Etter's Highlights

Larry EtterThe following articles highlighting Blue Raider athletics are penned by Larry Etter.





BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - May 30 - June 4, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - May 23-28, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - May 16-21, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - May 9-13, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - May 2-7, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - April 25-30, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - April 18-23, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - April 11-16, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - April 4-9, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - March 28 - April 2, 2022


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - March 21-26, 2022

Spring scholastic sports moved into the second week and Blue Raider teams were busy getting the new seasons underway. The girls’ softball team played three games last week, the boys’ baseball team got started on Friday and the boys’ tennis team competed in a couple matches as well. And, although the weather was not exactly ideal, the games went on for our Middletown Area High School student/athletes.

BOYS TENNIS
Lynn Miller’s squad originally had three matches scheduled, but Wednesday’s match at Trinity was postponed. The team did host East Pennsboro on Monday and Harrisburg Academy on Thursday.

East Pennsboro 5, Middletown 0
The visiting Panthers swept the match in a 5-0 shutout. East Penn’s Mayer Jovic defeated Jackson Grimland 6-1, 6-2 in the number one matchup. Number 2 Doron Yospa lost 6-1, 6-0 to Anthony Huynh and number 3 Caden Shomper lost sets of 6-1 and 6-2 to Josh Steinhart. The Panthers’ number one doubles team defeated Middletown’s Ethan Witmyer and Aidan Shaffer 6-4 and 6-2 and the number 2 doubles team of Luke LeKites and Ayden Harper lost the first set 7-5 and the second set by a 6-1 score.

Harrisburg Academy 3, Middletown 2
The Blue Raiders had a much better match against the Spartans of Harrisburg Academy in a close, 3-2 loss. Grimland got off to a good start with winning sets of 6-0, 7-6 over Sam Shvartsman in the number 1 match. Yospa dropped sets of 7-5 and 6-1 to Aryan Vichare and Shomper went three sets against Levi Kesler, winning the second set 6-3, but coming up short in the other two sets 6-3 and 6-2. In the first doubles match Witmyer and Shaffer defeated their Academy opponents 6-4, 2-6 and 6-3 to tie the match at 2-2. But LeKites and Harper fell to the Shover/Jackson team 7-6 (7-4) and 6-2 as the Spartans claimed the match win.

BOYS BASEBALL
The varsity baseball team got its season off to a great start with an exciting 5-4 victory at Bishop McDevitt on Friday. All three phases of the game – pitching, hitting and fielding- led to the big win. On offense the Blue Raiders punched out 9 hits with senior catcher Ryan Souders and sophomore designated hitter Max Dupes each stroking a pair of hits. Also recording hits were Tyson Leach, Caden Paul, Jonah Troup, A. J. Stains and Ryan Thear with a double.

On the mound Troup got the start and pitched deep into the fourth inning before being relieved by Dupes. Troup gave up just 3 hits, 2 walks and 2 hit batsmen in 3 2/3 innings. Dupes came on with 2 outs in the bottom of the fourth and recorded the save, striking out 5 and giving up one unearned run and no hits in the Middletown win. The Raiders scored one run in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Souders after Troup led off with a walk. In the top of the second Paul drove in Thear who had reached base on an error with two outs. The Middletown nine added thee more runs in the top of the third after Troup and the defense shut out the Crusaders in the first two frames. Troup led off the third with a single to center and scored on a single by Leach after moving to third on a McDevitt error. After moving to third on the miscue Leach ran home on Souders’ second RBI hit of the game. Dupes followed with a hit, and an error moved pinch runner Tate Leach to third. With no outs Braelen Huber grounded into a double play, but Leach scored to give the Raiders a 5-0 lead. That 5-spot turned out to be huge as McDevitt rallied for three runs in the bottom of the third.

With two outs Bishop McDevitt catcher Nate Kinsey drilled a two-run homerun over the center field fence after the Crusaders had scored their first run on an error. The Middletown batters went down in order in the top of the fourth and tried to protect the 5-3 lead in the bottom. But McDevitt, after loading the bases on a single and two hit batsmen against Troup, picked up run number 4 on a walk against Dupes. The sophomore right-hander then got Kinsey on a fly out to right field that Troup made a great running catch on. The Raiders had to hang on late after coming up empty after loading the bases in the top of the fifth. But Dupes was up to the task and sat down the side in order in the bottom of the frame. The Raiders threatened again in the top of the sixth when Stains led off with an infield single and Troup reached base on an error. But, again the Raiders came up empty. Dupes had another 1-2-3 inning in the home half to keep the score set a 5-4.

With two outs in the top of the seventh Thear ripped a double to right, but was left stranded, setting the stage for the finish. Dupes was really locked in on the mound and got quick outs on a groundout, strikeout and another groundout with Kinsey trying to keep the game going.

GIRLS SOFTBALL
The softball team won one of three games last week, starting off the week with a 15-3 victory at Donegal on Monday, but suffered defeats at Bishop McDevitt on Friday and Conestoga Valley on Saturday.

Middletown 15, Donegal 3
The Lady Blue Raiders stepped out of the Mid Penn Conference against Donegal of the L-L League and had a big day against the Indians. Christine Miller picked up the pitching victory, going 4 innings in the circle and finishing with 4 strikeouts. Allie Cleland closed it out with a pair of strikeouts in two innings of work. The Raiders had the bats going as well. Sara Dintiman collected 4 hits, Carly Dupes had 3 and Cleland added a pair as the Middletown team pounded out 19 hits against Donegal pitchers. Dintiman, Dupes and Chloe Kahler each had a pair of RBIs in the win, The Raiders scored 1 run in the first inning, 2 in the second, 6 in the third, 2 in the fourth, 3 in the fifth and 1 more in the fifth to end the game early. After trailing 14-1 the hosts scored twice in the bottom of the fifth and ended up with just 6 hits in the game.

Bishop McDevitt 4, Middletown 1
On Friday at McDevitt the Lady Raiders outhit the host Crusaders 7-4 but produced just one run for their efforts. The Middletown squad scored its lone run in the top of the first inning, but was shut out the rest of the way by McDevitt pitching and defense. The host team led by just a 2-1 count after five full innings but picked up a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to secure the win. “Walks hurt us late,” head coach Mike Thomas said after the loss. Miller pitched all 6 innings and struck out 6 but took the tough loss. Dintiman and Cleland each had a pair of hits and Luvi Balliet drew two walks in the setback. The Middletown defense made just one error in the field.

Conestoga Valley 9, Middletown 2
The trip to Conestoga Valley on Saturday afternoon turned out to be a tough one for the Lady Raiders who were dealt a 9-2 loss to the Buckskins. The game was a closely played matchup through 5 ½ innings, but the host team scored 4 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the game out of reach for the visitors. Trailing 3-0 heading into the third inning the Raiders scored twice to close the gap. But the Buckskins picked up a pair of runs in the home half of the third to make it a 5-2 game. And, again after out hitting their opponents 7-6 in the game, victory eluded the hard-working crew. In the top of the fifth frame the Raiders had two runners in scoring position with two outs but both were left stranded. And, in the top of the sixth Dintiman stroked a two-out single, but she, too, was left stranded.

In the bottom of the sixth the Buckskins loaded the bases with no outs, which led to the four late runs. A pair of hits and a fielder’s choice produced the runs and the winning margin. The Middletown batters went down in order in the top of the seventh to end it. Miller pitched 4 innings with 6 strikeouts and Cleland threw 2 innings in the setback.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - March 14-19, 2022

Not surprisingly the first official day of spring sports opened up with inclement weather. But as the week went on things got better and the athletes moved right into regular practice sessions at the scholastic level. Boys’ tennis, boys’ baseball, girls’ softball and the coed track and field programs got underway right on schedule. The athletes and coaches are looking forward to a good spring.

Here is a look at some of the rosters of Blue Raiders heading into the new season.

BOYS TENNIS
Coach Lynn Miller welcomed 18 athletes on the first day as the team started preparations for the upcoming 14-match schedule. The team will be fairly young with just one senior on the roster and 9 freshmen. Six juniors and two sophomores fill out the roster. The lone senior is Doron Yospa.

The juniors include Jackson Grimland, Ayden Harper, Jaydon James, Aidan Shaffer, Caden Shomper and Ethan Witmyer. The sophomores are Luke LeKites and Jeffrey Thomas. The freshman class is made up of Amaury Battistini, Carter Bryan, Enzo Corradi, Quinn Gallagher, Rashid Ibrahim, Maverick Kramer, Parker Rios, Edward Serrano and Krish Shah.

Grimland is listed as the number 1 player, Yospa number 2 and Shomper number 3. The #1 doubles team is Whitmyer and Shaffer, while the #2 team is LeKites and Harper. The Grimland and Yospa pair are listed as district qualifiers.

The team has already had its first match of the new season, dropping an 0-5 decision to Camp Hill, a team that is normally near the top of the division. In that match Grimland finished with sets of 6-4, 3-6 and 2-6 while Yospa lost his two sets by scores of 6-2 and 6-4. Shomper, too, came up short is a pair of 6-2 losses. The doubles teams also suffered setbacks to the Lions.

The Blue Raiders have three matches scheduled for this week.

GIRLS SOFTBALL
Mike Thomas
is back to lead the girls’ softball team in 2022. And a 6-5 exhibition victory over Mifflin County was a good start to the new season.

Five veteran seniors will lead the way as the Lady Raiders look to improve on what turned out to be a respectable season in 2021. Those seniors are Hailey Bartholomew (OF), Luvi Balliet (3B), Cam Martinez (CF), Carly Dupes (2B) and Sara Dintiman (C). An equal number of juniors bring veteran experience to the squad as well. Those 11th graders include Christine Miller (P), Delayni Landis (1B,OF,C), Amiyah Humes (OF,SS), Cadence Lines (SS) and Mehlia Rinesmith (OF,SS). Sophomores Allie Cleland (OF,SS) and Chloe Kahler (1B,OF) also had varsity playing time last spring. Freshmen on the roster include Delaney Fitzpatrick (OF), Hayden Herneisey (OF) and Chloe White (C.)

The Raiders scored a 6-5 exhibition win over Mifflin County on Thursday. Miller pitched 5 innings, throwing 15 first-pitch strikes while recording four strikeouts. Cleland threw two innings in relief. At the plate Dintiman had a pair of hits, Landis walked twice and Bartholomew walked once. Kahler had a pair of RBIs and Cleland and Landis each had 3 quality at-bats in the game.
The team is scheduled to start off the regular season with a pair of games this week at Bishop McDevitt and Conestoga Valley.

BOYS BASEBALL
Mike Lupia’s
baseballers came up just short of making the district playoffs last spring and he and his staff have been working with players in the off-season to put together a successful regular campaign while aiming for post-season play. Last year’s young, inexperienced team suffered the after effects of the canceled pandemic year in 2020 which showed in 2021. Now, with a full season of experience behind them the Blue Raiders will be looking for better results.

Just 4 seniors from last year’s team graduated in June and, although those four were good leaders and will be missed, Lupia is planning on the returning veterans and a few new players to move the squad forward.

This is how his new team is shaping up. Six seniors will lead the way in 2022. They are: Catcher Ryan Souders, outfielder Ben Staker, outfielder/pitcher, infielder A. J. Stains, outfielder/first baseman Caden Paul, pitcher Matt Wagner, third baseman/outfielder/pitcher Jonah Troup and outfielder Tate Leach, who did not play last year. Juniors with some varsity experiences are infielder Braelan Huber, infielder Dylan Maxwell, outfielder/pitcher Nick Crognale, outfielder Isaac Lupp and infielder/catcher Sam Miller.

Sophomores include infielder/pitcher Tyson Leach and first baseman/pitcher Max Dupes. Both were starters last year as freshmen. The other sophomore is Ryan Thear, an outfielder/pitcher.

Starting off the new year there was a really strong number of candidates for Lupia to pick from. At present 16 players are listed on the junior varsity roster with some listed as possible swing players. The list includes 5 sophomores: Kaden Hileman, R. J. Gomboc, Aaron Nordai, Alton Akakpo Martin, Charlie Lawrence, Derek Brooks, Trey Kephart, Isaiah Crosson and Mason Gratkowski. Freshmen include Landon Cochran, Landon Keyser, J. P. Horetsky, Joey Gassert, Logan Benner, Braydon Pristello and Mason Lupp.

The team just returned from a 4-day training trip to Myrtle Beach and Lupia was anticipating a good outcome from the competition and experience. Looking at the upcoming season Lupia foresees a chance for this team to succeed. “With our schedule, there are a number of games we expect to win, and some others we could win, depending on how the other teams are,” he said. The regular season is set to start off at Harrisburg on April 4.

TRACK & FIELD
Adam Shaffer
was named as the head Track & Field coach for the 2022 spring season. Shaffer served as an assistant coach the past couple years and is also the head junior high football coach. His numbers are down somewhat this year but he hopes to field competitive boys and girls teams this spring. Rosters for the teams will be provided at a later date.

The teams kick off the new season at East Pennsboro on March 29.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - March 7-12, 2022

The sometimes magical and always eventful basketball season ended for the Middletown Blue Raiders boys’ team last Tuesday in the first round of state playoffs. Visiting Scranton Prep had just enough drive and talent to hold off the Blue Raiders in a closely-played 53-50 decision that dropped the curtain on the 2021-2022 hardcourt campaign.

And, although the players, coaches and fans would surely have loved a couple more wins, the season was certainly a memorable one for the team. A season record of 20 wins and just 5 losses was quite an accomplishment for the boys, one that many of the other local teams would have loved to own.

The season’s final game also showcased another 1,000- point scorer for the Middletown program. Senior Tajae Broadie entered the game needing just 2 points to reach that milestone and did that by scoring the Raiders’ first points of the contest with 6:19 left in the first quarter. The game was stopped at that point and the humble, but talented senior was presented with gifts to commemorate the occasion.

Broadie would go on to score 17 more points in the game. His senior teammate Tate Leach added 16 in a great effort, but the Blue Raiders came up short in their quest to keep playing deep into the state playoffs.
A slow start forced the Middletown squad to play from behind throughout most of the game and eventually proved to be the difference in the outcome. The Blue Raiders did fight back and earned their first lead of the contest with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter. But the Cavaliers scored the last 4 points of the game and secured the win.

Down 4-0 early the Raiders broke the ice on Broadie’s layup off an assist from Leach. When play resumed after the celebration, Scranton Prep went up by 7 on a triple by James Pettinato. Broadie scored again at the 4:10 mark but both teams went scoreless over the next 3:13 before Prep scored. Another basket by the guests made it a 12-4 game as the Raiders struggled on offense. The first period ended with Prep up 14-6.

The Blue Raiders, however, found their scoring range in the second stanza and put up 17 points in the frame to get back on track. Broadie scored 8 more points, while Arkel Batts, Tate Leach, Tyson Leach and Bamm Appleby added the rest in the period. Scranton Prep’s Andrew Ferguson collected 7 of the Cavaliers’ 11 points in the frame. Tyson Leach’s triple with 19 seconds left in the second quarter pulled the home team to within a basket, 25-23, at halftime.

By the end of the third quarter just two points still separated the two determined teams. The key factor that kept Scranton Prep in front was Ferguson who was pretty much unstoppable on offense. The 6’1 senior scored from the foul line, the baseline, 3-point range and on a medium-range jumper, registering 12 of his game-high 30 points in the span. The Blue Raiders kept pace with Batts and Tate Leach teaming for 14 of Middletown’s 16 points in the period.

With 5;05 left in the game Broadie’s putback following a Cavaliers’ turnover made it a one-point difference at 43-42 as the Raiders tried to pull ahead. But Prep went up by 3 on a pair of foul shots by Pettinato and the Cavaliers converted a pair of Middletown misses into four more points and a 49-42 lead with 3:25 on the clock. Tate Leach’s personal 6-point run again closed the gap to a single point (49-48) with 2:16 left. But missed free throws down the stretch spoiled the Raiders’ chances of pulling out the win. The Raiders went just 3 of 10 from the line in the quarter.

Broadie did give the home team a short-lived 50-49 lead with 1:30 left, but the Blue Raiders would go scoreless the rest of the way. A miss with 51 ticks left after the Cavaliers edged ahead led to a 52-50 Prep lead, and another misfire with 6 seconds to go did the damage. Prep’s Matt Cobb wrapped it up, making one of two foul shots with 3 seconds left. A turnover denied the team a chance for a late desperation shot.

The game marked the ends of the scholastic careers for Tajaie Broadie, Tate Leach, Ryan Souders, A. J. Stains, Matt Wagner and Jay Smith.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - February 28 - March 5, 2022

To say it was an intense week for the Middletown boys’ basketball team would be an understatement. First, the Blue Raiders had to travel to Trinity High School in Camp Hill to take on the long-time league nemeses Shamrocks in the third round of the District 3 playoffs. That game came on the heels of a well-earned win over Bishop McDevitt the previous week in round 2.

After surviving the two-game gauntlet, the huge victory over Trinity gave the Blue Raiders a shot at the district title at the Giant Center against Berks Catholic on Thursday. And, although the Raiders’ bid for the championship came up well short in a loss to the Saints, the team still qualified for the state playoffs which started this week, extending its season in the process.

Middletown 63, Trinity 49

Playing in front of a jam-packed Trinity gym on Monday with the atmosphere of intense competition as thick as fog, the Blue Raiders turned in arguably their best effort of the season in the victory. After having split the two regular-season games leading up to the showdown, both teams were aiming for the right to play in Hershey with a district title up for grabs. Fortunately, it was the Blue Raiders who came out on top of the action-packed battle!

The scene at the end was priceless as the Blue Raiders put the lid on the triumph! As the final seconds ticked down, and the win guaranteed, senior guard Tate Leach dribbled the ball uncontested down the court and under the open basket, heading toward the Trinity student section. Leach and his teammates had been harassed and verbally assaulted throughout the game and he took the opportunity to pay them back a bit. The section started to empty before the final buzzer sounded while the Middletown side rose up in celebration!

