It’s a game that was off, then on, then almost off again, but McDowell and Erie will meet for the third time this season, this one for the District 10 Class 6A title on Saturday, with an 11 a.m. kickoff.
Erie High School is under a COVID-19 shutdown through Friday, and initially canceled all postseason athletic events. That changed earlier this week, when the Erie School District decided that the Royals (1-4) could play the game, but PIAA rules required they practice for three days this week.
Long story short, they have, and it’s game on.
McDowell (5-0), which had a COVID-19 shutdown of its own earlier this season, won both regular season matchups, 36-12 and 20-0, respectively.
The Trojans, who come into the game ranked third third in the state in the PA Football News Class 6A rankings, also won last season’s title game, 58-30.
Here’s how the teams match up.
McDowell Offense (29.8 ppg.)
The Trojans are led on offense by senior quarterback Chris Juchno, and he has put together a terrific season, throwing for 857 yards, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Juchno has a pair of talented pass catchers in Braeden Soboleski (17-289-3 TDs) and Anthony Emling (20-229-3). Justo Rivera (21-178-1) is also a capable receiver out of the backfield.
Rivera is the Trojans’ leading rusher with 356 yards and a pair of scores, while Taha Ramahi (261 yards) will also see plenty of carries.
Erie Offense (19.0 ppg.)
The Royals rely heavily on the ground game, and Steve Smith is the main man. Smith has carried for 554 yards and three touchdowns, while JJ Woodard had 400 yards and four scores on the ground.
When Erie does go to the air, Jahlil Grandberry has thrown for 346 yards and three scores, with talented 6’7” sophomore Marquell Darnell, who is already receiving Division I interest, his leading receiver with 170 yards and three scores.
McDowell Defense (7.0 ppg.)
A unit that has been stellar this season, the Trojans are led by Michael Osinski, Rivera, Noah Bielak and a host of others. Osinski leads the team in tackles while Oliver Petsch has notched a pair of interceptions.
Erie Defense (34.0 ppg.)
The Royals have faced their share of talented offenses this season, which obviously includes McDowell. There is familiarity, especially in the secondary, where Smith, Woodard and others wild be tested once again by Juchno and the McDowell passing attack.
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