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Boys' Hoop Team Playing Tough but Falling Short January 20, 2019

As most know, in the world of sports, close just doesn't quite cut it when it comes to determining a winner or loser. That means that despite coming close, the Middletown boys' basketball team is still searching for their second win of the 2018-2019 season. The Blue Raiders came painfully close on January 18th when they fell to East Pennsboro in overtime with another near miss coming a few days prior in a clash with Steel-High.

The Rollers ended up winning by 11, 69-58, on January 15th but only after Middletown forced their neighbors to work for four quarters. While the game ended up being a close affair until the end, it started much differently with Steel-High posting a 22-12 edge in the opening frame. Middletown did not back down, outscoring the Rollers 27-18 in the second to cut the halftime deficit to just one point at 40-39. Tyler Petroski led the second quarter surge, scoring 16 of his game high 30 in the frame.

Middletown was unable to maintain their scorching second quarter pace into the third, leading to a 12-5 Steel-High advantage and an eight-point Roller lead. The Blue Raiders regained some of their offensive firepower behind sophomore Jules Nester who scored 10 of Middletown's 14 fourth quarter points to finish with 17 for the game.

Middletown's offense effort kept the game close but it was not enough to overcome the Rollers who claimed the 69-58 win behind Mekhi Flowers and Jones who combined for 37 points.

Three nights later the Blue Raiders traveled to Enola to face the Panthers of East Pennsboro. Once again, a slow start appeared to doom the visitors but Middletown was able to fight back over the course of the second half to force overtime. The Panthers managed to post a 13-9 edge in the decisive extra session to claim the win, 66-62, but the Blue Raiders can take some solace in the near miss.

Middletown's slow start allowed East Pennsboro to build a 21-13 lead through the first quarter with an 11-5 edge in the second making it a 14-point game at intermission. Middletown erased the bulk of that deficit with a 25-15 tear through the third that was fueled by 10 Petroski points.

Petroski cooled from there, scoring just two points the rest of the way to finish with 19 for the game. With Middletown's normal go-to offensive threat held in check, the Blue Raiders turned to one of their freshmen to continue the heavy comeback lifting. Tajae Broadie was up to the task, scoring seven of his game high 22-points in the final quarter to force overtime where he added another five points to his resume. It ended up leaving Middletown just short of the victory but gave the Blue Raiders faithful a glimpse of the future. Tony Powell added 11 points to give Middletown three in double digits for the game.

WRESTLING

As the days in January continue to zip by, the wrestling team is trying not to look to far ahead and are "taking it one match at a time" according to head coach Dan Riggs. But with the January 26th deadline for dual matches to count towards their District 3-2A power rankings, the Blue Raiders have little choice but to look ahead.

"It would definitely be nice to make it to the postseason especially for the seniors, who have been through all of the up's and down's the past several years," said Riggs. "It would also be nice for the program since the wrestling team hasn't made it to the postseason in a while."

Behind two solid wins over Bishop McDevitt and Palmyra in the last week, the Blue Raiders carry a 9-5 overall record and sit in ninth place in the most recent unofficial 2A rankings, just inside the 12-team field. With just one dual match remaining before the deadline and a few teams within striking distance, Middletown cannot afford to relax which made the McDevitt and Palmyra wins so important.

"I was very pleased with our wins against Bishop McDevitt and Palmyra," said Riggs. "I thought our guys were ready to compete and it showed, especially against Palmyra."

Middletown dominated both matches, winning 20 of the 28 bouts including six straight to kick off the 50-21 victory over Palmyra on January 17th. Zach Malay and Joseph Spear enjoyed the easiest of those wins with Malay starting the match with a forfeit win at 113. Spear picked up his forfeit at 138 while Jeremy Wells nabbed the final easy win of the match at 220.

Luke Fegley and Nathan Brady followed Malay's forfeit with back-to-back decisions at 120 and 126 that gave Middletown a 12-0 lead after three weight classes.

Ryan Berstler and Diante Gray posted Middletown's first two pinfall wins which were sandwiched around Spear's forfeit, helping to push the Blue Raider lead to 30-0. Chris Joseph made it 35-3 with a 17-2 tech fall win over Scout Bucks at 160 before two straight Cougar wins made it 35-15 with four weight classes remaining.

One of those four was the Wells' forfeit win at 220 which came in between Matthew Mitchell's decision at 195 and Quincy Reinnagel's pinfall win at 285 with the result being the 50-21 final.

Against McDevitt the Blue Raiders were not able to jump out to quite the same dominating start but Middletown still managed to win four of the first five matches on their way to a 57-21 victory. That fast start included all four of Middletown's pinfall wins for the match, giving the Blue Raiders a comfy 24-3 lead. Fegley and Spear ended their respective matches within two seconds of each other. Fegley pinned Alex Tyson at the 2:42 mark of their 113-pound bout while Spear ended his 138-pound match with Jackson Shields two seconds quicker.

Malay finished his 120-pound match with Nathan Davis at the 2:31 mark while Berstler needed just over three minutes to take care of Ameer Kousonsanong-Smith at 132. Joseph picked up Middletown's only decision that also served as their final win on the mat. Joseph's 5-3 win over Mario Easterly at 152 gave the Blue Raiders a 27-9 lead that quickly ballooned to the 57-21 final with five Crusader forfeits over the final seven weight classes.

Vinny Corradi (160), Ayden Miller (170), Mitchell (195), Ivan Henderson (220) and Krea Scheaffer (106) enjoyed easy forfeit wins.

The Blue Raiders closed out the week by participating in the New Oxford Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Middletown saw seven grapplers work their way to the podium in the "A" bracket with another two making it to the "B" bracket podium. The result was a ninth-place finish in the team standings.

Fegley brought home Middletown's top finish when he pinned Red Land's Wyatt Fox in the second period of their 113-pound battle to claim the gold. Berstler added gold at 126-pounds but his work came in the "B" bracket with a 3-2 decision over York Suburban's Noah Rice.

The Blue Raiders also enjoyed two silver medal wins with Spear falling to New Oxford's Jared Bair in the 138 pound "A" bracket final while Reinnagel dropped his 220 pound "B" bracket final to Frank Veloce of West York.

Middletown added two fourth place finishes with both coming in the "A" bracket. Brady collected the first, falling to Scranton's Bobby Zelinski in the 120-pound consolation finals by a 5-4 count. Joseph's fourth place came at 152 pounds with a pinfall loss to Waynesboro's Adam Wertz in the consolation finals.

Both of Middletown's seventh place finishes came via forfeit in the "A" bracket with Corradi earning the easy win at 160 and Mitchell at 195.

Britcher was the final Blue Raider to climb the "A" bracket podium, finishing eighth at 145 thanks to a 7-2 consolation finals loss to Harry S Truman's Aaron Arena.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

One step forward and one step back would be a great way to describe the week just turned in by the Middletown girls' basketball team. The Lady Raiders managed to zoom by East Pennsboro on Friday but not before a setback opposite Steel-High earlier in the week. The 1-1 run leaves the Blue Raiders 6-8 overall and 3-5 in Mid-Penn Capital Division with seven games remaining in the regular season.

"We are a little under .500. I was hoping to be at least .500 at this point but we are two games under. I'm not terribly disappointed because this is about where I expected us," said first year head coach Robert Pelletier. "Some of those losses could have easily have been wins, so we could easily be 8-6 as well as 6-8."

With the season's finish line just off in the distance, the Lady Raiders sit 16th in the unofficial District 3-4A rankings, six spots out of the final playoff slot.

Before Middletown could get to the good of the week, they first had to absorb the bad which came in the form of a 64-43 loss to Steel-High on Tuesday. The Lady Rollers, behind a game high 33 points from Serenity Vidot, controlled all four quarters to leave Middletown with a 21-point win.

"We played them tough but I thought they got a lot better from the beginning of the year," said Pelletier of the loss.

Katie Fitzpatrick collected a team high 22 points, adding five steals, four rebounds and two assists. Joci Koser was the only other Lady Raider in double figures with 12 points which paired nicely with her eight rebounds. Jae Keller's four points, Hayli Akakpo-Martin's three points and Ayanna Reeves' two points finished the Middletown offense for the game.

The Lady Raiders closed out the week on Friday with a 57-40 victory over visiting East Pennsboro. Fitzpatrick fueled the win with a game high 27 points that included a 10-point third quarter burst that helped Middletown put the game away.

The Lady Raiders built a slim four-point lead, 25-21, through the opening half but a 19-6 Fitzpatrick fueled third quarter run allowed Middletown to stretch that lead to the 17-point final. Keller added 12 points in the win while Koser (seven points), Reeves (seven points), Jade Senior (three points) and Caroline Gill (one point) accounted for the rest of the offense.

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Middletown Matmen Topple Trinity, 40-33 January 13, 2019

As January days continue to flip by, the Middletown wrestling team finds themselves smack dab in the middle of their busy season. After just two old fashion dual meets sprinkled with some tournament action dotting the first month of their schedule, the Blue Raiders kicked their season into hyper drive last week. Middletown cranked out two dual matches, topping Trinity 40-33 and falling to Milton Hershey 45-32, before traveling to Annville to partake in the Dutchman Duals on Saturday. Add in this week's twin dual matches plus a trip to New Oxford for the Colonials Invitational Tournament and the Blue Raiders will have knocked out half of their season in a two week stretch.

The busy stretch kicked off on January 8th with that 40-33 win over Trinity. The Blue Raiders claimed eight of the 14 weight classes but got off to a slow start with the Shamrocks opening the match with three straight wins. Case Woodley put the first dent in the 'Rocks' 15-0 lead with a 5-2 win over Zach Scherr at 170. Damion Williams followed with another win at 182 to make it 15-6 but Trinity broke up the Middletown run with a 195-pound win.

Quincy Reinnagel followed with Middletown's first bonus point win, pinning Christian Cirelli just before the one-minute mark of their 220-pound clash. A setback in the heavyweight match left Middletown staring at a 27-12 deficit with six weight classes remaining.

Krea Shaeffer got the comeback rolling with a forfeit win at 106 while Luke Fegley and Nathan Brady needed a combined 77 seconds to put Middletown in front. Fegley pinned his 113-pound opponent in 36 seconds while Brady needed three seconds longer to dispatch his 120-pound foe.

The lead was short lived as Trinity picked up their final points with a forfeit win at 126. Ryan Berstler put the Blue Raiders back in front, this time for good with his major decision win at 132 while Joseph Spear capped the match with a forfeit win at 138.

Middletown followed their comeback win over Trinity with a 45-32 loss to Milton Hershey on Thursday. The Blue Raiders won only six weight classes but five of them came in a row starting with Zach Malay at 113. Malay topped Joshua Minners by an 8-3 count. Fegley followed with a pinfall win over Joseph Roberto at 120 with Brady making it three in a row thanks to a tech fall victory over Devohn Page at 126. Berstler and Spear wrapped up the five-match run with another two pinfall wins. Berstler took care of Tim Burge at the 1:32 mark of their 132-pound bout while Spear needed just 40 seconds to pin Jayson Dodds. Reinnagel picked up the final Middletown win on the day courtesy of a Spartan forfeit at 285.

The Blue Raiders finished their week with a trip to Annville for the Dutchman Duals. Middletown went 3-2 on the day with wins over Northeastern (65-12), Central Dauphin East (51-24) and the host Dutchman (58-18) out numbering losses to Solanco (42-31) and Lampeter-Strasburg (48-24).

Middletown saw five different wrestlers enjoy 5-0 days with Berstler hitting a career milestone during his perfect run. The senior earned career win number 100 to highlight Middletown's five-win quintet. Spear and Joseph each earned four of their five wins via pinfall with Spear adding a major decision and Joseph a forfeit for their fifth wins. Fegley and Brady completed the quintet as the final two Blue Raiders with 5-0 marks for the day.

Ayden Miller gave Middletown a sixth wrestler with a perfect mark but the sophomore wrestled just one match for a 1-0 day. Woodley, Troy Stein and Schaeffer also returned from Annville with one victory each.

Malay fell just short of a perfect day, finishing 3-1 with a loss against Solanco ending Malay's shot at perfection. Corradi and Reinnagel finished the day with two wins while Britcher matches the team's 3-2 mark.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

History was also made in Hershey when Katie Fitzpatrick scored her 1,000th career point with a 33-point outburst. The scoring binge accounted for the bulk of Middletown's points in their 47-13 victory over Milton Hershey on January 11th.

The Lady Raiders dropped their only other game last week, falling to Northern Lebanon by a 52-3 final on the 9th. Middletown opened the game with a 10-5 edge through one quarter but the Lady Vikings used a 47-27 run over the final three frames to flip a five-point Middletown lead into a 15-point NL win.

Fitzpatrick collected a game high 20 in the loss with Joci Koser (nine points), Tamia Hill-Johnson (four points) and Ayanna Reeves (four points) finishing up the scoring.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

The boys' basketball team was in action twice last week with an odd schedule quirk putting those games on back to back nights. The Blue Raiders dropped Friday's contest opposite Milton Hershey by a 76-41 final.

"With some different guys getting on the floor due to some injuries, I thought we competed and didn't back down from a well-balanced, experienced Milton Hershey," stated head coach Chris Bradford.

Julian Nester matched the Spartans' Joshua Parre for game high honors with his 15-point effort but that did little to offset Milton Hershey's offensive onslaught. Tajae Broadie added 11 points and Tony Powell 10 points in the loss.

One day later the Blue Raiders traveled to Manheim to face the host Barons in the nightcap of the Mid-Penn Lancaster-Lebanon League Showdown. Central held a steady advantage over Middletown in all four quarters to post a 60-34 victory. Tyler Petroski led the way with a team high nine points. Broadie (eight), Powell (seven), Nester (six), Jarrod Pugh (two) and Brock Welsh (two) accounted for the remaining Middletown points.

"If we can continue to improve day to day, we'll eventually see breaks fall our way. This young group has been asked to weather the storm, and they have not shied away from a challenge yet," said Bradford of his squad's 1-11 season.

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Lady Raiders Top Northern York, 53-33 January 7, 2019

A win is just a win unless it comes at a critical time in your team's schedule. Maybe the win comes against an archrival or as in the case of the Middletown girls' basketball team, snaps a multi-game losing streak. For the Lady Raiders their 53-33 romp over Northern York on January 2nd broke-up a four-game slide that saw Middletown drop from 3-1 overall to 3-5. The Lady Raiders added a 47-36 loss to West Perry on January 4th and now sit at 4-6 overall and 1-4 in the Mid-Penn Capital Division.

Katie Fitzpatrick led the way against the Lady Polar Bears, dropping a game high 30 points to help Middletown cruise to the 20-point win. Fitzpatrick enjoyed two steals, two rebounds and one assist in the win but it was her scoring that was key. The junior netted eight of Middletown's 13 first quarter points to help push her squad to a seven-point lead after just eight minutes.

The Lady Raiders enjoyed another 13-point frame in the second thanks to Fitzpatrick's five points but Northern was able to find their offense which enabled the Lady Polar Bears to post a slim 14-13 edge in the quarter, making it a 26-20 game at the break.

Another five-point effort from Fitzpatrick helped push Middletown to 11 third quarter points while the Lady Raider defense clamped down and limited Northern to just five points. The six-point edge pushed Middletown's lead to 12 points with just one quarter remaining.

Fitzpatrick saved her best for last, dropping her final 12 points in the fourth, giving the Lady Raiders a 16-8 advantage in the quarter and the 53-33 victory. Joci Koser chipped in with 11 points while Jae Keller added six points, nine rebounds and six blocks.

The final two losses in that four-game slide came from Middletown's participation in the Hershey Holiday Tournament. The Lady Raiders kicked off the holiday bash with a 45-43 loss to Lampeter-Strasburg on December 27th and followed one day later with a 41-30 loss to Hershey in the consolation bout. "There were some people that really stepped it up, so we got a lot of good things out it. This is one of those losses that you get a lot of good things out of," said first year head coach Robert Pelletier of the two-point loss to Lampeter-Strasburg.

Fitzpatrick led all scorers in both contests, dropping 27 in the Lampeter-Strasburg loss and 28 against Hershey. Koser accounted for the final two points against Hershey after tallying six against the Lady Pioneers. Keller (four points), Hayli Akakpo-Martin (four points) and Jade Senior (two points) finished up the scoring in the tournament opener.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

A rebuilding year is never fun for a team coming off a run as successful as the Middletown boys' basketball team. After reaching the PIAA-4A quarterfinals two years in a row, the Blue Raiders find themselves with a 1-9 mark under first year head coach Chris Bradford. The reason for the current struggles is a roster with 12 freshman and sophomores and just five total juniors and seniors after two years with an upperclassman heavy roster.

Despite all that youth, the Blue Raiders started the 218-2019 season with a win over East Pennsboro. Nine straight losses have followed with losses to Northern York and Lampeter-Strasburg coming in Elizabethtown's Allen Restoration Holiday Shootout on December 27th and 28th. The lone senior on the roster, Tyler Petroski, was the leading scorer for both games collecting 21 points in an 80-49 loss to Northern in day one action. Petroski followed with an 11-point effort in a 64-43 loss to L-S one day later.

"I'll sleep better tonight after this loss," said Bradford. "No such thing as moral victories or anything like that but I'll sleep a little better with the effort and everything we got out of them tonight."

Middletown closed out 2018 with an 82-77 loss to Palmyra on December 31st. Petroski shared team high honors with one of the youngsters, sophomore Tymir Jackson, with both players collecting 20 points. Tajae Broadie (15 points) and Jules Nester (14 points) gave Middletown four players in double figures but it was not enough to overcome the Cougars.

Steel-High handed Middletown their first loss of 2019, taking the rivalry showdown by a 66-59 final on January 3rd. Petroski poured in a game high 27 points behind five long range bombs and Jackson added 18 points but it still left Middletown seven points shy of the Rollers at the final horn. Jarrod Pugh (six points), Broadie (five points) and Nester (three points) finished up the scoring for the Blue Raiders.

Two days later Middletown fell to West Perry by a 47-33 count. The Blue Raiders were unable to find their rhythm on the offensive end leaving Broadie and his 10 points as not only the team leader but the only Blue Raider to hit double digits for the game. Nester added nine points while Petroski's hot streak came to an end with an eight-point game. Jackson (four points) and Tony Powell (two points) cleaned up the final six Middletown points.

WRESTLING

The Middletown wrestling team kicked 2019 off with a 39-37 loss to Lower Dauphin on January 2nd. The two sides split the 14 weight classes down the middle with LD's five straight wins from 152 to 195 proving to be enough to stave off Middletown and their four straight wins to close the match.

The match started well for the Blue Raiders with Ryan Berstler, courtesy of a pinfall win, and Joseph Spear, courtesy of a major decision, giving Middletown a 10-6 lead after three bouts. That is when the Falcons started their momentum flipping run that included four pinfall victories. Just like that Middletown's 10-6 lead turned into a 33-10 deficit.

The Blue Raiders began their comeback bid with a Jeremy Wells forfeit win at 220 only to see Lower Dauphin pick up another victory at 285 that stretched their lead to 39-16. Middletown picked up another forfeit win at 106. Zach Malay followed with a pinfall win at 113 that lasted a mere 19 seconds and moved Middletown to within striking distance of LD at 39-28.

Luke Fegley kept the comeback alive with a second straight pinfall victory with this one coming just before the end of the second period of his 120-pound tangle with Max Klingensmith. Nate Brady finished the match with an 8-4 decision to give Middletown four straight wins but Lower Dauphin's Alec Merry managed to fight off Brady enough to keep his Falcons on top.

The Blue Raider mat-men enjoyed the ending of 2018 more than the beginning of 2019 to say the least. Middletown topped Camp Hill, 48-31 on December 20th, in their only other dual match so far this season and turned in a second-place finish in the Hanover Snacktown Duals on December 15th. Add in an eighth-place team finish at the Governor Mifflin Holiday Tournament and it is easy to see why the Blue Raiders enjoyed the end of 2018.

Fegley and Brady led Middletown to that eighth-place finish at Governor Mifflin on December 28th and 29th, with each grappler taking gold in their respective weight class. Fegley did his work in the 113-pound bracket with a 4-2 win over State College's Jude Swisher in the finals securing his gold. Brady earned his gold hardware with a 6-2 win over Conestoga's Mitch Baker after cruising through the rest of the 120-pound field.

Spear just missed out on the top spot at 138 pounds, settling for silver after falling to Evan Courts of State College by a 6-5 count in their finals tilt. Quincy Reinnagel (220-pounds) and Berstler (126-pounds) also enjoyed podium finishes at Governor Mifflin but only after battling through a few consolation matches first. Reinnagel ended up with a sixth-place finish after dropping his final match to Hempfield's Luke Dreyer. Berstler's tournament also ended with a match opposite a Hempfield wrestler but he was able to post a 10-2 win over Clay Bainer to claim seventh in the 126-pound field.

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Middletown Falls in PIAA Title Tilt With Aliquippa December 10, 2018

The 2018 Middletown football season will go down in the history books. The Blue Raiders joined a short list of teams to qualify for three straight PIAA title games while also joining an even smaller list of teams to miss out on three straight PIAA titles. This year's 35-0 defeat to Aliquippa not only sent Middletown home with another 3A runner-up trophy it marked the third straight loss to a District 7 team for the Blue Raiders. In 2016 it was a 30-13 loss to Beaver Falls that prevented Middletown's first title while in 2017 the 3A crown went to Quaker Valley after the Quakers' 41-24 win.

Despite the setback head coach Brett Myers was quick to praise a senior class that went 41-4 during the impressive three-year run. "Three years ago, if someone had said this group would be playing in the state finals nobody would believe it," stated Myers. "They bought into the program and they worked, and worked and worked and they willed themselves to get here."

That hard work had the Blue Raiders within a touchdown of the Quips until the flood gates opened roughly midway through the third quarter. Until that point it was a 7-0 game with the Middletown defense forcing three turnovers and two punts, playing otherwise stellar save for a lone first half Aliquippa possession. On that possession the Quips covered 80 yards on 10 plays with the highlight being William Gipson's fake punt scramble that turned a three and out into an eventual 7-0 lead.

Middletown was able to keep Aliquippa's other first half offensive advances at bay thanks to interceptions by Joseph Trayvon and Lamar Ventura, an Antonio Bryant fumble recovery plus good old fashion defense that forced a punt, shutting down a 10-play drive.

