For 16 of the L-L League’s 24 football teams, this weekend’s games will signal the end of their head-to-head section battles.
Because of coronavirus concerns and postponements, there are still four section games to be made up, with games on the master schedule through Nov. 13.
Four teams can clinch outright section championships with victories on Friday: Wilson in Section 1, Warwick in Section 2, Lampeter-Strasburg in Section 3 and Elco in Section 4.
Friday’s showdown game is in Lititz, where Warwick will welcome Cocalico in a rematch of last year’s District 3 Class 5A semifinals. The Week 6 docket also includes a Saturday game, with Donegal visiting Lebanon.
Previewing the Week 6 slate, with Friday’s games all staring at 7 p.m. …
Hempfield (3-1 league, 3-2 overall) at Wilson (4-0, 4-1): A simple scenario for the blistering-hot Bulldogs, who clinch the section crown outright with a win over the Black Knights, who slipped out of a first-place tie with Wilson after suffering a 49-7 setback against rival Manheim Township last week. The Bulldogs have already clinched no worse than a tie for their league-best 28th section title. Wilson leads this all-time series 36-10, and its defense has been ultra stingy during the ‘Dawgs’ four-game winning streak. ... Key kid: Hempfield DB Tom Minnich has 18 tackles, three sacks and a pick-six INT TD return for the Knights, who are hoping to get playmakers Tanner Hess and Jadin Jimenez back on the field for this showdown. Hempfield needs a win to get a piece of the section-title pie.
Penn Manor (0-3, 0-4) at Cedar Crest (1-3, 1-4): The Comets will be back on the field for the first time in two weeks after a school-imposed shutdown for coronavirus concerns in the district. How long will it take PM to kick away the rust? That’s the big question mark here. Cedar Crest leads this series 15-7, and the Falcons are out to snap a three-game slide. Two teams looking for some good vibes coming out of this clash. ... Key kid: CC RB Aadyn Richards (167 rushing yards, 2 TD) could use a big night on the ground for the Falcons.
McCaskey (0-3, 0-5) at Manheim Township (3-1, 3-2): Two teams going in completely opposite directions in this clash; the Red Tornado is coming off a shutout loss at Harrisburg, when McCaskey, which has dropped 22 games in a row, didn’t register a single first down and was held to minus-8 total yards. The Blue Streaks are simply sizzling, riding a three-game winning streak behind a snarling, run-stuffing defense. Township has won nine games in a row in this series, and leads the set 24-20, including a 71-0 win last fall. ... Key kid: MT D-end Luke Kelley (20 tackles, 2 for losses, 2.5 sacks) has been tough to tame along the line of scrimmage.
Cocalico (3-1, 4-1) at Warwick (4-0, 5-0): This is the much-anticipated rematch of last year’s District 3 Class 5A semifinal showdown, when the Eagles rallied for a 21-13 win over the Warriors on their way to D3 gold. Take away that game, and these two teams don’t play very often, although they were longtime August scrimmage partners. Cocalico’s top priority is slowing down Warwick’s rampaging offense, which is averaging a gaudy 45 points a game. And this is a big game for the Eagles, who are trying to lock up a spot in the D3-4A bracket. ... Key kid: Warwick RB Colton Miller has piled up a league-best 18 TD runs. He had five rushing scores last week in the Warriors’ win over Solanco. Can Cocalico keep him out of the end zone?
Manheim Central (0-4, 1-4) at Elizabethtown (0-4, 1-4): The Barons are riding their first four-game losing streak since 1976, and Central has dropped four section games in a season for the first time since the inception of the league in 1972. Some good news for the Barons: They’ve won 12 games in a row, dating back to 2007, against E-town. The Bears are also on a four-game slide, so someone is getting healthy — and finally getting a crooked number in the section W column — here. ... Key kid: MC LB Josh Moore (45 tackles, 1 sack) has been a ball-hawker for the Barons.
Solanco (3-1, 3-2) at Conestoga Valley (2-2, 2-2): The Golden Mules fell out of a first-place tie last Friday after falling to Warwick, while the Buckskins picked up one of their most satisfying victories in arguably the last decade with a 41-35 triumph over Manheim Central. The Bucks have dominated this series with four wins in a row, and CV is 7-3 against Solanco in their last 10 clashes. ... Key kid: CV WR Zach Fisher had six catches for 207 yards with a pair of TD grabs — plus a TD toss on a trick play — against Central. The Mules’ secondary must keep him under wraps.
Lampeter-Strasburg (4-0, 5-0) at Ephrata (2-1, 3-2): The Pioneers need a win here to put the outright section crown under lock and key — and very likely sew up the 1-seed in the D3-4A playoff bracket — and they’ve been absolutely sizzling on offense and defense. Ephrata forced seven turnovers in its nonleague win at Sun Valley last Saturday. L-S has won four in a row in this series, when these two met as Section 2 foes in 2012-13 and 2017-18. ... Key kid: Ephrata D-tackle James Ellis had four tackles, with a pair of sticks for losses, two forced fumbles and two sacks against Sun Valley.
Lancaster Catholic (0-3, 0-5) at Garden Spot (1-3, 1-4): The Crusaders and the Spartans will knock heads for the first time since they were Section 2 neighbors in 2014-15, and they split that home-and-home series. Both of these teams would love some firmer footing moving forward; the Spartans did snap a 26-game losing streak earlier this season, but this is uncharted territory for the Crusaders at 0-5. ... Key kid: Newbie Catholic QB Will Cranford had his breakthrough moment with 248 passing yards and two TD strikes last Friday in a gut-punch OT loss against Juniata.
Columbia (3-1, 4-1) at Elco (4-0, 5-0): The Raiders captured five section championships prior to this season, and they were all shared titles. A win here, and Elco captures the flag all to itself. The Raiders have won eight games in a row against the Crimson Tide, dating back to 2011. Elco, which has won 12 regular-season games in a row, features the top-ranked defense in the league; the Raiders are yielding just 178 yards a game, and they’ll need to curtail Columbia’s balanced attack. ... Key kid: Tide QB Robert Footman leads the league in passing yards (1,121) and TD tosses (12).
Octorara (3-1, 4-1) at Annville-Cleona (1-2, 2-3): The Braves and the Little Dutchmen will collide for the third time, and A-C is 2-0 in this series, with a 34-7 win last year and a 39-30 victory in 2018, Octorara’s first year in the league. A-C’s top priority is slowing down the Braves’ piping-hot offense, which is cranking out 426 yards a game, tops in the league. ... Key kid: Octorara two-way terror Mike Trainor has 511 rushing yards and seven TD runs, plus 26 tackles for the Braves.
Pequea Valley (0-3, 0-4) at Northern Lebanon (0-4, 0-5): The Vikings are 2-23 in their last 25 games, and both of those wins were against — ta-da — the Braves, including last year’s 36-14 victory. NL has won seven games in a row in this series, dating back to 2012. PV returns after not playing last week because of a coronavirus shutdown, so factor in a rust category for the Braves in this matchup. ... Key kid: PV safety Carter Rohrer has a team-best 25 tackles and a pick for the Braves, who are out to snap a 22-game losing streak.
Donegal (1-2, 2-2) at Lebanon (2-1, 3-1), 1 p.m.: The Indians and the Cedars will both be back on the field after missing last week’s games because of coronavirus concerns in their respective school districts, so there could be some cobwebs on both sidelines. