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Middletown Teams Cap Spring Seasons May 21, 2018

Everyone knows that April showers bring May flowers but what do May showers bring?? For mid-state high school sports teams both types of showers bring headaches that come with shuffling and re-shuffling a carefully crafted schedule. For the Middletown softball team that meant a total of seven games having to be moved around including what was scheduled to be an April 16th game opposite Susquehanna Township. The teams finally ended up getting the game in, a month later, on May 14th where Middletown used a strong outing from Madison Gipe coupled with three hit games from Jordyn Dupes and Hayli Akakpo-Martin to enjoy an 8-5 victory.

Gipe ended up on the winning end of things but the game stared in a much different fashion. The freshman issued her only two walks of the game to the first two batters she faced, leading to an early 2-0 hole. Middletown responded with the first of two, three-run frames, taking the lead and never looking back. The Lady Raiders stretched their lead to 4-2 with a single run in the second before adding another lone run in the bottom of the fourth for a 5-2 cushion. Middletown enjoyed their second three run burst in the sixth to make it an 8-2 game. Those final three runs would become necessary after the Indians plated their final three in the top of the seventh to set the 8-5 final.

Gipe tossed all seven innings and earned the win and despite being on the hook for all five Township runs, only three were earned. She added four strikeouts and seven hits allowed to go with those two first inning free passes.

Dupes paced the offense, picking up her team leading fifth triple as part of her three hit, one RBI game. All three of Akakpo-Martin's hits were of the single base variety with the junior managing to turn each hit into a Middletown run. Maddie Sweigert enjoyed the final multi-hit game, rapping out two singles in four trips to the plate. With six Susquehanna Township errors aiding the Lady Raider cause Noelle Zimmerman picked up the final Middletown RBI with her lone hit of the contest.

With the win over Township and the suspended game with Trinity officially going in the books as a 5-5 tie the Lady Raiders finished with a 5-14-1 overall mark and a 3-8-1 record in Mid-Penn play.

Head coach Mike Thomas offered a look back on a season that saw his club miss the District 3-3A cut. "I hate to beat a dead horse about our injuries this year, but I can honestly say since game one we were without 3-4 starters every game, and at least once we were without 5," said Thomas. "I had a ton of confidence in our bench, but a lot of times the problems were kids were not playing their normal positions and it took them a time to adjust, and as soon as they got used to that position if was off to another."

Despite enough injuries to fill an ER and the less than desirable win-loss results, Thomas is already looking forward to next year. "We have a young squad and I'm optimistic and excited for what the future holds," commented the coach. "Most of our team consists of sophomores and freshman and some good talent is coming up from our local U-14 teams."

BASEBALL

The wet weather also got to the baseball team, forcing the Blue Raiders to cancel their season finale with Hershey. The contest was actually slated to be the season opener back on March 23rd but snow pushed the game to May 11th before rain delayed the game to May 16th. More rain on the 16th caused the two sides to scrap the contest with both Middletown and Hershey already set in their postseason fate. For the Blue Raiders and their 10-9 overall record, that meant a walk into the offseason courtesy of their 12th place finish in the final District 3-4A power rankings.

TRACK

With all the rain and wet weather popping up throughout the spring it was fitting that the 2018 edition of the District 3 Championship meet was held in less than ideal conditions. Middletown sent just two representatives to Shippensburg University for the championship meet on May 18th and 19th, both from the Lady Raider side of things. Lily Fager got in all her work on Friday, competing in the 2A discus competition. The senior thrower fell short of her seeded distance but maintained her seed place to finish in sixth position with a best throw of 95-7.

Jocilyn Koser was the second Lady Raider to make the trip to Shippensburg. The junior sprinter started her two-day affair with 100m and 200m trials on Friday. Despite finishing fifth in her heat she advanced out of the 100m prelims based on her time of 13.36. The good fortunate would stop there as her 13.51 in the semifinals left her short of a spot in the finals.

She found a little more success in the 200, finishing second in both her prelim and semifinal heat to earn a spot in Saturday's finals. She ran nearly identical times of 26.84 and 26.86 on Friday but was a step slower in the finals with her 27.56 placing her seventh. Koser had one final event on Saturday, using her spot in the faster of the two 300H heats to turn in an eighth-place finish thanks to a time of 50.42.

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Middletown Baseball Sits 12th in D3-4A Rankings May 15, 2018

As the calendar runs deeper into May, the pressure that comes with each baseball game only grows. The Middletown diamond dwellers found that out last week as two critical early week wins over Palmyra and Steel-High had their luster removed with a late week loss to Trinity. The 2-1 week put Middletown at 10-9 overall, good enough for 12th place in the most current District 3-4A rankings but still two places outside the 10-team postseason field.

The highlight of the week came on May 8th when the Blue Raiders trampled Steel-High by an 11-1 count in a game that went just five innings.

"Senior day was a great day for our seniors. Everyone played and had success," said head coach Mike Lupia.

Senior Dom Barilla picked up the easy win, covering the initial two and two-third innings. He did not allow a hit but a pair of walks coupled with a Blue Raider error put one unearned run under his belt to go with five strikeouts. Scott Ash finished the third, allowing the Rollers lone hit on the day while Brady Keyser closed the game out by covering the final two innings. Keyser added three more punchouts to bring Middletown's total to eight in the game.

Blake Jacoby and Aaron McDevitt led the way at the plate with three RBI days. Jacoby drove in all of his runs as part of Middletown's eight run second inning, connecting for a double on his only hit of the game. McDevitt also picked up his RBIs as part of that monster second inning only he did his work over two separate at-bats. In his first at-bat of the frame McDevitt followed Matt Schopf's leadoff double with a double of his own, pushing Schopf across for a 3-0 lead. As the Blue Raiders batted around in the frame McDevitt came back up with two-on, a triple to left cleared the bases, pushing Middletown's lead to 10-0 and gave McDevitt his second and third RBI of the game.

Offense was scarce one day earlier as Middletown topped Palmyra 2-0. Thankfully the Blue Raiders did not need more than those two runs as Jacoby tossed a gem on the hill to secure the win. The righty went all seven innings and allowed just two Palmyra hits, a second inning double and a sixth inning single, to go with six strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter.

The Blue Raiders scored both of their runs in the bottom of the fifth, using some small ball tactics coupled with timely Cougar errors. McDevitt started the rally with a lead-off single, Kyle Truesdale followed with a one out base knock, moving McDevitt to third. Scott Ash was the next Blue Raider in the batter's box. He ended up becoming one of eight Palmyra strikeout victims but the Blue Raiders still scored during his at-bat. Truesdale swiped second on the second pitch of Ash's at-bat and when the throw eluded Palmyra's shortstop. McDevitt used the opportunity to race home for a 1-0 lead. Truesdale used the same error to advance to third which setup his steal of home two batters later. Jacoby was able to make the 2-0 lead hold up by retiring six of the final seven batters he faced, closing out the win.

Middletown's playoff chances took a hit as the Blue Raiders closed out the week with a 9-2, two-day, loss to Trinity. The game began on Thursday the 10th but passing storms in the top of the fifth pushed the competition of the game to Friday the 11th. Lupia chalked up the loss in "a game we needed to win" to pitch count rules, saying, "we ran out of pitching on Thursday."

The result was four different pitchers combining to cover the six innings with no pitcher throwing more than two innings. Adam Kell get the start and covered the first two frames, allowing both of Trinity's second innings runs. He ended up with a no decision as Middletown managed to tie the game with two third inning runs leading to Barilla taking the loss. Barilla covered the first six batters of the third, allowing two hits and issuing three walks that led to three Shamrock runs and a 5-2 Trinity lead.

Brady Keyser finished out the third and covered the fourth, allowing four more Trinity runs on four hits, setting the 9-2 final. Ash was on the mound for the final two innings, picking up two strikeouts along the way.

The Blue Raiders used another combination of timely hitting, small ball tactics and a Trinity error to plate those third innings runs. Truesdale led off with a single to center then swiped second to move into scoring position. That ended up being not all that important thanks to a Trinity error that turned Ash's would be triple to right into an inside the park homer. The 'Rock miscue allowed both Truesdale and Ash to score and made it a 2-2 game before Trinity regained control in the bottom of the frame.

Truesdale added a fifth inning single to his day while Tim Wagner enjoyed the only other multi-hit day for Middletown, rapping out two base hits. Avery Williams and Cam Peters picked up the remaining two Blue Raider hits, both singles.

TRACK

The Middletown track and field teams finished their regular season and kicked off their postseason last week.

The Blue Raiders closed out the regular season on May 7th against Bishop McDevitt in a meet that had originally been scheduled as the team's opener back in March. Snow moved the meet to early May where McDevitt posted a 97-53 win on the boy's side and a 117-33 victory on the girls' side.

The Blue Raiders postseason began in Chambersburg on May 11th and 12th with the Mid-Penn Championship Meet. Middletown came home with four top eight finishes, all on the boy's side. Brendan Douglass picked up two of those, taking eighth in the discus and the shot put. The senior earned his way to the medal stand with a toss of 135-4 in the discus and 44-9.5 in the shot put.

Matthew Frehse turned in a 41.17 in the 300H to claim seventh in the 35-person field. Tyrelle Gallatin picked up the last Middletown medal which was also the best Blue Raiders finish. Gallatin finished the 200 finals heat with the fifth fastest time, 22.48, which ended up as the fifth fastest time once results were sorted from all five heats.

SOFTBALL

The Blue Raider softball team continued their season long slump, dropping games opposite Palmyra, Kennard-Dale and Hershey by a combined 41-8. The three losses put Middletown at 4-14 overall and 3-8 in Capital Division play.

The week opened on Monday with a 10-0, five inning loss to Palmyra. Noelle Zimmerman allowed eight hits and issued four walks over two and one third innings. Maddie Sweigert, who accounted for both of Middletown's hits on offense, pitched a scoreless final inning and two thirds to finish up for Zimmerman.

Middletown dropped another five-inning affair on the 9th, falling to Kennard-Dale 14-1. Madison Gipe covered the pitching duties and took the loss. The sophomore surrendered 13 hits and 14 runs but only nine were earned thanks to four Middletown errors. Gipe added one walk and one strikeout to her pitching day. Haley Baxter, Hailey Hockenberry and Veronica Miller had one hit each to account for the Lady Raider offense.

Middletown's May 10th contest with Trinity saw the game halted after seven innings deadlocked at 5-5. As of press time the two sides were still in discussions on when, or if, the game will be finished. That leaves a 17-7, May 11th, loss to Hershey in what should have been the Lady Raiders season opener as the week's final game.

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Middletown Softballers Fall Short, 4-11 Overall May 7, 2018

It typically doesn't happen often, but every once in a while a high school sports team has to endure one of those weeks where nothing goes right. Take last week for the Middletown softball team. The Lady Raiders opened the week with a West Perry make-up game and followed with their regularly scheduled games opposite East Pennsboro and Camp Hill. Nothing went right for Middletown in those three games resulting in three losses by a combined 46-3, leaving the Lady Raiders at 4-11 on the season with only a handful of games remaining.

Middletown can take some solace knowing that the worst of those losses, an 18-0, four inning affair against East Pennsboro on May 1st, came against one of the top teams in the area. The Lady Panthers are undefeated on the season and currently occupy the top spot in both the Mid-Penn Capital Division standings as well as the District 3-4A power rankings. Cailey Joyce made life easy for her East Penn teammates, earning the win without allowing a single hit or issuing one walk while striking out nine of the 12 batters she faced.

The going was not as easy for Middletown's pitching tandem of Noelle Zimmerman and Hayley Baxter. Zimmerman got the start and took the loss after surrendering eight runs over two and two-third innings. Baxter absorbed the final 10 Lady Panthers runs while covering the final one and one third inning. Together they issued 10 free passes against three strikeouts.

One day earlier, Middletown faced West Perry. The Lady Mustangs are one spot below East Pennsboro in the Capital Division standings and three spots back in the 4A power rankings. Making matters worse, two of the three losses West Perry suffered came against East Pennsboro.

With all of that stacked against Middletown, the game went as well as one could expect. Behind a no-hit pitching performance from Cori Ritter, the Lady Mustangs cruised to a 17-0 victory. Baxter was in the circle for all four innings, issuing two walks with no strikeouts in the loss.

The Lady Raiders were finally able to get their bats going on May 3rd but despite collecting 10 hits on the day Middletown still fell to Camp Hill by an 11-3 final. Baxter took her second straight loss for five innings of work with Maddie Sweigert covering the final inning of the seven-inning contest. Jordyn Dupes and Katie Fitzpatrick led an offense that scored single runs in the first, third and sixth innings. Dupes smacked a base hit and a double to drive in two runs while Fitzpatrick collected one RBI on three singles.

TRACK

The track and field teams both dropped their dual match with Trinity last week. The Lady Raiders fell by a 121-28 final while the boys dropped a close one 79-62.

BASEBALL

On the baseball diamond, Middletown suffered through a difficult week, dropping two 10-run rule games. The Blue Raiders did manage to squeeze in a 6-1 win over Camp Hill between the two losses. Blake Jacoby covered all seven innings of that May 3rd victory, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out three and walking two. He also helped his cause with a one run double in the bottom of the first that knotted the game at 1-1. Scott Ash helped put Middletown in front with a two-run single in the second while Adam Kell smacked a two-run home run in the fifth to cap the scoring.

Head coach Mike Lupia called the game "a huge win for our playoff push" as the Blue Raiders currently occupy the first spot outside the 10 team 4A field with one week remaining in the regular season.

Middletown kicked off the week on May 1st with a 13-0 loss to one of the 10 teams residing above Middletown in the District 3-4A rankings, East Pennsboro. The Blue Raiders managed just one hit.

"We were not ready to play and seemed to lack some energy," said Lupia. "East Penn is a quality team but the score should not have been that bad."

Scott Ash covered the first two innings and was hit with the loss after East Pennsboro plated 10 of their 13 runs under his watch. Dom Barilla covered the final two innings and three Panther runs, all earned. Ash, Avery Williams and Cam Peters picked up one hit each to cover the Middletown offense on the day.

Friday saw Middletown host Lower Dauphin where another difficult day at the plate combined with pitch count limits and an injury to Kell led to a 14-4 loss. The Blue Raiders plated four runs but did so with just two hits. Both of those RBI singles, one each by Kyle Truesdale and Aaron McDevitt, came as part of a four run fourth inning that shrank LD's lead from 6-0 to 6-4. Kell wasn't able to pitch but still played and drove in one of those fourth inning runs when he hit into a fielder's choice. Williams accounted for the final run of the inning in the same fashion.

Barilla got the start and took the loss with the Falcons tagging him for their first six runs over two and one third innings. Garrett Miller took over for Barilla, allowing seven earned runs over two innings of work. Owen Haederer recorded the final two outs but not before Lower Dauphin was able to score one final run.

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Middletown Baseball Tops M. Hershey Twice April 30, 2018

It is no secret that the odd spring weather has made a crazy hot mess of high school sport schedules. Games are being postponed and rescheduled multiple times or straight up being canceled as available dates for both teams quickly dwindle. But not all the resulting chaos has been bad, in fact some of it falls under 'odd' or 'interesting.' Take for example Middletown, a few weeks ago all that reshuffling had the boy's tennis team playing the same team on back-to-back days, then doing it again with a totally different team a few days later. The baseball team played though that same type of scheduling quirk, albeit against one opponent and just one set of back-to-back games. Those two games were against Milton Hershey and the teams battled on Monday and Tuesday of last week.

Middletown came out of both contests victorious and needed only five innings to emerge from Monday's game on top 15-2. David Alcock covered the first four innings to pick up the win. He finished with more strikeouts (five) than walks (one), hits (four) or runs allowed (two), making the abundant run support welcome but unnecessary. Dom Barilla closed out the game with a near perfect fifth inning, a single walk keeping him from perfection.

Adam Kell and Blake Jacoby led the production at the plate with a combined four RBI on three hits. Kell accounted for just one of those three base knocks but the fourth inning single pushed two runs across and extended Middletown's lead to 14-2. Jacoby followed Kell's fourth inning hit with a single of his own, plating the Blue Raiders final run, pairing nicely with a second inning single that also scored one run.

The teams were back on the diamond on Tuesday, only this time using Middletown's facilities. The result was a 7-4 Blue Raider victory where Scott Ash shook off some early trouble to pick up the win. The Spartans tagged Ash for three runs in the first and a single run in the third but the junior righty settled in from there, closing out his six inning stretch with three straight scoreless frames. Kell covered the top of the seventh to finish things up and added another two punch outs to Ash's 10.

Avery Williams and Matt Schopf stepped up to lead offense this time around. Schopf helped Middletown keep pace with Milton Hershey's early surge, rapping out run producing singles in both the first and third innings. That set the stage for Williams as it kept the Blue Raiders within striking distance at 4-3. Williams capitalized with RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings, helping Middletown take the lead on their way to the win.

The back-to-back wins over Milton Hershey pushed Middletown's winning streak to six games but that streak came to a crashing halt with a 6-1 loss to Northern York on April 26th. The Blue Raiders lone run came in the top of the fifth when Kyle Truesdale was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, pushing Cameron Peters across and making it a 6-1 game.

Schopf, Alcock and Tim Wagner accounted for Middletown's four hits, all singles, with Schopf the only Blue Raider to enjoy a multi-hit game. Jacoby covered all six innings on the hill to take the loss, collecting four strikeouts to go with three walks and seven hits allowed and those six earned runs.

SOFTBALL

The wacky weather had the softball team playing the same off schedule as the baseball team, back-to-back games against Milton Hershey followed by a single contest opposite Northern York. The results even payed out in the same fashion, two wins over the Lady Spartans followed by a loss to the Lady Polar Bears.

Middletown started their week with a mercy rule victory, topping Milton Hershey 19-4 in Monday's match-up. Hayley Baxter covered all four innings in the circle for the Lady Raiders, scattering six hits and three walks that led to the four Lady Spartan runs. Baxter picked up one strikeout on her way to the win.

Katie Fitzpatrick, Maddie Sweigert and Noelle Zimmerman carried the big bats that produced eight runs in the first, six in the second and the final five in the bottom of the fourth. Fitzpatrick used three singles to collect three RBI while Zimmerman picked up three RBI on two singles and a triple. Sweigert also drove in three runs but did so on two hits, a single and a triple.

One day later it was Zimmerman in the circle enjoying the plentiful run support in a 13-5 victory. Milton Hershey did get to Zimmerman for five runs in the fifth which led to Baxter pitching the final two and one third innings but the quick Lady Spartan burst was only a minor threat to a 9-0 Middletown lead. The Lady Raiders tacked on their final four runs in the top of the sixth to set the final.

Jordyn Dupes finished with just one hit, a triple, but did account for three RBI on the day. Hayli Akakpo-Martin, Fitzpatrick, Zimmerman and Hailey Hockenberry all had multi-hit days but only Akakpo-Martin and Fitzpatrick added two-RBI games to their days. Hockenberry and Zimmerman matched Fitzpatrick and Akakpo-Martin's two singles but could not match their two RBI games, settling for one instead. Alexandria Kennedy picked up Middletown's final RBI on a sac fly.

Middletown found the going more difficult on April 26th with Northern York handing the Lady Raiders a 13-5 loss. Madison Gipe stepped up from the JV squad to handle the pitching duties and took the loss. The sophomore surrendered 16 hits and two walks that led to 13 earned runs and 17 total runs in the five-inning affair.

The Lady Raiders had as many errors as they did hits, six, with Fitzpatrick and Akakpo-Martin accounting for two hits each. Fitzpatrick drove in two runs and scored two runs with a single and double while Akakpo-Martin scored two runs with one RBI on her matching single and double day at the plate. Dupes and Zimmerman picked up the final two Middletown hits.

TRACK

The track and field teams traveled to Dillsburg on April 24th to battle the Polar Bears of Northern York. The boys came home with a 110-40 loss added to their resume while the girls suffered a 128-22 defeat.

TENNIS

The boy's tennis season saw their 2018 season come to a close last week with one final dual match as well as the Mid-Penn Flight Tournament. The Blue Raiders dropped their regular season finale, which took place on April 24th, to James Buchanan by a 4-1 final. Tommy Lee accounted for the lone win, dropping Levi Grove 7-5, 7-5 in number two singles.

The Blue Raiders spent Thursday April 26th competing in the Mid-Penn Tournament. Jacob Spear dropped his flight one singles match opposite Susquehanna Township's Ehi Jatto by a 5-7, 3-6 final, bringing his singles season to a close. Camp Hill's Alex Landis did the same to Lee's singles campaign courtesy of a 6-0, 6-0 win in the Flight Two pairing. Donovan Brady's season came to a close with a 3-6, 3-6 loss to East Pennsboro's Jake Henry but not before he managed to collect a 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 win over Noah Shank of James Buchanan.

Middletown's entries into the doubles brackets ran into Panther related problems. Both pairings, Steven Mosher and Kyle Shatto in flight one as well as Zac Purvis and Levi Ettu in flight two fell to East Pennsboro opponents. Mosher and Shatto dropped their first-round match to Evan Haas and Ethan Kesner 2-6, 0-6 while Purvis and Ettu ended up on the wrong side of a 2-6, 2-6 final to William Demaisip and Grant Zemanek. Middletown's final doubles pairing of Spear and Lee, faced Susquehanna Township's Ehi Jatto and Jack Ferguson in a District 3-AA play-in game. Spear and Lee joined their teammates in the offseason with a 4-6, 4-6 loss to the Township duo.

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Middletown Softball Slips to 2-7 on the Year April 23, 2018

Typically, when the phrase 'three-peat' is tossed around in the sports world the conversation involves championships of some type. For the Middletown softball team, the phrase carries a totally different meaning as the Lady Raiders season unfolds. With losses to Trinity, Central Dauphin East and West Perry last week Middletown posted their second three game slide of the season, dropping their record to 2-7 on the year and 1-4 in Mid-Penn Capital Division play. Despite the struggles head coach Mike Thomas has kept his message positive, with a short and simple, "keep your heads up," mantra to the team.

The week of woe started on April 17th with an 11-1 loss to Trinity. The Lady Shamrocks needed just six hits to produce their 11 runs thanks to three Middletown errors and a combined 15 walks issued by Noelle Zimmerman and Hayley Baxter. Thomas mentioned the plethora of free passes from his pitching staff as a downfall this season.

"Pitching has been a struggle with walks," said Thomas. "The pitchers know their problems and I'm confident they will work through them."

While the staff works to correct their troubles on the fly, the result was 11 walks from starter Noelle Zimmerman which helped lead to nine Trinity runs and a loss for the hurler. Zimmerman surrendered just four hits during her three and two third innings which was also the number of strikeouts she collected during her time on the mound. Hayley Baxter finished in the circle for Middletown, walking four with no strikeouts to go with the final two Lady Shamrock runs.

Katie Fitzpatrick was responsible for Middletown's lone run courtesy of a solo blast in the first inning. Jordyn Dupes, Maddy Sweigert and Alysa Ulrich picked up one hit each to round out the Lady Raider offense.

Friday's 12-8 loss to Central Dauphin East brought more of the same for Middletown. This time it was Sweigert getting the start and shouldering most of the work with eight walks against three strikeouts in four and one third innings. The Lady Panthers plated six runs while Sweigert was pitching but only four were earned.

Baxter finished the final two and two-third innings, allowing the final six CD East runs during that time. Only two of those six were earned and Baxter did rack up six strikeouts against just three walks.

Dupes' only hit of the game gave Middletown back-to-back games with a solo homer but it was Abigail Grimland driving in two runs with two singles that paced the Lady Raider attack. Hayli Akakpo-Martin added an RBI single to help the cause.

Middletown closed out the week on Saturday with a trip to Elliottsburg for a tangle with the Lady Mustangs of West Perry. The Lady Raiders, suiting up five varsity and five junior varsity players total due to various injuries, had as many errors, three, as hits leading to a 10-0, six-inning loss. Hailey Hockenberry, Veronica Miller and Alyse Ulrich, one of the junior varsity players filling in, were responsible for the offense with one hit each.

The Lady Mustangs got to Noelle Zimmerman for single runs in the first four innings before a six run six-run sixth inning secured the loss for the Middletown hurler.

BASEBALL

The baseball team enjoyed a three-peat of their own last week ripping off wins over Trinity, Central Dauphin East and West Perry. Add in their April 12th win over Steel-High and the Blue Raiders are riding a four-game winning streak that has evened their 2018 record to 5-5 overall.

The Blue Raiders had to survive a seventh inning rally by Trinity to secure their 6-5 win over the Shamrocks on April 17th. Avery Williams and Aaron McDevitt provided the pop that busted open a 2-2 tie and provided Middletown with enough cushion to absorb Trinity's three run push in the top of the seventh.

Both Williams and McDevitt collected their only hit of the game during the decisive frame with Williams' base knock pushing two runs across while McDevitt's single to left plated Middletown's first run of the inning. Scott Ash picked up the win for his work finishing off the sixth in relief of starter Adam Kell but it was Blake Jacoby that pitched Middletown out of the seventh inning jam. The trio combined for 12 strikeouts, 10 by Kell, and four walks while surrendering nine hits and five earned runs.

The Blue Raiders needed four pitchers to get through their 16-11, April 20th, win over CD East. Ash picked up his second straight victory after covering the opening three and one third innings. The Panthers were able to score six runs during that time, turning Middletown's 10-0 lead into a 10-6 affair. Garrett Miller covered the last of the fourth, pitching into the fifth before getting into trouble that resulted in four additional Central Dauphin East runs. Jacoby came in to put the Panther fire out but did surrender one final run before his exit. David Alcock tossed a scoreless seventh to close out the victory.

Williams carried the big bat with three of his four hits being the two-base variety. Williams added a first inning single to his three doubles, the final two producing his three RBI for the day. Ash, Jacoby and Tim Wagner all enjoyed multi-hit, multi-RBI games to give Williams ample back-up. Both of Wagner's hits were doubles with his second inning shot to left pushing across two runs. Ash split his two RBI between his first inning single and his fifth inning double while Jacoby picked up both his RBI with a first inning home run.

The Blue Raiders were back in action on day later, posting a 1-0 win over West Perry. Jacoby busted Ash's grip on pitching victories by tossing a complete game shutout to earn the win. The senior righty struck out five while walking just one and scattering six hits on the way to the victory.

West Perry's pitcher, Nolan Olszenski was effective at keeping Middletown at bay thanks to his eight strikeouts and no walks but the Blue Raiders were able to score the game's only run in the bottom of the sixth. Ash led off with a single to left but Olszenski picked up two quick outs to nearly end Middletown's threat. Kell worked the Mustang hurler through eight pitches that included three straight full-count foul balls before getting his pitch to hit. Kell sent that ninth offering down the left field line which allowed Ash to score from second. Jacoby closed out the game with his seventh straight scoreless frame.

TENNIS

The Middletown boy's tennis team remains in catch-up mode despite closing in on the end of their 2018 regular season. The weather-related shuffling left the Blue Raiders with four matches last week including two opposite the Colonial division's second place squad, East Pennsboro. The Panthers claimed both of those matches via 5-0 finals and when combined with the 5-0 loss to Camp Hill, the division's top team, gave the Blue Raiders three losses in four matches. Thankfully Middletown was able to come out on top of their final match last week, topping James Buchanan 4-1 on April 18th.

The Blue Raiders split the two doubles matches with Steven Mosher and Kyle Shatto dropping Jacob Stoner and Jacob Troupe in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in number one doubles. Tommy Lee was the lone player to win his singles match in straight sets, posting wins of 6-0 and 7-5 to dispatch Levi Grove in number two singles. Jacob Spear dropped his first set to Paul Dzieciol in number one singles but bounced back to post wins of 7-6 (7-4) and 6-4 to steal the win. Donovan Brady followed a similar script in the number three singles match opposite Noah Shank, dropping the opening set 6-0 before winning two straight, 6-2 and 6-2, to finish the win for Middletown.

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Track Teams Battle Snow Delays Before Facing WP April 16, 2018

Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. While Newton was not referring to high school sports when he developed his laws of motion, the third law can be stretched to apply to the 2018 spring sports season. The initial 'action' in this case would be rain, snow and cold temperatures wiping out the bulk of what was supposed to be the first two weeks of the season. The 'opposite reaction' would be the rescheduling of all those games throughout the remainder of the season, leaving high school sports' teams with unsarcastically busy schedules. Take for example the Middletown Blue Raiders, both the baseball team and the boy's tennis team wrapped up six game in nine day stretches while the softball team crossed off five games over the same span. The lone club that managed to avoid all of that drama was the track and field team.

Of course, having just one regular season meet a week helps avoid weather related logjams like their sporting brethren are currently trying to overcome. That doesn't mean the Blue Raiders haven't been affected by Mother Nature's shenanigans, their season opening trip to Chambersburg for the Tim Cook Invitational was derailed by snow as was their dual meet opener with Bishop McDevitt a few days later.

With the weather conditions returning to a somewhat normal state, the Blue Raiders were finally able to open their season on April 10th. The result of that dual meet with West Perry left Middletown wishing for more snow with the boy's falling by a 97-53 final and the girls a 106-40 result.

With their first dual meet out of the way, the Blue Raiders set their sights on participating in their first big meet, Northern York's Arctic Blast invitational on April 14th. Conditions were perfect for the meet and Tyrelle Gallatin, Matthew Frehse and Brendan Douglas all took advantage as each of the three came home as double medal winners.

Gallatin nearly came away with the title of "fastest man" after going Gold-Bronze in the 100m and 200m. The senior turned in the top prelim time in the 100m then went about capturing gold with a time of 11.21 in the finals. He came up 0.42 seconds short of the fastest man title, finishing third in the 200m with a time of 23.53.

Frehse also did his work on the track in the 110H and 300H events. Frehse earned a spot in the 110H finals by running the fourth fastest prelim time, a 16.26. Aided by the faster competition in the finals Frehse trimmed nearly three-tenths off his time, taking home bronze with a 15.98. The senior was able to secure another trip to the podium by clocking a 43.10 in the 300H, good enough for sixth place.

Douglas earned his podium trips for his work in the shot and discus. The senior, with a 134-11 in the discus, and a heave of 45-8.5 in the shot put, earned the fourth best throws in each event.

On the girls' side, Middletown was unable to capture any medals. Joci Koser came the closest, falling a mere 0.10 short of sixth place with a 27.83 in the 200m.

BASEBALL

The results for the baseball team's busy stretch were a mixed bag with victories over Steel-High and Susquehanna Township countering losses to East Pennsboro, Northern York, Bishop McDevitt and Camp Hill.

The Blue Raiders opened the stretch on April 5th with a 4-2 loss to East Pennsboro. Middletown ended up being their own worst enemy with three errors leading to two unearned runs. Kell allowed those four runs off of six hits over 5.1 innings, adding three strikeouts and five walks to his effort. Kell also produced one of four Middletown hits on the day, a sixth inning lead-off single leading to the Blue Raiders second run. Matt Schopf provided the base hit that allowed Kell to score while Avery Williams collected Middletown's other RBI single in the fifth. Aaron McDevitt picked up the Raiders' first hit in the fourth.

Bishop McDevitt came to town one day later and left with a 13-0 victory. David Alcock was the first of five Middletown pitchers used to cover the seven innings. The trouble started early as McDevitt scored four runs during Alcock's 1.1 innings. Scott Ash picked up after Alcock's departure and pitched through the fourth inning, surrendering one unearned run. Dom Barilla was up next and managed to get through the fifth after just one Crusader run but trouble returned in the sixth. Two quick McDevitt runs brought and end to Barilla's day. Garrett Miller took over and covered the first two outs of the sixth with one final unearned McDevitt run coming during that time. Owen Haederer ended McDevitt's sixth inning damage at three runs after relieving Miller with two outs and the bases loaded. Haederer saw tougher times in the seventh with another four Crusader runs putting the final at 13-0. The pitching quintet combined for eight strikeouts and 11 walks. Williams provided Middletown's only two hits on the day.

The Blue Raiders picked up win number one on April 9th, 17-13, after surviving Susquehanna Township's late game push. Middletown jumped out to a 13-0 lead after two innings only to see Township plate five in the bottom of the third to start their comeback bid. The Blue Raiders started tacking on insurance runs in the fifth and they proved to be useful after the Indians' eight run sixth inning.

Middletown managed another two insurance runs in the top of the seventh but they were not needed as Kell was able to close things out with a scoreless seventh.

Ash got the start and picked up the win with Miller (two innings) and Tim Wagner (one and two-third innings) bridging the gap between Ash and Kell. Williams, Alcock and Wagner provided the pop at the plate with three RBI each.

Camp Hill provided another setback on the April 10th, winning 6-1 after scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh to break up a 1-1 deadlock. Kell knotted the game with his fifth inning single, one of two on the day. Blake Jacoby allowed all six Lion runs during his 5.2 innings, but only three were earned thanks to one Middletown error. Jacoby had three walks and seven strikeouts during his time on the mound. Alcock needed one pitch to record the final out of the game.

The Blue Raiders fifth loss of the season came on April 11th via an 11-1 final. Northern York used a four run first coupled with a five run fifth to secure the ten-run victory. Ash saw five of the Polar Bear runs score on his four inning watch while Kell witnessed the final six runs. Each pitcher recorded two strikeouts and combined for seven walks over the game's initial 6.1 innings. Schopf closed the door on the Polar Bears with two quick outs but the damage had already been done. Cam Peters produced Middletown's lone run with his second inning single.

Middletown closed out the week on a positive note with a 14-3, five inning win over Steel-High on the 12th. Williams and Peters carried the offense with three RBI apiece while Ash provided strong back-up with his two-hit, two RBI game. Alcock earned the easy win with four innings of work but did allow two of the three Roller runs on six hits to go with six strikeouts and no walks. Haederer and Miller combined to cover the fifth with Haederer on the hook for the final Steel-High run.

SOFTBALL

The softball team came out of their busy stretch with four losses against an April 10th win over Camp Hill. The Lady Raiders used a three-run, seventh inning rally, to slip by the Lady Lions 7-6. Hailey Hockenberry and Jordyn Dupes enjoyed three hit games with Hockenberry driving in two runs on three singles. Dupes' three hits left her a home run shy of the cycle. Kayla Finsterbush and game winner Noelle Zimmerman provided Middletown's two remaining RBI for the game.

Zimmerman earned the win after covering all seven innings with five walks and one strikeout to go with nine hits and five earned runs.

The five games in seven days run ended on April 11th with a 10-0 loss to Northern York. Hayley Baxter tossed all five innings to take the loss, striking out one and walking three in the process. Jordan Roberts enjoyed the lone multi-hit game for Middletown with two singles.

Seven days earlier the Lady Raiders fell to East Pennsboro 15-0 in three innings. Baxter was hit with that loss as well, covering the first 2.1 innings. Zimmerman and Maddie Sweigert recorded one out each to finish things up.

Bishop McDevitt was responsible for a 10-4 loss on April 6th. Zimmerman absorbed the loss for working through five innings while Baxter covered the final inning. Dupes collected half of Middletown's six hits, producing the Lady Raiders' only two RBI for the game. Veronica Miller, Hockenberry and Hayli Akakpo-Martin accounted for the remaining three hits.

The final game of the run was a 19-2 loss to Eastern York on the 9th. Baxter pitched three of the five innings and took the loss after allowing 10 of the 17 runs. Finsterbush and Sweigert were each responsible for pushing across one Middletown run.

TENNIS

The weather reshuffling not only caused the Blue Raider tennis team to play six matches in nine days, it also produced the oddity of back-to-back matches against the same opponent two different times in the same week. Unfortunately for Middletown the April 11th and April 12th matches opposite Bishop McDevitt ended in 5-0 losses and combined with a 5-0 loss to Camp Hill on the 13th for a less than desirable ending to their week. The stretch opened with another 5-0 loss, this one to Susquehanna Township on April 5th.

The Blue Raiders also faced Harrisburg Academy in back-to-back action and produced a 5-0 victory as well as a 4-1 win. The 5-0 sweep went down on the 9th with Jacob Spear, Donovan Brady and Zeryab Ibrahim handling singles duty. Zac Purvis and Levi Ettu picked up one doubles victory while Danny Mercado and Justin Wright earned the other.

One day later Spear and Ibrahim were able to duplicate their singles success to account for two of Middletown's four wins. Purvis teamed up with Kyle Shatto for one of two doubles victories while Wright and Matt Spangler earned the second.

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Blue Raider Hoopsters, Matmen Compete in State March 19, 2018

The real fun begins now for the Middletown boys' basketball team. The Blue Raiders kicked off their PIAA redemption tour on Friday, March 9th with a 66-57 victory over District 4's champion, Montoursville. The PIAA-4A opening round affair took place at Shikellamy High School in Sunbury and marked Middletown's first step to surpassing last's year's PIAA quarterfinal loss to Quaker Valley.

The nine-point victory ended up being more difficult than many expected with head coach Chris Sattele citing his squad's nine day lay-off as the reason.

"I was proud of our kids because they really responded well and then we were able to get this match up and we felt we could play with District 4 teams," said Sattele.

The result of the layoff was a sloppy first half where Middletown managed just 28 total points. Despite the scoring trouble, the Blue Raiders still managed to take a two-point cushion into the break. The two sides traded buckets and miscues throughout the opening 16 minutes, combining for 15 turnovers, seven ties and eight lead changes. Neither team was able to gain more than a four-point edge but the Blue Raiders were able to enjoy that two-point halftime cushion thanks to the work of Ryan Hughes and Tre Leach. The pair tallied eight points over the final two minutes to help keep the Warriors at bay.

As the third quarter unfolded, Montoursville scored eight of the frame's first 10 points, swinging momentum and the score in their favor. Despite the opening surge by the Warriors, Middletown did not wilt, keeping the game close despite being outscored in the quarter. The 21-16 edge in the frame allowed Montoursville to take a slim 47-44 lead into the final eight minutes but the battle tested Blue Raiders responded by taking over the game in those eight minutes.

It actually only took Middletown about a minute to pull away but the Blue Raiders first had to fight though the first five plus minutes of the final stanza. During that time the Warriors did just enough to hang around making it a 54-53 game with 2:50 remaining. Tre Leach, who finished with 19 points, kicked off the decisive 9-0 run by making both ends of a one and one while Brady Fox scored his only point of the contest to cap the spurt and make it a 63-53 game with 75 seconds remaining. A couple of free throws from Chris Plummer (six points) and Hughes accounted for the final Middletown points.

"The intensity picked up in the second half. Both teams were fighting for their lives, its state playoffs," said Hughes, who scored 12 of his game high 33 points in the decisive fourth quarter. "We were preaching next play, next play in the locker room at half time and I think that is what motivated us never to put our heads down, just kept working."

Sattele echoed his star's thoughts about the halftime talk. "Their zone gave us some trouble but we found a way to make some adjustments at halftime and get Ryan the ball inside the post and I thought they did a nice job of that." Sattele was quick to credit one of his assistants (Coach Klinefelter) with spearheading the adjustments but added, "It was really a good combination of all our coaches kind of talking about it."

Up next for the now 18-7 Blue Raiders is a PIAA-4A second round affair opposite District 12's third place squad, Overbrook, at Garden Spot High School in New Holland, Tuesday at 6 pm.

WRESTLING

The boy's hoopsters were not the only Blue Raiders in PIAA action last week. Luke Fegley and Ryan Berstler took their talents to Hershey's Giant Center for the 2017-2018 PIAA Championship. The pair competed in the 2A field, going a combined 1-4 to find their weekend and season over earlier than they preferred.

Fegley was responsible for the lone victory, pinning Smethport's Bryent Johnson a mere 10 seconds before the final horn of their preliminary round match. Fegley would have picked up the win regardless, racking up a 10-3 edge before finally putting Johnson's shoulders to the mat. The Middletown sophomore found himself on the opposite side of things in his first-round match-up. Fegley was bounced from the championship bracket thanks to a 12-3 major decision loss to Troy's Sheldon Seymour. Fegley was unable to overcome a combination of a few early takedowns and escapes from Seymour with the Troy sophomore ending the match with back-to-back third period nearfalls.

Fegley saw his season come to a close with a 1-0 loss to Brandywine Height's Bailey Gimbor. The Bullet freshman scored the only point of the match on an escape with 55 seconds remaining in regulation. The loss put Fegley's season ending record at 34-12.

Berstler was unable to find a way into the winner's column, dropping both his matches to end his 2017-2018 season with a 35-11 mark. The junior opened his time in Hershey with a 13-2 major decision loss to Bryan Daubert of Forest Hills. The Ranger jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Berstler thanks to first period combination takedown and nearfall. Another takedown late in the second period countered Berstler's escape making it 7-1 with just two minutes remaining. Daubert continued his onslaught in the final frame, working an escape into another takedown-nearfall combo for his final six points. Berstler picked up one final point on another escape late in the period, setting the final at 13-2.

Berstler's season came to a close with a 4-2 loss to Hughesville's Luke Gorg. The Hughesville sophomore used a first period takedown to pick-up the bout's first points. Berstler was able to counter with his own takedown but the second period points only countered Gorg's two escapes in the frame. The pair battled through a scoreless third period to leave the final at 4-2.

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Blue Raiders Cap Season in PIAA Second Round March 18, 2018

The Blue Raider boys' basketball team saw their magical two season run come to a close last Friday, March 16th. The culprit, a 79-60 loss to the defending 4A champ, Imhotep Charter. The quarterfinal defeat ends Middletown's current postseason run in the same round where last year's 22-6 squad saw their season come to a close. The difference this year being the location, Reading's Geigle Complex versus last year's Altoona's High School Fieldhouse and the opponent, Quaker Valley versus the Panthers of Imhotep.

"It's a roller coaster of emotions," said head coach Chris Sattele of the loss that ended his squad's campaign with a 19-8 mark. "It was a lot to handle, it was tough, end of the season, and these guys are going on their ways and won't be a part of this anymore."

For the Blue Raiders the battle was lost in the opening frame where Imhotep charged out to a 22-7 lead leaving Middletown searching for answers. "The first four or five minutes, I think, was one of those things. We're playing at the Geigle, we're playing against a nationally ranked team, we're playing against division one players' and then they settled in and realized this is basketball," was Sattele's explanation of his team's 8-0 deficit after just three minutes. While the Panthers continued to expand their lead Tre Leach made sure Middletown erased the zero on their side of the scoreboard.

The senior guard proceeded to score all seven of Middletown's first quarter points, on his way to 16 for the game, starting with a pull-up jumper with just under four minutes remaining in the half. Unfortunately, while Leach was doing what he could, including a three-ball that pushed him over the 900-career point mark, Imhotep was still doing their thing which led to that 22-7 deficit.

As Sattele mentioned, his charges settled down after the opening frame. The result was a 16-11 advantage in the second stanza that shrank the Panther lead to 10, 33-23, when Tyler Petroski nailed a corner three just before the halftime buzzer. Ryan Hughes and Kyle Truesdale led the second quarter charge with the pair each scoring their first five points of the contest.

Middletown came out of the break intent to continue their march toward Imhotep. Truesdale stepped up to lead that charge scoring back-to-back buckets within the first 60 seconds of the third. The quick points trimmed the Blue Raider deficit to six but the Panthers came right back with a 7-0 run of their own to stretch the lead back to 13, at 40-27.

The Blue Raiders continued to claw behind the long-distance shooting of Tymir Jackson. The freshman sandwiched his two made three-pointers around a pair of Imhotep free throws and a long-range bomb from Petroski to shrink the margin down to five points with just under three minutes remaining in the frame. Imhotep would not allow the Blue Raiders to get any closer despite the best efforts of Hughes. Hughes, who scored four of Middletown's final five points of the quarter, only managed to keep the deficit in single digits heading into the final frame.

The senior guard continued his attempt to carry his squad into the lead, scoring the final 10 of his team high 19 in the fourth but it was not enough as Imhotep was able to salt the game away from the free throw line. The Panthers connected on 13 of their 17 fourth quarter freebies and 31 of 40 for the game, enabling them to slowly stretch the advantage to the 19-point final.

"I'm super proud of our kids," said Sattele. "I mean that is a nationally ranked team, they are very well coached and those kids played their tails off, it was sort of like playing a college team."

Middletown earned their quarterfinal spot opposite Imhotep with a 47-45 victory over Overbrook a few days prior.

The two clubs squared off in New Holland at Garden Spot High School and Middletown needed another dose of Hughes heroics to seal the victory. Hughes, who last year sent Middletown into the District 3-4A title game via a last second catch and release buzzer beater off a full court heave assist on the same court, came through in the final seconds again to give his Blue Raiders the win.

Hughes heroics were needed because the Blue Raiders found themselves in a deadlocked affair as the final seconds ticked away. That is when Hughes picked off a cross-court pass, took off for the hoop and converted a layup while getting fouled, providing the game winning points with six seconds remaining. Hughes did miss the and-1 free throw but redeemed himself by snagging the offensive rebound then finding Leach before falling out of bounds. Leach was promptly fouled by Overbrook sending him to the line with a chance to ice the game. The senior saw both attempts roll out but the additional time taken off the clock left Overbrook with only a last second full-court desperation heave that was off the mark.

"Hustle plays always help us out, its what we do, it's what we are based off of," said Hughes of his game winning steal and layup with Sattele adding, "Par for the course when you're here at Garden Spot, seems like Ryan is always here in the stretch."

Of course, those last second Hughes heroics took place because Overbrook mounted a fourth quarter comeback that erased what had been a 10-point Middletown lead. The Blue Raiders enjoyed that double digit cushion for nearly a minute early in the fourth before the Panthers began chipping away. Leach gave Middletown their second 10-point lead of the game with a bucket just 30-seconds into the frame.

Overbrook's Khalif Washington spent the next few minutes leading the charge to erase that gap. He started with a personal 6-1 run over a two-plus minute stretch that trimmed Middletown's lead from 37-27 to 38-33. A single Hughes free throw put a temporary hold on Washington's march and made it 39-33 with 4:38 remaining. A Raquon West (13 points) free throw proved to be the only Panther point not scored by Washington during an 11-2 Overbrook run that made it a one-point affair with 3:32 left on the clock.

After two Chris Plummer (10 points) free throws made it 41-38, West answered with an old fashioned three-point play to tie the game for the first time since the second quarter. The two sides exchanged free throws over the next two minutes with Petroski's single make knotting the score at 45-45 with 45.08 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Hughes' heroics.

"Credit to our kids. We had a double-digit lead going in there and they could have crumbled, they didn't," said Sattele. "They overcame that adversity and that embodies what Middletown is, the grit we have with our student athletes, they are unbelievable."

A similar pattern played out over the opening half with Middletown jumping out to an 8-0 lead just three minutes into the game. As a preview for the fourth quarter theatrics, the Panthers mounted a comeback march over the next three minutes that put the two sides in the first of four deadlocks, this one at 10-10.

As they did at the end of the game, the Blue Raiders were able to reestablish enough control to maintain a slim lead, this one leading to a 24-21 lead at the break. Middletown was able to stretch that slim three-point cushion to eight as the third quarter unfolded thanks to Leach who scored six of his 14 points in the frame.

Hughes finished the win with a game high 16 points while Petroski (three points), Truesdale (two points) and David Alcock (two points) provided the final Blue Raider points.

"One thing we always talk about is 'next play, next play, next play', we can't worry about the past and our kids' kind of did that tonight," Sattele summarized.

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Raiders Grab Bronze in District Championships March 5, 2018

It was not the color or type of metal the 2017-2018 edition of the Middletown boy's basketball team was hoping to collect when the District 3-4A Championship kicked off two weeks ago. But the Blue Raiders will happily take the bronze medal that came with their 66-56 victory over Kennard-Dale at West York on February 28th.

After dropping last year's championship game in overtime to Lancaster Catholic the Blue Raiders were looking to take home gold this year but a 51-33 semifinal loss to Berks Catholic derailed those aspirations. Instead Middletown was left to take their frustration out on Kennard-Dale which they did to the tune of a 35-18 blitz though the opening half. Ryan Hughes led that first half charge, scoring 15 of his game high 25 points to help push Middletown to a 17-point lead at intermission.

After holding KD to just 18 first half points, the Rams broke out in the third thanks to Adam Freese. The senior scored nine of his team high 23 in the frame helping Kennard-Dale to an 18-15 edge that shrank Middletown's lead to 14. The Rams continued their push in the final stanza, outscoring the Blue Raiders 20-16, but Middletown was able to hold off the KD surge thanks to their large first half cushion coupled with their work from the free throw line. The Blue Raiders were a pedestrian 29 of 52 from the stripe for the game but made the freebies when it mattered, drilling 14 of 16 in the fourth to salt the game away.

Tre Leach was the only other Blue Raider to join Hughes in double digits, finishing with 11 points, including a five of eight day from the line. Tyler Petroski chipped in with seven points while Brady Fox, David Alcock and Chris Plummer netted six points apiece. Kyle Truesdale picked up the final five Middletown points.

Two days prior, Middletown was unable to post their second straight district victory over Berks Catholic. The Blue Raiders won last year's District 3-4A semifinal match-up but this year's clash went to the Saints by a 51-33 count. Middletown was unable to get their offense flowing, failing to hit double digits in three of the four frames leading to the 18-point loss.

The scoring woes began in the opening quarter where Berks Catholic held Middletown to just eight points. Meanwhile, the Saints, behind Tre Dabney's six points, were able to tally 15, making it 15-8 after eight minutes. Middletown did enjoy a scoring edge in the second quarter, using a 13-8 spurt to nearly erase the Berks Catholic lead heading into the break.

The Saints regained momentum in the third which resulted in a 12-6 run that stretched the lead to eight points with only one quarter remaining. That lead more than doubled as the fourth unfolded with Middletown posting another six-point frame while Berks Catholic netted 16 points. The result was the 51-33 final and Middletown's crushed district title hopes.

Hughes tallied a team high 11 in the loss while Truesdale (nine points), Leach (eight points) and Plummer (five points) were the only other Blue Raiders to score.

WRESTLING

A few members of the Middletown wrestling team spent Friday March 2nd and Saturday March 3rd at Wilson High School, working to extend their season for one more week. The Blue Raiders were in West Lawn to take part in the PIAA-2A SE Regional Championship where the top six place winners earn a trip to Hershey for a spot in this weekend's PIAA-2A Championships. Five different Blue Raiders made the trek to the Reading area with two, Luke Fegley and Ryan Berstler, performing well enough to earn the coveted PIAA berth.

Fegley earned his state bid in the 106-bracket where he placed fifth with an 8-2 win over Annville-Cleona's Matthew Inman. It was Fegley's second victory over the Little Dutchman at the regional event, topping the fellow sophomore in the championship quarterfinal via a 9-1 count. In between the two victories over Inman, Fegley stumbled with losses to Trinity's Patrick Demark and Williams Valley's Mikey Myers. Fegley opened the event with a first round win over Saadiq Williams of Belmont Charter.

Berstler forged a different path to his fifth-place finish, going 4-2 to improve to 35-9 on the season. He opened the action by pinning Conwell Egan's Gianni Scancella but dropped out of gold medal contention with a 6-3 semifinal loss to Notre Dame-Greenpond's Richie Markulics. Berstler began his consolation march with an 11-0 major decision win over Catasauqua's Tyler Melendez and followed with a 3-1 victory over Susquehanna Township's Kody Evans. The junior's shot at bronze ended in the consolation semifinals with a 5-3 loss to Wilson's Marckis Branford. Berstler was able to bounce back, topping Biglerville's Josh Tuckey by a 3-2 count to earn fifth place at 120 pounds.

Nate Brady was unable to sustain momentum in his quest for gold at 126 pounds, going 2-2 after bowing out with a 7-3 loss to Newport's Isaiah Bryner in the consolation quarterfinals. Brady opened the tournament by pinning Lynn Anthony of Bristol midway through the second period but was unable to continue the winning in his quarterfinal match opposite Pen Argyl's Nick Reto. A 5-2 loss to Reto dropped Brady into the consolation bracket where he managed a 9-2 win over Northwestern's Harrison Bernhard, setting up that final bout with Newport's Bryner.

Zach Maley was the first of two different Blue Raiders to post a 1-2 mark. Malay began his quest for gold at 113 with a 5-2 win over Faith Christian's Andrew Park but suffered back-to-back losses to end his season with a 22-15 mark. Brandywine Heights' Dalton Gimbor and Bermudian Spring's Korey Smith handed Malay his season ending losses.

Devin Martin followed the same path during his time in the 145-pound bracket. The senior opened with an 8-7 victory over Thomas Spirk but saw his championship hopes dashed in the quarterfinals. Boiling Springs' Kollin Myers was the victor in that quarterfinal tilt, topping Martin by an 8-1 count. Max Schultz of Faith Christian handed Martin his second loss of the weekend by a 3-1 count, leaving Martin with a season ending 24-13 record.

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Middletown Boys Win District Opener February 23, 2018

Last Thursday night the Middletown boys got their District Three Class 4A playoffs off to a good start with a convincing, 72-55, victory over visiting Boiling Springs (12-10).

The Raiders finished a tough, competitive first half down by three, 37-34, to the Bubblers, but came out after the break and went on a 19-6 run through the third quarter to take control of the game.

A 19-12 fourth quarter locked down the 17-point win for the Raiders and sent them into the semifinals where they meet Berks Catholic, a 52-34 quarterfinal winner over Northern Lebanon, at Penn Manor on Monday, February 26.

Ryan Hughes led the way for the Raiders, hitting 10 field goals, four of them three-pointers, and a pair of free throws to finish with a game-high 26 points.

Tre Leach (18), Chris Plummer (12) and Kyle Truesdale (10) also contributed double-digit scoring to the Raiders' victory, while Tyler Petroski, Brady Fox and David Alcock all chipped in a pair of points to round out Middletown's scoring.

The win lifts the Raiders' season record to 16-6 going into their semifinal clash with Berks Catholic, who brings a 13-9 slate to the contest.

A high school game of basketball is always four quarters or 32 minutes. That proved to be too much for the Middletown girls' basketball team to handle in their District 3-3A opener last Tuesday evening. The result of that quarterfinal tilt opposite York Catholic was a 64-48 loss in game that Middletown led at intermission.

The halftime lead was small, 27-25, but it was a lead none the less. Things went sideways for the Lady Raiders in the third frame with York Catholic ripping off a 21-11 run.

"I thought we were playing well. Their home crowd got excited when they went up a couple on us and it just snowball a little bit and we couldn't get back after that," said head coach Ron Stetler.