That defensive muscle thwarted the Quips offensive advances but the Blue Raiders offense met much the same challenge trying to take advantage of those opportunities. In fact, of Middletown's six first half possessions, four ended in punts. The other two drives did take Middletown deep into Aliquippa territory but the Blue Raiders came away empty after a turnover on downs and a missed 30-yard field goal that ended the first half.

There was some good Middletown news in the first half. Jose Lopez managed to churn out 127 of his team high 146 yards, becoming Middletown's all-time career rushing king. "Shouldn't downplay that," said Myers. "It is an amazing thing for a junior to break a rushing record and to do it in the state finals, that is really impressive."

The second half started well for Middletown with the defense forcing another Quip punt but things started to come unraveled on that Blue Raider possession. Two penalties helped flip a manageable third and seven into a punt on fourth and 18. Two flashes of misfortune for Middletown later and Aliquippa had stretched their lead to 14-0, opening the flood gates in the process.

Those flashes of misfortune came on back-to-back plays right before the Quips' second score. With Aliquippa backed up and facing second and 14 from their own 41, Eli Kosanovich hit MJ Devonshire for a short gain. Devonshire appeared to fumble, with Middletown recovering, but officials ruled Devonshire down before the fumble. On the very next play Aliquippa picked up 21 yards when Kosanovich hit Deoveon Crute with the pass traveling just over the fingers of a leaping Middletown defender. Avante McKenzie took it from there covering the final 35 yards for his second TD and a 14-0 game with 6:40 remaining in the third quarter.

With the flood gates wide open, the game quickly slipped away from Middletown. Another Blue Raider three and out put the ball back in Aliquippa's hands. The Quips produced their third 10-play drive of the game, this one ending in a one-yard McKenzie plunge with 72 seconds remaining in the third.

Another stalled Middletown drive ended in a punt with this one bouncing into the end zone for a touchback. Twenty-one seconds later, McKenzie had covered the 80 yards of field for a 28-0 Quip lead just one play into the fourth quarter. The game continued to spiral on the ensuing kickoff with a Middletown fumble ending up in the hands of Aliquippa's Solomon Chinua. The Quips needed eight plays to cover 29 yards but they did so with Kosanovich hitting a falling down Gevod Tyson for an eight-yard score. The successful PAT kick made it 35-0 and kicked in the mercy rule running clock with 7:43 remaining in the contest.

Looking back on a third straight runner-up finish, Myers said, "You play a team that good and they make mistakes, make a bunch of mistakes, and when you don't capitalize on those this is what happens. It was a close game, a competitive game and some things went their way and it got away from us a little bit."

With the runner-up finish, the Blue Raiders end 2018 with a 13-2 mark after back-to-back 14-1 campaigns.

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Raiders Earn Third Championship Berth December 5, 2018

If you are a fan of Middletown football, rest assured, you are not stuck in a sports themed version of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day nor are you experiencing Deja Vu. Instead your feelings of familiarity stem from the fact that your Middletown Blue Raiders are making their third straight trip to the PIAA-3A title game.

Middletown picked up their invite to Hershey Park Stadium for the title bout opposite Aliquippa courtesy of a 35-21 victory over Scranton Prep last Friday. The two-touchdown win over the Cavaliers marks the third straight year the Blue Raiders have ended Scranton's season on the turf of Bethlehem's BASD Stadium, although this year was a semifinal tangle while the previous two meetings were quarterfinal tilts.

"They have some really good players and a good program and they play really hard. Today we were luckily enough to come out on the other side of it," said head coach Brett Myers. "Don't want to take anything away from them because they played extremely well, they could have quit but they did a great job. We just have some guys that have been in this situation before and I think that helped today."

The familiarity in high pressure situations worked in Middletown's favor nearly from the opening whistle. Scranton won the coin toss and elected to receive which set the stage for a Blue Raider defense that was ready for the spot light. A quick Cavalier three and out, that produced just one-yard, setup what should have been a routine punt from Scranton. Only the snap was not routine and sailed over the punters head and into the end zone. Adonis Taveras beat Scranton's Aiec Buttner to the ball for a 7-0 lead just 32 seconds into the contest.

Two more Scranton punts were sandwiched around one from Middletown but on the Blue Raiders' second drive of the game Jose Lopez got going. The junior standout picked up the first of two scores on his fifth carry, this one covering 59 yards, to give Middletown a 14-0 lead after only eight and a half minutes.

The Blue Raider defense continued their first half dominance, forcing another three and out, but the offense was unable to capitalize thanks to a few miscues. Those miscues came after the drive started with a 52-yard Scott Ash to Lamar Ventura completion that took Middletown from their own 26 to the Cavalier 22. A bad hand off, coupled with an illegal procedure penalty, killed the drive, which ended with a missed 33-yard field goal attempt, leaving the game 14-0 early in the second quarter.

Despite the setback, the defense continued to answer the call by forcing the first of four turnovers on downs. This time Scranton was able to piece together a small drive totaling 52 yards before the Blue Raiders flexed their muscle but the result was still a scoreless possession for the Cavaliers. A holding penalty stalled Middletown's ensuing drive but once again the Blue Raider defense was up to the challenge, forcing another three and out that was highlighted by Odell Green's sack.

With the first half clock winding down, Middletown used their quick tempo offense to march down the field for a 21-0 halftime lead. A few Lopez runs got the drive rolling but it was the passing game that stretched the lead. Ash hit Richie Sykes on back-to-back plays for a quick 45 yards. The final completion was a 23-yard TD and came with 57-seconds remaining before intermission.

Scranton's decision to receive the game's opening kick provided Middletown with the opportunity to ensure control remained on their side as the second half got underway. The Blue Raiders took advantage of that opportunity on the second play of the half. Sykes broke free from a Scranton tackler and raced 60 yards for a 28-0 lead just 46 seconds into the third quarter.

"High school football is a game of momentum and we seemed to have a lot of that at different times," said Myers. " They obviously got a little bit of a swing there and we have to improve on finishing games for next week but momentum dictates the game and we had it most of the game."

Middletown's defense continued to shine, keeping it a 28-0 game by ending two straight Scranton drives with fourth down stops. Unfortunately, the offense began to sputter, picking up only eight yards in between the two Cavalier turnovers on downs. The offensive struggles continued on Middletown's next drive of the third stanza which ended on a fumbled snap in Cavalier territory. Scranton wasted no time capitalizing on the Middletown mistake as standout QB Leo O'Boyle hit Michael Grady for a 70-yard score on the first play from scrimmage, making it a 28-7 game with 27-seconds remaining in the third.

Another stalled Blue Raider drive chewed up the final few seconds of the third as well as the first few seconds of the fourth while moving the Middletown fans closer to the edge of their seats. A solid punt by Avery Williams backed Scranton up and put the Cavaliers 73 yards from the end zone. O'Boyle did lead his squad down the field but the 12-play scoring drive chewed up valuable clock, giving the senior's six-yard TD pass to Brendan Colleran that came with 7:47 remaining in the game a bit of a hollow feel.

Any chance the Cavaliers had of a comeback ended on Middletown's ensuing drive. Despite the Blue Raiders' tallying just 41 yards and a turnover on their previous three possessions, they only needed two plays on this drive to secure their spot in the PIAA-3A title game. After a first down run from Green that went for no gain, Lopez put the game on ice with an 80-yard scamper that highlighted his 221-yard game and made it 35-14 with just under seven minutes left to play.

O'Boyle managed to lead Scranton to one final score, this one an eight-yard strike to Colleran, but it came with a mere 48 seconds remaining in the game and only served to set the final at 35-21.

As for the match-up with Aliquippa, the Blue Raiders are hoping this is the year they can clear the District 7 hurdle as all three of Middletown's title game opponents have hailed from the same district. The first title game appearance, back in 2016, ended with the Blue Raiders holding silver medals while Beaver Falls hoisted the championship hardware. In 2017 it was Quaker Valley taking home the state hardware. The Blue Raiders look to reverse the trend on December 8th with kick off for the 2018 title game set for high noon in Hershey.

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Middletown Tops Conwell Egan in State Quarters November 26, 2018

If you are a fan of sequels, then Middletown's 2018 postseason run is right up your ally. For the third straight week the Blue Raiders continued their march toward another state title game appearance by dispatching a 2017 postseason foe. The first two repeat opponents, Wyomissing and Bermudian Springs, came during Middletown's run to a third straight District 3 3A title. The Blue Raiders continued their successful run over repeat opponents by dispatching 2017's PIAA semifinal foe, Conwell Egan, in the team's 2018 PIAA-3A quarterfinal clash.

The Blue Raiders were unable to match last year's 49-7 dismantling of the Eagles but a hard fought 21-14 victory at Milton Hershey on November 23rd kept Middletown's title game march going.

"It was a very physical game going back and forth, and kind of turned out like I expected it to, hard fought," stated head coach Brett Myers. "They had a lot of motivation going in. They have been talking about this. We try to worry about the next opponent, and they have been worrying about us for a year but it turned out well."

It ended well but only because the Blue Raiders managed to survive Conwell Egan's second half surge. That surge twice moved the Eagles to within one score and culminated in two separate fourth quarter drives that could have tied the contest. But as Myers pointed out, the end result was OK thanks to a defense that ended those two fourth quarter possessions with turnovers.

"I don't want to sound ungrateful, but it is kind of what we expect," said Myers. "Not to take anything away from them, but our kids pride themselves on defense. They do a nice job and play hard. They run to the ball and it turns out OK."

Middletown aided the Conwell-Egan push with turnovers, the first of which kick started the Eagles second half surge. The Blue Raiders were looking to continue their first half success on the opening drive of the third quarter and appeared to do just that by marching 64 yards on seven plays. However, on the eighth play of the drive, a first and goal attempt from the Egan four-yard line, a bad handoff put the ball on the turf with the Eagles recovering to end the Blue Raider scoring threat.

Four plays later Dejuan Harris broke free for an 84-yard score that made it a 14-7 game near the midway point of the third quarter. Momentum appeared to shift squarely to the Eagle sideline as Middletown's ensuing drive stalled near midfield forcing a punt back to Conwell Egan. The Blue Raider defense had other ideas with Trayvon Joseph falling on an Eagle fumble to set up the offense with a very short field.

The opportunity was not wasted as Jose Lopez capped his 259-yard, three score day with a six-yard plunge. Lopez's final score pushed the lead back to 14-points at 21-7 with 1:53 remaining in the third.

Another Middletown miscue setup Conwell Egan's next score and the Eagles happily took advantage. Middletown's defense followed Lopez's score with another turnover on downs, their fourth of the game, but the Blue Raider offense was unable to get anything going. The miscue came via a bad punt snap that left punter Avery Williams scrambling to fall on the ball. Williams did manage to cover the ball but Conwell Egan was able to convert the short field into a 22-yard Harris TD with 7:49 remaining in the game.

Middletown's second turnover, this one an interception just three plays after the Harris score, made it a 21-14 game, and set the stage for the Blue Raider defense to shine. They did just that by forcing their fifth turnover on downs to keep it a 21-14 game. Middletown was unable to get anything going on the ensuing possession, managing just 15 yards, but the Blue Raiders did burn over two-minutes of game time with the short drive.

Middletown's defense had one last bit of magic left and it was needed as Conwell Egan took four plays and a Blue Raider penalty to cover 53 yards. That put the Eagles just 31 yards away from a tie game with just over a minute remaining. The Middletown magic came through when Gage Radabaugh pounced on a bad Eagle snap putting his Blue Raiders a few Scott Ash kneel downs from a 12-1 record.