Without question, this was a huge win for the Blue Raiders, their coaches and their fans!

Needing to get off to a good start in the hostile environment the Raiders did just that. Tajae Broadie drilled a 3-pointer just 15 seconds into the game and the Middletown five led 5-3 with 6:30 left in the first period. But with both teams playing strong defense that score remained unchanged for nearly three full minutes. Trinity’s Julian Gabbidon final broke the drought at the 3:45 mark. Owen Schlager hit a three 42 seconds later to give the hosts an 8-5 lead, but the Blue Raiders ran off 9 straight points to go back in front 14-8. A pair of late free throws by Trinity made it a 14-10 game heading into the second stanza. As it turned out the Raiders held onto the lead throughout the rest of the game.

At halftime Middletown led 24-17, thanks to a 10-7 advantage in the second period. Broadie and Leach each scored 4 points and Bamm Appleby converted a Leach assist with 1:32 left for the 7-point cushion. Trinity coach Larry Kostelac is always good ad making adjustments and fans from both sides were waiting to see what the second half would bring. But much credit was due for Middletown head coach Chris Bradford and his staff as the Blue Raiders came out on fire to start the third quarter.

Tyson Leach hit a triple, Tate Leach made one of two foul shots, Arkel Batts converted a Tyson Leach steal into a bucket and Tyson Leach sank two free throws in an 8-0 Middletown run in the first half of the quarter. The Middletown side got a bit of scare when Broadie drew his third foul early and went to the bench. But the offense and defense never missed a beat. The Shamrocks finally scored with 4:25 left but Tyson Leach answered with a score of his own, and, following another Trinity goal, Ryan Souders drained a big trey that pushed the Middletown lead to 37-21 with 46 seconds left. At the end of the third the Blue Raiders were well in front at 39-23.

With their backs against the wall the Shamrocks tried to charge back and did find their scoring touch in the fourth quarter. But the 16-point deficit was simply too much for Trinity to overcome. The key was that during the last 8 minutes the Middletown side put up 24 points, with 15 coming from the free throw line. The closest the Shamrocks came was 12 points (56-44) with 2:03 left. Batts, Tate Leach and Broadie locked it up by connecting on 8 of 10 from the foul line in the final two minutes. A late trey by Gabbidon mattered little as the Blue Raiders prevailed and the celebration began!

Berks Catholic 60, Middletown 37

Unfortunately, the Blue Raiders could not re-create that magic at Hershey’s Giant Center on Thursday in the District 3 AAAA championship contest. Berks Catholic made 8 of 12 shots from the floor, including three triples, and blew out to a crushing 19-4 lead by the end of the first quarter. And, while the Middletown offense struggled through three full quarters of frustration, that shooting display continued throughout the game for the Saints.

As a result, Berks Catholic walked away with the gold medals and the trophy while the Blue Raiders had to settle for second place. The Raiders actually led early in the game on a putback by Broadie and a pair of free throws by Batts following a Berks score. But that 4-2 lead quickly evaporated as the Saints ran off 17 straight points to push the Raiders into a hole they could never get out of.

Berks Catholic made five 3’s in the first half and scored 32 points before halftime. During the same time span the Middletown offense shot just 33.3% and suffered 8 turnovers, scoring just 12 first-half points and trailing by 20 at the break. Broadie scored 5 of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter, but the team points simply did not come. Berks put up 15 in the third and led by a commanding 47-21 at the start of the final frame.

Tate Leach made two foul shots and Braelan Huber hit a trey that trimmed the Saints’ lead to 23 with 5:30 left in the game. The Raiders kept playing until the end and managed to put 16 points in the scorebook for their efforts, but the lead was too big and the rough start haunted the Middletown side right to the end. On the plus side Bradford was able to get his senior subs, Matt Wagner and Jay Smith, some court time at the end.

The Blue Raiders were scheduled to host Scranton Prep from District 4 in the first round of states this week.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - February 21-26, 2022

BASKETBALL
District III boys basketball playoff time and the Middletown Blue Raiders got off to a great start last Thursday. After drawing a bye in the first round of games the Raiders hosted Bishop McDevitt in the second and came away as winners in an impressive 57-44 victory over the visiting Crusaders.

After splitting a pair of games in the regular season the two rivals faced off for the third time with an opportunity to advance in the battle for District 3-AAAA title. Middletown came into the game as the defending district champions and needed a win to keep their drive alive to repeat. Standing in the way were the Crusaders who had handed the Blue Raiders their second Capital Division loss on January 25. That setback, coupled with a loss to Trinity four days earlier denied the Middletown team a chance to claim the division championship for the second year in a row.

But, in this rubber game of the series with McDevitt, the Blue Raiders got off to a great start and controlled the flow of the hotly-contested face-off throughout. The 13-point victory showcased a re-vitalized Middletown side that was not to be denied. The Blue Raiders led 15-12 at the end of the first period, 28-26 at the half and 44-36 at the close of the third quarter. The Raiders wrapped up the triumph with a 13-8 scoring advantage in the final 8 minutes and, with it, earned the right to take on Trinity on Monday night in the semi-finals.

What made the win over McDevitt special was excellent coaching by Chris Bradford and his staff, and the unselfish team play of his squad. Bradford used just 7 players in the game and each one of them put points in the scorebook. Nearly flawless offensive execution (just 6 turnovers in the game) 48% shooting from the floor and 11 points from the foul line, complimented by terrific defensive work all equated to the satisfying win.

Bishop McDevitt did get off to a good start by scoring the game’s first 4 points before Tyson Leach drained a 3-pointer to get the home team started. After the Crusaders went ahead 6-3 on a goal by Tristan Waters, Bamm Appleby scored and Arkel Batts nailed a triple following a McDevitt miss for an 8-6 lead. A pair of triples by McDevitt gave the visitors another lead but Tate Leach drove the lane for a bucket and Tajae Broadie made a scoring move down low and added a foul shot for a 15-12 lead for the Raiders. Neither team scored in the final two minutes of the opening period.

McDevitt’s athletic players charged back and went ahead 18-17 with 5:58 left in the second stanza, but that turned out to be the Crusaders’ last lead of the game. The Blue Raiders answered the challenge with a 9-0 run for the reversal. During the quarter Ryan Souders came off the bench and added to the cause. Appleby’s goal off a Batts’ assist pushed the home team to a 28-19 lead with 1:24 left. But the Crusaders closed out the first half with a 7-0 run to make it a 28-26 game at the break.

Broadie went back-to-back to open up the second half and Batts and Tate Leach added points as the Raiders climbed to a 38-29 lead at the halfway point of the third quarter. A triple by Braelan Huber and a pair of free throws by Leach kept the Raiders safely out in front 42-32 with 2:07 left. At the end of the period the Raiders owned an 8-point cushion at 44-36.

The Raiders went back up by ten points, 48-38, off back-to-back scores by Batts and Souders and, from that point on, it was simply a matter of maintaining their advantage. The Crusaders got within 8 points with 3:36 left on the clock, but Batts scored on a breakaway just 6 seconds later and the Middletown defense held their guests to just 4 points the rest of the way in locking up the pleasing victory.

Tate Leach scored 15 points in the win, Batts added 11, and Broadie chipped in 10 to lead the way. Broadie was dominant on the boards and pulled down a dozen rebounds. Waters scored a game-high 16 points in the loss.

WRESTLING
Two Middletown wrestlers qualified for the District 3 AA championships that were held last Saturday at Central Dauphin East High School. But their seasons ended as both suffered two losses in the competition on the mats.

In Championship Round 1 Julian Brenner lost via pin to Kale Quigley of Susquenita at 106 pounds. Teammate Josh Tlumach also lost in the first round as Austin Anderson of Bermudian Springs won by tech fall at 113 pounds. In the Consolation Round 1 Brenner lost by tech fall to Louden Rupp of Columbia and Tlumach lost a tough, 4-0, decision to Chris Smith of Berks Catholic.

Brenner is a junior and Tlumach is a freshman and Middletown coach Seth Decker will surely welcome them back next winter.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - February 14-19, 2022

Middletown wrestlers competed in the District 3 AA Section 2 championships on Saturday, February 19 at Central Dauphin East High School. Sixteen teams were represented in the day-long event and the Blue Raiders finished in 13th place. The Middletown boys’ basketball team was idle as far as games the past week, but did host a controlled, 3-team scrimmage on Thursday as the Raiders prepared for the start of District 3 playoffs this week. The team will host Bishop McDevitt on Thursday after drawing a bye in the first rounds that start Tuesday. Visiting Mechanicsburg and Tulpehocken provided good competition in the scrimmage and all three teams had a good workout. Mechanicsburg qualified for the 5-A playoffs as the #16 team with an even 11-11 overall record. Tulpehocken is ranked as the #3 team in AAA with a 17-5 record.

WRESTLING
Eleven Middletown wrestlers took part in the District 3 AA Section 2 matches on Saturday at C.D. East. They were: Jr. Julian Brenner, 11-9 at 106, Fr. Josh Tlumach, 15-13 at 113, Jr. Sam Miller, 10-13 at 120, Fr. Geno Corradi, 12-12 at 132, Jr. Travis Kramer, 2-20 at 138, Sr. Vinnie Corradi, 8-5 at 152, Jr. Isaac Lupp, 10-15 at 160, Sr. Mason Swartz, 8-12 at 172, So. Dominic Singh, 6-9 at 172, Jr. Sebastian Dash, 14-13 at 215 and Fr. Joe Gassert, 8-18 at 285.

Tlumach finished the day in fifth place and Brenner finished in sixth place. Both qualified to advance to districts with their finishes. Tlumach won with a fall over Kelsey Busch of Schuylkill Valley while Brenner lost to Gavin Funk of Annville-Cleona. Meanwhile Swartz finished in 7th place and Geno Corradi, Vinnie Corradi and Gassert finished in 8th place.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - February 7-12, 2022

The Middletown girls’ basketball team had ended its season the previous week but the boys’ team had a single game and closed out its regular season on Friday. Meanwhile, the wrestling team was very busy with three matches, winning twice, as the grapplers wound up their regular season as well.

The boys’ basketball team has this week off before getting ready to get back into action in the post-season on February 24. The wrestlers, too, will take a break prior to the start of District 3 AA Sectionals on Saturday, February 19 at Central Dauphin East.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Middletown 53, Lower Dauphin 43
There is always quite a bit of excitement in the air when the Blue Raiders and Falcons get together, especially in basketball and football. And Friday night’s clash brought a big crowd to the Middletown gym as the Raiders hosted their neighbors from Hummelstown. There were very few empty seats in the gym and the verbal back-and-forth between the big student sections from both schools provided nearly as much entertainment as the players on the court.

The game was nip-and-tuck throughout the closely-played first half and just three points separated the two by the time the halftime buzzer sounded. But the Blue Raiders won a third quarter defensive battle to gain some breathing room and a slight scoring edge in the fourth added up to a well-earned ten-point victory for the home team.

With Lower Dauphin needing a win to hope for a playoff berth in District 3 AAAAA consideration the Falcons gave it a shot. But the strength of the Middletown side dashed those hopes as the Blue Raiders triumphed with the decisive second half of play.

As the Falcons struggled on offense in the game’s first period the Blue Raiders jumped out to a 10-0 lead in a good start. It was a bit of a slow start for both teams but Arkel Batts kicked of the run at the 6:30 mark with a bucket and then made one of two foul shots 40 seconds later. Tate Leach converted a Falcon miss into a reverse layup and Tajae Broadie went low post for a bucket following another L.D. miss. With 3:48 left in the opening quarter Tyson Leach broke out of a scoring slump with a trey off a Broadie assist to give the home team the 10-0 lead. The Falcons finally broke the ice 17 seconds later with a goal by Colton Waters, and teammate Cody Rosati hit a triple to make it a 10-5 game. Down the stretch the teams traded scores, the Raiders led by Batts with a pair of buckets and a trey by Braelan Huber as the period ended with the Raiders up 17-10.

Ryan Souders started off the second stanza with a basket to push the advantage to 19-10, but the Falcons rallied with an 11-0 run to take the lead at 21-19 with 4:15 left in the first half as the Middletown offense went cold. But the Raiders closed out the frame with 5 straight points to earn a 24-21 lead at the break. Bamm Appleby made one of two free throws, Broadie converted a steal into a basket and Tyson Leach closed it out with a drive at 1:38.

In the third quarter the Middletown defense was relentless and ended up holding the Falcons to just 3 points on a trey by Charlie Fortney at 5:09. The Blue Raiders themselves, limited on shots by the Falcon defenders, collected just 9 points in the frame, but they were enough to push the home team to a 33-24 lead heading into the final quarter. Huber’s trey capped the scoring in the period.

In the final segment the Middletown team played nearly flawless basketball with just two turnovers and 4-for-4 shooting from the floor. Of the 20 points scored in the period, 12 came from the foul line as the Falcons were forced to foul to try to get back in it. The plan, however, did not work as the Middletown shooters made 12 of 14 free throws in the frame to lock up the win. Tyson Leach went 4-for-4, Tate Leach went 2-for-3 and Batts was dead on, converting 6 of 8 from the line in the pressure-packed final minutes. Five Falcons put up points in the final 8 minutes in a strong finish, getting as close as 7 in the final seconds, before Batts and his teammates closed out the win. Batts finished with a game-high 17 points for the winners while the Falcons were led by Waters with 12.

WRESTLING
Following a close loss to visiting Eastern Lebanon County on Monday the Middletown wrestling team clawed back with a pair of dominating wins at East Pennsboro and Susquehanna Township for their 5th and 6th team victories of the season. The team now awaits the pending matchups in the District 3 AA Sectionals that will be held at Central Dauphin East High School on February 19.

Elco 34, Middletown 28
The Raiders won the non-league dual, but it was not the Middletown ones. The visiting Eastern Lebanon County Raiders wrestled their way to a 31-15 lead after 9 matches and survived a late rush by Middletown, holding on for the 34-28 win last Monday.

Down 10-0 after the first two matches the Middletown team rallied with three straight wins to forge ahead 15-10. At 145 Rhakye Wise decisioned his opponent 7-2. At 152 Vinnie Corradi pinned Elias Krow at 3:16, and at 160 Isaac Lupp pinned Luke Bailey at 5:55 to give the Blue Raiders the 15-10 lead. But the next four Middletown wrestlers lost their bouts and Elco went back in front 31-15. Sebastian Dash lost a tough 3-0 decision at 215. At 106 Julian Brenner scored a major 9-1 decision to break the Elco string. Following a 5-0 loss by Joshua Tlumach at 113, the Blue Raiders won the last two bouts to make it close. At 120 Rashid Ibrahim pinned Ira Gensmer in 1:55 and Enzo Corradi decisioned Santiago Areiza 7-4 to close out the match.

Middletown 65, East Pennsboro 12
On Wednesday, February 9 the road trip to Enola turned out to be a successful one for the Blue Raiders who routed the host Panthers 65-12. Five forfeits and five pins led to the lop-sided victory. And it started right from the outset.

Joe Gassert (285), Julian Brenner (106) and Sam Miller (113) received forfeits as the Raiders jumped out to an 18-0 lead. At 120 Joshua Tlumach scored a15-0 tech fall over Tucker Gebhard to make it 23-0. Enzo Corradi pinned his opponent at 132 pounds and Geno Corradi won by forfeit at 132. The Raiders lost their first bout at 138 and forfeited at 145 as the Panthers received their first (and only) points of the match.

At 152 Vinnie Corradi pinned his opponent and essentially put the match out of reach at 41-12. After Isaac Lupp won by forfeit at 160 the Blue Raiders recorded three straight pins to lock up the victory. Mason Swartz pinned Amir Howard at 172, Dominic Singh scored a fall over Caleb Bitner at 189 and Sebastian Dash wrapped up the match with a pin over his opponent at 215.

Middletown 68, Susquehanna Township 6
On Thursday the Middletown squad rolled to another one-sided victory over host Susquehanna Township for its sixth dual win of the year. The squad again benefitted from 6 forfeits and impressive individual wins while suffering just one loss in the match.

Julian Brenner at 106, Josh Tlumach at 113, Enzo Corradi at 132, Jackson Grimland at 145, Isaac Lupp at 160 and Dominic Singh at 189 were awarded forfeits as the Indians did not have wrestlers at those weights. Meanwhile, Rashid Ibrahim won 16-6 at 120 and Geno Corradi made quick work with a 12-second pin at 132. Travis Kramer recorded a fall at 138 as did Vinnie Corradi at 152 and Mason Swartz at 172. At 215 Sebastian Dash won by decision. The lone loss came at 285, but the outcome had already been decided.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - January 31 - February 5, 2022

The Middletown girls’ basketball team wrapped up its 2021-2022 winter sports season on a positive note with a pair of wins, finishing the season with a respectable 9-13 overall record. The boys’ basketball team picked up a pair of division victories last week, but took a loss in a non-league game on Saturday afternoon. And the wrestling team earned its fourth dual meet win of the year, while having another postponed. The girls’ season is finished, but the boys’ team has a regular-season finale this Friday with Lower Dauphin and will be moving into the District 3 playoffs for post-season play.The wrestling team, although not qualifying for team championships, will look for sectional competition when it gets started.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Middletown 65, Steelton-Highspire 42
The Lady Raiders hosted Steelton-Highspire on Tuesday and ran away with a 65-42 victory over the Rollers. Freshman Addie Huber registered a game-high 26 points in the win, connecting on 7 three-pointers to lead the way. Senior Makayla Claggett, the other half of the high-scoring tandem, had 16 for the winners while Bella Buehrle had 12. Peyton Attivo, Sara Yeich and Allie Cleland added the rest of the points in the victory.