The Lady Shamrocks tacked on an 18-10 edge in the final frame, leading to the loss. "It was a 16-point loss but it was closer than that," Statler said.

Middletown had just four players score led by Kate Fitzpatrick's 25 points. The super sophomore added six rebounds, three assists and five steals to her game tally. Makaila Nester finished her senior season with a 15 point, four rebound, two assist effort, leaving her with 730 points in her Middletown career. "Makaila's value to the team the last couple years has been overshadowed because she's always been second or third fiddle," said Stetler, citing the parade of 1000 point scores in front of Nester. "She kind of silently has had a stellar career."

With the district loss the Lady Raiders finish their 2017-2018 campaign with a 9-14 record, "For the most part I'm happy with the season and how we played. Sometimes we played down to the level of our competition and sometimes we played up," said Stetler, "but I think we hung in there with some good teams this year."

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Middletown Advances Seven Matmen to Districts February 19, 2018

There are two prevailing thoughts on extended layoffs heading into the postseason. On one side, it provides the opportunity to rest and recover from the long, grueling regular season. On the other side, it opens the door for rust or subpar performances from the layoff.

Count the Middletown wrestling team among the former as seven of the 13 grapplers that participated in last Saturday's District 3-2A Sectional at Central Dauphin East High School advanced to this weekend's district championship in Hershey.

Of those seven only one, Ryan Berstler, managed to take the top spot in his weight class. Berstler knocked off Northern Lebanon's Dustin Varvel and Susquehanna Township's Kody Evans to capture the 120-pound gold and punch his ticket to Hershey.

Luke Fegley was the first of four silver medal winners, picking up his hardware in the 106-pound bracket. Fegley kicked off his day by pinning Austin Mahoney of Boiling Springs before falling to Northern Lebanon's Brandon Breidegan in the finals.

Jacob Spear was the next Blue Raider to finish his weekend with a silver medal around his neck. The sophomore topped Northern Lebanon's Kick Winters by an 8-7 count before falling to Lucas Shoop of Boiling Springs in the championship match.

Devin Martin gave the Blue Raiders back-to-back silver medalist with his work in the 145-pound bracket. Martin posted an 8-4 win over Annville-Cleona's Zachery Renninger to earn his title shot but ended up on the wrong side of an 11-4 final in that title match. That left Martin with the silver while another Bulldog from Boiling Springs claimed gold.

Middletown's final silver medal went to Quincy Reinnagel for his work at 220. Reinnagel, another second-year grappler, opened by pinning Northern Lebanon's Cole Messimer in the second period of their bout. That set up another Blue Raider-Bulldog final with Boiling Springs' Austin Taylor taking the 220-pound title and leaving Reinnagel with the silver.

Zach Malay picked up the first of two Middletown bronze medals, doing his work at 113 pounds. Malay began his day on the wrong side of an 11-5 final, falling to Boiling Springs' Andrew Stafford in their semifinal match-up. With his back against the wall, Malay went to work, knocking off Lancaster Catholic's Ethan Jones and Annville-Cleona's Gavin Knox to claim third place and the final ticket to Hershey. Malay earned both victories via pinfall, needing a total of 2:31 to dispatch both opponents.

Middletown's final district berth went to Nate Brady who also started his district quest on the wrong foot. The junior dropped his opening match to Collin Nester of Boiling Springs by a 4-3 count, leaving no room for error the rest of the way. Brady was up to the challenge, pinning Lancaster Catholic's Evan Hart early in the second period before topping Annville-Cleona's Noah Safford by a 9-2 final in the consolation finals.

Two other Blue Raiders fell into the near-miss category for their efforts at CD East. Zach Souders and Damion Williams both overcame losses in the championship bracket to battle back into the consolation finals only to fall short. Souders saw his season end with a pinfall loss to Boiling Springs' Zach Martin in a battle for the 160-pound bronze. Williams also fell to a Bulldog, his match with Sam Geiling ending nine seconds later than Souders' match with Martin.

Souders may have ended his weekend with a loss but he opened it with a win, pinning Lancaster Catholic's Ryan Kemmerly just before the final horn of their quarterfinal tilt. A loss to Blaise Bressler of Northern Lebanon, the eventual champion at 160, dropped Souders into the consolation bracket where he rebounded with a win over Annville-Cleona's Daniel Tobias.

Williams' consolation loss to Geiling was not his first of the day to the Boiling Springs junior. Geiling ended Williams' title hopes in the quarterfinals with a 15-4 major decision. In between the two losses to Geiling, Williams managed to pin Annville-Cleona's Ben Barnhart, doing so just before the end of the second period.

The remaining four Blue Raiders that participated in the sectional round saw their season end in the consolation semifinals. Kenny Britcher dropped that consy match to Northern Lebanon's Michael Marlowe by a 14-3 count. Britcher's other loss on the day came opposite Susquehanna Township's Steven Graves in the quarterfinals. Britcher did post one win, taking out Steel-High's Timmy Jackson by a 6-2 count in the pair's consolation tangle.

Arthur Dash followed the same path as Britcher, falling to Boiling Springs' Nick Kostyak by a 15-0 final in the quarterfinals and to Evan Heilman of Annville-Cleona in the consolation semifinals. Dash's victory in between the two losses came when he pinned Steel-High's William James.

Middletown's final two sectional round entries were unable to find the win column, bowing out with back-to-back losses. Chris Joseph had his stumble take place in the 152-pound bracket where losses to Columbia's Marcus Falcon and Annville-Cleona's Tyler Speraw ended the sophomore's season. A pair of tech fall losses in the 182-pound bracket ended Marcus Williams's season. Lancaster Catholic's Alex Cruz handed out the first while Annville-Cleona's Caleb Turner handed out the second.

With over half of Middletown's participants advancing, the Blue Raiders managed a third-place finish in the team standings, nipping Susquehanna Township but falling short of Northern Lebanon and team champion Boiling Springs.

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Blue Raiders Remain Third in District Ranking February 5, 2018

The Middletown boys' basketball team enjoyed a rare late-season loss that did little to their position in the District 3-4A pecking order. The 70-58 loss to Trinity on January 30th was the Blue Raiders' sixth of the season but they remained slotted third in the power ranking behind Lancaster Catholic and Berks Catholic and head of Boiling Springs and Kennard-Dale.

The 12-point loss to Trinity might not have dropped Middletown in the rankings but it still stung as a difficult second quarter short-circuited an otherwise sound game. Trinity went on a 23-8 run that erased Middletown's seven-point lead and replaced it with an eight-point Shamrock cushion.

With Ryan Hughes scoring 12 of his game high 33 points in the third stanza, Middletown was able to trim the deficit to two with a 16-14 edge. Unfortunately, the comeback stalled there as Trinity used a 24-18 spurt in the fourth to claim the win.

Chris Plummer was the only other Blue Raider in double figures with 10 points. Tre Leach (eight points), Kyle Truesdale (five points) and Tyler Petroskie (two points) cleaned up the remaining Middletown points.

Middletown closed out Capital Division play on February 2nd with a 57-41 win over West Perry. It took the Blue Raiders a bit to shake off the Trinity loss. That allowed the Mustangs to jump out to a 12-9 lead after the first quarter. From there Middletown was able to right the ship and pulled away from West Perry for a 16-point victory.

Hughes kicked started the turnaround, scoring eight of Middletown's 13 second quarter points. That helped the home team take a five point, 22-17, lead into the break. Middletown continued their slow separation from West Perry in the third. Matching eight-point efforts from Hughes and Plummer allowed the Blue Raiders to stretch their lead to 10 points. A 17-11 finish over the final eight minutes put the final at 57-41 and put Middletown at 13-6 overall and 8-4 in the Capital Division.

Hughes, buoyed by those eight-point middle frames, finished with 20 points. Leach (13 points) and Plummer (12 points) joined Hughes in the double-digit club. Antonio Gamble (four points), Truesdale (three points), Brady Fox (three points) and Mitch Lee (two points) accounted for the final Blue Raider points.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

The girls' basketball team is on the move and looking to shake off the results of a mid-season slump. The end-result of that slump was the Lady Raiders falling outside the six-team District 3-3A bracket. A busy three game week allowed Middletown to go 2-1, pushing their overall record to 8-11 and moving them into the seventh spot in the most recent power rankings. That does leave the Lady Raiders outside of the field but only by a mere 0.01372 points.

With three games remaining in the regular season head coach Ron Stetler is hoping a strong final week will be enough to get his squad into the postseason. Games remaining against Boiling Springs (4A) on Tuesday, Conestoga Valley (6A) on Thursday and Lower Dauphin (5A) on Friday will provide Middletown the opportunity to move up in the ranking.

"Our strength of schedule got us in last year so hopefully we play well this week and let chips fall where they may," said Stetler. "With some luck we squeak into the sixth spot."

The Lady Raiders started their power ranking accent with a stumble in the form of a 58-47 loss to Trinity on January 30th. Middletown was able to hang with the Lady Shamrocks over the middle of the contest and actually held a one point, 25-24, edge in the second and third quarters. Unfortunately, a basketball game is four quarters and the Lady Raiders were outscored 34-22 in the first and fourth frames, making the end result an 11-point Trinity victory.

Despite the loss Stetler remained upbeat. "We did much better than the first time around. First time we got beat pretty bad, this time we were in the game the whole way, we just couldn't bridge that gap in the second half."

Middletown did enjoy a stellar game from Kate Fitzpatrick. The freshman dropped 24 points while adding five assists, six rebounds and four steals. Makaila Nester enjoyed a solid game with 11 points, nine rebounds and one steal while Joci Koser added eight points, five assists and two rebounds. Morgan Noon finished out the scoring with four points and a matching four rebounds.

The Lady Raiders rebounded from the loss with a 53-47 victory over Annville-Cleona on February 1st. "We came out really sluggish and not shooting well. We weren't playing good defense and they made some shots," said Stetler of a first quarter that saw Middletown fall into a 12-3 hole. "I felt like we picked up the intensity and hung on to pull that one out," added Stetler of his squad's 15-point advantage over the final three frames.

The offensive turnaround was fueled by the one-two punch of Fitzpatrick and Nester who combined to score 48 of Middletown's 53 points. Fitzpatrick finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five steals while Nester was responsible for 22 points, five rebounds and two steals. Koser (two points), Jaelynn Keller (two points) and Noon (one point) finished the scoring while adding a combined 25 rebounds and three steals. Koser claimed three steals and eight of the boards while Noon matched Fitzpatrick with a team high 10 rebounds.

The Lady Raiders closed out the week with a 48-42 win over West Perry.

"Friday we went to West Perry and played extremely well," said Stetler. "For us to go up there, and beat them on their senior night was a good feeling."

Middletown wasted no time jumping out in front of West Perry, leading to a 15-5 lead after the opening frame. That lead turned out to be necessary as the Lady Mustangs flipped things around for a 12-5 second quarter run that made it a three-point game at the break. Middletown was able to regain control in the third, outscoring West Perry 16-13 to stretch their lead back to six-points. It remained a six-point affair as both teams managed 12 points in the fourth quarter.

Fitzpatrick finished her fantastic week with a 28-point effort with Nester adding 12 in the win. Koser (six points) and Keller (two points) finished the scoring for Middletown.

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Middletown Girls Battle Milton Hershey, East Penn January 29, 2018

The game of basketball can be a funny sport. Take for instance the Middletown girls' basketball team. The Lady Raiders opened their 2017-2018 campaign by winning four of their first five games. However, with only two more wins over their next 11 games that 4-1 start has turned into a 6-10 spiral that pushed the Lady Raiders outside the six-team District 3-3A playoff field.

One of those two wins took place last Tuesday but the Lady Raiders first had to deal with Milton Hershey on Monday. The game was originally scheduled for January 16th but was pushed back twice due to winter storms that inflicted chaos on high school sports schedules. The battle went to the Lady Spartans 50-43 thanks to Bryanna White's 20-point game.

"We didn't play very well. We had approximately 30 turnovers and when you turn the ball that much it is tough to win and we still only lost by seven points," said head coach Ron Stetler.

Middletown struggled in the first half, scoring just 15 total points while Milton Hershey was able to tally 28, leaving the Lady Raiders in a 13-point halftime hole.

Things started to turn around in the third where Milton Hershey managed just a one-point edge, 13-12, but that still left Middletown to deal with a 14-point deficit and just eight minutes to do so. The Lady Raiders were able to control the final eight minutes, outscoring Milton Hershey 16-9, which cut the final margin in half but the first half struggles proved to be too much to overcome.

Kate Fitzpatrick netted 18-points, six rebounds and five assists in the loss while Makaila Nester added 10-points, two rebounds, three assists and four steals. Joci Koser (seven points), Jaelynn Keller (four points) and Morgan Noon (four points) rounded out the offense for the game.

The Lady Raiders were back in action one night later and managed to slip by East Pennsboro 49-47.

"I thought we played more as a team," said Stetler. "We shared the ball and usually when we play like that we usually do well."

The two sides took turns controlling the game with Middletown taking the first quarter. The Lady Raiders managed a 16-14 lead thanks to Fitzpatrick who picked up 10 of the team's 16 points. The Lady Panthers answered right back behind Brittany Bolig and Calley Joyce. The pair combined for 13 of East Pennsboro's 18 points in the second leading to a seven-point advantage and a 32-27 lead at intermission.

Middletown's defense stepped up in the third, holding East Penn to three points while their offense was busy putting together a 14-point frame. Nester led the charge, scoring five of her 11 points while Fitzpatrick drilled one of her four three pointers to move her closer to her game high 21 points. The third quarter run gave Middletown enough of a cushion to withstand East Pennsboro's 12-8 fourth quarter push, leaving the Lady Raiders with a two-point victory.