The defense may have captured the spotlight in the second half but it was Lopez leading the way through the opening two quarters. The junior standout racked up 193 of his game high 259 yards during the initial 24 minutes which included scoring runs of 88 and 46 yards. Ash finished the game with 46 yards through the air with Lamar Ventura responsible for 41 of those yards.

Middletown's postseason sequel run will continue on Friday November 30th or Saturday December 1st with another battle opposite Scranton Prep. The Blue Raiders face the Cavaliers in this year's 3A semifinal round after bouncing those same Cavaliers from the previous two PIAA quarterfinal rounds. Site and game time were not available at press time.

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Blue Raiders Claim 3rd Straight District 3 Crown November 18, 2018

You can change the venue and you can even change the opponent but for the third straight year the result remained the same. The venue change came with District 3's decision to move football title games away from Hershey Park Stadium to a high school facility to give the game more of a regular season feel. Cedar Crest High School's Earl Boltz Stadium earned the nod for this year's November 17th 3A title bout between Middletown and Bermudian Springs, where the Blue Raiders earned their third straight 3A crown with a 42-20 victory over the Eagles.

"It's great, it's great for the kids. They have come a long way. This group lost three games their freshman year of high school football so to come out and be leaders on a district championship team, that is great for them," said head coach Brett Myers.

As was the case during Middletown's semifinal victory over Wyomissing last week, the Blue Raiders used a Jose Lopez powered rushing attack coupled with a dominating defense to cruise to a comfortable win. This week Lopez made four trips to the end zone while accounting for 210 of Middletown's 289 rushing yards. The defense racked up 10 tackles for loss and picked off three passes, returning one for a second quarter score, all of which help limit Bermudian to 269 total yards and pushed Middletown to a 22-point championship earning win.

Despite the outcome Middletown was a bit shaky in the early stages of the game. A stalled game opening drive for the Blue Raiders put the Eagles in position to strike first. Bermudian responded with a 12-play drive that reached the Middletown 19-yard line and appeared headed for the end zone. That changed with a botched Bermudian handoff that was followed by Cole Senior dropping Chase Dull for a three-yard sack. The resulting third and long attempt was stuffed, leaving Bermudian to attempt a 43-yard field goal that sailed wide right, leaving it a 0-0 game.

Middletown did not waste the second opportunity to put the first points on the board. On the seventh play of the ensuing drive Lopez broke free for the first of his four scores. This one covered 40 yards and gave Middletown a 7-0 lead with 2:07 remaining in the opening quarter. The energized Blue Raider defense forced a quick three and out to put the ball back into Lopez's hands. The junior standout did not disappoint, needing just four plays and 69 seconds to make it a 14-0 game. Richie Sykes kicked off the drive with a seven-yard gain with a five-yard Bermudian facemask making it a 12-yard pick-up on first down. Lopez took over from there, covering the final 52 yards on three carries, including his 45-yard jaunt just 21 seconds into the second quarter that made it a two-score game.

Another quick three and out by the defense gave the ball back to Middletown with 10:15 remaining in the half. The Blue Raiders turned to their passing game to push the lead to 21-0. Scott Ash, who finished with 136 yards for the game, went two for two on the scoring drive with Lamar Ventura turning a short second completion into a long touchdown. Ventura took a simple screen pass 73 yards for a score after some nifty moves that included a broken tackle around his own 40-yard line.

Bermudian Springs was able to crack Middletown's defensive dominance on their next drive, making it a two-score game and putting the Eagles within striking distance for a short while. Dull opened the drive with a 33-yard completion to Kolt Byers that set the Eagles up with first and goal from the four-yard line. Three plays later, Dull squirted through the bodies for a one-yard score. A missed extra point made it 21-6 with 7:44 remaining in the opening half.

An exchange of punts by the teams setup Middletown's next defensive strike. The Blue Raiders' second punt of the sequence gave Bermudian the ball at their own 22-yard line. On their first snap the Eagles took a deep shot but Chris Joseph came away with the ball, scampering 43-yards for a 28-6 lead. The interception turned touchdown came with just under two minutes remaining in the second quarter and proved to be the final points of the half.

Middletown managed to force another one play, one turnover drive from Bermudian to kick off the second half but the Blue Raider offense was unable to capitalize on the fumble recovery leaving it a 28-6 game. The Eagles changed that on the second play after forcing Middletown's turn over on downs. Dull hit a streaking Domenic Florea who outran everyone on his way to an 80-yard score. The successful extra point made it 28-13 with 9:02 showing on the third quarter clock.

Middletown turned to Lopez for the counter and once again he answered. Six carries and 45 yards later Lopez was in the end zone for the third time, this one giving Middletown a 35-13 lead near the midway point of the third quarter.

Another exchange of punts provided the segue to Middletown's next big play. This one took place early in the fourth quarter and came in the form of Joseph's second interception of the game. Joseph was unable to make it two-for-two with a second defensive touchdown but his return did give Middletown the ball deep in Bermudian territory. Lopez needed one play and three seconds to cover the 11 yards that gave the Blue Raiders a 42-13 cushion with 9:18 left in the game. Bermudian managed one final scoring drive that ended with Dull hitting JJ Talley for a 31-yard score but that only reduced the final margin to 42-20.

Up next for Middletown is a PIAA-3A quarterfinal showdown with last year's PIAA semifinal opponent, Conwell Egan. Details for game site and time were not available at press time.

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Middletown Dominates in District Semifinals November 11, 2018

Total domination. There simply is no other way to describe Middletown's 41-6 triumph over Wyomissing in their District 3-3A semifinal clash last Friday, November 9th. Despite a rain-soaked evening turning Middletown's War Memorial Field into a pit of mud, the Blue Raiders managed to rack up 497 yards of offense while holding the Spartans to a measly 16.

"Our defensive coaches grind as hard as anybody. They put a lot of time in, looking at stuff and getting our kids ready," said head coach Brett Myers. "There is pressure applied all week in practice on the defensive side of the ball. We put them in a lot of bad case scenarios during the week and they responded. A lot of these guys have experience, they've been through a lot."

That preparation was on full display as 22 of the Spartans 37 offensive snaps went for no gain or a loss of yards. That left Wyomissing with a paltry 0.43 yards per play average with eight of their 10 drives ending in a punt. Add in three sacks plus a first quarter Chis Joseph interception and you get a game that never felt as close as the score.

Middletown's offense handled their part of the domination behind a stellar game from Jose Lopez. The junior dynamo accounted for 259 of Middletown's 497 yards while scoring five of their six touchdowns. The dominance was on display on the game's opening drive with Lopez taking his third carry and the team's fifth play to the house. The score saw Lopez bust through the right side of the line and race 48-yards for a 7-0 lead just 2:23 into the game.

Wyomissing's ensuing drive lasted all of three plays and spanned just two minutes but Middletown was unable to capitalize on the failed Spartan possession. Making that failure even worse was a bigtime completion on the Blue Raiders' first snap of that possession. Scott Ash picked up 84 of his 192 yards with a single completion to Tim Wagner but Wyomissing was able to push Wagner out of bounds at the four-yard line. A few failed rushes, a penalty and two incomplete passes ended the drive with no points but as they would all night the Middletown defense stepped up.

The Blue Raiders forced a quick three and out then enjoyed a bad Wyomissing punt that put another score just 36 yards away. A 22-yard Ash to Joseph competition covered most of that gap but it was a Lopez plunge that put points on the board. The five-yard score came with just over two minutes remaining in the opening frame and gave Middletown a 14-0 lead.

The teams traded possessions through the tail end of the first and most of the second quarter with little to show for the efforts. In fact, when Middletown fielded their third punt of the second quarter at their own 49-yard line with just 22 seconds remaining in the half, most figured a quick kneel down would send the game to intermission with the Blue Raiders up by just two scores.

Myers and his squad had different ideas even after a Lopez rush was stuffed for no gain on first down. The Blue Raiders were undeterred, calling timeout with three ticks remaining on the clock and the end zone still 51 yards away. Myers dialed up a screen pass towards the home sideline with Ash soft tossing to Lopez who took care of those 51 yards in a hurry.

"We knew there was only a couple of seconds left on the clock and we wanted to see how far we could get down the field," said Lopez before dishing out some praise. "My lineman did everything really, I just ran, ran behind them. They had some real nice blocks." Those nice blocks coupled with nice running from Lopez made it a 21-0 game at the break.

The Blue Raiders, for all intents and purposes, put the game away in the first four minutes of the second half. An onside kick to start the second half caught the Spartans off guard while Middletown's recovery of that kick further deflated the Wyomissing side. Lopez covered 28 of the 46 yards needed to convert the drive to points with the payoff coming on a two-yard plunge with 8:08 showing on the third quarter clock.

Another quick Wyomissing three and out put the ball back in Middletown's hands with just under six minutes remaining in the frame. The drive started poorly as a bad first down snap pushed the Blue Raiders back to the Spartan 29-yard line. That proved to be an easily overcome obstacle for Middletown as Richie Sykes took a second down handoff and raced 71 yards for Middletown's lone non-Lopez TD of the game. A missed PAT attempt made it 34-0 and kept the mercy rule running clock on ice for a few more minutes.

Yet another quick Wyomissing three and out gave the ball back to Middletown for another crack at a mercy rule running clock. The Blue Raiders would not falter this time as Lopez turned a bad snap into his fourth rushing touchdown of the game, this one an 80-yard score that made 41-0 and capped his 208-yard game.

With the game in hand thanks to a 41-point lead, a running clock and only 14 minutes of game time remaining, Myers went to his bench to close out the contest. That allowed Wyomissing to find enough footing to produce all four of their first downs while taking their offensive output from the negative (-28 yards) to their final tally of 16 yards. That production, however limited, also led to Wyomissing's only visit to the end zone, a one-yard Jason Gartner score with 3:37 remaining in the game.

Up next for Middletown is a trip to Lebanon where the Blue Raiders will tangle with Bermudian Springs in an attempt to win their third straight District 3-3A title. Kickoff is set for 7pm on Friday November 16th at Cedar Crest High School.

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Middletown VB Falls in District Quarterfinals November 4, 2018

They say there is a first time for everything and the Middletown girls' volleyball team checked off a bigtime first with their 2018 season. One season after narrowly missing out on a District 3-2A bid with a 7-10 record the Lady Raiders picked up their first District 3-2A berth with an 8-9 run through the 2018 regular season.

That berth dropped Middletown into a 2A quarterfinal match on October 30th opposite York Catholic. The Lady Raiders lost that match by a 3-0 final.

"I was very proud of how my girls played," said head coach Lisa Huber. "York Catholic is a strong, well-polished team and even though the scores didn't show it, they gave it their all and never gave up."

Despite a 3-0 sweep that saw Middletown on the wrong end of 25-9, 25-16 and 25-17 games, Huber still said "it was a great opportunity" for her squad's first foray into the district pool. As the offense struggled the defense took center stage with Hannah Wilsbach (10 digs), Alexis Harmon (nine digs), Courtney Shaffer (seven digs) and Katie Knaub (five digs) leading the way. The Lady Raiders did manage to slip in a little offense with Harmon and Cassie Ebersole tallying a team high two kills while Shaffer registered a team high three assists. Knaub added two aces and one assist to her five digs.