For Steel-High, Alayza Mayo and Messiah Clouse teamed for 38 of the Rollers’ total points in the loss. Claggett registered 11 of her points in the first quarter as the Lady Raiders outscored the Rollers 22-12 to jump out to a big lead. In the second period, Huber made 5 threes and Buerle, a junior guard, came off the bench to score 10 points as the home team rolled to a 50-20 halftime lead.

The Lady Rollers did outscore the Raiders 22-15 in the second half, but most of those points came against back up players after the outcome had been assured. The Middletown defense recorded 16 steals in the game, many in the first half, to limit Steel-High’s scoring chances. The win was number 8 for the team for the season.

Middletown 47, Boiling Springs 30
The Lady Blue Raiders closed out their season with another victory to improve to 9-13, but missed out on post-season play. The 17-point win at Boiling Springs on Thursday was brought on by the team’s best balanced-scoring effort of the year. Claggett, Huber and Peyton Attivo each reached double figures in scoring while Yeich was right behind with 8 points.

After a closely-played first quarter that saw the Raiders earn a 16-13 edge, the Middletown defense completely shut down the host Bubblers in the second period, holding the Boiling Springs offense to just a single point. The Raiders scored just 9 points in the defensive period, but held a 25-14 upper hand at the halftime break. And a 22-16 scoring advantage in the second half locked up the 47-30 victory.

While Claggett scored 10 of her 11 points in the first half, Attivo collected 7 of her 11 in the fourth quarter to lead the way in the second. Huber scored 6 of her 13 after the break. Sub Kyleigh Messner scored her lone basket in the fourth quarter, while Ariana Serrano and Luvi Balliet aided the defensive cause in the win.

The game marked the final appearances for seniors Claggett, Balliet and Messner.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Middletown 62, Steelton-Highspire 38
While it is a fact that the Steel-High Rollers have been struggling this year, there was no guarantee that the Blue Raider boys would have an easy time last Tuesday on Cottage Hill. Playing in old, historic Benkovic Gym can be a real test for any visiting team. And, the way the clash between the Blue Raiders and the Rollers started off, it appeared as if this one might be yet another classic battle between two storied basketball programs.

But, following an 11-11 deadlock at the end of the game’s opening period, the Blue Raiders took off on an important run in the second stanza that left the host Rollers in the dust. With a 19-7 scoring advantage in period two, the Raiders rolled to a 30-18 halftime lead and were never threatened the rest of the way.

With 3:40 left in the opening period the Rollers, behind solid defensive work, had fought their way to a 9-4 lead on the scoring from Kaaba Murray and Trey Seilhamer. But the Raiders drew a tie, keyed by a pair of threes by Braelan Huber and Ryan Souders and the teams entered the second quarter deadlocked at 11-11.

Early in the second Arkel Batts, Bamm Appleby and Tajae Broadie kicked off a 9-0 run by the Raiders and the Rollers never could catch up after that. Batts scored all 7 of his points in the quarter and five other players added points as the visitors ran out to a 30-18 lead at the break. The Rollers picked up 13 points in the third quarter, with 5 coming from Alex Erby, but the Raiders dropped in 18 to stay safely in front, 48-31. And, again it was balanced scoring that did the trick.

Broadie opened up the fourth frame with a pair of free throws and a trey off an assist from A. J. Stains, and Tate Leach drove inside for a bucket at the 4:43 mark of the fourth to essentially put the game out of reach at 55-31. Stains and Landon Keyser added a couple points down the stretch to ice the 59-38 triumph.
Middletown 62, East Pennsboro 40

The Panthers are another team that has had difficulties this season and the Blue Raiders had little trouble earning their 17th win of the year in Enola on Wednesday. The Raiders actually started off a bit slow at the start of the game and fell behind their hosts 8-5 with 5 minutes left in the opening segment. But the tide turned as the Middletown squad got back on track from that point on. Closing out the first quarter with a pivotal 15-1 run and a 20-9 advantage on the scoreboard heading into the second, the Raiders found little resistance the rest of the way.

Although scoring was a bit scarce in the second stanza the Raiders collected 12 points while holding the Panthers to 6 to lay claim to a 32-15 lead at halftime. At the end of the third quarter, led by Appleby’s 8 points, the Blue Raiders were well in control at 46-30. 16 more points in the final frame locked down the victory. Appleby, Huber and Broadie each hit double figure scoring in the win.

Susquehannock 61, Middletown 56
Visiting York-Adams League entry Susquehannock, a 5-A school, turned back a late charge by the Blue Raiders on Saturday afternoon and held on for a 61-56 win in a non-league contest. Using good defensive work from their athletic players and good shooting, the Warriors led 16-9 at the end of the first quarter, 30-22 at halftime and 43-36 at the end of the third period to put the pressure on the Middletown side. The Raiders did make a good run in the third and tied the score at 34-34 on a three-point play by Huber, but the Warriors fought off the charge with a 9-2 scoring run to close out the period. The two points came on a pair of free throws by Tate Leach with 41 seconds left.

The Warriors again fought off the Blue Raiders in the fourth after building a 57-44 lead. Foul shouts by Broadie and Leach, and a trey by Huber, made it a 58-51 game with 38 seconds on the clock. Broadie’s triple cut the lead to four, 58-54, with 21 ticks left. And, two more foul shots following an offensive foul against the Warriors by Leach just 6 seconds later pulled the Raiders to within three, 59-56. But Susquehannock’s Josh Franklin put the game out of reach by making two free throws with 14 seconds remaining. Broadie ended up with a game-high 26 points in the loss.

WRESTLING

Middletown 38, Central Dauphin East 33
After Wednesday’s dual with Steel-High was postponed the Middletown wrestling team was back on the mats on Thursday at home against Central Dauphin East. The dual, which featured Senior Recognition Night, turned out well for the Blue Raiders in their fourth win of the season. To top it all off both seniors, Vinnie Corradi and Mason Swartz won their bouts to lead the way to the victory.

Corradi pinned his opponent Alaa Aly at 152 in 3:06 to tie the match at 18-18. Swartz, checking in at 172, scored a 15-5 major decision over Stephen Hudson to put the Raiders ahead 26-18. The wins proved to be a pleasing night for the two seniors. In all the Middletown wrestlers won 7 of the 13 bouts to ensure the team victory.

Sam Miller won by forfeit at 120, Geno Corradi pinned his opponent at 132, Isaac Lupp scored a 9-1 major decision at 160, Julian Brenner pinned Gabe Sieber at 106 and Josh Tlumach won by forfeit at 113 to secure the winning points. Enzo Corradi, Rhakye Wise, Travis Kramer, Dominic Singh, Sebastian Dash and Joe Gassert put up good fights in their losses.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - January 24-29, 2022

The Blue Raiders have meets scheduled against Eastern Lebanon County, East Pennsboro and Susquehanna Township scheduled for this week prior to the start of Sectionals on Saturday, February 19. Last week was not a great stretch for Middletown Area High School athletic teams, but the Blue Raiders were still giving their best despite some losses. The girls basketball team was dealt setbacks by Annville-Cleona, Bishop McDevitt and Susquehanna Township, the wrestling team also dropped a pair of decisions on the mats, and the Middletown boys basketball team suffered its second loss of the season before rebounding with a pair of victories on the hardcourts. With the winter seasons winding down the teams will be striving to put more wins on their records in the final two weeks.

WRESTLING
The Blue Raider wrestlers were trying to stay competitive last week but were handed defeats by Newport and Lower Dauphin on the mats. Newport has a very solid program in motion and Lower Dauphin avenged an earlier loss to the Raiders with a convincing win on Wednesday.

Newport 66, Middletown 12
The visiting Buffaloes won all but two matches in the dual meet on Monday in the Middletown gym. Newport rolled out to a commanding 54-0 lead before Sebastian Dash broke the string with a pin over Tyler Green at 215. Following two more losses at 285 and 106, the Blue Raiders picked up their second win at 113 when Josh Tlumach pinned Aiden Crockett at 1:36 in the final match of the night. The Buffaloes recorded pins in 9 other matches.

Lower Dauphin 51, Middletown 21
The Blue Raiders had defeated the Falcons 42-27 back on January 8 at the Dutchmen Duals at Annville-Cleona. But Lower Dauphin pulled a reversal in the teams’ second meeting, beating the Raiders 51-21. Following a loss in the opening bout at 285 the Raiders won two in a row to take a 9-6 lead. At 106 Julian Benner won buy forfeit and at 113 Tlumach decisioned Jacob Gesford 3-2. But three straight pins at 120, 126 and 132, plus a forfeit at 138 put the Falcons ahead at 30-9. Vinnie Corradi lost a 13-6 decision at 152 in a tough match, but the Falcons recorded pins at 160 and 172 to put the score out of reach at 51-9. Dominic Singh got a pin at 189 for the Blue Raiders and Dash pinned Domenic DeFrank at 215 in the final bout to close out the scoring.

GIRLS BASKETBALL
The Lady Blue Raiders were still stuck on 7 wins for the season following a trio of losses last week and were unable to move up in the District 3 standings.

Annville-Cleona 39, Middletown 38
For the Lady Blue Raiders a heartbreaking one-point loss at Annville-Cleona was tough to accept for LaSonda Dixon’s squad. The Raiders led 11-7 at the end of the first period, 22-17 at the half and 28-27 at the close of the third quarter and were in a position to earn a victory. But the host Lady Dutchmen pulled out the win with a 12-10 scoring edge in the fourth to deny the Middletown team.

Senior Makayla Claggett led the way with 6 points in the opening quarter but was held to just 3 more the rest of the way. Freshman Addie Huber ended up scoring all 10 of the Raiders’ points in the last 8 minutes and finished the game with a game-high 20 points. Simply put, the host Dutchmen put the defensive clamps on Huber’s teammates in the end to secure the comeback win. The Raiders had 13 steals on defense, but were whistled for 24 fouls in the game. A-C made 10 of 16 free throws in the second half and 19 total in the game. The Raiders made 7 of 15 foul shots in the loss.
Junior center Carizma Fernandez went down with a knee injury in the game and her status for the rest of the season is unknown.

Bishop McDevitt 70, Middletown 29
Little went right for the Lady Raiders at home against visiting Bishop McDevitt on Tuesday as the Crusaders ran away with a 70-29 win. McDevitt led 22-6 at the end of the first quarter and had a comfortable 39-20 lead at halftime. The suffocating McDevitt defense then limited the Middletown offense to just 9 total points in the second half in the rout. Huber had a team-high 15 points in the loss while the rest of the team combined for just 14. The Raiders were victimized by 27 turnovers in the defeat.

Susquehanna Township 55, Middletown 33
Things did not go a whole lot better for the Middletown team at Susquehanna Township on Friday in the 33-55 loss. The Lady Raiders trailed 40-14 at halftime and were actually totally shut out in the third quarter. Finally coming to life on offense in the fourth period the Raiders dropped in 19 points against the Susquehanna reserves while limiting the Indians to just two points, to finish on an up note. Huber and Claggett teamed for 28 of the Raiders points in the game. The team was again stung by a big number of turnovers (25) in the loss.

BOYS BASKETBALL
The hopes of a Capital Division championship for the boys’ team took a hit last week in a disappointing 48-51 loss at Bishop McDevitt on Tuesday. Following the setback, the Blue Raiders responded with wins over New Oxford and Susquehanna Township which kept them in the hunt for the league title and high district playoff ranking.

Bishop McDevitt 51, Middletown 48
The Blue Raiders got off to an uncharacteristically slow start at McDevitt on Tuesday and had to stage a fierce fourth-quarter rally just to give themselves a chance to win the Capital Division game. That slow start haunted them until the final 8 minutes when the Raiders made their final run. The rally fell just short, however, and the Middletown squad was dealt its second division loss, knocking them out of a first-place tie with Trinity.

The Raiders could not get anything going offensively in the first half and scored just 13 total points in the 16-minute span. Meanwhile the running Crusaders pushed their way out to 28-13 lead at the break. In the third quarter the Raiders slowly started their rally. After the Crusaders scored early the Raiders collected 6 straight points at the foul line and closed out the third with a 6-5 edge to make it a 37-25 game heading into the final frame.

Tajae Broadie and Arkel Batts combined for 7 points in the first 2:40 of the fourth quarter but McDevitt’s Tyshawn Russell hit a pair of treys to keep the hosts ahead. Midway through the quarter Broadie made a pair of free throws to make it a 9-point game and Braelan Huber hit a triple following a McDevitt basket to cut the lead to eight, 46-38. The final two minutes turned into a foul shooting contest and the Raiders had chances to get closer. The Raiders made 4 of 7 and pulled to within two points, 50-48, with 1:04 left. In the last 39 seconds McDevitt made just one of 5 attempts, the one coming with just 3.3 seconds on the clock. A last-second three-point attempt to tie by Broadie rimmed in and out at the buzzer, allowing the hosts to hang on for the win. Broadie finished with a game-high 22 points in the loss.

Middletown 58, New Oxford 43
Following the loss, the weary Blue Raiders had to come right back the next night and take on visiting New Oxford in a non-league matchup. The Colonials, from the York-Adams League brought a 6-9 overall record into the Middletown gym and gave the Blue Raiders a real run for the money in the game. The Raiders led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter and held a slim 25-21 edge at halftime.

As the game resumed in the second half the Colonials simply would not go away and, with 4:56 left in the third quarter, a trey by Aden Strausbaugh made it a two-point game at 30-28. Strausbaugh, who was hot all night, collected 10 of his game-high 29 points in the frame to keep the game close. But balanced scoring by the Blue Raiders kept the home team ahead on the scoreboard. Huber’s goal and a steal and jumper by Ryan Souders at the buzzer gave the home team a 38-31 cushion to start the fourth quarter.

Broadie and Souders went back-to-back to start the final period and gave the Blue Raiders some breathing room at 42-31. Strausbaugh dropped in two more triples over the next 30 seconds but the Raiders outscored their guests 5-1 to stay safely in front, although the Colonials cut the lead to seven, 49-42, with 1:57 left. Tyson Leach made two free throws, Broadie scored on a reverse layup and made 3 of 4 foul shots in a minute-and-a half to seal the deal. Bamm Appleby made two foul shots with 6.7 seconds left to lock up the win.

Middletown 50, Susquehanna Township 39
The Blue Raiders followed up their Thursday night win with a good division victory over visiting Susquehanna Township on Friday night. Prior to the game the six senior players were honored for their contributions to the program. As tradition dictates coach Chris Bradford started five seniors against the Indians. Captain Tate Leach elected to sit out the start in a gesture of unselfishness. The starters were Matt Wagner, A. J. Stains, Ryan Souders, Tajae Broadie and Jay Smith and they got the team off to an early 4-2 lead.

As the regulars trickled into the game the Middletown squad worked its way to a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. But Susquehanna’s athletic players made things interesting throughout the second quarter and well into the third. The Raiders led 20-17 at the halftime break and by just 24-21 midway through the third quarter. But, after the hustling Indians had closed the gap to just a single digit at the 2:14 mark, the Raiders took control. Souders hit a corner jumper at 1:59, Broadie went low for a bucket at :27 and Tate Leach fired in a long three that banked in at the buzzer to push the home team to a 33-25 lead heading into the fourth period. Arkel Batts scored 8 points in the first 4 minutes of the final segment to lead the way to a 42-31 Middletown lead and the Indians could not catch up. Appleby, Broadie, Souders and Huber pushed the lead to 50-35 with time winding down and the winners absorbed a couple late points by the Indians to lock up the victory.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - January 17-22, 2022

With the full effect of winter covering the area the Middletown Area High School’s athletic teams were busy last week. The boys’ basketball team played three games and had one postponed due to Covid issues. The girls’ basketball team played twice, winning one of the two contests. And the wrestling team was also busy with three matches on the schedule. The teams competed with their eyes on either league championships or district qualifying, or both, in their sights.

BOYS BASKETBALL
The big news was that the boys’ team had its unbeaten streak stopped on Friday by old nemesis Trinity. The loss came in between a pair of victories for the Blue Raiders, who, with the wins, elevated their overall record to 13-1.

Middletown 60, Gettysburg 39
On Monday the Blue Raiders hosted the visiting Warriors from Gettysburg in a non-league matchup. Gettysburg, a former Mid Penn Conference school, now competes in the YA.I.A.A League and provided a good test for the Middletown squad.

The game was closely played in the first half but the Blue Raiders really took flight after the halftime break and ran away with the easy victory. The Raiders grabbed an early lead before the Warriors answered and edged ahead 5-4 with just over 5 minutes left in the opening period. After the Raiders tied the score at 7-7 midway through the quarter Gettysburg’s Trent Ramirez-Keller hit a trey to give his team a 10-7 lead. But that turned out to be the last time the Warriors would lead in the game. Goals by Tajae Broadie, Arkel Batts, Ryan Souders and Tyson Leach completed a 9-0 run that gave the home team a 15-10 lead at the end of one period.

That lead increased to 20-10 in the first three minutes of the second period on points by Braelan Huber, Batts and Bamm Appleby. But the Raiders failed to put more distance between them and their guests after that. Making just 1 of 6 foul shots and missing other chances the Raiders picked up just two points in the second half of the frame. Fortunately, the Warriors also struggled for points and the home team led 22-14 at the break.

But the lead opened up for the Blue Raiders in the third quarter and an 18-5 scoring advantage in the 8-minute span pushed the Middletown team out to a comfortable 40-19 command heading into the final frame. The Warriors found some scoring in the fourth quarter, picking up 20 points in the frame, but the Blue Raiders matched that effort with 20 of their own to hold the Warriors at bay. Broadie registered 9 of his game-high 21 points in the quarter, while Batts, Tate Leach and Huber added the rest as the Blue Raiders cruised to the 60-39 triumph. Batts finished with 17 points in the win.

