Although he won’t find his name on it, Wilson center Jack Durning always is anxious to look at the stat sheet following a Bulldogs victory.
Durning, the leader of an offensive line that has jelled throughout the season, wants to see how much yardage Wilson gained on the ground and how much time the offense chewed off the clock.
For much of the past two months, both numbers have been impressive with tailback Jadyn Jones and quarterback Brad Hoffman both surpassing 1,000 yards rushing for the season.
“We get the holes open and they just run right through them,” Durning said. “I just love seeing at the end of the game how many yards we put up rushing.”
Wilson is averaging more than 252 yards per game on the ground. But during a seven-game winning streak that has put the Bulldogs in a District 3 championship game for the 11th time, they have racked up more than 322 rushing yards per game.
Fifth-seeded Wilson (9-3) will try to continue that trend Saturday when its visits No. 2 seed Harrisburg at 1 p.m. in the District 3 Class 6A championship game. Wilson will be trying to win its eighth District 3 title and first since 2016. The Bulldogs defeated Harrisburg 39-14 in the 2012 District 3 Class 4A title game but lost to the Cougars in the 6A semifinals in 2018 and ’19.
It’s one of two District 3 championship games Saturday involving Berks teams. Wyomissing will go for a three-peat in Class 3A when it hosts Boiling Springs at 1 p.m.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Gov. Mifflin and Exeter in Class 5A and Berks Catholic in Class 4A will play in District 3 semifinals.
Just getting into the District 3 playoffs seemed highly unlikely for the Bulldogs midway through the regular season. Wilson had just two wins in the first five weeks.
“We were 2-3 and that’s not a spot anybody wants to be at,” said senior Jon Ramsey, who moved from tight end to guard this season. “We said the only way we’re going to do this is if we just put our nose to the ground and work. That’s what we did and now we’re playing for a championship.”
The key word is ground.
Jones has rushed for 1,294 yards and 14 touchdowns. Hoffman has rushed for 1,038 yards and 12 touchdowns. Each has surpassed 100 yards in five straight games.
“Early in the season we were trying to find our identity,” Ramsey said. “We’ve been running the ball and it’s working so we’re going to keep doing it until somebody stops us.”
The main thing stopping Wilson during the first half of the season was itself. Turnovers along with false starts and holding penalties stopped numerous drives.
But the line has come together to become a strength. Joining Durning and Ramsey up front are guard Alex Werley, tackles Jack Dendall and Kyle Hassler, and tight end Brady Kline.
“It’s a very cerebral position and it takes a long time for most kids to pick it up,” Wilson coach Doug Dahms said. “There are so many calls they have to make.”
For Durning, center has become a more enjoyable position since the Bulldogs have decided to pound the football on the ground 50 or more times per game.
“I just love run blocking,” Durning said. “You just get to hit kids every play.
“Pass blocking is much more passive You’re waiting to react to what they’re doing. Run blocking you just get to attack and impose your will.”
That’s what Wilson has done for much of the past two months. In addition to piling up yardage, the Bulldogs have dominated in time of possession. In last week’s 14-11 win over defending champion Central York, the Wilson offense had the ball for 33 minutes, 42 seconds of a 48-minute game. That included just one second shy of 10 minutes in the 12-minute fourth quarter.
Not only does that keep the ball away from the opposing team’s offense, it also wears down the defense.
“We can definitely feel the difference between the first drive how much push they’re giving compared to the last drive when we just keep pounding the ball over and over again,” Durning said. “You can tell when they start to give up.”
Harrisburg (11-1) has won eight straight since suffering its only loss to Gov. Mifflin on Sept. 17. The Cougars feature a thunder-and-lightning attack out of the backfield.
Mahkai Hopkins, a 6-2, 230-pounder, has rushed for 556 yards and eight touchdowns. Kyle Williams, a 6-0, 190-pound speedster, has rushed for 614 yards and four touchdowns and has 57 catches for 636 yards and nine touchdowns.
Boiling Springs (11-1) at Wyomissing (12-0): Two-time defending champion and No. 1 seed Wyomissing turned to its stingy defense to advance to its third straight District 3 championship game.
Wyomissing blanked playoff nemesis Middletown 14-0 in the semifinals, limiting the Blue Raiders to 48 yards and two first downs. Rory Filoon led the defensive charge with seven tackles, Matthew Kramer had a quarterback sack and Amory Thompson had an interception.
Boiling Springs, making its first District 3 championship game appearance, defeated Hamburg 35-7 in the semifinals as Aidan Metzger ran for three touchdown and Joey Menke ran for two.
Spring Grove (10-1) at Gov. Mifflin (9-0): Just when you thought you’d seen everything from Nick Singleton, the Gov. Mifflin senior running back ran for 330 yards and seven touchdowns — six in the first half — in a 63-35 quarterfinal win over Warwick.
Singleton has 1,832 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns this season as the top-seeded and defending champion Mustangs head into their semifinal game against the fourth-seeded Rockets.
Spring Grove has won five straight since a 48-17 loss to Central York on Oct. 8. The Rockets advanced to the semifinals with wins over Twin Valley (33-6) and Waynesboro (21-6).
Exeter (8-3) at Cedar Cliff (10-2): The seventh-seeded Eagles look to get past the sixth-seeded Colts after having their season ended at Cedar Cliff in 2018 and ’19.
Eric Nangle rushed for 230 yards and scored three touchdowns in Exeter’s 43-26 quarterfinal win over No. 2 Manheim Central. For the season, Nangle has 1,207 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.
Jontae Morris has rushed for 1,998 yards and 22 touchdowns for Cedar Cliff.
Berks Catholic (7-4) at Bishop McDevitt (9-1): The familiar playoff foes will meet for the first time since Bishop McDevitt defeated Berks Catholic 41-31 in the 2018 Class 4A championship game for its seventh District 3 title.
Berks Catholic defeated Bishop McDevitt 45-24 to earn its second straight District 3 title in 2017.
Bishop McDevitt has won nine straight. Since a season-opening loss to La Salle, the Crusaders have outscored their opponents 498-35 behind freshman quarterback Stone Saunders. Saunders has completed 105-of-150 passes for 2,366 yards and 38 touchdowns. He has thrown just one interception.
On the ground, Marquese Williams has carried 99 times for 1,318 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Christian Cacchione and Josiah Jordan have scored 19 touchdowns each and are both over 1,000 yards from scrimmage for Berks Catholic. Cacchione has rushed for 1,095 yards and has 254 receiving yards. Jordan has 757 rushing yards and 305 receiving yards.
Source: Berkshire mont