Reynolds has relied on a dominant defense and stellar running game to reach the PIAA Class 1A semifinals, and they will face by far their stiffest challenge yet when they host the WPIAL champion Jeannette Jayhawks (Friday, 7 p.m.) with a trip to the state championship game on the line.
Reynolds is making its first appearance in the PIAA semifinals since 2005, while the 10-time WPIAL champion Jayhawks are back for the first time since 2017.
Reynolds used a familiar recipe in a hard-fought 19-14 win over Redbank Valley in a 19-14 win in the quarterfinals.
Jeannette, meanwhile, rolled over Clairton 45-14 after losing to the Bears 34-27 in their season opener back on Sept. 11.
Jeannette boasts an impressive margin of victory of 37.3, while Reynolds has beat teams by a 29.4 margin.
Here’s how the two teams stack up with a trip to Hershey on the line.
Reynolds Offense (38.4 ppg.)
There is no secret to the Raiders’ offense. They want to get talented back Cole Toy going behind a physical offensive line and control tempo.
Toy has rushed for 1,251 yards and 23 touchdowns, and against Redbank Valley, he carried 27 times for 135 yards and a key fourth-quarter touchdown that gave Reynolds a two-score lead.
Brayden McCloskey is a capable passer, completing 5-of-7 for 77 yards, including a 43-yard score to Aidan Mull in the first half against RBV.
Mull also added a touchdown run in the quarterfinal win, and has rushed for 311 yards while adding 129 receiving.
McCloskey has completed 46 percent of his passes for 335 yards.
Jeannette Offense (47.5 ppg.)
Brad Birch, Roberto Smith Jr. and Jaydin Cannady combined for 156 yards rushing in the blowout over Clairton.
Birch, the freshman starting quarterback, left the game with an ankle injury and was replaced by Smith Jr., who recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass, kicked a field goal, rushed for a touchdown and threw for a touchdown.
The status of Birch for the semifinal is uncertain.
Brooklyn Cannon and Kaelan Piscar are the top receivers for the Jayhawks.
Reynolds Defense (9.0 ppg.)
The 20 points Reynolds gave up in a win over West Middlesex in its season opener remains their high for the season.
Their most impressive performance may have come in the District 10 championship game when they shut out Eisenhower.
Leading the unit are Luke Faber (41 tackles, 7 sacks), Toy (55 tackles), Rocco John-Daniello (54 tackles, 10 TFL), Mitchell Mason (5 sacks), Dreyvin Livingston (4 interceptions) and Clayton Rhoades (4 interceptions).
Jeannette Defense (10.2 ppg.)
The Jayhawk defense gets most of the attention, but, as the WPIAL championship game against Clairton proved, they can win games on the defensive side of the ball as well.
They forced five turnovers against the Bears, and their best recipe for success against Reynolds might be to stack the box and make them throw the football.
Winner Gets: Steelton-Highspire/Bishop Guilfoyle in state championship game ( Friday 11 a.m., Hersheypark Stadium)
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