Middletown closed out the week on Friday with a trip to Camp Hill where the Diamond Bragg led Lady Lions collected a 63-30 win.

"Going over there is always tough and they have Diamond Bragg who is unreal athletically," said Stetler. "And we were playing good coming off the East Pennsboro game. I thought we would play well over there but that small gym, playing against that caliber of team and that caliber of player, we kinds of got rushed into shots."

That rushed offense left Middletown unable to get anything going on offense, scoring in single digits in all four quarters. Camp Hill, behind's Bragg's 26 points, had no such trouble finishing the first and second quarters with matching 20-point tally's while netting another 19 points in the third. Middletown was able to enjoy a slight, 9-4, edge in the fourth but the result was still the Lady Raiders' tenth loss of the season.

Fitzpatrick paced Middletown with a 10-point game while Nester (eight points), Koser (six points), Keller (four points) and Noon (two points) all chipped in.

WRESTLING

The Blue Raider wrestling team closed out an impressive 2017-2018 regular season with a 38-28 victory over Milton Hershey on January 25th. Despite the win moving Middletown to 12-4, the Blue Raiders missed out on the District 3-2A team tournament by one place. Middletown finished ninth, 0.006453 behind Kennard-Dale in the power rankings.

Against Milton Hershey, Middletown used a mid-match run of five straight wins to flip a 16-3 deficit into a 30-16 cushion, enough to stave off the Spartans' late match run that led to the 38-28 final. Four of those five wins came via pinfall starting with Quincy Reinnagel at 285 who ended his match with Rajuan Boyd just 35 seconds after it started.

Luke Fegley also recorded a first period pinfall, taking out Seamus Burns with nine-seconds remaining in the opening period to inch Middletown to within one point. Zach Malay recorded the only win that was not of the pin variety, topping Joshua Minners 9-4 in their 113 clash.

Ryan Berstler moved the Blue Raiders' lead from 18-16 to 24-16 by pining Derrick Nhin early in the second period of their 120-pound bout. Nate Brady finished off the run with Middletown's third first period pinfall, stopping his 126-pound match opposite Nicholas Bell two seconds before the horn.

Milton Hershey claimed the next two matches to trim the lead to 30-25 but Middletown was able to answer with two straight wins of their own to seal the win. Devin Martin posted the first of those wins, topping Abiola Oladipo 15-0 at 145. Sterling Gray followed with a 9-4 win over Jacob McMillen for Middletown's final three team points. Arthur Dash earned the Blue Raiders first three team points and Middletown's first win of the match, taking out Joe Morcus by an 8-5 count at 182.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

The boys' basketball team enjoyed a perfect 5-0 run through a brutal five games in six days stretch that capped a seven games in ten days section of their schedule. The Blue Raiders went 6-1 in that stretch and now sport a 12-5 overall record, good enough for the third spot in the most recent District 3-4A power rankings.

Middletown opened their perfect week with their rescheduled game against Milton Hershey. Fronted by Tre Leach's 22 points and a stingy defense the Blue Raiders rolled to an 81-55 victory. Ryan Hughes, Kyle Truesdale and Chris Plummer each chipping in 13 points allowed Middletown to outscore Milton Hershey in all four quarters, including a 23-7 second quarter run that ballooned the lead to 17 points at the break.

Despite just a 10-point final margin, Middletown needed just five players to score in their 62-52 win over East Pennsboro on Tuesday. Plummer was the top scorer, finishing with 20 points while Leach and Hughes split 30 points down the middle. Antonio Gamble and David Alcock netted six points each to account for the final Middletown points.

The Blue Raiders were back on the court Wednesday taking on ELCO in a non-league contest. Hughes dropped a game high 28 points to lead Middletown to another 10-point win, 72-62. Middletown opened a slim three-point lead after one only to see ELCO trim it to two points, 33-31, at the break.

Hughes picked up 10 of his 28 points after intermission where Plummer scored 10 of his 14 points to help Middletown pull away. Leach chipped in with 12 points.

The Blue Raiders picked up win number four of the week on Friday, blowing by Camp Hill 81-52. Middletown jumped out to a 24-10 lead after the opening quarter and never looked back. Camp Hill did manage a slim 15-14 edge in the second but Middletown pushed their lead to 23-points with a 27-17 blitz through the third. A 16-10 fourth set the final margin at 29 points.

Hughes (21 points) and Leach (14 points) were the lone players in double figures but the Blue Raiders had nine other players that scored at least two points.

Middletown closed out the week with a Saturday trip to Lewistown to face Mifflin County. Leach scored 10 of his game high 25 points during a 24-15 first quarter run that gave the Blue Raiders an early lead they would not relinquish. Middletown pushed their lead to 17 points at intermission and 24 points after three thanks to Leach, Plummer (22 points) and Hughes (18 points).

Donte Scott nailed three, three-pointers and scored all 10 of his points in the fourth to help the Huskies make a 22-16 push to shrink the final margin to 18 points.

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Hughes Goes Over 1,500 Career Points Milestone January 22, 2018

Thanks to a few reshuffled game dates, the boys' basketball season will be defined by a 10-day stretch in January. By the time that stretch is over the Blue Raiders will have played seven games, including four against teams jockeying for District 3 berths.

Middletown was able to rest up for marathon stretch, having eight days off between their January 9th win over West Perry to the first game of the stretch, a January 18th victory over Northern Lebanon.

"It was tough after a long lay-off, and obviously Northern Lebanon is pretty good," said head coach Chris Sattele of the 71-61 win over the Vikings.

The game may have been tough from the coach's seat but the Blue Raiders held a six-point lead after the opening frame and were only challenged during a 23-18 NL run that covered the second quarter. Middletown was able to control the second half, stretching their lead to five points after three and to the final 10-point margin courtesy of a 19-14 edge in the fourth.

Chris Plummer's 22 points checked in as game high but it was Ryan Hughes' 21 points that stole the headlines because it took the senior guard over the 1,500-career point mark.

"Credit to him but also to his teammates, the guys who pass the ball and put him in those spots and then his work ethic," said Sattele of the milestone. Tre Leach provided backup to Plummer and Hughes with his 18-point effort.

One night later, Middletown went the other way as Steel-High posted a 61-45 victory on January 19th. The Blue Raiders hung around through the opening frame as the teams ended the first quarter knotted at 12-12. Steel-High began taking control in the second quarter which allowed the Rollers a six-point cushion at the break.

They added another six points to the margin through the third and finished off with a 20-16 edge in the fourth for the 61-45 final.

"Steel-High played well, and we only shot 38% from the free throw line," said Sattele. "Their zone gave us some issues, but again it is what it is. Steel-High is good, they are right there in the mix for AAA and moving forward we have five games this week which will be crazy."

Hughes netted a team high 16 points to move his career total to 1,523 while Plummer added 10 points as the only other Blue Raider in double digits.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

The girls' basketball team found one foe they cannot compete with, Mother Nature. The Lady Raiders saw their fifth game of the season effected by winter weather, this one twice, with the end result moving that Milton Hershey game to January 22nd and leaving Middletown with just one game on last week's slate.

On Friday the 19th the Lady Raiders suffered their seventh loss in their last eight games, falling to Steel-High. The Lady Rollers, behind Serenity Vider's game high 22 points, slowly pulled away from Middletown leading to a 66-58 loss for the Lady Raiders.

Seventeen points from Makaila Nester, 16 from Joci Koser and 12 from Kate Fitzpatrick were not enough to overcome the methodical march of Steel-High. The Lady Rollers held a three-point cushion after the opening period, extended it to seven points at intermission and stretched the lead to the final margin of eight through the third quarter.

Jaelynn Keller (seven points), Ayanna Reeves (four points) and Morgan Noon (two points) cleaned up the remaining Middletown offense.

WRESTLING

The wrestling team was able to avoid all the snow related headaches that plagued their hardwood counterparts but that does not mean the week was all smooth sailing. The Blue Raiders dropped their Mid-Penn Capital Division clash with Camp Hill by a 42-28 count after they had built a 28-6 lead at the midway point of the match.

Luke Fegley opened the match by pinning Xander Heim 25-seconds into the 106-pound bout while Zach Malay (113) gave Middletown two straight wins via pinfall, taking care of Nick Lamay at the 3:54 mark. Ryan Berstler (120) made it back-to-back-to-back pinfalls, putting Luke Waldner's shoulders to the mat 2:50.

Camp Hill picked up their first team points with a Middletown forfeit at 126 but the Blue Raiders went right back to work. Nate Brady and Joseph Spear earned Middletown's only two wins that came via standard decision, upping the Blue Raider lead to 24-6 in the process. Brady topped Sean Getty by a 3-1 count at 132 while Spear slipped by Jacob Coniglio 6-4 at 138. Middletown's final win came at 145 where Devin Martin routed Max Delaye 15-5 which marked the highwater point of the match for the Blue Raiders.

Camp Hill claimed the final seven matches, four by pinfall and one by forfeit, to flip that 28-6 Middletown lead into a 42-28 Lion victory.

The Blue Raiders had no time to wallow in their misery as they spent Friday and Saturday the 19th and 20th at New Oxford for the 2018 edition of the New Oxford Invitational. Middletown sent 11 grapplers to the event and came home with five medal winners and a 13th place finish in the team standings.

Martin enjoyed the best Blue Raider finish, falling in the consolation finals to Northern York's Paul Fiete by a 7-1 count, forcing the Middletown senior to settle for fourth place. Martin opened his 138-pound title quest with wins over Brandywine Heights' Jacob Caskie, Susquehannock's Erik Younkin and Page Karstete of Fairfield before Juniata's Tyler Feltman sent Martin to the consolations. Martin picked up a win over Southern Columbia's Mike Miner before the loss to Fiete.

Fegley would have enjoyed his time in the 106-pound bracket an infinite amount more had it not been for Brandywine Heights' Bailey Gimbor. The freshman dealt Fegley two of the three losses he suffered on the day. The first came in the quarterfinals of the championship bracket. Fegley was fresh off a win over Littlestown's Connor Brown when Gimbor ended Fegley's title hopes courtesy of a 3-2 decision. The second loss to Gimbor came in the fifth/sixth place bout, by a 3-0 count, slotting Fegley into sixth place. Fegley worked his way to the Gimbor rematch with consolation wins over Montana DeLawder (Gettysburg) and Jordan Holland (McCaskey) and a loss to Biglerville's Blake Showers.

Middletown's weekend produced another sixth place finishers in Berstler at 120. After opening his championship quest with wins over LaSalle College's Dominic DeSantis and Susquehannock's Ben Sweigard, Berstler had his title hopes squashed by Southern Columbia's Jaret Lane in the quarterfinals. Consolation bracket wins over New Oxford's Austin Brotherton and Central Dauphin East's Michael Dunleavy had Berstler in the consy-semifinals where David Gavek of Tunkhannock proved to be too much. Line Mountain's Ian Coller handed Berstler his second straight loss, sending the junior home with a sixth-place finish.

Middletown's final two showings on the medal stand came as eighth place finishes with Spear earning the first at 145. Spear kicked off his quest with the easiest Blue Raider win of the day, a forfeit in the round of 32. He followed by pinning Lampeter-Strasburg's Nick Salgado in the second round before a loss to Wilson's Sammy Toggas ended his title run. Spear took care of Line Mountain's Jacob Feese with a second period pin but ended up on the opposite side of the same result in his consolation match against Waynesboro's Adam Wertz. Tyler Waltman of Southern Columbia handed Spear his second straight loss, taking seventh place for himself and forcing Spear to settle for eighth place.

Arthur Dash claimed Middletown's final medal of the day, earning his eighth-place medal in the 170-pound bracket. Dash's work on the mat began in the round of 16 where he slipped by Scranton's Hayden DiAngelo, 6-5. A quarterfinal loss to Susquehanna Township's Edmund Ruth sent Dash into the consolation bracket where a win over Claudio Cruz (West York) earned him a spot on the medal stand. A loss to New Oxford's Luke Lardarello put Dash into the seventh/eighth place match opposite Josh Paul (Gettysburg). Paul's 6-2 victory gave the Blue Raiders their second eighth place finisher.

Zach Malay narrowly missed a medal at 113, his loss to Brandywine Heights' Dalton Gimbor in the consolation round ended his day where a win would have earned him a medal. The loss to Gimbor undid the work Malay had done in the consolation round where wins over Milton Hershey's Josh Minners and Tunkhannock's Matt Rosentel had Malay on the doorstep of a medal. Malay opened the tournament with a win over Harrisburg's Allen Por but followed with a loss to Cole Wilson (Northeastern), forcing the sophomore into the consolation bracket.

Quincy Reinnagel enjoyed some early success at 220 before back-to-back losses ended his tournament. Reinnagel earned a first-round bye and enjoyed a round of 16 win over Montgomery's Eithan Marino but a consolation loss to Fairfield's Jake Moyer made it two straight losses and an end to Reinnagel's weekend.

Sterling Gray and Zach Souders also managed one win but for both it came in the consolation round and followed with a loss. Gray dropped his first match in the 152-pound bracket to Montgomery's Jensen Drick while Souders fell to Line Mountain's Chance Hackenburg in the 160-pound bracket. Gray rebounded to knock off Edward Cole of Troy in his first consolation match but dropped his second to Fairfield's Steve Heinbaugh.

Souders bounced back from his loss to Hackenburg by topping Waynesboro's Keegan Lohman but could not sustain the momentum, falling to Gettysburg's Garrett Young.

The final two Blue Raiders to participate were unable to collect a win before bowing out of the tournament. Nate Williamson (LaSalle College) and Conner Slenker (Northeastern) were responsible for the losses that ended Marcus Williams' time in the 182-bracket. Damian Williams suffered losses to Northeastern's Marco Marienez and West York's Willie Martin in the 195-bracket.