Trinity 58, Middletown 52
Back on December 20 the Blue Raiders won a decisive 63-42 decision on Trinity’s home court and this re-match was long-awaited by both sides. The Blue Raiders carried their unbeaten 12-0 record into the clash and wanted to keep that record intact. The Shamrocks, led by their long-time head coach Larry Kostelac, were not only seeking revenge for that earlier upset, they were coming off a pair of losses and needed to get back on track. And, as it turned out, they did just that.

After having their Wednesday game at East Pennsboro postponed, the Blue Raiders may have lost some of their competing edge while facing the Shamrocks. But, still, the home team had their chances to make it two in a row over their arch rivals. Although an early lead was squandered, a six-point halftime lead was encouraging, and an 8-point advantage late in the third quarter had the Raiders on the right track. But the Shamrocks kept pressing and used a 23-13 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter to pull off the mild upset.

Trinity led 13-11 at the end of the first quarter but the Blue Raiders pulled a reversal in the second to go back in front. Batts hit a pair of threes in the second before Trinity’s Bryan Skurcenski pushed the Shamrocks back in front. Undaunted, the Raiders ran off 6 straight points by Tyson Leach, Tate Leach and Appleby to forge ahead 23-18. The teams traded points in the last two minutes of the quarter, but Tyson Leach drilled a long three with 22 seconds left to give the Raiders ad 28-22 lead at halftime.

With 2:26 left in the third quarter Broadie scored in the lane to push the home team up to a 39-31 advantage. But Trinity closed out the period with four points to make it a 39-35 game heading into the final frame. The Shamrocks carried that momentum into the start of the fourth quarter, opening up with a 6-0 run to take the lead at 41-39. Tate Leach tied it with a pair of free throws but Trinity’s defensive pressure caused problems the rest of the way. Broadie again tied the score at 42-42 with 4:38 left, but the Raiders could not stop the Trinity scoring down the stretch. Skurcenski’s trey broke the tie and set the stage for the Shamrocks’ win. A 16-10 scoring edge in the final four minutes made the difference. Skurcenski scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to lead the way.

Middletown 58, Penn Manor 52
In game two of the Lancaster/Lebanon League vs Mid Penn Showdown in Manheim on Saturday the Blue Raiders fought off a good Penn Manor team with a 58-52 decision to get back on the winning track. In all 12 teams competed in the day-long event held at Manheim’s Doe Run Elementary School. Penn Manor, a 6-A school from Millersville, proved to be a worthy opponent of the Middletown team and the game was not really decided until the late minutes.

Coming off the loss to Trinity the night before, the weary Blue Raiders, without their floor leader Tate Leach, faced a good challenge from the Comets. Leach was hurt and missed some time against Trinity and sat this game out to recover.

The Raiders registered a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 26-19 at halftime. Broadie scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the first half to lead the way and the defense forced 9 Penn Manor turnovers in the same time span. A 16-14 scoring edge in the third quarter led the Raiders to a 42-33 lead heading into the final frame. But, following a basket by Appleby to start the fourth, the Comets ran off 8 points to close the gap to 44-40 with 5:28 left in the game. Batts and Broadie went back-to-back to break the string, but the Comets answered with a pair of buckets to stay within four, 48-44 with 2:53 left.

Three straight turnovers by the Raiders kept the score close at 53-50 with 1:21 left, keeping the outcome in doubt. Appleby made two clutch free throws with 51 seconds left. Following a Comet miss Broadie went to the line for a 1-and-1 but missed, but a tie ball on the rebound gave possession to the Raiders. Batts dropped in two foul shots with 22 ticks left that pretty much sealed the deal at 57-50. A goal by Penn Manor and a free throw by Huber closed out the scoring and the 58-52 win for the Blue Raiders.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Middletown 55, East Pennsboro 29
The Middletown girls’ basketball team won its 7th game of the year with a 55-29 victory over visiting East Pennsboro on Wednesday, January 19 at home. The Lady Raiders got off to a hot start against the Panthers, jumping out to a 19-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. Freshman Addie Huber scored 9 of her game-high 20 points in the first period while her defensive teammates forced 10 East Pennsboro turnovers in the opening 8 minutes. Allie Cleland and Makayla Claggett added four points each in the fast start.

The Lady Panthers outpointed the Raiders 9-8 in the second stanza but the home team was well in command at 27-12 at the break. The Raiders collected 13 points in the third as all five starters chipped in points, leading the home team to a 40-23 advantage to start the fourth. Huber and Claggett evenly split 12 points in the final segment and Sara Yeich added three to lead the way to the convincing 55-29 win for the Lady Raiders.

Trinity 61, Middletown 50
At Trinity on Friday the Lady Raiders got off to a painfully slow start, scoring just 16 points in the first half against the Shamrocks, but came back with a spirited second half to turn in a respectable effort in the loss. After that slow start, and facing a 32-16 deficit to begin the third quarter, the Blue Raiders, behind the combined scoring of Claggett and Huber, and good defensive work, made a game of it right to the end.

Claggett and Huber combined for 14 of Middletown’s third-quarter points to lead the way as the Raiders edged the Shamrocks 16-15 in the period. And, an 18-14 point advantage in the fourth gave the Middletown team a lift. But that early deficit turned out to be more than the Lady Raiders could overcome and Trinity claimed the 61-50 win. Trinity’s Adriana Stricek matched Claggett’s scoring honors with 21 points, while Huber ended with 19.

WRESTLING

The wrestling squad was busy last week and competed in three duals against three good teams. And, while the team is getting some good individual efforts from a few grapplers, the season has been a struggle team-wise.

Camp Hill 51, Middletown 21
Camp Hill has become a competitive team the past couple seasons and certainly came into the match at Middletown as a heavy favorite. The Lions proved that with their 51-21 win on the Blue Raiders’ mat. Winners for the Middletown side were Sam Miller, forfeit at 113, Travis Kramer, pin over Braxton Wolgemuth in 4:11 at 138, Isaac Lupp, pin over Gavin Munn in 3:32 at 160, and Sebastian Dash, 7-2 decision over Erik Dick at 215.

Bishop McDevitt 60, Middletown 12
McDevitt, too, has become one of the better wrestling teams in recent years and the Crusaders cruised to a 60-12 win over the Blue Raiders on Thursday. The Blue Raiders had just a pair of wins in the match: Julian Brenner by forfeit at 106, and Geno Corradi with a pin over Amanual Estifanos at 132. The Raiders suffered pins at 152, 172, 113, 126 and 138. The Crusaders also recorded a major decision at 215 and a tech fall at 160.

Trinity 52, Middletown 16
The visiting Shamrocks won 10 of 13 bouts on Saturday morning and posted a 52 to 16 win over the Blue Raiders. On the plus side Geno Corradi pinned opponent Artyom Helling in 1:33 in the 138 lb. match and Vincent Corradi pinned Jacob Scherra at 1:30 in the 152 lb. bout. The other Middletown winner was Sam Miller who posted a 13-0 major decision of Tyler Whitley at 120. Rashid Ibrahim and Travis Kramer lost close decisions at 126 and 145 respectively.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - January 10-15, 2022

Hitting the halfway point of the winter seasons, each of the varsity teams had success in scholastic competitions. The wrestling team earned its first wins of the season at the end of the previous week, but was inactive last week due to a cancellation. The girls’ basketball team won both of its games last week and the boys’ squad continued its unbeaten streak with three victories.

WRESTLING
Competing in the Annville-Cleona tournament on Saturday, January 8 the wresters picked up the pair of victories in the day-long event following losses to tourney winner Upper Dauphin and Central Dauphin East.

Middletown 42, Columbia 33
In Round 3 of the tourney the Blue Raiders topped Columbia 42-33 on the strength of five forfeits and wins by upper weights Sebastian Dash and Joe Gassert.

At 215 Dash pinned his opponent Joel Ober at 2:43. Gassert followed with a pin of Chris Sabino at 3:42 that proved to be enough for the Blue Raiders to win the match. Josh Tlumach, Sam Miller, Geno Corradi, Vincent Corradi and Dominic Singh won by forfeits. Columbia won six bouts in the match.

Middletown 42, Lower Dauphin 27
Middletown beating Lower Dauphin in wrestling is a big deal and the Blue Raiders were victorious over the Falcons in Round 4 of the tournament. Geno Corradi decisioned James Rogers 8-2 at 132 following an early win by Lower Dauphin’s Clayton Koser. The Falcons followed with a pair of pins to take an 18-3 lead before Vincent Corradi broke the string with a pin of Dawson Barrett at 152. Following a win by Lower Dauphin at 160, the Blue Raiders took the lead via three straight pins by Mason Swartz at 172, Singh at 189 and Dash at 215.

The Falcons tied the contest at 27-27 with a win at 285. But the Blue Raiders won the last three matches to lock up the team victory. At 106 Julian Brenner decisioned Jorge Burgos 6-2. Miller won by forfeit at 113 and Tlumach closed it out with a pin of Lewis Fisher at 120.

GIRLS BASKETBALL
The Middletown girls’ team picked up its 5th and 6th victories of the season last week with a pair of wins over Pequea Valley and Camp Hill. With the wins the Lady Raiders moved up a few spots to number 13 in the District 3-AAAA power rankings with a 6-8 overall record.

Middletown 46, Pequea Valley 44
The Lady Raiders claimed their fifth victory of the season, but it was not easy. But, thanks to some last second heroics, the Middletown team pulled out the win over the visitors from Lancaster County last Thursday night. With the game all tied up at 44-44, and facing overtime, Middletown freshman Addie Huber popped in the winning points as time expired for the exciting finish!

The non-league game was closely played throughout and it was no surprise that it all came down to the end. Huber not only made the winning shot, but also threw in a half-court bomb at the buzzer to give the Blue Raiders a 12-8 lead at the end of one quarter. Midway through the second period the Raiders had climbed up to an 18-9 lead on the strength of Makayla Claggett’s 6 points. But the Braves fought back and cut the lead to 18-16 with two minutes left in the first half. A three-pointer by Pequea’s Madison Clark in the final seconds made it a one-point game, 20-19, heading into the break.

After the Raiders opened up the second half with a pair of goals by Sara Yeich the Braves closed the gap. Back-to-back goals by Claggett and Allie Cleland gave the Raiders a 28-22 lead but Pequea Valley hit three straight triples to take the lead. With just 4 seconds left in the quarter Bella Buehrle knocked down a trey to tie the score at 33-33. The Braves opened up a 38-33 lead to start the fourth but the Raiders fought back and eventually clawed ahead 44-39 with 1:44 left. The lead, however, was not safe and the Braves tied the score with 35.6 seconds on the clock. The Raiders worked for the winning shot but the ball was tied up in the late seconds. Fortunately, the possession arrow favored the home team. With just 2.1 seconds left Huber grabbed the inbounds pass from Cleland, took one dribble step to the baseline and dropped in the winning basket as the clock ran down to zero.

Middletown 45, Camp Hill 35
On Friday at home the Lady Raiders turned in a good effort against visiting Camp Hill and scored a 45-35 victory in Capital Division action. After falling behind 8-6 by the end of the first period, the Raiders outscored their guests 16-5 in the second to earn a 22-13 halftime lead. To start the second half Claggett scored 9 of her game-high 22 points to lead the offense to a 14- point third period and the Middletown defense limited the Lions to 9 in a 36-22 advantage heading into the final frame. And that cushion proved enough to secure the victory.

BOYS BASKETBALL
The hits keep coming for the boys’ basketball team and the Blue Raiders racked up three more triumphs last week. The victories lifted the team to a perfect 11-0 record and a spot at the top of the District 3 power rankings. Prior to Friday’s win at Camp Hill the Blue Raiders were ranked second behind Berks Catholic. With the junior varsity team also being unbeaten, the teams have set an incredible mark thus far.

Middletown 50, York Suburban 41
The visiting Trojans from York Suburban proved to be a tough opponent for the Blue Raiders on Monday and it took a strong fourth quarter to finally turn back their try at stopping the Middletown winning streak. A 15-7 scoring advantage by the Raiders in the fourth quarter was the difference in the non-league contest.

The Trojans grabbed a 7-3 lead by the 3:30 mark of the opening period and held a 14-11 edge heading into the second. The Raiders opened up the second stanza with a 6-0 run by Bamm Appleby, Tajae Broadie and Arkel Batts and picked up a late goal by Tyson Leach off a block by Broadie to earn a 21-20 lead at halftime.

The teams kept at each other in the third quarter and both scored 14 points in the frame to keep the game in doubt. Up 35-34 heading into the final 8 minutes the Raiders bore down and gradually took control. Following an exchange of baskets that put the tying points on the board at 37-37, the home team took off on a pivotal 9-0 run that gave the Raiders some breathing room. Tyson Leach scored three straight goals, including a trey, and Arkel Batts capped the run with a follow at 1:10 for a 46-37 Middletown lead. The Trojans broke the string with a pair of foul shots at 1:08 but Broadie sank two free throws and then scored with one second left to ice the win. Tyson Leach led all scorers with 18 points and Broadie followed with 16.

Middletown 83, Steelton-Highspire 59
In a key Capital Division clash that had been re-scheduled the Blue Raiders ran past the visiting Rollers from Steel-High on Wednesday night in front of a nearly-full Middletown gymnasium. The Blue Raiders jumped out to an early 8-0 lead and finished the opening quarter with a 16-5 advantage over their guests. That lead expanded to 37-20 at halftime and the Rollers simply could not catch up after that.

And, although the Rollers did manage to register 24 points in the third quarter, the Blue Raiders collected 22 of their own to stay safely in control at 59-44 to start the final frame. A 24-15 scoring advantage in the game’s last eight minutes put the exclamation point on the latest edition of a long-standing rivalry. Four Middletown players struck for double-digit points, led by Broadie with a game-high 19. Tyson Leach had 17, Tate Leach had 15 and Batts had 14 more to lead the charge. The Middletown defense forced 28 Roller turnovers in the game that got a bit physical at times, but never out of control.

Middletown 68, Camp Hill 51
Following a game with all the intensity of the clash with Steelton-Highspire it was easy to understand that there could be a bit of a letdown for the Middletown team in the trip to Camp Hill on Friday night. Especially with the thoughts of their 64-22 rout over the Lions in the first game of the season in their minds. And, although the Blue Raiders showed some of that effect at the start of the game in Camp Hill’s quaint gym, the players picked up their efforts in the second half and rolled to the 17-point triumph.

Credit has to go to the Lions who battled against the odds. After scoring just 22 total points in the earlier loss, Camp Hill collected 23 in first half and trailed by just five, 28-23, to start the third quarter. But after scoring the first points of the second half to cut the Middletown lead, the Lions watched as their chances for a major upset fade away against the Blue Raiders’ renewed attack.

A goal by Batts off an Appleby assist, a pair of free throws by Tate Leach and a 3-point play by Batts quickly pushed the Middletown advantage to 10 points and the Raiders had little to worry about after that. Tate Leach’s late bucket gave the Raiders a 46-31 advantage heading into the final quarter. And, although the Lions hit 3 treys and scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, the Blue Raiders recorded 22 markers to hold off the Lions’ late charge. In the win Batts and Tyson Leach each pocketed 17 points and Tate Leach added 12 to the scorebook. Appleby, Braelan Huber, Ryan Souders and Broadie added the rest.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - January 3-8, 2022
While one team excels with an unbeaten record the two other varsity teams struggle as the new year begins. The Middletown boys’ basketball team keeps on winning and owns a perfect 8-0 record, a streak that started back on December 14. For the record the junior varsity team is also unbeaten during that stretch.

The other teams continue to keep searching for success, which has become difficult to achieve. The girls’ basketball team is stuck on just two victories for the season and the wrestling squad is winless so far, despite the efforts of the athletes.

BOYS BASKETBALL
The Blue Raiders picked up a pair of victories last week on the road. On Monday the Middletown team again traveled to Lewistown to take on the Mifflin County Huskies. Following the Christmas break the Raiders earned top honors in the Mifflin County Holiday Tournament by beating Big Spring and James Buchanan. On Monday the Raiders made the return trip a big success with a 78-42 win over the host Huskies. On Tuesday the squad returned from a short trip to Susquehanna Township with a 66-47 win over the Indians in their pockets.

Middletown 78, Mifflin County 42
On Monday the host team gave their guests a pretty good fight in the early going in a determined effort. But the Blue Raiders took flight in the second period and wiped away any momentum the Huskies had gained in the first quarter. Midway through the opening period the Raiders held a slim, 9-6 lead and the Huskies kept it close in the bottom half of the segment. With a minute left Tyson Leach’s jumper gave the Raiders a 19-12 lead, but the Huskies scored 5 late points to pull to within a basket, 19-17, by the end of the first 8 minutes. Leach had scored 10 points in the quarter to lead the Raiders, but the Huskies hit a trio of treys to keep it close.
But any thoughts the home team had a pulling off an upset ended in the second stanza. With the Raiders really stepping up their defensive pressure the Huskies’ hopes were dashed. Meanwhile the Middletown offense was clicking and, by the time the halftime buzzer sounded, the Blue Raiders had outscored their hosts 23-9 and owned a 42-26 lead at the break. Tajae Broadie recorded 13 of his game-high 17 points in the frame to lead the charge.

That dominating trend continued into the second half and a 19-9 scoring advantage by the Raiders in the third quarter pushed the Huskies further behind. With Tate Leach and Bamm Appleby leading the defensive pressure, Arkel Batts and Tyson Leach both scored 6 points in the third quarter as the Blue Raiders ran out to a commanding 61-35 lead heading into the fourth period.

Braelan Huber popped in a pair of treys, Max Dupes added one, sub Landon Keyser chipped in 6 points and Mason Blazer also scored as the Raiders outscored their guests 17-7 in the final 8 minutes to win in a 78-42 rout.