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Middletown Earns 3rd Capital Division Crown October 28, 2018

This year's Mid-Penn Capital Division title does not come with the pristine 10-0 mark the previous two have but the Blue Raider football team will gladly hang the banner in the gymnasium rafters none the less. Middletown wrapped up their third straight Capital Division crown with a 42-6 pasting of Palmyra last Friday using their standard formula of a punishing ground game and stingy defense. That combination allowed Middletown to hold a 486 to 129 advantage in total yards while building a 42-0 lead before intermission.

Jose Lopez and Richie Sykes held their typical position at the forefront of Middletown's attack, combining for 316 yards and all five of the Blue Raiders' offensive touchdowns. Lopez led the way with 156 yards and two scores on the ground, adding 19 yards and another score through the air.

All three of those scores came as part of Middletown's 28-point first quarter explosion. All that action started with a 53-yard jaunt just 33 seconds after the opening whistle. Lopez added a 50-yard scamper late in the frame to finish his scoring on the ground. Lopez's eight-yard TD reception, the lone TD pass for quarterback Scott Ash, came near the six-minute mark of the first and made it a 21-0 game. Chris Joseph provided the remaining first quarter score, returning an interception 27-yards to give Middletown a 14-0 lead a mere 1:24 into the game.

Sykes took over in the second quarter, turning Middletown's Lopez fueled 28-0 lead into a mercy rule inducing 42-0 cushion at halftime thanks to back-to-back touchdown runs. Scores of 11-yards and 15-yards capped Sykes' 122-yard game and made the Blue Raiders' third Capital Division title a mere formality. The Cougars did break up Middletown's shutout bid with a 43-yard Stephen Lyons to Sean Carter touchdown pass early in the third quarter.

Up next for the 9-1 Blue Raiders is a District 3-3A semifinal match up on November 9th or 10th opposite the winner of this weekend's Wyomissing-Littlestown quarterfinal showdown.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross country team wrapped up their 2018 season last Saturday with a trip to Big Spring High School for the District 3 Championship Meet. Jalen Rowley led the way for the boys' team, finishing 143rd with a time of 20:12.5. Five places and a little over eight seconds later William Brown crossed the finish line while Tanner Albright claimed 152nd place with a time of 20:25.8. Zach Malay and Ken Britcher finished the 3.1-mile race eight seconds apart but Malay's 22:07.0 had him in 185th place while Britcher 's 22:15.0 was the 186th fastest time.

Angela Hernandez was the lone Lady Raider to compete, finishing 137th with a time of 25:51.4.

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Lady Booters Pushed to Qualify for Districts October 15, 2018

As the regular season winds down the Middletown girls' soccer team continues to fight for their playoff lives. After a two-win week, the Lady Raiders are 6-8 and sit 14th in the District 3-2A rankings with three games remaining. Middletown has some ground to make up with those three remaining make-up games as only the top 10 2A teams qualify for the district playoffs.

Middletown picked up some of that ground on October 8th with a 3-2 overtime win over Pequea Valley. Camryn Russ, who assisted on Middletown's first two scores, netted the game winner in the 98th minute with help from Jocelyn Koser. Hayli Akakpo-Martin made it a 1-1 game early in the second half while Sarah Miscevish gave the Lady Raiders a short-lived lead with her score in the 54th minute. Pequea Valley's Brittany Shirk tied things back up with her 68th minute goal. Amanda Lee (10 saves) settled down after the Lady Indians scored the equalizer to secure the win for Middletown.

The Lady Raiders needed just one overtime period to secure a 2-1 win over Susquehanna Township on October 9th. Once again it was Russ, with an assist from Koser, to the rescue as the junior accounted for both goals, netting the game winner four minutes into the first overtime period. Akakpo-Martin provided the setup for Russ' first goal that came with roughly 11 minutes remaining in regulation. Lee turned away six shots to secure her second straight overtime victory.

"I would say that a lot of times, it comes down to heart," said head coach Tim Neff of the wins in overtime. "Our girls have played all season with their hearts and I am glad they were able show that and have the success we did. To come out with overtime victories on back-to-back nights shows the character of the girls. I couldn't be happier for them or prouder of them as their coach."

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team was in action just once last week, topping Susquehanna Township 2-0 on October 9th. Caleb Spring earned his second clean sheet of the season with a two save effort.

FOOTBALL

The football team continues to roll toward the postseason with another lopsided victory. This one a 42-0 demolition of Trinity to please the homecoming crown on Saturday, October 13th. The Blue Raiders cranked out 419 rushing yards on their way to a 474-110 edge in total yardage and an easy win.

Jose Lopez kicked off the fun with an eight-yard run just 2:21 into the game. Odell Greene, making the first of three trips to the end zone, made it 14-0 nearly six minutes later with a three-yard plunge. Green's second trip, a 27-yard sprint, wrapped up the first quarter scoring with Middletown up 21-0.

Richie Sykes covered 50 yards on his only score of the game, moving the lead to 28-0 with 5:06 remaining in the first half. Greene finished his active first half by hauling in Scott Ash's lone TD pass, a five-yarder that made it 35-0 just 26 seconds after the Sykes score. Tim Wagner finished the scoring with an eight-yard TD plunge that set the final at 42-0.

Wagner added three catches for 26 yards to his 47 yards rushing but it was the three headed attack of Greene, Lopez and Sykes that powered Middletown to the win. Greene tallied 87 yards and two scores on his six carries, adding 21 yards and another score on three receptions. Lopez and Sykes both cracked triple digits with Sykes finishing with a team high 114 yards on just four carries while Lopez tallied 103 yards with his 14 carries.

FIELD HOCKEY

The field hockey team was in action twice last week, dropping both games to fall to 0-14-1. Milton Hershey handed out a 5-0 loss on October 9th while on October 12th a visit from East Pennsboro resulted in a 7-0 loss. Natasha Manfred finished the week with 19 total saves.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross country team made the conversion from regular season to postseason last week with their final regular season meet taking place on October 8th and the Mid-Penn Championship meet going down on October 13th.

The Blue Raiders fell to both Mechanicsburg and Central Dauphin East in the final regular season showdown despite Will Brown posting a personal best time of 18:34. Zach Malay was the next Middletown runner to finish, crossing the line at 19:24. Jalen Rowley also posted a personal best time on the day, clocking a 19:30. Tanner Albright (20:47) and Jacob Buffington (21:06) rounded out the top five.

Angie Hernandez led the short-staffed Lady Raiders with a time of 24:25. Casey Eckert (26:19) and Bankshita Devkota (38:06) followed Hernandez.

The Blue Raiders traveled to Newville on Saturday October 13th for the Mid-Penn Championship Meet. Brown clocked another personal best time of 18:28.09 to finish 112th in the 200-person field. Rowley (19:37.95) and Malay (19:50.05) crossed the finish line approximately 13 seconds apart but Rowley was 163rd and Malay 168th. Buffington just missed the 20-minute barrier, finishing with a time of 20:01.59 which placed him 177th. Owen Wealand finished up Middletown's scorers with a 194th place time of 21:37.46.

Hernandez was the second Lady Raider to finish on the girl's side, posting a 24:42.39 to Jaleena Marrero's 23:18.31. Marrero's time was good enough for 110th while Hernandez finished 149th. Eckert was the final Lady Raiders to participate in the meet, finishing 157th with a time of 25:52.58.

VOLLEYBALL

The girls' volleyball team was tripped up twice last week with losses to Big Spring and Trinity bookending the week. In between the Lady Raiders managed to take out Central Dauphin East by a 3-0 count. Katie Knaub collected six assists, two aces and two digs to help Middletown secure wins of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-11. Carley Dupes added five assists, three kills and one dig to help out. Abbey Spagnolo (11 digs and five aces) and Cassie Ebersole (seven kills and one ace) provided additional support.

Middletown nearly had another win last week as they fell to Big Spring by a 3-2 final on Monday. The Lady Raiders opened the match with wins of 25-21 and 26-24 to put the Lady Bulldogs on the brink. Unfortunately, Big Spring was able to fight back with wins of 25-19, 25-20 and 15-12 to steal the win away from Middletown.

Courtney Shaffer did a bit of everything in the loss to finish with 13 digs, eight assists, two kills and two blocks. Spagnolo added 13 digs and three aces while Lani Moore chipped in with 10 digs, five kills and four aces. Ebersole wrapped things up with seven kills and two aces.

The Lady Raiders were not able to keep their October 11th clash with Trinity as close with the Lady Shamrocks posting wins of 25-11, 25-13 and 25-16 to collect the 3-0 sweep. Shaffer enjoyed an eight dig, five assist and one kill game while Knaub finished the loss with nine digs and two assists. Alexis Harmon added three digs and two kills with Spagnolo tallying five digs and two aces. Hannah Wilsbach collected a team high 13 digs.

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Lady Raiders Work a 1-1 Tie with CDE October 8, 2018

The Middletown field hockey team enjoyed their first lead of the season during last Monday's 1-1 deadlock with Central Dauphin East. Alexis Manfred used a Marie Schopf pass for a 1-0 lead at 13:26 of the opening half. The Lady Raiders held that one goal advantage until 9:39 of the second half when Amani Osibogun-Bell scored the equalizer. The teams played through the remainder of regulation and all of overtime with the game knotted at 1-1. Natasha Manfred finished with four saves for Middletown.

"We were really hopeful to get a goal in overtime to end with our first win," said first year head coach Sierra Lenker. "The girls are proud of how they played hard and never gave up despite all of the setbacks during the game. They truly played as a team, and the coaches are proud of them."

The Lady Raiders were unable to keep pace with their other two opponents last week, falling to Bishop McDevitt and Spring Grove. Tuesday saw Middletown fall to McDevitt by a 7-0 count while the 4-0 loss to Spring Grove took place on Thursday. Natasha Manfred tallied nine saves between the two games with six coming against the Lady Crusaders.

FOOTBALL

The Middletown football team continued their march toward another Mid-Penn Capital Division title with a 32-21 win over Milton Hershey on October 4th. The victory keeps 4-0, 6-1 Middletown atop the standings beside 4-0, 7-0 Palmyra with their October 26th season ending showdown currently on track to decide the division title.

The Blue Raiders rode their two-headed rushing attack of Jose Lopez and Richie Sykes to the 11-point win over the Spartans. The pair combined for 259 of Middletown's 262 rushing yards while scoring four of their five touchdowns. Lopez tacked on an additional 33 yards on two receptions to account for over half of the Middletown offense thanks to his 157 rushing yards.

Lopez opening the scoring with a three-yard plunge that came just 1:43 after the opening whistle. Sykes also scored his first touchdown of the game in the first, busting free for a 64-yard score with 7:43 remaining in the frame.

Milton Hershey started chipping into Middletown's 13-0 lead just over a minute later when Dion Bryant scored on a 45-yard burst. The Spartans took their first lead with 1:35 remaining in the opening quarter with Josh Parra hauling in a 14-yard Naeem Cross strike.

Scott Ash, who finished with 70 yards through the air, put the Blue Raiders up heading into intermission with a one-yard plunge just before the break.

Milton Hershey retook the lead early in the fourth when Chiago Anyanwu broke off a 43-yard TD run that made it 21-20. Sykes put Middletown back in front near the midway point of the fourth with his second score of the game. The 10-yard TD capped his 102-yard game. Lopez provided some additional wiggle room with his second score, a two-yard plunge with 1:40 remaining in the contest.