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Blue Raider Matmen Trounce Palmyra January 15, 2018

If only they were all that easy. The Blue Raider wrestling team improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 against Mid-Penn Capital Division foes with a 55-18 trouncing of Palmyra on January 11th. Middletown dominated the action on the mat, claiming 11 of the 14 weight classes but only one of their three losses actually came on the mat. Palmyra earned 12 of their 18 team points via Middletown forfeits with Tyler Boerema (285) and Nick Carroll (126) enjoying the easy wins.

As for the contested matches, Middletown wasted little time flexing their muscle. Zac Dailey opened the match by pinning Ethan Alberto 48 seconds into the 160-pound bout. The Blue Raiders did have a setback at 170 where the Cougars collected their lone win, a Luke Higgins pinfall over Zach Souders. That made the team score 6-6 and marked the last time Middletown would be threatened by Palmyra.

The Blue Raiders ripped off three straight wins starting with Arthur Dash's 12-7 decision over Austin Shuey at 182. Damion Williams and Quincy Reinnagel followed with back-to-back pinfalls to push Middletown's lead to 21-6. Williams took care of Sasha Coburn just before the end of the second period in the 195 tilt while Reinnagel needed just 76 seconds to dispatch Garrett Miller at 220. Boerema's forfeit win at 285 broke up Middletown's run but only for a few seconds as the Blue Raiders answered with another three straight wins.

Luke Fegley (106) kicked off the second three-pack by topping Jacob Myers by a 4-2 count in overtime. Zach Malay needed just 19 seconds to push the Middletown lead to 30-12 courtesy of a pinfall over Dennis Cohick at 113. Ryan Berstler closed out the run with a 10-2 major decision over Matt Carroll at 120. The Cougars picked up their final team points with Middletown's forfeit at 126, making way for another Blue Raider run, this one covering the final four weight classes.

Nate Brady got the run rolling with a 17-7 major decision over Tyler Shifflett (132), pushing the Middletown cushion to 38-18. Joseph Spear earned another six team points with an injury time victory over Josh Myers at 138. Chris Joseph collected Middletown's fifth and final pin, putting Roman Hall's shoulders to the mat at the 5:12 mark of the 145-pound showdown. Devin Martin closed out the match with a 15-0 tech fall win over Scout Bucks (152).

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

The girls' basketball team experienced both sides of a lopsided final last week. The Lady Raiders got off to a slow start with a 61-31 loss to West Perry on Tuesday the 9th. The Lady Mustangs raced out to a 20-6 lead in the opening frame and never looked back. Kate Fitzpatrick picked up five of her team high 10 points in the third when Middletown played West Perry to a 10-10 draw.

Two nights later the Lady Raiders traveled to Mt. Joy to face Donegal and came home with a 75-60 victory. The teams went back-and-forth through the opening half with Middletown holding a slim 32-29 lead at intermission. Fitzpatrick netted nine of her team high 21 points in the decisive third quarter, helping Middletown outscore the Lady Indians 24-8. Behind Carly Diffenderfer's 13 fourth quarter points, Donegal was able to post a 23-19 edge, cutting the final margin to 15-points.

Fitzpatrick and her 21 points missed game high honors, relinquishing that title to Diffenderfer who bucketed 24 points, but she did finish with a triple-double adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists to her team high point tally. Makaila Nester nearly joined Fitzpatrick and Diffender in the 20-point club, falling a single point shy. Joci Koser added 16 points while Jae Keller chipped in with a 12-point, 20-rebound effort. Ayanna Reeves (five points) and Morgan Noon (two points) rounded out the scoring.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

The effects of the late start to the boy's hoops season appear to have worn off the Blue Raider squad. Middletown picked up their third straight win on January 9th. The 56-44 victory over West Perry sparked head coach Chris Sattele to say, "Good win for us at West Perry, getting on the road inside a league game it's a long drive for our kids."

With the three-game streak the Blue Raiders sit at 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the Mid-Penn Capital Division. The former slots them sixth in the most current District 3-4A power rankings while the latter has them third behind Milton Hershey and Steel-High in the Capital Division pecking order.

The long drive that Sattele mentioned did not have an effect on the Blue Raiders as Middletown held a 27-13 lead at halftime thanks to a strong effort on D.

"Defensively we played real well in the first half, gave up seven points then six points," said Sattele of his squad's sixteen-minute effort.

The Mustangs were able to get their offense going in the second half, scoring 31 total points that included a 14-10 advantage in the third quarter. Sattele was not concerned with the small West Perry push.

"We stayed in our zone a little bit, they brought in some kids to shoot the basketball," said Sattele. "They put up a ton of shots which obviously some of them went in. We gave our bench pretty good opportunity to play, so it was nice."

The extended time in a zone defense and a bench clearing second half did little to Middletown's bottom line as the Blue Raiders' 14-point halftime lead remained strong and shrunk only two points to the, 12-point, 56-44 final. Tre Leach led all scorers with 19 points while Ryan Hughes collected 15 points.

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Middletown Girls Fall to 5-5 On The Year January 8, 2018

While the rest of the Midstate is wishing they could go back in time to before record-breaking cold gripped the region, the Middletown girls' basketball team would like to take that journey for an entirely different reason. With losses to Camp Hill and Trinity last week the Lady Raiders fell to 5-5 on the season and all five losses have come after Middletown opened the season with five straight victories.

On January 2nd the Lady Raiders ran into Wisconsin commit Diamond Bragg and the rest of the Lady Lions of Camp Hill, leading to a 58-34 loss. Bragg was one of four Camp Hill players to reach double figures, doubling up Middletown's total. Kate Fitzpatrick and Makaila Nester both finished with 13 points for Middletown while Camp Hill added Passion Bragg (12 points), Sheridan Reid (11 points) and Anne Johnson (11 points) to Diamond Bragg's game high 16 points.

A few nights later the Lady Raiders made the trip to Camp Hill to take on Trinity and came home with their fifth straight loss. Middletown never really found their footing in the 74-36 result, enabling the Lady Shamrocks to post a scoring edge in all four quarters. That left the Lady Raiders down eight after the opening frame, 26 at intermission, 28 heading into the final stanza and the final margin of 38.

Nester was the lone Middletown player to reach double figures, settling on 11. Fitzpatrick added nine points, Joci Koser and Jaelynn Keller six points apiece while Nakia Scott picked up the final four points. Sunshine McCrae and Ava Stevenson both tallied 15 points for the Lady Shamrocks.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

With a second straight season delayed by the football teams' deep postseason run, the Middletown boys' hoops team is just starting to find their footing. A thrilling last second, overtime win over Trinity last Friday coupled with a 20-point shellacking of Annville-Cleona on Saturday have the Blue Raiders at 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-Penn Capital Division.

While the week ended with back-to-back victories, Middletown started the week on the opposite end of things with a 67-65 loss to Camp Hill. The Blue Raiders were in control early, holding a 15-12 lead after eight minutes and a 29-25 cushion at the break. The Lions started to shift control to their side in the third frame, outscoring Middletown 22-18, sending the game into the final frame knotted at 47-47. Camp Hill's hot hand continued, allowing the Lions to post a 20-18 edge in the fourth to steal the win. Ryan Hughes dropped a game high 23 points in the loss while Tre Leach and Kyle Truesdale chipped in with 14 and 11 points respectively.

After a few days off to regroup, the Blue Raiders welcomed Camp Hill's other high school team to town, the Trinity Shamrocks, on Friday evening. The result was a thrilling, 65-64, overtime win. Once again Middletown was able to control the opening half of the contest, leading to an 18-15 lead after the first quarter and a six point, 34-28 advantage at halftime.

As it did on Tuesday, the game started to slip away in the third as Trinity posted a 21-13 advantage, flipping Middletown's six-point cushion into a two-point Shamrock lead with eight minutes remaining. Unlike the Camp Hill game, the Blue Raiders were able to regroup in the fourth, outscoring the 'Rocks 8-6 to force overtime. Middletown kept just enough momentum on their side in the extra period to escape with the one-point victory. Hughes led the way with a game high 32 points while Leach and Truesdale added 10 points each.

The Blue Raiders had no time to enjoy their win over Trinity, traveling to Annville on Saturday afternoon to take part in the 9th Annual Rhoades Foundation Classic at Lebanon Valley College. Middletown was paired opposite Annville-Cleona in the kick-off game of the event's three game slate and wasted little time taking control of the contest on their way to a 68-48 victory.

The Blue Raiders opened the game with an 11-0 run and, after the Little Dutchmen managed two buckets to make it 11-4, closed out the opening stanza on a 12-2 run that put the score at 23-6. Middletown cooled drastically after their torrid start but the damage had been done as Middletown spent the remainder of the game maintaining a lead that hovered around 20 points. Hughes capped his productive week with a game high 24 points. Leach provided back-up in the form of 16 points while Tyler Petroski chipped in with 12 points.

WRESTLING

The Middletown wrestling team kicked off the New Year with back-to-back matches against Lower Dauphin and Trinity last Wednesday and Thursday. The Blue Raiders posted split results, falling to LD by a 39-24 count while topping the Shamrocks 42-34.

Middletown never really had a chance against Lower Dauphin as the Falcons claimed eight straight weight classes to open the match. That put the Blue Raiders in a 33-0 hole with just six bouts remaining. Quincy Reinnagel finally put Middletown on the board by pinning Luis Arments 79 seconds into the 220-pound match but LD sealed the team victory with a Middletown forfeit at 285.

Despite the outcome already sealed the Blue Raiders continued to fight with Antonio Pittman earning a forfeit win at 106 followed by a Zach Malay pinfall win at 113. Malay needed just 1:37 to dispatch Matthew Rodriguez. Luke Fegley and Ryan Berstler were responsible for the final two Middletown wins. Fegley topped Sean Donnelly 11-5 in the 120-pound bout while Berstler posted a nearly identical 12-5 win over Richard Skidmore at 126.

The Blue Raiders shook off the Lower Dauphin loss by topping Trinity one night later. Middletown ultimately prevailed but it was anything but smooth sailing through the match. The two sides traded blows over the first half of the match with the Shamrocks' landing the bigger hits early, leading to a 28-18 'Rock lead with five weight classes remaining.

Joseph Spear, Devin Martin and Arthur Dash were the only three Blue Raider grapplers to come out on top over the initial nine matches, leading to the 28-18 Trinity lead. Spear pinned Daniel Kosinski with two seconds remaining in the 145-pound match while Dash needed just 3:25 to pin his foe, Brian Bodle, in the 182-pound tangle. Martin's forfeit win at 152 allowed Middletown to enjoy a brief lead before Trinity claimed five of the next six bouts.

Fegley kicked off Middletown's victorious push by pinning Charlie Aber at the 1:32 mark of the 106-pound clash, drawing Middletown to within four points at 28-24. A quick Trinity forfeit win at 113 made it 34-24 in favor of the Shamrocks but the Blue Raiders closed out the match with three straight forfeit wins to steal the victory, 42-34. Malay (120), Berstler (126) and Nate Brady (132) enjoyed the quick victories to close out the win.

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Middletown Gridders Cap 2nd PIAA Silver Medal December 11, 2017

For the second straight season, so close but so far away, is the most adept way to describe the Middletown football team's season. As they did in 2016, the 2017 edition of the Blue Raiders marched through their initial 14 games, outscoring opponents 597-100 along the way to earning a spot in the PIAA-3A title game at Hershey Park Stadium. And for the second straight year that title quest ended with a tough to swallow loss. This year it was a 41-24 final to Quaker Valley on December 9th that ended the Blue Raiders magical two year run with another state silver medal.

"Without a doubt, 28-2 that's special, not many people can say that," said head coach Brett Myers. "Two division titles, two district titles, and two eastern champs. Not many people playing in December and these kids deserve to be out here in a winter wonderland playing in a pretty special setting."

The scene was set for a perfect Middletown fairy tale ending with a light snow falling that coated everything white. Only it was Quaker Valley earning their first state title, not the Blue Raiders. Making matters worse the Quakers used Middletown's own formula, suffocating defense combined with a powerful rushing attack, to get the job done.

That suffocating defense never really let the Blue Raider attack get going. Middletown surrendered 282 total yards while the Quaker ground game churned out 246 yards and accounted for three touchdowns. Add in two Middletown turnovers, one of which was returned for six Quaker points, and it was enough to cause Middletown's all-time leading rusher Brady Fox to say, "They were the better team today. They played hard. They are a good team but that score board doesn't identify our team. I think we could have played a lot better but it just happened to be 41-24."

Fox's narrative played out basically from the opening whistle as Middletown's first three drives yielded a combined 10 yards, two punts and one interception. Thankfully the result was only a 7-0 deficit thanks to a stingy defense that limited the Quakers to just Jordan Taylor's 34-yard score late in the opening frame.

The Blue Raiders' fourth possession is where things first started to go sideways for Middletown. The drive spanned the final 73 seconds of the first quarter, nearly half of the second quarter and covered 70 yards but produced no points. Unfortunately, the drive stalled on the Quaker Valley seven-yard line and the end result was a missed field goal leaving the score at 7-0.

The Quakers were unable to capitalize on Middletown's miscue as the Blue Raider defense forced a quick three and out. That set up the first half highwater mark for the Blue Raiders, a 55-yard Tre Leach punt return touchdown that knotted the game at 7-7 and gave the Middletown faithful a spark with 5:59 remaining in the half.

That spark was quickly extinguished as the Quakers answered the Leach punt return TD with a quick three-play strike punctuated by a 66-yard TD. The Ricky Guss to Ethan Moore score was made possible because the Middletown defender fell down while trying to break up the pass, leaving Moore free to scamper untouched for a 14-7 Quaker lead.

A quick Middletown three and out gave the ball right back to Quaker Valley with a short field to boot. The Quakers needed only four plays to traverse the 34 yards, stretching their lead to 21-7 with 1:54 remaining in the half on another Guss to Moore connection, this one from one yard out.