Middletown 66, Susquehanna Township 47
Susquehanna Township’s gym is never an easy place to play in for visiting teams and the Blue Raiders traveled to Progress facing a big test. But the Middletown squad passed the test with flying colors with the 19-point victory over the Indians.

Getting balanced scoring all around and what has become his team’s patented defensive dominance, Middletown coach Chris Bradford guided his team to the pleasing victory. Outscoring the Indians 18-10 in the first period and 19-15 in the second the Blue Raiders earned a 37-25 lead at halftime, a commanding edge they held throughout the second half.

With Batts (game high 20 points), Tyson and Tate Leach, Appleby and Broadie all contributing on both ends of the court, and Ryan Souders back in action after missing several games with an ankle injury, the Middletown squad dominated the game from start to finish. The Indians, held to just 22 points in the second half, simply could not catch up.

And, even with Tate Leach and Broadie playing cautiously with foul issues, the defense never missed a beat no matter who was on the court. The 29-22 scoring advantage in the second half was more than enough to turn back any run the Indians tried to mount. Along with Batts’ 20, Tyson Leach scored 17 and Broadie added 13 in the win. Tate Leach, Appleby, A. J. Stains and Souders added points in the Blue Raiders’ 8th win of the season.

GIRLS BASKETBALL
The Middletown girls’ team had a couple chances to get back into the winning column last week but came up just a bit short both times. Close losses at home to both Susquehanna Township and West Perry kept the Lady Blue Raiders from securing the elusive wins. The team has just a pair of victories to show for their efforts this season.

Susquehanna Township 54, Middletown 47
Middletown coach LaSonda Dixon has two of the better players in the Capital Division on her team and both are scoring plenty of points. Senior Makayla Claggett and freshman Addie Huber are both averaging double digit points each game. The problem Dixon is facing that she is not getting much scoring from the rest of the team. And that was mostly the case last week.

In the loss to Susquehanna Township on Tuesday Huber scored 15 points and Claggett registered 14. The team also picked up 12 points (a rarity) from Sara Yeich. But the others on the team combined for just 6 points and the visiting Lady Indians, led by Schuyler Coles’ 19 markers, collected just enough to claim the win.

Huber got off to a slow start, with just 2 points in the first half, and Claggett scored 8 in the span to pace the Middletown scoring. Yeich also collected 8 in the first half to add to the cause. But Susquehanna outscored the Raiders 23-18 prior to the halftime break and went up by a 37-26 lead at the end of three periods.

A strong start, however, to the fourth quarter got the Raiders right back into contention and made the final 8 minutes interesting. Down by 10 points with 6:31 left in the game the Lady Raiders made a strong run. A trey by Huber, her second of the period, jump-started a 9-0 string that made it a one-point game. Yeich added a pair of baskets off assists by Claggett, and Carizma Fernandez scored off a Huber assist to complete the run. But the Indians scored 4 straight points to stay ahead and held off the Raiders the rest of the way to secure the win. Luvi Balliet hit a jumper with 14 ticks left for the final points of the game.

West Perry 44, Middletown 39
The lack of balanced scoring showed up again on Wednesday in a 5-point loss to visiting West Perry. Huber’s game-high 18 points and Claggett’s 16 were not enough to propel the Lady Raiders to a much-needed win. While the offense struggled to put points on the board, Fernandez, Yeich, Allie Cleland and Ariana Serrano played good defense to limit the Mustangs’ scoring as well. But West Perry did enough to pick up the win.

The Lady Raiders were down 11-5 at the end of the first quarter and trailed 17-13 at the half in the low-scoring contest. The teams matched each other point-for-point in the third quarter and the guests held onto their 4-point edge heading into the final frame. Cleland drew her fifth personal foul with 7:12 left, taking her defense to the bench with her. With 3:20 left in the game and trailing by ten, 36-26, the Lady Raiders tried to make a run. A trey by Huber and a jumper by Yeich closed the gap to five, 36-31. A steal and breakaway by Claggett nearly cut the lead further but Serrano could not convert Claggett’s pass into points.

But, still, the Lady Raiders had a chance to pull out the win. With 26 seconds left Claggett fired in a long triple off a Bella Buehrle pass to make it a one-point game, 40-39. But the Raiders would get no more and West Perry went 4 for 4 from the foul line in the final 20 seconds to lock up the win.

WRESTLING
Struggles continued for the Middletown wrestling team as the Blue Raider grapplers were dealt a pair of one-sided defeats last week. On Thursday visiting Susquenita beat the Middletown squad 60-15 and on Saturday in the Dutchmen Duals at Annville-Cleona the Raiders fell to Upper Dauphin by a 56-12 count. Upper Dauphin ended up beating everyone else as well in winning the tournament easily.

Susquenita 60, Middletown 15
Right from the start it was easy to see that Susquenita High School’s wrestling team was good. As it turned out the Blackhawks dominated the lineup. The highlight for the Middletown squad came at 285 when Joe Gassert beat his opponent 7-1. The other two wins for the Raiders came via forfeits at 138 and 215.

In the 215 lb. match with Susquenita’s Braden Law, Gassert went ahead 2-0 with a takedown in the first period and went up 5-0 with an escape and takedown in the second. He gave up just one point on an escape in the third but picked up two more of his own to win the match 7-1. Rhakye Wise (138) and Sebastian Dash (215) were awarded forfeits. In all the Blackhawks recorded 8 pins in the win.

Upper Dauphin 56, Middletown 12
At Annville-Cleona on Saturday the Blue Raiders fell to Upper Dauphin in the first round of the Dutchmen Duals. Dominic Corradi won by forfeit at 138 and Vincent Corradi pinned Cale Welker at 152 for the only other win of the match. Seven Middletown wrestlers lost by pins, while Josh Tlumach, Wise, Isaac Lupp and Dash lost by decision. Upper Dauphin beat Camp Hill, East Pennsboro, Columbia and Lower Dauphin to win the event at 5-0.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - December 29-30, 2021

While there was a break from classes during the Christmas holidays, the Middletown sports teams remained active in scholastic competition. The boys basketball team competed in a holiday tournament at Mifflin County High School, the girls team took to the hardcourt at Hershey and the wrestling team tested their progress at the Governor Mifflin Holiday Tournament in Shillington, PA.

WRESTLING
The Blue Raider grapplers competed at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School as part of a 22-team tournament on December 29 and 30. The team finished 18th out of the 22 teams and had a good number of wrestlers turn in very good efforts in the competition. In the Championship Round 1 Rhakye Wise pinned his opponent from Brandywine Heights in 2:20 at 138 pounds. In the same round Travis Kramer lost to Malvern Prep’s Catania at 145.

In Round 2 Sebastian Dash pinned his opponent from Elizabethtown at 215 and Joe Gassert also recorded a fall at 285. Others who wrestled in Round 2 were Joshua Tlumach (113), Sam Miller (120), Enzo Corradi (126), Geno Corradi (132), Isaac Lupp (160), Mason Swartz (172) and Dominic Singh (189).

Miller (10-4 decision), Lupp (pin) and Swartz (pin) won in the Round 3 Consolations. Dash claimed a 7th place finish at 215 with a 4-1 decision over Ryan Sauppee of Oley Valley, and Gassert earned a 5th place finish despite a loss at 285.

BOYS BASKETBALL
Following the previous week’s pair of huge wins over Trinity and Bishop McDevitt the Middletown boys competed in the Mifflin County Holiday Tournament in Lewistown. And, with two more victories to their credit the Blue Raiders came away with the tourney title for their 5th and 6th wins of the new season, keeping their unbeaten streak intact. A win against Big Spring on Tuesday pitted the Raiders against James Buchanan in the championship game on Wednesday.

Middletown 72, Big Spring 43
In the opening game of the tournament The Blue Raiders had little trouble with the Big Spring Bulldogs in the 72-43 decision. The Raiders outscored the Bulldogs 20-10 in the first period and 18-13 in the second to rush out to a 38-23 halftime lead. Guard Arkel Batts scored 16 of his game-high 21 points in the first half to lead the balanced Middletown scoring. A 32-20 scoring edge in the second half, along with dominating defense, assured the Blue Raiders of the victory.
 
Before it was all over, 10 Middletown players put points on the board. Tate Leach and Tajae Broadie each registered 14 points, and Braelan Huber added 11 in the rout.

Middletown 59, James Buchanan 42
James Buchanan, a winner over host Mifflin County in the second game on Tuesday, proved to be much better competition for the Blue Raiders in Wednesday’s title game. Despite a slow start the Rockets kept battling and stayed in it throughout to give the Raiders a good test. But a dominate fourth quarter by the Middletown squad finally subdued the Rockets and allowed the Blue Raiders to pull away for the win.

Following a missed shot off of the opening tipoff by the Rockets, the Raiders ran off 9 straight points to grab the early lead. In the run, keyed by a couple turnovers and misses by the Rockets, Bamm Appleby, Batts and Tate Leach teamed for the scoring streak. J.B.’s Cade Layton broke the string with a pair of baskets to make it a 9-4 game, but Leach made two foul shots and Broadie scored off a Tyson Leach assist to push the Raiders ahead 13-4. Tate Leach’s runner with one second left gave the Raiders an 18-9 lead to start the second period.

The Middletown team expanded its lead to 22-9 when Broadie and Appleby went back-to-back early in the second. Late in the period James Buchanan’s Trent Kuhns came off the bench and promptly made a pair of treys to cut into the Raiders’ 29-14 lead. A late goal by Broadie gave the Middletown side a 31-20 lead at the halftime break.

What appeared to be a comfortable lead (35-22) following a steal and bucket by Broadie with 5:01left in the third quarter, changed a bit when J.B.s Jayce Piper hit a 3-pointer at 4:25. Following a runner by Appleby, the Rockets went back-to-back to cut the lead to just 8 points, 37-29, with 2:52 left. The Leach brothers made a pair of shots later, but Kuhns fired in a half-count buzzer beater to close the gap to 41-32 at the end of three periods. And that set the stage for a tense finish.

The Rockets stayed in contention, down by just 10 points, in the first minute and a half of the fourth frame, but the Middletown defense tightened up after that. James Buchanan’s last gasp came on a bucket by Layton with 5:26 left in the game. From that point on, the Blue Raiders ran off 12 straight points to put the game out of reach at 59-36. Six late points by the Rockets simply were not enough to pull out a comeback. Broadie led all scorers with 19 points, Tate Leach added 14 and Appleby collected 12 in the win.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - December 20-22, 2021
It was a short week for scholastic sports heading into the winter break, but there was lots of excitement rushing through the halls of Middletown Area High School to start the week.

As it turned out the Middletown Blue Raider boys’ basketball team gave themselves and their devoted fans the best gifts of all with a pair of huge victories on the hardcourts. The wins lifted the team to an unblemished 4-0 record, earning a solid grasp on first place in the Mid Penn Capital Division. After a short, much-needed break the team will play in the Mifflin County Holiday Tournament on December 28 and 29. The four-team tourney includes James Buchanan and Big Spring, along with the Raiders and the host Mifflin County Huskies.

The Middletown girls, entering the week with a 2-2 record, ran into two of the top teams in the Capital Division and fell to 2-4 following losses to Trinity and Bishop McDevitt.

BOYS BASKETBALL
Exciting times for sure for the Blue Raider boys as they recorded a pair of wins over Trinity and Bishop McDevitt last week! Trinity and McDevitt were pre-season picks as the number one and number two teams in the Capital Division with Middletown following in third place. But that predicted scenario changed dramatically following the Blue Raiders’ victories over both teams.

Middletown 63, Trinity 42
Playing Trinity is always a very tough assignment for anyone. Playing the Shamrocks on their home court is even tougher. But the Blue Raiders showed they were not intimidated by their opponents or the hosts’ atmosphere last Monday night on the West Shore.

Getting out to a great start while claiming a 19-9 lead at the end of the game’s first period and holding a 29-17 lead at the halftime break set the stage for the exciting win for the Raiders. Tate Leach, Ryan Souders and Tajae Broadie each scored 5 points in the first quarter and the trio teamed for 8 points in the second to lead the early charge. The Shamrocks did have better success in the third period, outscoring their guests 16-13 to cut the deficit to 9 points heading into the final frame. But the Middletown defense locked up the Shamrocks’ scoring in the fourth, limiting Trinity to just 9 points to secure the win. At the same time the opportunistic Raider offense blew by the stunned Shamrocks for 21 points to turn the close game into a rout. Six Middletown players, led by Tyson Leach with 7, contributed to the onslaught.

Four players finished with double digit points led by Tyson Leach with 15, Broadie with 13 and Tate Leach and Arkel Batts with 10 each. Souders, who had his evening cut short with an ankle injury, added 7 and Bamm Appleby chipped in 6.

Middletown 57, Bishop McDevitt 49
The atmosphere inside the packed Middletown gym was electric on Wednesday in the highly-anticipated meeting between the host Blue Raiders and the visiting Crusaders of Bishop McDevitt. And the two teams did not disappoint as they put on a real basketball show, the outcome not really decided until well into the fourth quarter.

As they did at Trinity on Monday the Blue Raiders got off to a good start, jumping out to a 7-0 lead before the Crusaders got on the board. Keyed by three steals by the defense, Tate Leach and Broadie sparked the early run. With 3:31 left in the opening period Broadie put back a rebound and added a free throw to give the Raiders a 10-4 lead. Tyson Leach and Braelan Huber ran off 6 straight points to expand the lead to 16-4, but the momentum shifted after Brodie went to the bench with 3 personal fouls.

In his absence, and with the men in stripes whistling a number of fouls against the Raiders, the Crusaders ran off 9 straight points to close the gap. The first quarter ended with the Raiders hanging on to a 19-15 lead. McDevitt turned up the defensive pressure in the second stanza and took advantage of a number of missed Middletown shots to slip ahead. After tying the game at 24-24 on a pair of Ryan Russo foul shots McDevitt outscored their hosts 9-6 down the stretch to take a 33-30 edge into the halftime break.

Following a slow start by both teams in the third quarter Tyson Leach banked in a trey at 6:52 to knot the score at 33-33. But the Raiders went 1 for 9 in the first half of the period and the Crusaders forged ahead 39-33 during that span. But Broadie got back into his game and the Blue Raiders ran and shot their way to regain the lead, finishing up the segment with an 11-0 run to earn themselves a 44-39 edge with 8 minutes to play.

That dominating streak continued well into the fourth quarter as Appleby, Tate Leach and Batts scored the first 7 points of the final frame to expand the lead to 51-39. Back-to-back goals by Tyshawn Russell and Jacobi Tate broke the string. The Crusaders played good defense, but the Blue Raiders played better in the final three minutes. The game was physical throughout and, despite the whistles disrupting some of the game’s flow, the home team, supported by the cheers from the home crowd, finished strong. McDevitt pulled to within five, 54-49, with 50 seconds left, but Broadie made 2 of 4 free throws, Tyson Leach made one of two and Tate Leach locked it up with a steal with 15 ticks left.

The boys junior varsity team also won both of its games against Trinity and Bishop McDevitt in the sweep.

GIRLS BASKETBALL
On Monday evening the Lady Raiders hosted the Shamrocks of Trinity and had a tough time scoring points in the game’s first three periods. The Raiders trailed 16-6 at the end of the first quarter, 40-14 at halftime and 50-16 at the three-quarter mark. The home team finally found some scoring in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Trinity reserves 18-7 in a stronger finish. But the points came too late as the Shamrocks rolled to the 57-34 win.

Held to just 3 points in the first half, senior Makayla Claggett pumped in 11 markers in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points in the loss. Freshman Addie Huber collected 11 of her 16 points in the first half as the only scoring threat the Raiders could muster prior to the fourth quarter. The only other points came from Sara Yeich in the final frame. Trinity shot well on offense (9 players scored in the game) and defended well against the Lady Raiders in the easy victory.

On Wednesday the Middletown girls fell to host Bishop McDevitt 32-47 in a Capital Division contest.

BOWLERS WIN TOURNEY TITLE
Middletown’s bowling team beat #1 seed Cumberland Valley on December 18 to win the title in the Snow Roller tournament held at Leisure Lanes in Lancaster. 52 teams competed in the day-long Interscholastic Invitational Team Tournament and the Middletown team came out on top. The team is made up of Roman Cipolla, Brenden Wegert, Sarah Beaudet, Cameron Wegert, Landon Freeman and Cameron Smee. Congratulations to the team and coaches Bower and Cipolla on their championship.

WRESTLING
The Middletown wrestling team competed in the Penn Manor Tournament on December 17 and 18 at Millersville University. And, although the Blue Raiders finished in last place against very good competition, several wrestlers turned in good individual efforts. In the Championship Round 1 matches Joshua Tlumach (113) decisioned Sidney O’Donnell of Dallas 8-2 and Sebastian Dash (215) pinned Jaden Summers of Solanco in winning form. Others in the Round 1 matches were Julian Brenner at 106, Rashid Ibrahim at 126, Geno Corradi at 132, Travis Kramer at 145, Jackson Grimland at 160, Dominic Singh at 189 and Joe Gassert at 285.
Brenner won by pin in the Consolation Round 1, Tlumach won by 8-5 decision, Corradi won by pin and Gassert won by a fall in Consolation Round 2. In Consolation Round 3 Sam Miller was the lone winner, pinning his opponent at 120. Rhakye Wise also competed for the Blue Raiders.


BLUE RAIDERS SPORTS REPORT - December 13-18, 2021

Winter scholastic sports were in full swing last week and the Blue Raiders were busy getting the competition under way. Boys basketball played its first two games of the season, girls basketball played its third and fourth games of the new schedule and boys wrestling got started as well. It turned out to be a good week for all the teams.

WRESTLING
First-year head coach Seth Decker was pleased with the number of kids who came out for wrestling this year with nearly 20 athletes hitting the mats when practice started. The previous year the Middletown program struggled to fill weight classes and were forced to forfeit many matches along the way. This year promises to be better.