GIRLS' TENNIS

The girls' tennis team wrapped up the regular season on October 3rd with a match against Harrisburg Academy. Middletown picked up one singles and one doubles win but it was not enough as they fell by a 3-2 count. Mahnoor Azim collected the singles victory, topping Kiersten Greiner 7-5, 6-4 at number one. Stef Finsterbush and Taya Scott earned their doubles win by forfeit in the number two slot.

The Lady Raiders kicked off the postseason one day later by taking part in the Mid-Penn Championship Tournament. The AA field was not kind as all three singles as well as all three doubles matches ended with a Lady Raider loss.

James Buchanan's Maggie Strawoet finished Azim's time in the Flight One Bracket with a 6-1, 6-1 final while Trinity's Maya Arora finished Buffington's season with a 6-0, 6-1 first round final. Angelina Torres dropped her Flight Three singles match to another Lady Shamrock, with Maria Ferrarro handing Torres a 6-0, 6-1 loss.

In district qualifying doubles Azim and Buffington fell to Bishop McDevitt's Makayla Burkholder and Maria Gontis, 6-0, 6-2. Finsterbush and Scott, fresh off their win a day earlier, saw their season come to a close with a 6-0, 6-0 loss to McDevitt's Kathrina and Monique Garbanzos. Middletown's final doubles pair, Aayushi Patel and Cassidy Anderson, had their season end with a 6-1, 6-0 loss to James Buchanan's Lindsey Meyers and Kierra Griffith.

VOLLEYBALL

The volleyball team had two matches last week with the Lady Raiders ending up on the wrong side of both by 3-1 finals. The first came on October 2nd when Milton Hershey posted wins of 25-23, 25-21 and 25-20 wrapped around Middletown's 25-21 game two victory.

Courtney Shaffer led the way in the loss with 10 digs, seven kills, seven assists and one block. Carly Dupes added 13 assists, two kills and one dig while both Cassie Ebersole and Natalie Krupilis matched Shaffer's seven kills. Krupilis added three aces to her game while Hannah Wilsbach (12 digs) and Alexis Harmon (nine digs) chipped in on defense.

One day later it was James Buchanan handing Middletown a 3-1 loss. Once again, the Lady Raiders claimed game two, this one by a 25-15 final but that left the Lady Rockets on top of the remaining three games, 25-22, 25-14 and 25-21. Shaffer collected six kills, four aces, four assists and one dig in the loss while Lani Moore chipped in with 10 digs, five aces and three kills. Katie Knaub added eight assists, four aces and two digs while Dupes finished with three kills and two assists.

GIRLS' SOCCER

The Middletown girls' soccer team played in three separate shutout games last week and thankfully for the Lady Raiders they were victorious in two of them. The first came on Monday with Middletown blanking Wyomissing by a 1-0 count. Sydney Garza netted the game winner in the 31st minute and Amanda Lee turned away all six Wyomissing shots to collect the win.

The second victory came on Thursday with Camryn Russ propelling Middletown to a 2-0 win over Milton Hershey. Russ netted both scores, one in each half, while Garza helped with one assist. Lee needed seven saves to keep Milton Hershey off the board.

In between the two wins came a 5-0 loss to Camp Hill. The Lady Lions used two goals from Julia Raich combined with a one goal two assist game from Sheridan Reid to get by Middletown. Lee finished the Camp Hill barrage that produced 24 shots with 10 saves.

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team checked off three more games last week and now sit at 5-10 on the year with two games remaining. Middletown hosted Camp Hill on Tuesday with the Lions earning a 1-0 win.

"Tremendous effort from our team in this one," said head coach Brian Keyser.

Ben Brodie setup Amias Colestock's game winner in the 21st minute with Camp Hill fighting off Middletown's late rally. Caleb Springer kept things close with an 11 save game.

October 4th brought Milton Hershey to town and despite falling behind 3-0 the Blue Raiders managed a 4-3 win thanks to Anthony LaVia. The Spartans built their lead over the course of the first 23 minutes with goals from three different players. LaVia took over from there scoring four goals in a seven-minute stretch to flip the game around. Springer settled down after that rocky start to finish with six saves in the win.

"I'm very proud of how calm and poised the team remained when down by three. It shows how much we've grown as a team," said Keyser of the come from behind win.

The Blue Raiders closed out the week on Saturday with a 2-1, overtime, loss to Boiling Springs.

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Middletown Football Romps Again, Wins 51-14 October 1, 2018

Chalk up another one. The Middletown football team throttled Boiling Springs last Friday 51-14 to improve to 5-1 overall. The win also keeps the Blue Raiders in a three-way tie for first in the Capital Division along with Palmyra and Milton Hershey who share Middletown's 3-0 division record. The Blue Raiders went for nearly 600 yards of offense, finishing with 597 while holding the Bulldogs to 194 yards. Jose Lopez and Richie Sykes led the ground attack while Scott Ash and Chris Joseph enjoyed the lax coverage the pair created.

The Ash to Joseph connection kicked off the scoring just 16 seconds after kickoff, covering 70 yards for a 7-0 lead. Boiling Springs answered a minute later with their own big play hook-up. Zack Vonstein hit Tayven Kelley for a 69-yard score and a tie game. Lopez put Middletown back on top with the first of three touchdowns, this one from 20 yards out with 7:08 remaining in the frame. The Bulldogs answered one last time with Vonstein picking up his second touchdown of the game, this one to Mike Wagner and covering 18 yards. The Blue Raiders put one last score on the board before the first quarter expired when Sykes broke free for a 59-yard score that made it 21-14.

Lopez picked up another touchdown in the second quarter, this one a 25-yard yarder just after the 10-minute mark. Middletown picked up a surprising two points a few minutes later when the Boiling Spring punter stepped out of the end zone for a safety that made it 30-14. The final points of the first half came when Ash hit Joseph for another TD, the 57-yard pitch and catch capping Joseph's 138-yard game.

Lopez covered 49 yards on his final touchdown of the game, punching it in with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter. Ash capped the scoring with this third TD pass of the evening, this one finding Jarrod Pugh and covering 25 yards.

Ash finished with 230 yards on nine completions and those three touchdowns. Lopez needed 15 carries to tally his 170 yards while Sykes picked up 115 yards on just five carries.

CROSS COUNTRY

The boys' cross country team endured the weather and outlasted two of their three opponents to pick up two wins last week. "In spite of the conditions today, our runners raced well. Sometimes it is important to be able to concentrate on racing rather than being distracted by conditions and our team was able to do that," said head coach Pete Fox of his team's wins over Camp Hill and West Shore Christian Academy.

Will Brown led the Blue Raiders to a 23-35 win over Camp Hill and a 26-33 victory over West Shore Christian Academy with a time of 20:04. Zach Malay finished at 20:50 while Jalen Rowley (21:20) and Kenny Britcher (21:37) crossed the finish line 17 seconds apart. Tanner Albright rounded out the top five for Middletown with a 22:13.

Angie Hernandez posted the quickest Lady Raider time, finishing the 3.1-mile course in 26:46. Casey Eckert was the next Raider to finish, doing so with a time of 28:05. Bankshita Devkota completed Middletown's trio with a time of 41:13.

FIELD HOCKEY

The field hockey team remains in search of their first victory after falling to Northern York and Eastern York last week. The Northern York loss took place on September 25th with Natasha Manfred tallying nine saves in the 8-0 result. Middletown found themselves on the wrong end of another shutout, this one by a 3-0 count, on September 29th when Eastern York came to town. Manfred picked up another eight saves on the day.

TENNIS

The girls' tennis team picked up their second victory of the 2018 season on September 27th when they took down Susquehanna Township 3-2. All three Lady Raider wins came in singles play starting with Mahnoor Azim topping Shaye Dietrich at number one. Azim earned the win with scores of 6-4 and 6-2. Anna Buffington matched the straight set win, posting 6-0 and 6-1 finals over Gabby Frye in number two singles. Angie Torres made it three straight wins with a 6-3, 6-0 showing over Justice Rooney.

The Lady Raiders did fall to Bishop McDevitt by a 5-0 final on Monday.

GOLF

Cole Grabuloff's golf season officially came to a close on September 24th when the junior finished 82nd at the Mid-Penn Championship at Dauphin Highlands. Grabuloff finished his round with no birdies and just two pars on his way to a 29-over round of 101.

GIRLS' SOCCER

The girls' soccer team hit the pitch twice last week, dropping both games to fall to 2-7 with eight games remaining in the regular season. East Pennsboro handed Middletown the first loss, scoring two goals late in the contest to steal a 3-2 win. Jade Senior netted Middletown's first half score while Camyrn Russ converted a second half penalty kick after setting up Senior's score. Amanda Lee finished with nine saves.

Lee's 13 saves against Bishop McDevitt on the 25th were not enough as Middletown fell by a 2-0 count. The Lady Crusaders turned what had been a tight one score game into a comfortable two goal victory with a late insurance goal.

VOLLEYBALL

The girls' volleyball team split a pair of matches last week, falling to West Perry on Monday and beating Harrisburg on Wednesday. Middletown nearly finished off the West Perry match in four games with a 25-21 game one win plus a 26-24 game three win putting the Lady Mustangs on the brink. West Perry was able to add to their 25-22 game two win and pick up the victory thanks to a 25-19 game four final and a 15-7 game five final.

Hannah Wilsbach tallied 16 digs, two kills and two aces in the loss while Katie Knaub added seven assists, seven digs, four kills and three aces. Alexis Harmon finished with six aces, five kills and two digs and Cassie Ebersole capped the team leaders with six kills and one block.

The Lady Raiders picked up their third win in their last four matches with a 3-0 victory over Harrisburg on September 26th. Middletown took the opening game with ease, 25-13, but had to sweat out matching 25-20 wins in games two and three to secure the sweep.

Ebersole (seven kills) and Harmon (six kills) led the attack with the pair adding five combined aces and one Harmon dig. Carly Dupes finished with a team high 10 assists but Courtney Shaffer was close behind with six assists to go with four aces and one kill. Dupes added three kills while Wilsbach contributed with 11 digs and one ace.

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team ended up on the wrong side of all three of their games last week and now have twice as many losses on the season as wins. The Blue Raiders carry a 4-8 mark into their final six games of the 2018 season.

Middletown's first loss of the week took place on Monday with Sami Almouzani netting the game's only goal in the 18th minute to give the visiting Panthers the 1-0 win. Caleb Springer turned away seven shots in the loss.

Three days later the Blue Raiders made the trip to Elliottsburg for a battle with West Perry. The Mustangs, behind Jessiah Osbeck's two goals, handed Middletown a 5-0 loss for the trip home. Springer finished with three saves.

Middletown made the trek to Kinzers for Saturday's tilt with Pequea Valley and the Lancaster-Lebanon League Indians handed the Blue Raiders an 8-3 loss. Three separate players scored for Middletown but it was not enough to overcome TJ Hershey (four goals) and Elijah Elkins (two goals) combined six goals. Springer picked up another five saves while LaVia, Griffey Meyer and Gary Mensah accounted for the first half scores.

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Middletown Volleyball Tops CDE, Steel-High September 24, 2018

The girls' volleyball team is riding a two-match winning streak after topping Central Dauphin East and Steel-High to close out last week. The Lady Raiders did pick up a loss on September 15th, falling to Manheim Central 3-0.

