friday night's key Mid Penn Colonial Division showdown at 7 at Ship's Memorial Park and you get the gut feeling that Greencastle is the clear favorite in this one.

Last year's 48-7 win over the Hounds certainly has something to do with that.

So, too, does the play of Greencastle's interior. The Blue Devil offensive and defensive lines are the biggest reason why they are off to an 8-0 start.

"For us to compete and play with them and beat them, we've got tomatch the physicalness of their offensive and defensive lines," Ship coach Eric Foust said. "That's the one thing we know for sure." In the standings, the winner of this one will be in the Colonial Division driver's seat. Greencastle is 5-0 and Ship and Gettysburg are both 4-1. "This is a championship game for us," G-A coach Chuck Tinninis said. "This is what you dream about playing in."

The G-A defense threw a blanket over Ship's standout running back Toddé Statum last year, limiting him to a season-low 28 yards on 12 carries. That was just part of a frustrating night for the Hounds.Foust said, "Last year there were a lot of things that fizzled out against Greencastle. We were coming off a tough loss to Northern and didn't come out and play good football in any way. We want to fix that and just play good football." Statumhas 1,137 yards and 19 touchdowns this year, but missed last week's game vs. Waynesboro with an undisclosed injury. He is 239 yards shy of breaking Bill Nickey's school record set in 1978-80 (3,526 yards).

Though Foust hesitated to say if the star back will play this week, it would be hard to imagine the Hounds, off to their best start since 1986, suiting up without him."Stopping the run is vital," Tinninis said. "They not only have Statum, but two other kids (Dereck Mills and Kasaun Shaffer) that can fly. They have a real big offensive line that is physical. It will be a big challenge for us."

There is no secret to what Greencastle will want to do on offense. In its five Colonial Division games, the Blue Devils have run 188 times and thrown 34 times.You can't argue with their success. Greencastle gained 1,796 yards in those five games and outscored its opponents 277-26. Tyler Szaflarski (822 yards, 9 TDs) and Denver Cordell (603 yards, 10 TDs) are the Blue Devils' thunder and lightning runners and quarterback Devin Schaeffer has become a major dual threat. "They have some talented backs, don't they?" Foust said. "The Cordell brothers (including Denton) seem to have come out of nowhere. Szaflarski is a big bruiser and Schaeffer is another weapon at quarterback." Ship's biggest improvement from last year has been the play of its opportunistic defense, which has cut its points allowed from 17.6 to 10.1 and created an area-high 25 turnovers. Cornerback Mills has shut down one side of the field -- opposing QBs have 33 completions against 18 interceptions this year -- and the linebacker corp (Branson Allen, Shane Witmer, Luke Allison, John Baker) has been a pleasant surprise. Safety Jeremy Musser has the speed to cover up any Hound defensive mistakes. "I saw some of this potential," Foust said. "A lot of guys saw significant time last year and this group worked as much in the weight room as any group we've had. They got what they wanted out of it." Tinninissaid, "They are very sound defensively and they attack the ball. As always, we need to be able to control the line of scrimmage." That's where Greencastle does its best work. Blue Devils-Greyhounds at a glance Game data: Greencastle-Antrim Blue Devils at Shippensburg Greyhounds ... 7 p.m. Friday at Ship's Memorial Park ... Mid Penn Colonial Division game. Teams: The Blue Devils (8-0, 5-0 MPC) roughed up Northern 43-0 last week ... The Hounds (7-1, 4-1 MPC) shut out Waynesboro 35-0. Series: Ship leads all-time, 12-11-2, but Greencastle won convincingly last year, 48-7.

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