The Blue Raiders started off by competing in the Mule Classic at Solanco High School on December 10 and 11 and had some limited success there despite finishing 23rd out of 24 teams. Six wrestlers made it to the championship round in the tourney. First place winners were Geno Corradi, pin at 132, Rhakye Wise, 8-7 decision at 138 and Isaac Lupp, pin at 160. Runners up were Joshua Tlumac at 113, Travis Kramer at 145 and Sebastian Dash at 215.

On Tuesday, December 14 the Blue Raiders traveled to Milton Hershey and took on a very good Spartans team and were dealt a 57-15 loss. Wise won with a pin at 138, Dash decisioned his opponent 9-3 at 215 and Tlumach won by forfeit at 113.

On Thursday the Blue Raiders collectively turned in a very competitive effort but came up short in a 37-30 loss at Harrisburg, a program that has been on the rise the past couple seasons. Tlumach, a freshman, started off the match with a pin at 113, Sam Miller lost a tough battle at 120, but sophomore Rashid Ibrahim recorded a fall at 126 and freshman Enzo Corradi also pinned his opponent to give the Raiders an 18-3 lead. The lead was upped to 24-3 when Geno Corradi (9th grader) picked up a fall in the last 28 seconds of his match.

The Raiders, however, lost the next four matches as Harrisburg took the lead 27-24. The Cougars forged ahead, winning at 285 to secure the win. Julian Brenner won by forfeit for the Raiders’ final points as the hosts held on for the 37-30 win.

BOYS BASKETBALL
The Middletown Blue Raiders, defending Capital Division and District III champions, tipped off the new season with a pair of big victories as their 2021-22 campaign got under way. Because they did not participate in a season-opening tournament this year the season had a bit of a late start. Following a pair of scrimmages with Hanover and Elizabethtown the Raiders hosted both Camp Hill and East Pennsboro, both Capital Division foes, last week, winning both games in convincing fashion.

Middletown 64, Camp Hill 22

Right from the opening tipoff it was plain to see that the Blue Raiders were the superior players on the court. The home team jumped out to an overwhelming 21-2 lead by the end of the first quarter and cruised to the easy victory. Senior Tajae Broadie scored 8 of his game-high 18 points in the first period and 10 of his teammates recorded points in the rout. Broadie scored 6 points early and Tyson Leach added his first of four 3-pointers to give the Middletown side a quick 9-0 lead. Before the opening rush had ended, Tate Leach and Braelan Huber joined the scoring parade for a 16-0 advantage before the Lions broke the streak. Bamm Appleby’s basket and another trey by Tyson Leach finished off the scoring in the first period.

The Lions never really recovered after that and found themselves in a 45-11 hole by the halftime break. Arkell Batts collected 8 points in the second stanza and Tyson Leach added two more triples to lead the way. After Broadie opened up the second half with a steal and breakaway dunk, Ryan Souders put back a rebound and added a foul shot that set the mercy clock in motion with the Raiders leading 49-12.

From there it was just simply a matter of the Middletown team finishing what it had started. As the Raider defense held the Lions to just 11 second-half points, reserves Landon Keyser, Huber, Max Dupes and A. J. Stains closed out the contest by combining for 12 points to ice the win.

Middletown 65, East Pennsboro 24

Camp Hill showed that it is in a rebuilding phase and so, too, did East Pennsboro on Friday night. The result was another blowout victory for the Middletown Blue Raiders at home.

Although the visiting Panthers showed a bit of determination early their efforts were not enough as the Raiders jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the game. Tyson Leach started it off with a trey off a Batts assist less than 30 seconds in and Broadie added a putback off a Panther turnover before East Penn scored with 6:36 left in the first quarter. A 7-0 run put the Raiders up 12-2 and the defense held their guests to just 5 points during the balance of the opening period. At the same time the home team went on a scoring binge. With three minutes left Tate Leach hit a triple that was followed by a pair of free throws by Broadie and a layup by Appleby with 1:07 left. Tyson Leach then drilled back-to-back treys for a 27-6 lead.

In the second quarter, the Blue Raiders erupted for a crushing 12-0 run that pretty much put the game away before halftime. Souders, Tyson Leach, Broadie, Stains, Matt Wagner and Huber completed the streak that pushed the Middletown advantage to 39-7. The Raiders took a 41-15 lead into the break and the defense pitched a shutout in the third period that ended with the home team completely in control at 57-15.

The fourth quarter was a bit of a mystery, time-wise, as the scoreboard locked up, but there was no question of how the game was going to end up. The Raiders picked up points from Cam Chisolm, Appleby, Keyser and Jay Smith to close out the 65-24 victory.

GIRLS BASKETBALL
Unlike their boys counterparts, the Middletown girls had played a pair of games prior to last week’s action. The Lady Raiders had split a pair of games in that opening week, dropping a 42-63 decision at Palmyra before rebounding with a 59-56 win at Milton Hershey.

Last week the Raiders started off with a tough, 66-71 overtime loss at Camp Hill but bounced back with big wins over York Tech and East Pennsboro to improve their record to 3-2.

Camp Hill 71, Middletown 66

Annually, Camp Hill ranks high in the Mid Penn standings and this year will probably continue that trend. But this Middletown girls’ team is much improved from last season and pushing Camp Hill to overtime was quite an accomplishment.

The Lions held a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 29-26 advantage at halftime to stay in front. But the two teams battled to an 18-18 stalemate in the third period to keep the game close. The game featured a classic showdown between Middletown senior Makayla Claggett and Camp Hill’s Ellie Goodwin, two premier players in the league. As it turned out Goodwin ended the game with 29 points, including 6 in the overtime period, slightly overshadowing Claggett’s 26 markers.

Claggett’s points, along with 21 from freshman Addie Huber, led the Lady Raiders in the hotly-contested clash that was all tied up at 61-61 at the end of regulation. But a 10-5 scoring advantage by the hosts in the extra session proved to be the difference at the Lions held on for the win.

Middletown 64, York Tech 29

Middletown coach LaSonda Dixon probably was not quite sure what her team would be facing when they hosted York County Technical School on Wednesday. And, after Mike Thomas’s junior varsity squad easily defeated its counterparts 51-11 in the preliminary game, it appeared as if the varsity team was a shoe-in for an easy victory. But the non-league contest started off looking anything but easy for the Lady Raiders.

The Raiders had jumped out to a 6-0 lead on 6 points from Claggett before the visiting Spartans found their footing. Once they got rolling on offense the Spartans used a trio of 3-pointers while taking advantage of several missed shots by the Raiders to make things interesting. After Claggett’s steal and drive put the Raiders up 15-8 their guests ran off 6 straight points to make it a one-point game. And a late basket again made it a single-point difference as the first quarter ended.

Expanding on that momentum the Spartans started off the second stanza with 5 straight points to take a 21-17 lead that caused some concern by Dixon and the Middletown fans. But, with 4:08 left in the period the Middletown team got rolling once again. Using pressing defense and opportunistic offense the Raiders closed out the first half with a 10-0 run to regain control. Goals by Claggett, Huber and Allie Cleland pushed the home team to a 27-21 lead heading into the halftime break.

The second half totally belonged to the Lady Raiders. With the offense clicking and the defense causing fits for the Spartans, the Middletown side outscored York Tech 27-8 after halftime to win in a runaway 64-29. Huber, a freshman, scored a game-high 19 points while Claggett registered 15 and Cleland added 11 to lead the way. Peyton Attivo, Sara Yeich, Kyleigh Messner and Ariana Serrano added the rest. The defense contested shot after shot and forced 14 York Tech turnovers in the second half deny the Spartans from making a comeback.

The Lady Raiders followed up the win with a 65-43 victory at East Pennsboro on Friday night.


BLUE RAIDERS GO DOWN FIGHTING

The emotions, the tears, the sadness and, yes, the pain, were all clearly visible on the faces of the players and coaches Saturday afternoon as the Middletown football team had to accept that fact that its 2021 football season had come to an end.

Playing their collective hearts out in the District 3-AAA semifinal the Blue Raiders gave it their all but could not pull off the upset against number 1 seed Wyomissing, falling to their hosts 14-0 instead. The Spartans, who had scored an average of 47.6 points per game through 11 previous contests, got a real taste of hard-nosed defense which had become the trademark of the Middletown team all year. That factor really gave the Raiders a chance to win.

But the Wyomissing defense, even more impressive than the offense, proved to be just as good, the shutout proof of that. And that really turned out to be the difference in the game.

Played in a steady rain throughout the first half the first quarter ended in a 0-0 stalemate. The Blue Raiders opened up with a promising drive that eventually ran out of gas at the Wyomissing 46. But the Spartans, too, went nowhere on their possession and set the tone for the defensive standoff on both sides.

Early in the second quarter the Middletown defense stopped the Spartans near midfield but a Ryker Jones punt was downed at the 3-yard line pinning the Raiders deep. The struggling Middletown offense netted just 5 yards in three plays and Tyson Leach was forced to punt from his own endzone. The Spartans took over at the Middletown 30 and were in position to break into the scoring column. But Tajae Broadie strip sacked Wyomissing quarterback Ben Zechman and recovered the fumble at the 29.

That turnover gave the Middletown side a momentary lift, but Wyomissing recovered a Raider fumble three plays later, setting up the game’s initial score. Spartan stud Tom Grabowski went 17 yards on second down for the six-pointer with 4:59 left in the first half. The PAT gave the home team a 7-0 lead. Later in the period the Spartans threatened again as they drove to the Middletown 17. But Law Brunson stopped Charles McIntyre two yard short of a first down to turn away the threat.

The Spartans appeared to have their second score on a 76-yard kickoff return to start the second half, but the touchdown was negated by a penalty. Starting on their 20-yard line the Spartans did, however, pad their lead with a grueling 16-play march to the endzone that burned nearly 8 minutes off the clock. The drive overshadowed excellent defensive work by the Blue Raiders, led by Jayson Stoner, Tito Spears, Canden Brown, Broadie and others. Grabowski capped it with a 2-yard run with 3:52 left in the third.

From that point on the Wyomissing defense simply gave up next to nothing to the Blue Raiders who tried to fight back. A pass interception by Amory Thompson two plays into the fourth quarter hurt the Raiders’ chances. Another long drive by the hosts started with 7:10 left in the game and successfully used up all of the remaining time on the clock and secured the Spartans trip to the district final.

Middletown coach Scott Acri, in his first year at the helm, could not say enough about the efforts of his team this year. “You guys never gave up, you could have quit or just laid down when things were tough, but you didn’t,” he said. As a final tribute to his 7 seniors, he had them line up opposite their underclassmen teammates for a final handshake. There were hugs, too. The seniors who played their final game are Tate Leach, Audric Bryant, Tajae Broadie, Caden Paul, Brandyn Davis, Jayson Stoner and Chase Vandegrift.

“It’s hard not to be emotional about this group of players,” coach Acri said following the defeat. “From 1 to 35 each of these players deserve a lot of credit. They came into the season having to deal with a new coaching staff and low numbers and they responded,” he said. The Blue Raiders closed out their year with a 6-5 record.


BLUE RAIDER GRIDDERS CELEBRATE PLAYOFF VICTORY

Last Friday’s road trip to rural Perry County turned out to be a successful one for the Middletown Are High School’s varsity football team. The Blue Raiders took on the host West Perry Mustangs in the first round of the District 3-AAA playoffs and came away with an exciting, and well-earned 35-21 victory on a chilly evening in Elliottsburg.

After hanging on to a tense 21-11 lead at the halftime break, and a slim 21-14 edge halfway into the third quarter, the Blue Raiders padded their led to 28-14 with 4:16 to go in the period, and hoped the two-score lead would be enough to subdue the Mustangs. But the West Perry team showed its resilience with a quick score of its own to leave the outcome in doubt.

The Raiders, however, showed their resilience as well by striking quickly to go back in front by 14 points, and then used their defensive strengths to keep the Mustangs off the scoreboard the rest of the way. In the process, the Middletown team punched its ticket to the second round of the playoffs, earning the right to face unbeaten Wyomissing this coming weekend.

The Blue Raiders entered the game ranked 5th in the district with a 5-4 overall record. The Mustangs, 5-5, stood in 4th place, which earned them the privilege of playing the first-round clash on their home turf. And, West Perry proved to be a worthy opponent, using a couple big plays to stay in contention through the game’s first 30+ minutes of playing time.

The difference really came down to Middletown’s powerful running game and the solid defense that absorbed a determined effort from West Perry runner Trent Herrera and the pass and catch combination of Marcus Quaker and Ian Goodling. In the game’s crucial last 15 minutes the Middletown defense, with Leach, Audric Bryant and Jamar McKinney providing coverage, completely shut down the offensive show by the West Perry stars, limiting their hosts to just 39 total yards in the span.

The Blue Raiders received the opening kickoff and immediately put together a scoring drive to start the game. Tajae Broadie and Tate Leach put the drive in motion and Leach capped it with a 16-yard keeper for the score. His 29-yard run and a 9-yard dash by Broadie set up the score. On the touchdown run Leach picked and darted his way through the West Perry defense for the tally with 7:46 left in the opening quarter. Tyson Leach made his first of 5 PATs to give the Raiders the 7-0 lead.

West Perry followed with a promising march of their own but the drive died when Tate Leach recovered a Herrera fumble at the 10. The first quarter ended with the Blue Raiders facing a 3rd-and-17 at their own 13. Bryant’s 26-yard run on the first play of the second stanza got the Raiders out of trouble. Six plays later Bryant broke a couple of tackles and then used his speed to streak to a 38-yard touchdown run at 8:49 of the second period. And, while that 14-0 lead looked a bit comfortable for the Raiders, it did not last very long.

Two plays into West Perry’s possession, Quaker and Goodling hooked up for a dazzling 71-yard touchdown connection to get right back in it. On the play Middletown linebacker Caden Paul had chased Quaker all around the backfield before the alert quarterback saw Goodling break open. A two-point run for the conversion was good and made it a 14-8 game with 8:13 left in the first half.

The Raiders lost the ball on a fumble on the ensuing possession and West Perry nearly used the turnover into another score. But, after reaching the 13 with the help of a pass interference penalty, the drive died when Broadie sacked Quaker on fourth-and-2. With 3:31 left in the first half, the Blue Raiders took over at their own 14. Twelve plays later, after overcoming a pair of penalties, the Middletown side owned a 21-8 lead. The score came on a two-yard dive by Broadie with just 17 seconds left.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following the PAT forced Tyson Leach to kick off from the 25 and West Perry’s Connor Wheeler nearly broke the return for a touchdown. Instead the hosts settled for a 32-yard field goal by Goodling that made it a 21-11 game at halftime.

The Mustangs started off the second half with another Goodling field goal, this one from 20 yards, after a promising drive was halted at the 3-yard line, thanks to key defensive plays at the end by Tate Leach, Jason Stoner and Canden Brown. On the following kickoff the Mustangs were flagged for a personal foul and the Blue Raiders’ offense was set up at the W.P. 38. Sprung free on first down, Broadie went the distance and, just that quickly the Raiders went up 28-14.

But, once again, the Mustangs responded and the Quaker-Goodling connection was good for a 72-yard gain to the Middletown four. Herrera went in from there and the guests again trailed by seven, 28-21, with 3:34 left in the third quarter. Middletown head coach Scott Acri reflected on that series of events by saying, “Our kids faced adversity all year and could have folded. But they responded and kept fighting.” A great kickoff return of 37 yards by Bryant gave the offense all the incentive it needed to prove that. With Stoner, Chase Vandegrift, Sebastian Dash, Marquis Beasley and Donnie Neidig leading the way, the ground game went right at the West Perry defense. Runs by Broadie, Bryant and Leach (what Acri called his three-headed monster) covered the distance in just four plays, Broadie going the last 13 for the score with 1:19 left in the third. The 35-21 count at that point turned out to be all that the Blue Raiders needed to finally subdue their hosts.

Jose Sanchez recovered a fumble by Quaker three plays into the Mustangs’ series to stop one drive. But the Mustangs returned the favor on the first play of the fourth quarter when Bryant lost the handle at the end of a 17-yard run at the West Perry four-yard line. But the Mustangs went nowhere as Stoner, Kam Chisolm and Brandyn Davis led the defense. Taking over at their own 44 following a West Perry punt, the Middletown offense ran off over 7 minutes of clock time before the drive ran out of downs at the Mustangs’ 21.

West Perry tried to respond and did make some headway but the Blue Raiders locked up the win with 1:27 left when Tate Leach intercepted Quaker, who tried to turn a flea-flicker into a big gain.


OCTOBER 29, 2021 - BLUE RAIDER GRIDDERS BOG DOWN BULLDOGS

Playing conditions could not have been worse. But the outcome could not have been better. And the 7 seniors who were honored prior to the start celebrated a big victory with their teammates.

Slogging their way through a game-long downpour that turned the beautiful War Memorial Field turf into a quagmire by the fourth quarter, the Middletown football team beat a very good Big Spring team 7-0 on Friday night for their fifth win of the season. In the process the Blue Raiders secured a spot in the upcoming District 3-AAA playoffs, an appropriate reward for seniors Tajae Broadie, Audric Bryant, Brandyn Davis, Tate Leach, Caden Paul, Jason Stoner and Chase Vandegrift.

Big Spring, coming off a major upset over Steelton-Highspire the previous week, was armed with a solid running game and a good passing offense as the Bulldogs looked to keep winning within the Capital Division and District 3. But, stymied a bit by the bad weather and a lot more by the staunch Middletown defense, the visitors came up empty on every possession.

For the 250 or so hardy fans who braved the elements this game was not for the high point-scoring or offensive-minded spectators. Instead, it was a game of wills that produced just 7 points, those coming from a 34-yard run through the slop in the third quarter by Tajae Broadie and the extra point by Tyson Leach. The rest was all defense from both sides.