Middletown posted wins of 25-11, 25-8 and 25-12 to slip by Central Dauphin East on Wednesday but a 27-25 game two win for the Lady Panthers kept the Lady Raiders from the three-game sweep. Kendal Stiffler and Alexis Harmon led the offense by evenly splitting 12 kills while combining for five aces. Carly Dupes and Courtney Shaffer added five kills apiece while Hannah Wilsbach chipped in with 11 digs and five aces.

Another 27-25 loss against Steel-High once again kept the Lady Raiders from earning a sweep but wins of 25-6, 25-15 and 25-21 allowed Middletown to post the 3-1 victory. Harmon led the way with nine kills, four aces and two digs with Lani Moore adding six kills and two aces. Shaffer and Cassie Ebersole had matching three kill games while Shaffer tallied five aces and Ebersole three.

FOOTBALL

As they have numerous times over the last few years, the Middletown football team made the scoreboard spin on their way to another victory. Only this time they had help from the host Rollers as the teams combined for 88 points in Middletown's 48-40 victory on September 21st. The win moved the Blue Raiders to 4-1 on the year and kept them in a first-place tie in the Capital Division along with Palmyra and Milton Hershey.

Richie Sykes was the star of the show against Steel-High, scoring five of Middletown's seven touchdowns. The senior scored two TDs on six rushing attempts, was on the receiving end of Middletown's lone passing score, intercepted three passes, returning one to the house while still finding the time and energy to return a kickoff for a score. Middletown needed every single one of those touchdowns because the Rollers hung around thanks 324 yards passing and 444 total yards.

Despite all the Sykes antics it was the Rollers that struck first with Nicari Williams finding Javion Grant for the first of two scoring hook-ups for the pair. This 39-yard completion made it 7-0 with 7:21 remaining in the opening frame. Sykes provided his first flash two minutes later by snagging a six-yard Scott Ash toss for a 7-7 game. Sykes moved Middletown in front 13-7 when he picked off a Williams pass and returned it 46 yards for the score with just under three minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

Steel-High dominated the second quarter, outscoring Middletown 20-7 behind Williams. The signal caller made it a 13-all game by hitting Mehki Flowers for a 23-yard score then moved his Rollers in front with a one-yard plunge that came with 1:16 remaining before intermission. A Blue Raider miscue led to a 34-yard fumble return for a TD from Tyrone Moore just 12 seconds later, giving Steel-High a 27-13 lead. The Middletown offense got right back on track which allowed Jose Lopez to pick up the first of his two scores with 3.9 seconds remaining in the half. The one-yard score made it 27-20 at the break.

Sykes controlled the third quarter, ripping off scoring runs of 67 and 39 yards for the only two Middletown scores. Steel-High added the second Williams to Grant pairing, this one a 26-yard strike, that sent the teams into the final stanza knotted at 34-34. The Rollers moved in front one final time when Williams collected the last of his four passing touchdowns. William found Saleek Clayton for a nine-yard score with 11:11 left in the game but a missed extra point left the door open. Sykes stepped through that opening, making one final splash on the ensuing kickoff, returning it 88 yards to paydirt which moved Middletown ahead 41-40. Lopez capped his 147-yard game with an insurance TD that came with 1:49 left in the contest, setting the 48-40 final.

TENNIS

The girls' tennis team continued their march to the end of their regular season with two matches last week. Both contests ended with Middletown on the wrong side of 5-0 finals with Camp Hill handing out the September 19th loss while James Buchanan accounted for the second loss one day later. With the 0-2 week the Lady Raiders fall to 1-10 on the year.

GOLF

The two-man golf team wrapped up their regular season with their final two matches last week. The first saw the rest of the Capital Division invade Sunset Golf Course on September 18th for Middletown's lone home match of the year. Cole Grabuloff's familiarity with the course allowed him to finish 15th on the day with a round of 89 while Justin Yohn finished 10 shots behind his teammate with a round of 99.

Two days later the Blue Raiders trekked around Armitage Golf Club for the final round of the regular season. Grabuloff finished in a three-way tie for 15th along with Boiling Springs' Connor Truex and East Pennsboro's Jack Thompson. Yohn carded a 101 for his round.

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team split a pair of games last week, leaving the Blue Raiders with a 4-5 mark at the midway point of the season. Middletown opened the week on Tuesday with a 4-1 loss to Trinity. Dagan Hughes broke-up Trinity's shutout bid with help from Anthony LaVia and Garrett Miller but it was not enough to undo the work of Trinity's two-headed Chris-monster. Chris Hartley scored two goals and added one assist while Chris Williams tallied one goal and one assist in the win.

The Blue Raiders rebounded on Sept 20th with a 2-1 victory over East Pennsboro. Griffin Meyer led the way, assisting on Ben Knisely's third minute score that gave Middletown a 1-0 lead. Meyer added what proved to be a needed insurance goal in the 25th minute that made it 2-0. Jacob Henry broke up Caleb Springer's shutout bid with a second half score but the Middletown keeper was able to collect the win thanks to two saves.

FIELD HOCKEY

The field hockey team dropped all four of their games last week and now sit at 0-8 on the year. Three of the four losses were of the shutout variety starting with a 5-0 affair on the 18th. Milton Hershey handed out that loss while Camp Hill did the damage on Thursday by handing Middletown a 4-0 defeat. Lebanon added a 3-0 loss on September 22nd to finish out the week. In between the Lady Raiders fell to Susquenita by an 8-1 count on Wednesday. Abigail Grimland picked up the week's lone goal while Natasha Manfred added seven saves to finish the week with 21 total saves.

GIRLS' SOCCER

The Middletown girls' soccer team struggled last week, suffering losses to East Pennsboro and Camp Hill and dropping the Lady Raiders to 2-5 overall. Middletown kicked off the week on Thursday with a 2-1 loss to East Pennsboro. Jade Senior, with help from Kayli Akakpo-Martin, gave the Lady Raiders a 1-0 lead but East Penn score twice in the game's final 12 minutes to steal the win.

No late game heroics were needed in Saturday's tussle with Camp Hill. The Lady Lions used two goals from Ava Bracket and a goal and an assist from Alison Sepkovic to post a 4-0 win. Amanda Lee finished with six saves after tallying eight in the East Pennsboro loss.

"We are closer than our record indicates, but we need to figure it out quickly before the season gets away from us," said head coach Tim Neff.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross country team hosted their only home meet of the season on Sept 18th and the Blue Raiders came away with a 26-33 win over West Shore Christian and a 21-39 victory over West Perry. Will Brown led the way with a 19:15.3 while Zach Malay checked in with a time of 19:36.6. Tanner Albright (20:03.9), Kenny Britcher (20:12.9) and Jalen Rowley (22:03) finished up the scorers for Middletown. The Lady Raiders had just two runners on the day with Casey Eckert posting a 27:43 and Bankshita Devkota a 41:34.

The Blue Raiders tuned up for their home meet with a trip to Big Spring High School on September 15th to participate in the 23rd Annual Ben Bloser Bulldog Invitational. Brown clocked a personal best 18:40.85 to finish 42nd in the AA field while Malay managed a 69th place finish with his 19:15.52. Britcher, Albright and Rowley all posted sub-20-minute times for the first time this season leading to a 15th place team finish while also qualifying the Blue Raiders for the District 3-AA team championships in a few weeks. Britcher finished 87th with a time of 19:42.71, Albright 92nd with a time of 19:52.19 and Rowley 94th with a time of 19:53.09.

Jaleena Marrero led a trio of Lady Raiders across the finish line, taking 56th place with a 23:49.69. Angela Hernandez crossed the finish line a few seconds later, taking 62nd with a time of 23:56.96. Eckert missed the top 100 by roughly 12 seconds, settling for 102nd place with a time of 26:39.55.

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Middletown Football Crushes Camp Hill, 63-0 September 17, 2018

Back to Blue Raider football is probably the best way to describe Middletown's 63-0 shellacking of Camp Hill last Friday evening. The Blue Raiders racked up 441 yards of offense, 366 on the ground, while holding the visiting Lions to a measly 64 total yards. Add in a fumble return for a touchdown plus a punt return score and one can easily conclude that the Blue Raiders complexly shook off their first regular season loss in over two years.

Middletown all but put the game away with a 28-point first quarter outburst that started when Scott Ash hit Tajae Broadie for a 56-yard score just 1:14 into the game. The lead moved to 14-0 midway through the frame when Cole Senior scooped up a fumble and returned it 51 yards to paydirt. Richie Sykes picked up the first of his three rushing TDs with a four-yard score that came with 2:52 remaining in the frame. Ash made it a four-score contest about 1:30 later with a 61-yard scramble.

Another outburst in the second quarter, this one of the 21-point variety, made it a mercy rule contest before the halftime horn. Lamar Ventura officially put the game into mercy rule territory with his 64-yard punt return touchdown just 32 seconds into the second quarter. Sykes and the Blue Raider offense needed roughly three minutes to stretch the lead to 49-0. The senior running back, who finished with 95 yards on nine carries, broke off TD runs of 19 and 45 yards in a three-minute span that ran from 9:34 of the first quarter to 6:43, capping the first half scoring.

With a running clock the entire second half the Blue Raider scoring was kept to a minimum. Odell Greene accounting for 45 of his team high 116 yards with a third quarter score. Tymir Jackson also picked up large chuck of his 115 yards with Middletown's final touchdown, a 21 yarder with 8:36 remaining in the game.

FIELD HOCKEY

The Middletown field hockey team continues to find their first victory to be elusive. The Lady Raiders dropped both of their games last week to fall to 0-4 on the season. Up first was a 7-0 loss to Bishop McDevitt on Thursday. The Lady Crusaders used two goals each from Julia Vargo, Mary Parker and Sydney Altemose to hand Natasha Manfred (six saves) the loss.

Two days later the Lady Raiders traveled to the north side of Harrisburg to face Susquehanna Township. The trip resulted in a 4-1 loss for Middletown with Alexis Fischer netting the lone Lady Raider score.

GIRLS' SOCCER

Last week proved to be a short and pleasant week for the girls' soccer team. After early week rain postponed their game with Camp Hill to September 22nd the Lady Raiders were left with just a Thursday afternoon affair opposite Milton Hershey. Middletown, behind two scores from Camryn Russ, cruised to a 4-0 victory.

Russ opened the scoring in the 17th minute with help from Hayli Akakpo-Martin then made it a 2-0 game four minutes later by converting a Haylee Sprecher feed. Jade Senior and Akakpo-Martin finished the scoring with unassisted goals in the 25th and 34th minutes. Amanda Lee enjoyed the easy day in goal needing just three saves to earn the clean sheet.

GOLF

The golf team saw their round at Colonial Country Club on September 12th cut to nine holes due to soggy conditions. Cole Grabuloff and Justin Yohn took advantage to post top 15 scores. Grabuloff led the way with a 43 to finish in a sixth-place tie with Boiling Spring's Connor Truex. Yohn finished two strokes back in a 12th place tie with Camp Hill's Jackson Thompson and East Pennsboro's Jack Thompson.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross country team hosted the first of two home meets this season on September 11th. The Blue Raiders fell to both Milton Hershey and Bishop McDevitt despite Will Brown and Zach Malay qualifying for the District 3 meet on the day. Both runners eclipsed the 20-minute mark necessary to qualify for the D-3-AA meet in a few weeks. Brown clocked an 18:55.9 while Malay ran a personal best 19:06.4. Jalen Rowley (20:14), Kenny Britcher (20:29.8) and Jacob Buffington (20:30.8), who also posted a personal best, rounded out the top five.

