Upper Dublin clashes with Parkland in PIAA Class AAAA semifinals

Upper Dublin will be vying for its first ever trip to the PIAA Class AAAA final on Saturday, as the Cardinals take on Parkland in a state semifinal game on the turf at Souderton Area High School.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

The 14-0 Cardinals are fresh off their first ever District One title, by virtue of last week’s 46-21 win over North Penn at Souderton.

The Upper Dublin offense has been unstoppable thus far in the postseason, averaging 37.5 points per game under the direction of quarterback Ryan Stover.

Last week in the district final showdown, Stover completed 61 percent of his passes, hitting six different receivers for 246 yards and a touchdown, and he also rushed for a 41-yard score and finished with 60 yards on the ground.

Tight end Jack Rapine has been a tough cover for opposing defenses. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior hauled in five catches last week, totaling 116 yards with a 31-yard score.

The Cardinals’ success through the air has been matched by a battering ground attack, with 5-11, 215-pound workhorse Stacey Gardner grinding out 77 yards on 11 carries in the district final victory, including four touchdowns.

Upper Dublin’s defense, meanwhile, has limited four playoff opponents to an average of 13 points. The Cardinals came on strong in the second half last week, with senior David Bryant leading a strong effort by the secondary.

On the other side, this is Parkland’s first trip to the eastern final since 2007, when the Trojans earned a 35-21 win over Ridley out at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown. Parkland would then advance to the state final, falling 21-0 to Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

Parkland’s other state final appearance came in 2002, when the Trojans claimed the AAAA state crown with a 34-12 victory over Woodland Hills.

The Trojans got to this point with a thrilling 16-13 overtime win over La Salle last week.

Trailing 13-10 in OT, Boston College-bound QB Devante Cross took it up the middle for a four-yard touchdown run to win it for Parkland.

Cross was solid throughout, completing 14 of 24 passes for 144 yards, and he gained 106 additional yards on the ground and scored twice. He also added an interception to lead the secondary.

Cross has a big target to go to in Kenny Yeboah, a senior, 6-foot-5 wide receiver who is headed to Temple next year.

The winner of this game will advance to next Saturday’s state final in Hershey, to meet the winner of the Pittsburgh Central Catholic-Cumberland Valley matchup which is being play 1 p.m. Saturday at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.

Upper Dublin  vs. Parkland
PIAA Class AAAA Semifinals
Time/Place: Saturday, 1 p.m., at Souderton Area High School.
On Twitter: @khunter10.
Records: The Cardinals are 14-0 overall and finished 7-0 in the Suburban One League American Conference. The Trojans are 13-1 and finished 7-1 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference South Division, sharing a co-title with Freedom.
What’s at Stake: A spot in next week’s State Final, against the winner of the Pittsburgh Central Catholic-Cumberland Valley matchup.
Last Week: The Cardinals won their first ever District One title with a 46-21 triumph over North Penn while Parkland got it done in overtime, winning 16-13 over La Salle.
Playoff History: This is Upper Dublin’s first trip to the Eastern Final. Parkland is 2-0 in Eastern Final appearances, winning in 2007 and going on to win the state title in 2002.
Players to Watch: Both teams come into this one led by outstanding senior quarterbacks. Ryan Stover threw for 246 yards and a score last week and also ran for 60 yards and a touchdown for UD. Devante Cross is just as dangerous for the Trojans — he rushed for two scores last week, gaining 106 yards on the ground and 144 through the air.
Prediction: Upper Dublin 21, Parkland 14.

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