The Blue Raiders got off to a promising start following the opening kickoff, reaching deep into Big Spring territory before a lost fumble stopped the drive. “We had a good start running the ball early before we put it on the ground,” Middletown coach Scott Acri said. After that the Middletown defense stopped Bulldogs drives throughout the first half. Big Spring defenders performed just as well and the half ended in a 0-0 tie. Twice in that span the visitors threatened, but one march ran out of downs at the Middletown 20 and the other ended when Tate Leach intercepted an Ethan Eisenberg pass at the 15.

Keyed by a sack by Tajae Broadie and a stop by Brandyn Davis the Bulldogs were forced to punt on the opening possession of the second half. The Blue Raiders took over at the B.S. 43 following a short punt. Four plays later from the 34, on fourth-and-1, Broadie broke a pair of tackles on the left side and then used his speed to outrun the Bulldogs’ safety to the south endzone for the touchdown with 8:45 left in the third. The PAT by Tyson Leach was good and the home team led 7-0. As it turned out the 7 points proved to be enough for the win.

Late in the fourth quarter the Bulldogs gambled and lost on fourth-and-2 at their own 37 and the Blue Raiders took over with 1:44 left in the game. Tate Leach ran four straight times to the 11, but came up short on fourth-and-2, giving the Bulldogs one last hope of putting points on the board.

The good news was that they had just 28 seconds to work with and 89 yards to go. A first down pass was complete but went nowhere as Audric Bryant stopped the receiver for no gain. Eisenberg spiked the ball on second down to save some time and a third down throw fell incomplete. “With just seconds left and a long way to go for Boiling Springs, we felt confident of a win,” said assistant coach Scott Acri, Sr. Broadie, from his defensive end position, locked it up with a sack of Eisenberg on fourth down and the celebration began.


OCTOBER 15, 2021 - BLUE RAIDERS CRUSH SHAMROCKS 41-6

At 5’8 and 140 pounds senior Tate Leach is not an imposing figure. His classmate Tajae Broadie at 6’4 and 240 pounds is. But, despite the size difference the pair had equally monster games on Friday night at War Memorial Field. And, along with the impressive efforts of their teammates, the duo led the way to a big, 41-6 victory over visiting Trinity for the Blue Raiders’ fourth win of the season. Leach, who was called on to take over the starting quarterback position early in the year, ran for 93 yards and passed for 60 more to lead the offense. And, on the other side of the ball at safety, Leach scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns on interceptions, showing his versatility as an all-around player. Broadie, meanwhile, came up big on offense as well, scoring a pair of touchdowns on runs of 49 and 60 yards in the rout. He also stood out on defense as the Raiders held the Shamrocks to just one score.

Of course, the two did not do it all on their own. They had great support from their teammates as the Blue Raiders collectively turned in an impressive two-way performance in the dominating victory. The heroes on both sides of the ball were many as the Middletown team bounced back following the disappointing loss from the previous week. Coaches talk about team effort and this was the epitome of that concept.

With the offensive line showing improvement each week, the Blue Raiders rolled up 309 yards on the ground to go along with Leach’s passing yards. Much credit goes to Jason Stoner, Chase Vandegrift, Donnie Neidig, Marquis Beasley and Sebastian Dash, the offensive line. And, the defense, which has been good all year, limited the Shamrocks to less than 170 total yards in the game. Leach, Audric Bryant, Canden Brown, Jamar McKinney, Julio Sanchez, Stoner, Tito Spears, Kam Chisolm, Caden Paul, Brandyn Davis, Beasley and Asa Kochvar collectively made that happen. The combination worked extremely well, resulting in the solid win.

Surprisingly enough, the game’s first quarter ended in a 0-0 draw, giving the indications that this Capital Division matchup could turn out to be a tough battle throughout. The Blue Raiders’ first possession reached the Trinity 31 before running out of steam. After the defense forced a 3-and-out by the Shamrocks the Raiders took over at their own 43 with 3:34 left in the first quarter. Seven plays later the Raiders were sitting at the Trinity 12 as the quarter ended. Spears had 8 carries in the first period, including a 6-yard run on the final play of the segment.

Three plays into the second stanza Leach reached the one on a 10-yard keeper. Broadie capped it with a dive through the right side and Tyson Leach added the PAT to give the home team a 7-0 lead. Trinity followed with a promising march that reached the Middletown 23, but Chisolm’s sack of Caleb Wray on third down and an incomplete pass on fourth ended the threat. On the ensuing possession the Blue Raiders marched 70 yards on just six plays to pad their lead. Pass receptions of 4 and 5 yards by Bryant and 9 by McKinney, along with a pair of runs by Leach of 18 and 7 yards moved the ball to the 27. On second and 3 Leach rolled right and fired a strike to Kochvar who broke open in the endzone. The connection gave the home team a 13-0 lead with 1:33 left in the first half. Chisolm’s second sack ended Trinity’s hopes of a late score prior to the halftime break.

Trinity got a big break early in the third quarter when a punt hit a Middletown player and the Shamrocks recovered the ball at the Middletown 21. But the visitors were again denied when Sanchez recovered a Trinity fumble at the 15. A pass interception three plays later, however, set up Trinity’s lone score of the game, a one-yard pass from Wray at the 6:31 mark. Broadie blocked the extra point kick, but the Shamrocks were right in the mix trailing 13-6.

The Blue Raiders, however, responded with a steady drive that started at their own 11. Runs by Bryant and Leach behind solid up-front blocking moved the ball to the Trinity 49. Broadie took it from there, breaking away from a jam up at the line of scrimmage and then outrunning the Trinity defense to the endzone for the touchdown. The kick by Tyson Leach was good and the Raiders led 20-6 with 1:52 left in the third.

Midway through the fourth quarter the Middletown defense came up with yet another stop when the Shamrocks tried to convert a 4th-and11. Broadie’s hit on Wray forced an incompletion and the Blue Raiders took over at their 40. On first down Broadie went the distance and the home team increased it advantage to 27-6 with 7:21 left. Three plays later Leach snared his first interception, racing down the left side for a pick 6 from 47 yards out and, just that quickly, the Blue Raiders had stretched their lead to 34-6. Two plays later Leach did it again, this time from 59 yards out with 5:32 left. With Tyson Leach’s conversion the 35-point gap induced the mercy rule and gave the Shamrocks little time left to work with.

“We will enjoy this win for 24-48 hours and then get ready for Big Spring,” coach Scott Acri said. And the Blue Raiders will have to be ready for the Bulldogs, who shocked the division with their 41-14 upset win over previously unbeaten Steelton-Highspire.


OCTOBER 15, 2021 - RAIDERS NEARLY BURST BOILING SPRINGS BUBBLE

Someone once said “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” The Blue Raiders showed that on Friday night in Boiling Springs when they took the host Bubblers right down to the wire in a hard-fought 26-23 loss.

Boiling Springs, sitting at number 2 in District 3-AAA rankings, came into the Capital Division scrap with a 6-1 record and were favored by a couple touchdowns against the 3-3 Middletown squad. But the Blue Raiders, playing the underdog role with a ton of heart and desire, gave the hosts all they could handle and came to within a couple plays and situations of pulling off the upset.

The Bubblers took advantage of some favorable breaks and a few Middletown mistakes to hang on for the win and maintain their status in the league and the district. And, just how close was this game? One look at the line score of the contest easily shows that. The Bubblers scored the winning points with just 28 seconds left on the clock and then had to avert a late thrust by the Blue Raiders to hold on for the win.

With a big bi-partisan crowd on hand the Blue Raiders took the opening kickoff and steadily marched down the field that eventually was halted at the Bubblers’ 13- yard line. Tyson Leach calmly booted a 31-yard field goal to give the Raiders an early 3-0 lead. Thanks to an 8-yard sack of Boiling Springs quarterback Colin Lunde by Caden Paul, the hosts went 3-and-out and had to punt.

The Raiders followed with another solid drive that carried over from the first to the second quarter as the visitors threatened to score again. But the drive was again stopped at the 13 when the Raiders came up just short of a first down on fourth and two. The Bubblers struck quickly following the stop, scoring on an 80-yard run by Joe Menke for a 7-3 lead. Keyed by a 43-yard kickoff return by Brandyn Davis the Raiders started their next possession in the hosts’ territory.

Six combined runs by Tate Leach and Davis moved the ball to the three and Davis capped it with 2:49 left in the first half. Tyson Leach’s PAT gave the Raiders a 10-7 lead. Audric Bryant’s pass interception on the Bubblers’ first play would have given the Middletown offense good field position, but a conduct penalty pushed the ball back to the 16. The Bubblers held the Middletown team to a 3-and-out and Boiling Springs took over at the 47. Two plays in the hosts made it to the 2-yard via a 41-yard pass completion from Lunde to Carson Garvey. Menke scored two plays later to put the hosts back in front. The extra point try was blocked by Tajae Broadie but the Bubblers went into halftime with a 13-10 lead.

That lead stretched to 19-10 with 7:56 left in the third quarter after the Bubblers marched 76 yards in 10 plays for the score. Lunde and Garvey connected from 29 yards out for the touchdown. But the Blue Raiders responded following a 25-yard kickoff return by Bryant, who broke free for 36 yards to the Bubblers’ 14 on first down. Two plays later Leach rolled right and fired a strike to Broadie for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 6:37 left in the third. The extra point pulled the Raiders to within two, 17-19.

Despite giving up the big scoring plays, the Middletown defense continued it solid play and the Bubblers were kept off the scoreboard until the final seconds of the game. In the meantime, the Middletown offense continued to make its progress on the ground. Jason Stoner, Chase Vandegrift, Marquis Beasley, Sebastian Dash and Donnie Neidig paved the way as Bryant, Leach, Broadie and Davis gained the yards and moved the chains for the determined Blue Raiders.

The result of their efforts was a grueling, 16-play drive that covered 55 yards and ended in a one-yard power drive by Broadie with 6:34 left in the game. A two-point pass attempt failed but the Middletown team took the lead at 23-19. The defense held and the Raiders had the ball with 4:57 left. But any hopes of a time-consuming scoring drive ended when Garvey intercepted a third down pass, setting up his team at the Middletown 27.

The Raider defense gave ground grudgingly and, with time running down, had the Bubblers facing a 4th and 11 at the 14. Make the stop and the game is over and the Blue Raiders win. But Lunde, under pressure, escaped trouble and found Menke breaking open in the endzone. The connection came with just 28 seconds left and the hosts were ahead 26-23. The Blue Raiders, however, were not done yet.

Following a penalty on the kickoff, the Bubblers had to re-kick and Bryant’s return reached the Middletown 44 with just 18 seconds showing on the clock. Leach’s pass to Bryant went for 17 yards to the B.S. 39. On second and 10 Leach again found Bryant near the 20 as the final seconds ticked away. Just before going down, Bryant lateraled the ball to Broadie who tried his best to break free. But it was not to be and he was stopped at the 10 despite his efforts.

On an historical note the game marked the 100th anniversary of Middletown Blue Raiders football. The first official scholastic game for the Middletown program was held on October 15, 1921. Prior to that recorded date football was played as more or less a club sport.



OCTOBER 9, 2021 - BLUE RAIDERS POST HOMECOMING SHUTOUT


Homecoming touchdownThe Blue Raiders’ defense has been playing well all year and the unit continued that trend on Saturday afternoon in Middletown Area High School’s annual Homecoming Game. But a big shoutout also goes to the offense this week as the two squads on both sides of the ball combined for a 38-0 shutout over visiting Camp Hill at War Memorial Stadium.

While the defense limited the Lions to 100 yards in the game, the offense rolled up 196 yards on the ground and another 109 through the air in a dominating performance in front of a large, appreciative gathering of alums and current students to cap the weekend of festivities that have become a tradition since 1963.

The Blue Raiders, coming off a tough loss from the previous week, really needed a lift and gave one to themselves with the pleasing victory. And, first-year head coach Scott Acri was really happy with the outcome. “Having the same offensive line on the field for the second week in a row really helped,” he said. That group, consisting of center Jason Stoner, guards Sebastian Dash and Law Brunson, and tackles Chase Vandegrift and Marquis Beasley really played well up front.

Their combined efforts on the run assignments and pass blocking protection proved to be a key to the Capital Division win. Senior back Brandyn Davis benefitted from the performance by collecting 94 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Quarterback Tate Leach also benefitted by running for 41 yards and passing for 109 on 8 of 12 pass attempts.

The game got off to an exciting start when Davis returned the opening kickoff 45 yards to the Camp Hill 35 and Audric Bryant ran 13 yards on the first play from scrimmage. But the Lions defense held and Tyson Leach’s 32-yard field goal attempt just missed the mark. Late in the first quarter the Blue Raiders drove to the Camp Hill 21 as time expired. Facing a fourth and 11 to star the second quarter the Raiders again lined up for a field goal try. This time Leach’s kick was straight and true, making the 3-pointer from 37 yards out for the game’s first score.

Homecoming footballStrong defense from Caden Paul and Asa Kochvar, with a 13-yard sack of Lion quarterback Payton Shore and a combined pass breakup by Tate Leach and Jamar McKinney forced a Camp Hill punt, the return by Bryant setting up the Raiders at the guests 33. Four plays later Davis darted through a gap on the right side from six yards out for a Raider touchdown. The 10-0 lead grew to 17-0 when Tate Leach scored on a keeper up the middle with just 12 seconds left in the first half. The play capped and eventful 89-yard drive as the Raiders overcame a pair of holding calls and used great clock management to make it happen. The big play of the drive was a Leach-to-Tajae Broadie pass connection that went for 47 yards. On the touchdown run Leach broke free up the middle and made two quick cuts to reach the south endzone with just seconds left.

Camp Hill opened up the second half with a promising drive before the Middletown defense put the clamps on their guests. Key plays by Stoner, Kam Chisolm, Paul, Tito Spears and McKinney stopped the Lions at the 34. After an exchange of punts the Middletown offense was back on the field at the Camp Hill 22 following a big return by Bryant. Three plays later Leach hit Bryant on a sideline pattern and the pair connected for a 19-yard touchdown and a 24-0 lead for the home team.

Three minutes into the fourth quarter the Middletown offense struck again, completing a 45-yard drive that was capped by Davis’ 5-yard run that pushed the Raiders up to a commanding 31-0 lead. The Lions went three-and-out on their following possession and the Middletown reserves put the final exclamation point of the victory with 4:29 left. Spears and Jose Sanchez ran through the Camp Hill defense in the drive that was capped with a 6-yard scoring run by Sanchez.


OCTOBER 2, 2021 - ROLLERS DENY RAIDERS UPSET BID

Steel highAnother chapter in the old Middletown/Steelton-Highspre rivalry story unfolded on Saturday afternoon on Cottage Hill.

The fact that Steel-High won was of no real surprise to anyone in the 2021 version. The athletic Rollers, last year’s state champions, won 26-0 in Steelton-Highspire’s Homecoming Game. The real surprise, however, was that the two teams fought to an almost unbelievable 0-0 stalemate after two full quarters of play on the Rollers’ home turf.

But, after the much-needed halftime break for both squads, Steel-High finally solved the staunch Middletown defense in the second half, while the Rollers’ own defenders kept the Blue Raiders from mounting any form of a scoring threat. After averaging nearly 65 points per game in their first four contests, the Rollers and their fans were, indeed, shocked by putting up zero in the first half in their battle with the Raiders.

In reality the Middletown fans, too, were in shock and the hopes rippled through the visitors stands on the warm, sunny day up on the hill. But, as it did in the previous week’s loss at Juniata, the Middletown offense simply could not get any consistency when it had the ball. As good as the Middletown defense was, the Rollers defenders were just as good.

Unfortunately for the Blue Raiders, the Rollers came out in the second half and were able to finally crack their opponents’ defenses by scoring three times in the third quarter and once more, late in the fourth to lock up the Capital Division victory. The first score came on an 8-yard run by Dalvin Pryor with 9:22 left in the third. Another long drive by the Rollers was stopped when Kam Chisolm recovered a Steel-High fumble at the one-yard line. The second score came on an Alex Erby pass to Durrell Ceasar that covered 41 yards. The third one, an Erby-to-Jaeion Perry, also went for 41 yards, despite tight coverage by Jamar McKinney, and gave the hosts a 19-0 lead.

Held to less than 20 net yards in the first half the Blue Raiders tried to find a break in the Rollers’ armor in the second and did gain some yards. But, with Tate Leach filling in from the start at quarterback in place of the team’s regular starter, ground yards and air yards were hard to come by and the Raiders had just one somewhat scoring threat reach into Steel-High territory. On that drive Leach, with his team trailing 19-0, connected with Brandyn Davis for 13 yards and then the pair combined for a 37-yard gain to the Steel-High 25 with 9 minutes left in the game.

But, one play later, Steel-High’s two-way standout Tyrone Moore intercepted Leach to end the threat. The Rollers would later score again with 2:02 left to lock up the win.

Leach, Chisolm, Davis, Jason Stoner, Arkel Batts, McKinney, Tajae Broadie, Marquise Beasley, Asa Kochvar, Audric Bryant and Caden Paul all turned in outstanding efforts for the defense despite the loss. On offense, Leach completed 5 of 16 passes and Tito Spears collected 31 yards on 9 carries.

On a down note Bryant was injured midway through the third quarter and had to be carted off the field and transported to a local hospital. He reportedly was showing good movements in his arms and legs later.


SEPTEMBER 24, 2021 - BLUE RAIDERS STUNNED BY INDIANS

The final score read 8-7, and it was not a baseball or soccer final count. It was a football game and the result was a classic example of a frustrating finish for the Middletown Area High School football team.

Following the previous week’s 42-7 rout of Newport at home the Blue Raiders ran into a whole different team in Mifflintown last Friday night. The host Indians came out as winners in the defensive clash that left the Middletown team and its fans shocked in disbelief. An 8-7 loss? Really?