For the Lady Raiders it was Angie Hernandez leading the way with a district qualifying time of 23:39.6. Jaleena Marrero also surpassed the District 3-AA qualifying mark of 24 minutes with a time of 23:36.3. Casey Eckert (26:23.8) and Bankshita Devkota (39:26.9) also competed for the Lady Raiders.

TENNIS

Despite the rainy weather the girls' tennis team was able to play three matches last week. Unfortunately, Middletown dropped all three with Tuesday's battle opposite East Pennsboro as well as Thursday's clash with Trinity ending in a 5-0 final.

In between those two matches was a 3-2 loss to Harrisburg Academy. Middletown split their two team points between singles and doubles action with Mahnoor Azim picking up the singles victory. She topped Kiersten Greiner in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6, at number one singles. Aayushi Patel and Cassidy Anderson accounted for the doubles victory by taking out Zisha Li and Zoe Gallagher 6-1 and 6-3.

GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

The girls' volleyball team had just one regular season match last week, the result was a 3-0 loss to Northern York on Monday. The Lady Polar Bears posted wins of 25-15, 25-11 and 25-11 to send the Lady Raiders home with the loss. Hannah Wilsbach tallied 14 digs while Abbey Spagnola added 11 digs and one kill. Carly Dupes and Lani Moore combined for seven kills with Dupes adding two digs and three kills.

BOYS' SOCCER

The boys' soccer team split their two games last week with a 2-1 win over Milton Hershey countering a 4-0 loss to Camp Hill. "We are getting closer each game," said head coach Brian Keyser, "It's a great group of guys who are very unified as a unit."

The Blue Raiders kicked off the week on Tuesday with the 4-0 to Camp Hill. Half of the Lions offense came in the form of Middletown's two own goals that were the result of wacky deflections in the box. One of those deflections came in the first half and along with goals by Kevin Young and Dylan Mayanja gave Camp Hill a 3-0 lead at the break. The only action in the second half was the second own goal that made it a 4-0 final. Caleb Springer turned away six shots in the loss.

The Blue Raiders rebounded on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Milton Hershey. Anthony LaVia broke up the 0-0 tie in the 25th minute with help from Aiden Sessa and Brady Keyser for the only score in the opening half.

Middletown doubled the lead in the 62nd minute with Mason Garza scoring what proved to be a needed insurance goal thanks to Keyser and Garrett Miller providing the setup. Tristan Gyamfi picked up the Spartans goal and kept Dane Ebersole (five saves) from earning the shutout when he scored in the 76th minute.

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Middletown Suffers Surprise Loss to McDevitt September 9, 2018

The Middletown football team has enjoyed historic success the last two seasons, racking up a ridiculous 28-2 mark during that time. But for all the success the Blue Raiders have enjoyed, they found themselves on the opposite side of things last Friday as Bishop McDevitt handed Middletown their first regular season loss in nearly three years. The 40-14 defeat at the hands of the Crusaders not only dropped Middletown from the ranks of the unbeaten this season it was their first regular season loss since October 30th, 2015 when they dropped a 19-18 a nail-bitter to Steel-High.

McDevitt used their high-power aerial attack, led by Chase Diehl, Nazir Burnett and T'nyis Becker, and a stifling defense to cruise to the 26-point victory at War Memorial Field. Diehl, the senior signal caller, finished with six TDs to go with his 455 yards passing while the Crusader defense held Middletown's vaunted rushing attack to just 87 yards with stud back Jose Lopez limited to 59 yards on 20 carries.

Burnett was Diehl's favorite target with the Syracuse commit snagging nine passes for 223 yards and four scores. Three of those TD grabs came during the first half and helped the Crusaders open a 33-7 lead. Richie Sykes accounted for the Middletown score, hauling in a 34-yard strike from Scott Ash that briefly knotted the game at 7-7. Sykes added three more catches in the game, finishing with 68 yards and that first quarter score to front the Blue Raiders' offense.

Bishop McDevitt's other two first half scores were of the big play variety. Becker, who finished with five catches for 160 yards, collected his only score via an 83 hook-up that made it 19-7 late in the first quarter. The final points of the opening half came when Julian Jordan made his only catch of the game, a 74-yard TD with 34-seconds remaining before intermission.

Middletown's second half touchdown was also via a big play with Christopher Joseph on the receiving end of Ash's second TD pass of the game. This one covered 63 yards early in the third stanza and made it a 33-14 game. McDevitt countered with one last strike from Diehl and Burnett to set the final at 40-14.

GIRLS' SOCCER

A busy opening stretch of soccer started well for the Lady Raiders with a 1-0 win over Tulpehocken on August 31st but turned south from there with losses to Bishop McDevitt, West Perry and Susquehanna Township.

Camyrn Russ, with help from Marly Fox, scored the lone goal in the season opening win against Tulpehocken. The Lady Raider offense struggled against McDevitt and West Perry, suffering shutout losses in both affairs, 2-0 to the Lady Crusaders on September 4th and 3-0 to the Lady Mustangs on the 8th. Amanda Lee was in goal for all three of those games finishing with two saves in the Tulpehocken win, six against Bishop McDevitt and three against West Perry.

The offense returned on Saturday, September 8th, scoring three goals, but the Lady Raiders still took a loss as Susquehanna Township managed to go one better, picking up a 4-3 win. Russ netted two of the three scores with Abbey Leister picking up the other. Jade Senior helped with one assist while Ruth Hoffman stepped between the pipes and finished with seven stops.

BOYS' SOCCER

A strong start for the boys' soccer team has led to a mini-slump for the Blue Raiders. Middletown opened the season on September 1st by taking part in the Spartan Soccer Tournament at Wyomissing. The Blue Raiders fell short of a title with a 5-0 loss to the host squad in the championship game. Middletown earned that title shot by topping Schuylkill Valley 2-1 in their opener.

That success carried over to Middletown's September 4th tangle with Bishop McDevitt. Behind the work of Anthony LaVia and Griffin Meyer the Blue Raiders cruised to a 4-0 win. Meyer picked up the first of his two assists by setting up LaVia's first goal, giving Middletown a 1-0 lead. LaVia and Meyer teamed up to help Joey Spear make it a 2-0 game before intermission while Mason Garza pushed the lead to 3-0 with his second half PK conversion. LaVia capped the scoring with his second lamp lighter, this one coming off feeds from Ben Knisely and Brady Keyser. Caleb Springer kept McDevitt off the board by turning away 11 shots.

The mini-slump started with a 2-0 loss to West Perry on the 6th and continued with a 2-1 overtime loss to Susquehanna Township on the 8th. Garza accounted for the lone goal against Susquehanna Township, netting another penalty kick score, this one coming in the 66th minute and countering the Indian's early goal. The game remained deadlocked until the 89th minute when Township's Duncan Andrew converted a penalty kick of his own to hand Middletown the loss.

FIELD HOCKEY

Mother Nature conspired to delay the start of the field hockey season for Middletown, pushing what was supposed to be the Lady Raiders' opener against Eastern York on August 31st to a to be determined future date. Once the Lady Raiders did finally get their season underway they founded themselves on the wrong end of two shutout losses. The first, an 8-0 final, came on September 5th to Camp Hill with a 5-0 loss to Northern York following one day later.

CROSS COUNTRY

The cross-country team kicked off their 2018 campaign on September 4th with a trip to Trinity to battle the host Shamrocks as well as Northern York. The trip resulted in two losses for the boys' team, 17-43 to Northern and 26-29 to Trinity, while the Lady Raiders came home with two no decisions as they are a few runners short of fielding a full team.

Will Brown led the way for the boy's team, clocking a 20:18 with Angie Hernandez taking the lead for the girl's team thanks to her 25:34. Zach Malay (20:26) and Tanner Albright (20:58) both cracked the 21-minute mark while Kenny Britcher (21:01) just missed joining them. Jacob Buffington completed Middletown's top five by finishing with a 22:06.

Casey Eckert was the second Lady Raider to finish, turning in a 30:02. Bankshita Devkota was the last of the three girl's runner, finishing with a time of 49:25 thanks to a wrong turn on the course.

GOLF

The two-member golf team is halfway through their regular season, having hit the links four times. With only two members, the Blue Raiders do not qualify for the team competition so Cole Grabuloff and Justin Yohn compete for postseason berths on their own.

Grabuloff kicked off the season on August 16th with a round of 83 on Middletown's home course. Yohn finished that same round at Sunset with a 105. The pair's next round came at Mayapple Golf Club on August 20th. Grabuloff was able to remain in double digits with a round of 96 but Yohn was not as fortunate, finishing with a 108. Next up was a trip to West Shore Country Club on August 27th where Grabuloff finished sixth with a score of 86. This time Yohn was able to break into double digits with a round of 99.

Middletown's final match of August sent Grabuloff and Yohn to Royal Oaks Golf Cub where Grabuloff posted a round of 89, good enough for 15th on the day. Yohn finished his day with a 109.

TENNIS

The girl's tennis team braved the heat last week for two matches, splitting the pair to sit at 1-5 on the year. The Lady Raiders nipped Susquehanna Township, 3-2, on Tuesday by winning two of the three singles matches. Mahnoor Azim grabbed one of those wins at number one singles. Angie Torres claimed the other singles win, taking out Justice Rooney in straight sets at number three singles.

Middletown's third win came at number one doubles where Aayushi Patel and Cassidy Anderson teamed up to top Taryn Woodson and Avani Patel, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

The Lady Raiders had their second match of the week, a September 6th tilt opposite Camp Hill, called due to rain with the Lady Lions leading 4-0.

Middletown's victory over Susquehanna Township was not only their first but it broke a string of four straight 5-0 losses to open the season. Those losses were to East Pennsboro, Trinity, James Buchanan and Bishop McDevitt.

VOLLEYBALL

The girls' volleyball team enjoyed a stellar start to their regular season with wins over Harrisburg and Milton Hershey. On September 4th the Lady Raiders swept Harrisburg with the work of Cassie Ebersole, Alexis Harmon and Hannah Wilsbach leading to wins of 25-9, 25-23 and 25-9.

"Our girls didn't stay as focused as they should have in game two," said head coach Lisa Huber of the closer than expected second game. "Harrisburg started to get some momentum and made some big plays defensively to catch us off guard."

Ebersole finished with seven kills and two aces while Harmon added five aces and seven digs to her five kills. Wilsbach chipped in with 10 digs and one ace.

Another lapse of focus forced Middletown into a five-game nail biter with Milton Hershey two days later. After winning the opening game 25-18 the Lady Raiders dropped two straight, 25-17, 25-11.

"We struggled with staying focused in games two and three and gave Milton Hershey the opportunity to gain some momentum," said Huber, "Once the girls settled in and started passing/hitting in game four, the momentum started to shift."

That momentum shift allowed the Lady Raiders to stave off the loss with a 25-18 game four win before closing out the victory with a 15-11 game five win. Carly Dupes and Alex Kennedy posted a team high five kills apiece with Kennedy adding one block and Dupes two aces. Ebersole chipped in with four kills and three aces while Lani Moore finished with three kills and a team high four aces.

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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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