Central PA high school football rivalry games you don’t want to miss

There’s nothing quite like a high school football game. The competition on the field is exciting, but the energy in the stands is electric — among the exuberant students and loyal alumni are families enjoying some affordable Friday night fun.  Add in the half-time marching band performances and some yummy concession stand treats, what’s not to love?

Any home game can be fun, but an established rivalry can amp up the thrills for players and fans alike. While the football teams, cheerleaders and marching band members are all busy having their two-a-day practices in preparation for the season, we wanted to take a fun look at some of the bigger area rivalries. Be sure to mark your calendars if you want to see them on the gridiron this fall!

 Note: all games are at 7 p.m. unless noted.


Photo courtesy of

Cedar Crest vs. Lebanon
at Cedar Crest, Sept. 1
The Cedar Bowl, pitting archrivals Cedar Crest Falcons against the Lebanon Cedars, has been played since 1972. The Falcons lead the series 29 to 16, and won last year’s game in Lebanon, 26-14.

Wilson vs. Governor Mifflin
at Governor Mifflin, Sept. 1

This is the 59th year that these two fierce rivals have met up in now nonleague play. Wilson, a football powerhouse that lost the 2016 Class 6A semifinals to Pittsburgh Catholic, leads this rivalry, 35 games to 24.

Northeastern vs. York Suburban
at Northeastern, Sept. 8

It’s a nonconference rivalry between the Northeastern Bobcats and the York Suburban Trojans. Last year       the Bobcats won decisively at the Trojans’ home field, 49-7.

Milton Hershey vs. Hershey
at Hershey High School, Sept. 15
This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the Cocoa Bean Bowl, the annual game between rivals Milton Hershey (the Spartans) and Hershey High School (the Trojans).  The series is pretty even, with the Trojans holding a slight edge, 37 wins to the Spartans’ 34; the two teams have recorded three ties over the years.


Photo courtesy of Lititz Record Express

Warwick vs. Ephrata
at Ephrata, Sept. 15
In this non-league game, neighboring school districts Warwick (in Lititz) and Ephrata battle for the coveted George Male Trophy. The Warwick Warriors lead the series against the Mountaineers, 43-38-6, and has a streak of 11 straight victories.

Manheim Township vs. Hempfield
at Hempfield, Sept. 22

Few match-ups in the Lebanon-Lancaster League come close to the intensity of these two rivals. District neighbors the Manheim Township Blue Streaks and the Hempfield Black Knights are fierce rivals in nearly every sport, and football leads the way. The Blue Streaks are on a good streak, winning the past three match-ups against Hempfield and the last 10 of 14 games.

York Catholic vs. Delone Catholic
at York Catholic, Sept. 22

Rivals York Catholic and Delone Catholic played at Delone last year, and York’s Fighting Irish crushed the Squires. It was an amazing season for the Fighting Irish — they won the District 3-AA Championship — and also have won their last four match-ups against the Squires after a long losing streak. It’s sure to be a packed house on the 22nd.

Cumberland Valley vs. Central Dauphin
at Central Dauphin, Sept. 29

This big rivalry has seen both teams meet up in post-season play in recent years (2009, 2010 and in a spectacular 2015 district championship game that went into seven overtimes and ultimately saw the CV Eagles top the CD Rams 62-61).  The Eagles lead the series, 10-7.

Cedar Cliff vs. Bishop McDevitt
at Cedar Cliff, Sept. 29

The history of this match-up goes back to 1959; the Cedar Cliff Colts hold a slight series lead over the Bishop McDevitt Crusaders, 29-26-1. However, since the start of the Mid-Penn Conference in 1982, the Crusaders have marched onto victory more often, with 21 wins to the Colts’ 12.

Central Dauphin East vs. Central Dauphin
at Central Dauphin East, Oct. 6

Sister schools (in the same school district) East High and Central Dauphin High have a fierce rivalry in everything, and it plays out on the gridiron, too—though the Central Dauphin Rams hold a big lead in the series since 2004, leading it 13-1.

Trinity vs. Steelton-Highspire
at Trinity, Oct. 6

The Steelton-Highspire Steamrollers lead this series 14-8 over the Trinity Shamrocks.

Carlisle vs. Cumberland Valley
at Carlisle, Oct. 13

This conference rivalry is always a fan favorite, and has been for decades. But the modern series? It’s not even close, competitively. Cumberland Valley hasn’t lost a game to Carlisle since at least 2004.

Harrisburg vs. Central Dauphin
at Central Dauphin, Oct. 14, 12:30 p.m.

The Central Dauphin Rams lead this conference rivalry 10-4 since 2004 against the Harrisburg Cougars.


Photo courtesy of West Shore School District

Cedar Cliff vs. Red Land
at Cedar Cliff, Oct. 20

It’s always a big game when both teams call the same stadium their home turf. Sister schools Cedar Cliff and Red Land—both in the West Shore School District—are rivals indeed. The Cedar Cliff Colts have the advantage, winning the last four games against the Red Land Patriots. The last time the Patriots won was in 2012—35-28 in overtime.

Manheim Central vs. Cedar Crest
at Manheim Central, Oct. 20

If you’ve ever been in (or near) the town of Manheim during football season, you know they take the sport, and their Barons, very seriously. Not only do they have yard signs celebrating the team, they also have posters with players’ names and numbers tacked on telephone poles leading from town to the stadium. One could say that each team they play is a rival. Neighboring school district Warwick (whom the Barons play in their home opener) certainly is. But so, too, is Cedar Crest. The two teams last met up in the District Three Class 5A first-round play-off game, in which the Barons scored 35 second-half points for a 38-29 win.

Susquehanna Township vs. Bishop McDevitt
at Bishop McDevitt, Oct. 20

As far as rivalries go, this one is relatively new. But it’s a fiercely competitive one. Two years ago the Bishop McDevitt Crusaders played the Susquehanna Township Indians for the District 3-AAA Championship, with the Crusaders winning 33-19. They also lead the rivalry series, 6-2.

Bishop McDevitt vs. Central Dauphin East
at McDevitt, Nov. 3

The series between these two teams dates back to 1962. The Central Dauphin East Panthers went 9-7-1 against the Crusaders from 1962 until 1981; since the teams joined the Mid-Penn Conference in 1982, Bishop McDevitt has taken control of the series, winning 17 of the their next 21 games (they have not met every year). Bishop McDevitt leads the series, 24-13-1.

Red Lion vs. Dallastown
at Dallastown, Nov. 3

Just three miles — but a lot of football — separate these two huge rivals. Red Lion leads match-ups, 8 games to 6, including wins in the last two games against the Wildcats.

Trinity vs. Camp Hill
at Camp Hill, Nov. 3, 7 p.m.

The cold November night shouldn’t temper the fans’ enthusiasm for this game. It’s always a big deal for both schools. The Trinity Shamrocks and Camp Hill Lions have been rivals on the gridiron since 1972. Camp Hill holds an edge on the series, with 23 wins to Trinity’s 19.

Carlisle vs. Chambersburg
at Chambersburg, Nov. 3

These two teams first faced off against each other back in 1915; remarkably, in a sport that has seen high schools change leagues and then conferences fairly frequently over the decades, the Thundering Herd of Carlisle and the Chambersburg Trojans have been aligned for most of their years; this game marks their 102nd battle. Carlisle leads the rivalry, 57-43-1.


Cedar Cliff and Red Land high school cheerleaders, photo by Conte Photography

Leslie Penkunas is the editor of Central Penn Parent and loves attending Friday night football games with her family.

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