Three plays and 50 seconds later, the Quakers were enjoying a 28-7 lead thanks to Andrew Seymour. The senior linebacker tallied Quaker Valley's second interception of the game and returned it 40 yards for a TD.

Quaker Valley tightened their grip on the game with the opening possession of the second half. They marched 67 yards in five plays, capped by Taylor's second trip to the end zone, this one a 35-yarder that made it 35-7 just two minutes into the second half.

The Blue Raiders were able to counter the Quaker score with a score of their own but Donovan Brady's 38-yard field goal proved to be a temporary fix. The impressive boot trimmed the deficit to 35-10 with nearly a quarter and a half remaining but Middletown was unable to maintain the momentum surge.

Quaker Valley answered that Middletown score with their own score, a two-yard Guss plunge that capped a 12-play drive that chewed up the final five minutes of the third quarter and the first eight seconds of the fourth frame. The two sides exchanged punts over the next five minutes of game time leaving only the final score in question.

The Blue Raiders were able to score twice in the final five minutes to put that final at 41-24. The first was a one-yard Leach run that came with just over four minutes remaining in the contest. The six-play drive was highlighted by Kyle Truesdale's crazy 41-yard reception on a pass that was intended for Chris Plummer. Truesdale ended up with the ball after it was jarred loose from Plummer's hands via a hit that arrived at the same time as the ball.

Middletown's final score came after recovering a Quaker fumble but almost never happened after the Blue Raiders' first two plays lost seven yards. Facing third and long deep in their own territory Middletown turned to Truesdale who promptly broke off a 20-yard run, giving new life to the drive. That life was nearly fumbled away as Middletown's next snap hit the turf. A fortuitous bounce right into the arms of Lamar Ventura resulted in a 70-yard touchdown run with 14 ticks remaining in the game.

Ventura's TD scamper vaulted him to the top of Middletown's game leaders with Fox and Jose Lopez finishing well off their typical pace. Lopez's 44 yards gave him 1,793 for the season while the 56 yards Fox tallied in the game pushed his season total to 1,619 and his career record tally to 4,326.

With another 14-1 season and PIAA-3A runner-up finish in the books, Myers was left to say, "We didn't play our best game today and that's on me as a coach. We have some great kids and a pretty good program going. We are 28-2 and I don't want to take away from that but in the end, our goal is to play our best game the last game of the year and today we didn't do that and that falls on the head coach."

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Middletown Football Wins Again, Blanks Scranton November 27, 2017

The Middletown football team is using the 2017 playoffs as their laboratory to test an old sports theory, that offense wins games and defense wins championships. A shutout win over Scranton Prep in the PIAA-3A quarterfinals last Friday was the Blue Raiders third live test of that theory this postseason. The 35-0 blanking of Scranton followed Middletown's 42-7 win over Bermudian Springs in the District 3 opener and a most recent 49-0 shellacking of Wyomissing that netted the Blue Raiders the District 3-3A title.

Add it all up and you get a defense that is allowing a measly 2.33 points per game this postseason behind back-to-back shutouts.

"That team we just played is a really, really good football team," said head coach Brett Myers. "Our defense did an amazing job, holding a team like that to a goose egg."

The defense kept the Cavaliers out of the end zone by shutting down Prep's main offensive weapons, senior running back Matt Gilmartin and junior quarterback Leo O'Boyle. Gilmartin did lead Scranton with 86 rushing yards but nearly half of that total came on the senior's first carry of the game. Gilmartin broke free for 36 of his 86 yards but the Blue Raider defense clamped down from there, holding the running back to 50 yards on his other 16 carries.

The defense was even harder on O'Boyle, holding the signal caller to a meger 80 yards on 12 of 24 passing, including two costly interceptions. Add in three sacks for a loss of 18 yards and Scranton was left searching for a way to move the ball for large portions of the game.

As it has all season, the offense was the beneficiary of the defensive domination, albeit a bit later than the Middletown faithful is accustomed. Scranton opened the game by covering 45 yards on two plays, including Gilmartin's big gain, putting the Blue Raider fans on the edge of their seats at BASD Stadium. The defense shook off the early trouble by forcing a Cavalier punt after a third down sack of O'Boyle.

The offense appeared to respond as they have all season, working in tandem with the defense to control the game. Only Middletown's opening drive ended with an uncharacteristic fumble deep in Cavalier territory that gave Scranton new life. That new life lasted all of three plays thanks to the Blue Raider defense with the fourth down punt giving possession back to Middletown at midfield.

The offense wasted little time capitalizing this time, covering the 50 yards in six pays. Brady Fox capped the drive with the first of three scores, this one a two-yard plunge that gave Middletown a 7-0 lead with just a few ticks remaining in the opening quarter.

Scranton's ensuing drive lasted just three plays thanks to a Tre Leach interception that gave Middletown's offense another short field. This time the Blue Raiders needed eight plays to cover 42 yards with Leach enjoying the fruits of his interception. Leach's four-yard score capped the short drive and made it 14-0 with 9:58 remaining in the half.

"We have a lot of good football players," said Myers. "I've been telling everybody that will listen that Tre Leach is an all-league running back if we need him to be but he's always been unselfish and stepped back so the other guys can get theirs. Tonight we needed him and he stepped up," said Myers of Leach who finished with 82 yards rushing in his efforts to help fill the void left by injured running back Jose Lopez.

An exchange of punts over the next few possessions led to Middletown getting the ball back with 76 seconds remaining in the half and 91 yards of turf to cover. The offense needed five plays and just over a minute to cover all that green thanks in large part to work of Scott Ash, Ryan Hughes and Chris Plummer. After Leach picked up 17 yards on two carries to move Middletown out of the shadow of their own end zone, Ash went to work. The signal caller hit a wide-open Hughes for a 52-yard gain and followed with a 21-yard strike to Plummer. The back-to-back completions put Middletown on the doorstep of a 21-0 lead heading into intermission. Fox picked up his second TD of the half, this one from one-yard out, with 14 seconds remaining in the half.

Middletown, behind Fox, kept rolling once the third quarter kicked off. Fox opened the drive with a 40-yard scamper and capped the first possession of the second half with a two-yard, second effort score that made it 28-0.

"He has a special knack for running the ball, we saw that tonight," stated Myers. "Not many times in his career have we had to ask him to carry the ball a little extra because of injury but tonight we did and he came in to do what Brady does and that's run really hard and be physical and find a way to squirt through really, really small holes," said Myers of Middletown's all-time leading rusher who finished the game with a team high 98 yards and three scores on 24 carries.

Middletown's defense appeared to relax a bit on the Cavaliers next possession, allowing five straight completions by O'Boyle. That allowed Scranton to get into a rhythm but Tyeer Mills quickly changed the beat by picking off O'Boyle for the defense's second pick of the game. The Blue Raiders offense was unable to capitalize, punting after just three plays, but the damage had been done as Scranton gained just 37 yards of offense over the final 16 minutes of action.

With the game well in hand the Blue Raider offense downshifted a bit on their next drive, stalling out at the Prep 32-yard line. The result was a missed 48-yard field goal attempt by Donovan Brady that gave the ball back to Scranton. It appeared as if the Cavaliers would capitalize on the possession by putting some points on the board after a Middletown personal foul and a big completion moved Scranton into Middletown territory. Once again, the Blue Raider defense came up big, forcing a turnover on downs that gave the ball back to Middletown with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. In an attempt to bleed the clock, the Blue Raiders ran the ball 11 straight times, moving from their own 40-yard line to the Scranton five-yard line over the span of 6:47. The Blue Raiders landed one last blow before the final whistle with Mills finding Leach in the back corner of the end zone for a 10-yard TD and a 35-0 final.

Middletown's PIAA quarterfinal victory over Scranton Prep gives the Blue Raiders their second straight berth in the PIAA-3A semifinals with this bout opposite the District 12 champion, Cornwell-Egan. The showdown is set for Saturday December 2nd at West Chester Rustin High School with kickoff set for 1pm.

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Blue Raiders Grab Second Straight District Title November 17, 2017

The twelfth chapter in the 2017 book of Middletown football was a historic one. Not only did the Blue Raiders pick up their second straight District 3-3A title but senior running back Brady Fox became the program's all-time leading rusher in the process. Coming into the contest Fox needed 55 yards to eclipse Jalen Thompson's mark of 3,855 yards set during last season's run to the state final. He finished with 207 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Blue Raiders to a 49-0 demolition of Wyomissing.

"It's nice, I mean it really is, these guys behind me here did a great job leading and those guys going in there are a special group," said head coach Brett Myers. "Every team has its own identity and this group is still finding theirs, but I guess right now their identity is district champs, we'll enjoy it for a couple of days and see what happens from there."

What a game to enjoy. The Blue Raiders racked up 422 yards behind the one-two punch of Fox and Jose Lopez who finished with 124 yards and a score of his own. Meanwhile the Middletown defense was busy shutting down Wyomissing. The Spartans finished with just 191 yards of offense, a measly 3.67 yards per play.

The Blue Raider assault began with Wyomissing's first possession, a three and out that ended with a short punt that gave Middletown the ball on their own 38-yard line. Fox may have ended up the headliner of the game but Tyeer Mills took center stage on the opening drive. The senior wideout covered 31 yards on the second play of the drive and setup the TD with a 12-yard run two plays later. That TD was a 12-yard strike from Scott Ash to Ryan Hughes that made it 7-0 with 6:58 left to play in the opening quarter.

Wyomissing answered the Middletown score with a long drive that lasted 10 plays but covered just 24 yards and ended with a punt. Momentum seemed to be drifting to the Spartans with a quick three and out from Middletown but the Blue Raiders regained control by shutting Wyomissing's offense down. A quick turnover on downs gave the ball back to Middletown on their own 32-yard line. Fox covered 46 of the 68 yards needed, the final 27 yards making it 14-0.

Another smothering effort by the Blue Raider defense had the Spartans punting from their own two-yard line and punter Owen Pendergast standing at the back of his own end zone. A bad snap led to a partially blocked punt and a short field for Middletown. The field was short but it was enough for Fox to surpass Thompson in the Middletown history books while making it a 21-0 game with halftime just over five minutes away. Neither team was able to get anything going in that final five minutes keeping it a three-score game at the break.

Thanks to the work of Mills, the Blue Raiders needed only five plays, one of which was a busted pass play that resulted in an eight-yard sack, to make it a 28-0 game. Mills opened the second half with a 44-yard return, setting Middletown up near mid-field and followed with a 10-yard run on first down. Four plays later Fox made it 28-0 with a 17-yard score.

Wyomissing countered with a 10-play drive that reached the Middletown four-yard line but Kyle Truesdale intercepted Ben Terefenko's pass in the end zone to kill the drive and the Spartans only chance at breaking up the shutout. Three Jose Lopez runs later and the mercy rule running clock was activated. After picking up nine and six yards on his first two carries, Lopez broke free for his lone score of the game, a 67-yarder that highlighted his 124-yard effort.

A solid return by John Thomas Gaza on the ensuing kickoff led to another quick three and out by the Spartans but an equally solid punt by Pendergast flipped field possession and pinned Middletown inside their own 20 yard line. That made little difference for Fox who promptly ripped off a 36-yard run to move the Blue Raiders out from the danger zone. Four plays later and Fox was covering the final 24 yards for his fourth and final score and the 42-0 lead that came with it.

Another Wyomissing turnover on downs led to Middletown's final possession and their final points. The possession was all Chris Joseph with the running back covering 36 yards on four carries, the final nine-yards for the TD and the 49-0 final. Wyomissing did mount one last ditch effort against Middletown's second unit but the Blue Raider defense held firm to preserve the shutout.

Up next for the Blue Raiders is a PIAA-3A quarterfinal showdown with either Loyalsock or Scranton Prep. The game will take place November 24th or 25th at a site and time not available at press time.

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Middletown Football Caps Perfect Regular Season November 5, 2017

The Middletown football team took their final regular season step on their march toward a perfect 2017 campaign. With a 45-7 demolition of Steel-High on Saturday November 4th the Blue Raiders wrapped up their second straight 10-0 season and now turn their attention to another postseason run.

It was the second straight 45-7 final for Middletown, topping Milton Hershey by the same score last week. As a team Middletown racked up 376 yards of offense with Brady Fox accounting for over half of the tally. The senior running back finished with 199 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns.

Despite finishing as the star of the show, Fox began the game in a more supporting role. Scott Ash was the first to take a turn in the spotlight, putting the Blue Raiders on the board with a one-yard plunge just over four minutes into the game. Jose Lopez made it a 14-0 game with the first of his two trips to the end zone, this one from three yards out with 28 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

The home crowd enjoyed the game's next score as Steel-High's Dupri Andrews plowed in from two yards out to make it a 14-7 game with 7:21 remaining in the opening half. Fox, who is just over 200 yards shy of becoming Middletown's all-time leading rusher, took over from there, scoring the next three Blue Raider touchdowns. Two of those scores came in the second quarter with Fox picking up a five-yard TD with 4:14 remaining in the half and a two yarder with 96 seconds remaining. Donovan Brady put the halftime score at 31-7 by drilling a 49-yard field goal with one tick left in the half.

Fox's final trip to the end zone came just 2:14 into the third quarter, the six-yarder making it 38-7. Lopez capped his 84-yard game with a 34-yard scamper that came with just over four minutes remaining in the frame. The result was the 45-7 final score and put the running clock in motion as Lopez's second TD stretched the lead past the 35-point threshold needed for the Mercy Rule to kick in.

Up next for the 2017 Mid-Penn Capital Division Champions is a District 3-3A semifinal showdown with Bermudian Springs. Game time is set for Friday November 10th, 7pm at Middletown's War Memorial Field.

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