While the Middletown defense played exceptionally well, more than good enough to produce a win, the Blue Raiders’ offense was almost completely stymied by a group of determined Indian defenders that held the Middletown ground game to next to nothing. The Blue Raiders did put up decent numbers in the air, but a trio of second-half pass interceptions proved to be the difference in the outcome.

A couple of lost fumbles and a pair of errant snaps on punts also hurt in a big way. Those two miscues on punts led to all the points the Indians would need to complete the upset. The first resulted in a 2-point safety and the second one gave the Juniata offense a short field that produced the game-winning points. And the low numbers, along with Juniata’s stifling run defense, added up to the winning margin.

In the beginning, however, it appeared as if the Blue Raiders were off to a good, successful start. After defensive tackle Marquis Beasley recovered a Juniata fumble on the Indians’ first possession, the Raiders struck quickly. And, although the Middletown offense lost a net of 3 yards on their first three plays, the Raiders converted on third and 13 when Tajae Broadie outjumped Juniata’s Zach Harr in the right front corner of the endzone, hauling in Bamm Appleby’s pass for the touchdown with 8:40 left in the first quarter. Tyson Leach’s PAT gave the Blue Raiders a crowd-pleasing 7-0 lead. Little did they know at the time that those 7 points would be all the Raiders would score.

The Indians followed with a good drive but were turned away when Tate Leach broke up a fourth down pass after the home team had reached the Middletown 25. Four plays later, however, disaster struck for the Raiders when punter Tyson Leach had to run down a high snap in the endzone that resulted in the 2-point safety for the Indians.

That 7-2 Middletown lead held up through the first half and all the way into the closing seconds of the third quarter. Both defenses stood tall throughout that long span, with neither team giving much ground. With their running game completely shut down by the Juniata defense the Raiders tried to get things done through the air. But after finding some success in the passing game, a lost fumble and a couple costly penalties kept the Raiders from scoring. Late in the third quarter the second high snap on a punting situation led to the winning points for the hosts.

Taking over at the Middletown 14 following the mistake, the Indians still were nearly kept out of the endzone. After reaching the 4 in two plays and a Middletown penalty, the Indians were flagged twice and were back at the 14. Two passes fell incomplete, but on third down Aaron Kanagy hit Yaneil Ortiz for the go-ahead points with 43 seconds left in the third. A two-point attempt failed but the hosts led 8-7 with a full quarter to play, plenty of time for the Blue Raiders to work with.

And it appeared as if the Raiders were on their way to reversing their fortunes. A pair of Appleby to Arkel Batts pass completions and a catch by Jamar McKinney gave the Raiders a first down at the Juniata 17. Appleby’s keeper gained 6 yards to the 11, but on the next play Juniata intercepted his throw in the endzone to kill the threat. And that turnover seemed to have an adverse mental effect on the Middletown side.

On their second possession of the fourth quarter the Raiders lost a fumble and, on their third, another pass was intercepted by the Indians. But the defense, led by Jason Stoner, Caden Paul Brandyn Davis, Asa Kochvar, Beasley and Tate Leach held and gave their team another chance. Taking over at their own 12 following a Juniata punt the Blue Raiders had just over three minutes to work with.

The drive started out well with a catch by Audric Bryant and another one by McKinney three plays later that reached the 42. But the drive died when Appleby was sacked for an 11-yard loss on third and 10 and a fourth down toss was just out of reach by Tate Leach, who possibly could have scored if the connection had been made. Instead, the ball was turned over on downs and the Indians ran out the final 56 seconds to lock up the victory.



SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 - BLUE RAIDERS CORRAL BUFFALOES 42-7


Junior running back Audric Bryant returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to start the game and the visiting Newport Buffaloes put up little resistance after that as the Blue Raiders routed their visitors 42-7 on Friday night.

The game turned out to be a huge success for the team and the large partisan crowd on hand, the fans nearly filling the home stands after being denied in-person attendance last fall due to the pandemic restrictions. On the warm, comfortable night at War Memorial Stadium those fans were treated to a convincing victory by the Blue Raiders and new head coach Scott Acri.

Tate LeachIn all fairness to Newport, the Buffaloes came into the game with just one win and suffered a pair of big losses that exposed their struggles in the new season. They also had to play without their best athlete who had been injured in their previous game. But his presence would have made little difference as the Raiders dominated the contest throughout, especially at the line of scrimmage.

Besides Bryant, the team was led by many others on both sides of the ball as the Middletown squad improved its overall record to 2-1. Five other players added yards on the ground and five caught passes from Bamm Appleby, who finished 6 of 9 for 116 yards. After jumping out to a 42-0 lead at halftime most of the first-team players saw little action in the second half as the “mercy clock” ran right from the start of the third quarter.

The Middletown defense pitched a shutout through three full quarters, holding Newport scoreless until just 40 seconds remained in the Mid Penn crossover game. That score came against the Middletown reserves.

On the exciting opening seconds of the game Bryant fielded Gage Wirth’s kickoff at the 11-yard line and took off. Starting on the left side Bryant made a few cuts across the field behind his blockers and hit the right sideline in full stride. The play took all of 17 seconds and the home team had a 6-0 lead. Tyson Leach’s PAT just missed, but he was perfect the rest of the way. On Newport’s first possession senior defensive end Tajae Broadie had back-to-back sacks of Buffalo quarterback Mason Messick forcing a punt.

The Blue Raiders took over at the Newport 45. Following a 6-yard run by Brandyn Davis on first down, the Middletown offense was set back with three consecutive penalties that pushed the Raiders back to their own 40. On 2nd and 24 Appleby connected with Tate Leach for 10 yards and, following a 9-yard run by Davis, the junior quarterback hooked up with Bryant for 31 yards to the 10. Two plays later Bryant dashed into the endzone from two yards out and the Raiders grabbed a 13-0 lead. Big defensive plays by Tate Leach and Marquis Beasley forced a Newport punt that led to another Middletown score.

Although the possession started off with a run for no gain and a pair of incomplete passes the Blue Raiders converted a fourth and 10 into their third touchdown. Appleby threw a strike that Jamar McKinney caught in stride at the 19 and took it to the house for a 46-yard TD connection and a 20-0 lead. On the final play of the first quarter Tate Leach intercepted a pass that was tipped by linebacker Jason Stoner that eventually led to the Raiders’ fourth score.

On the second play of the second quarter following a Middletown penalty Tito Spears ran for 22 yards to the Newport 33. Arkel Batts caught a 12-yard pass to the 21, but the Raiders were again flagged for a penalty a play later. But that did not stop the Middletown drive. A reception by Davis and a 13-yard run by Bryant set up Bryant’s 7-yard scoring run with 9;19 left in the first half. Later in the period Bryant returned a punt for an apparent touchdown but the score was wiped out by yet another infraction. Appleby’s hurried throw as intercepted by Wirth one play later to turn back the threat.

Tito SpearsBut the Middletown defense pinned the Buffaloes back on their own 1-yard line on a sack by Davis and the Raiders were back on offense at the Newport 18. And it took just one play, and 18-yard run by Spears, to pad the Middletown lead. On the run Spears made a great juke move at the five past the Newport safety to reach the south endzone. Down 35-0 at that point the visitors tried desperately to get something going on offense. But the Middletown defense would have none of that.

Disaster hit the Buffaloes four plays later when punter Reuben Moreno tried to field a low snap on fourth down. His knee touched at the 22 and the Raiders struck again with Bryant going the distance on first down to make it a 42-0 score in the final seconds of the first half. The Blue Raiders, who went almost exclusively with their back up players in the second half, would not score again.

The Buffaloes took advantage of that in the third quarter and put together a good drive with the clock running. But the 14-play drive ran out of steam at the Middletown 21 as the Raider reserves held. The visitors, however, were able to convert their efforts with another long drive in the final frame. Aided by a personal foul penalty against the Middletown defense on fourth and 15 on the seventh play of the drive the Buffaloes broke up the shutout on a one-yard keeper by Messick with just 40 seconds left. A fumble recovery by Newport on the ensuing kickoff gave the Buffaloes one more chance but a Spears interception on first down closed off the win for the home team.





SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 - MIDDLETOWN GRIDDERS ROLL OVER LINE MOUNTAIN

Following a season opening loss, the Middletown varsity football team rebounded nicely with a 28-6 victory over host Line Mountain last Friday evening. The lengthy road trip to Herndon in Northumberland County turned out to be a successful venture for the Blue Raiders, who secured their first win for new coach Scott Acri.
And, although the team had some rough moments at times in the contest, Acri was more than pleased with the victory. “Any time you get a win it’s good,” he said. And, while there were still a couple players not suited up, Acri was optimistic about their return in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, those that did play turned in a solid effort against the host Eagles.

The Middletown defense was solid throughout and limited the Eagles to a net total of 110 yards in the game. On the other side of the ball the Blue Raiders racked up over 370 total yards with a good mix of run and pass. Bamm Appleby completed 5 of 12 passes for 141 yards in the win. The running game produced over 230 yards on the ground in the balanced attack.

Keyed by the work up front from Jason Stoner, Chase Vandegrift, Marquis Beasley, Sebastian Dash and Chase Eberly, junior Audric Bryant, who had to sit out the opening game due to a health issue, led the way with 111 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Senior Brandyn Davis ran 7 times for 82 yards (all in the first half) and Tajae Broadie scored twice on short runs in limited carries. Bryant and Tate Leach were on the receiving end of Appleby’s throws.

On their second offensive possession of the game the Blue Raiders marched 92 yards in just 7 plays for the game’s first score. Key plays of the drive were a 10-yard run by Davis and an Appleby-Bryant connection of 49 yards. Broadie capped it with a 2-yard dive between right guard and tackle with 6:24 left in the first quarter. Tyson Leach, who ended up perfect on extra points in the game, added the PAT. Leach was also consistent with deep kickoffs and long punts. The defense did its job from that point on and pitched a shutout until the Eagles finally found the endzone with just 4:01 left in the game.

In the second quarter the Raiders made it a 14-0 game with a quick-strike drive that took just three plays. On second and 4, Davis broke off a 49-yard run to the Line Mountain 23. Bryant took it from there and went the distance with 8:38 left in the first half.

Although the Raiders threatened twice more in the second stanza and twice more in the third, that 14-0 score held firm until the later minutes of the third quarter. After the defense forced an Eagle punt from deep in Line Mountain’s end of the field that Bryant returned to the 36, it took just one play for the Blue Raiders to pad their lead. On the play Tate Leach grabbed Appleby’s swing pass to the left and outran the Eagles’ defense to the endzone with 4:20 left. The Eagles followed with their best offensive drive of the game. But, after reaching the Middletown 8-yard line Beau Keim fumbled and Tate Leach was there to claim the turnover. The Raiders, however, went three and out and a good punt return set up the host team in Raider territory to start the fourth period.

The Eagles scored on the sixth play of the final quarter on a pass play to make it a 21-6 game with just under 10 minutes on the clock. The Raiders went nowhere on the ensuing possession as the Line Mountain defense held. But the Eagles gambled and lost four plays later when they tried to convert on fourth and 11. On the play Caden Paul and Tito Spears sacked Eagle quarterback Nick Snyder for a 13-yard loss that gave the ball back to the Middletown side at the L.M. 23.

Four plays, and a holding call later, Broadie ran over two Eagles on his way to a 6-yard touchdown that literally locked up the win for the Raiders. The defense held the Eagles on two more possessions and the victors ran out the last two minutes to end it.



SEPTEMBER 3, 2021 - FOOTBALL TEAM SUFFERS SEASON-OPENING LOSS

Host Bishop McDevitt scored on the game’s opening possession for the early lead and, following a pair of pass interceptions by the Crusaders’ defense, the Blue Raiders fell into a hole they were never able to climb out of last Friday night. Before the first quarter ended the Middletown team was down 21-0 and things simply did not get any better in what turned out to be a humbling 55-7 loss.

The Blue Raiders, who had their first game postponed the prior week, came into the contest at a distinct disadvantage against the perennially powerful Bishop McDevitt team. The Crusaders had the advantage right from the start, having played the previous week (a 21-0 loss to LaSalle), and playing on their home turf. They also had the advantage in numbers, experience and depth against a somewhat depleted Middletown squad.

And it all added up to an impressive win for the host team that is deep and talented on both sides of the ball. It may have helped a bit if the Blue Raiders had been able to play in the scheduled opener against Lower Dauphin in the season’s first weekend, but that is pure speculation at this point. The Raiders will hope to be back at full strength this week for their road trip to Line Mountain Friday.

The Crusaders got off to the quick start with an 8-play scoring drive following the kickoff. Overcoming three penalties the drive was capped by a 31-yard pass from Stone Saunders to Jahil Terry. On Middletown’s first play from scrimmage Bamm Appleby’s pass was intercepted, leading to an 8-play scoring drive of 48 yards, capped by a TD reception by Mario Easterly. The struggles continued for the Raiders as Appleby was intercepted again on first down. Marquese Williams, who ran around and through the Middletown defense throughout the game’s first half, capped the drive with a 12-yard run. And, just that quickly, the Middletown side was down 21-0.

The Blue Raiders finally broke their drought early in the second quarter when Tajae Broadie scored from the three at 9:55. The drive, aided by a personal foul against the Crusaders (one of several) and Appleby’s 41-yard run, gave the Middletown side a much-needed lift. But it did not last long.

Following a designed short kickoff by Tyson Leach a 48-yard run on second down set up McDevitt’s fourth touchdown. Again, overcoming a pair of penalties, the home team cashed in with Williams’ 19-yard scoring run to make it a 28-7 game with 8:13 left in the first half. That advantage turned into 35-7 when the Crusaders again found the endzone with just 29 seconds left in the first half. Broadie’s 29-yard run on the final play of the half proved to be one of the few highlights for the Blue Raiders. Unfortunately, Broadie sat out the second half with a minor injury.

Early in the third quarter the Crusaders got the mercy clock running following a dazzling 53-yard touchdown down run by Williams, that ended his big night for the winners. But the Crusaders were not finished just yet as they punched in two more scores in the fourth quarter despite the efforts of the Middletown defense to stop the bleeding. To add to their woes, several players suffered cramps, including two-way standouts Tate Leach, Jason Stoner and Chace Vandegrift. On their final possession of the game Jose Sanchez ran the ball 7 straight times as reserves from both sides finished up. Broadie led the team with 37 rushing yards, but the Blue Raiders ended up with less than 100 yards of offense in the game.



SEPTEMBER 1, 2021 - 2021 BLUE RAIDERS FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Changes took place within the Middletown Area High School football program during the off-season and, with the hiring of Scott Acri to run the show, a new era starts this season. Acri, a 30-year old with several years of experience, last coached at Susquenita High School and was more than eager to apply for the head coaching position at Middletown, citing tradition, success, history and strong community as the factors that attracted him here.

Acri and his staff have been working to keep that tradition alive and well as the new season is here. Rob Brodish and Mike Osayi, a pair of Middletown grads stayed on as assistant coaches to help out. Acri brought Spencer Gay, Joe Crocenzi and Aaron Blanding with him to fill the coaching ranks.

The overall number of players is down this year, but Acri is encouraged by the work of several returning players and the showing the team had with a pre-season scrimmage at Northern York at the end of the first week of practice.

“The outlook for 2021 is to compete every day. We have a slogan for this year “Answer The Bell,” he said, referring to a boxing match in that when the bell rings the team must respond and be ready to go toe to toe with opponents. “We talk daily about work ethic, commitment, energy and love. We will strive to play at a high level each day and develop great young men. We have a tremendous returning core (of players) and a lot of newcomers that have joined the scene,” he said.

Offense
“We will be running a multiple spread offense. We will look to be a balanced team that will utilize our run concepts to open up our passing game. You can expect multiple sprint outs, screens, quick game and RPO schemes. We will also look to change tempos often, as well as personnel, shifts and motions.”

Defense
“Our defense will be a primary event with a cover 2 shell. We will look to mirror our blitz packages with different coverages and movements. We will also utilize and odd front (3-4) in certain passing situations. We plan to put our best athletes on the field and allow them to play fast and physical.

Players
As noted, the numbers are down hovering at or slightly above 30. And that means that everyone has to contribute. Senior leadership will be important along with returning underclassmen who played in the shortened 2020 season. Leading the senior class will be: WR/DB/QB Tate Leach, TE/DE Tajae Broadie 6’4, 240), WR/DB Caden Paul, RB/LB Brandyn Davis, OL/LB Jason Stoner (5’11, 215), OL/DL Chase Vandegrift (6”, 260).

Representing the junior class are: RB/DB Audric Bryant, RB/DB Arkel Batts, FB/LB Canden Brown, WR/DB DeShawn Patterson, QB Bamm Appleby (the projected starter), WR/DB Amari Betha, FB/LB Jackson Grimland, WR/DB Manny Rodriguez, RB/LB Tito Spears. WR/DB Benaiah Harrel, OL/DL Antuan Metz (5’8, 260), OL/DL Sebastian Dash (5’8, 230), OL/DL Marquis Beasley (5’10, 240), K/P Nolan Sessa and TE/DE Asa Kochvar (6’4, 200).

The sophomore group includes WR/DB Jamar McKinney, WR/DB Jose Sanchez, WR/LB Isaiah Crosson, WR/LB Tally Keating, WR/DB Aaron Nordai, WR/DB Rece Butler, K/P Tyson Leach, TE/DE Kam Chisolm, OL/DL Chase Eberly (5’10, 210), OL/DL Dominic Singh (5”10, 210), OL/DL Law Brunson (5’11, 260), OL/DL Donnie Neidig (5’9, 240), and Malcolm Taalbuddeen (5’11, 230).

Acri noted that the expectations for Middletown football are high. “You can bet that we will be ready to compete week in and week out!” he said.


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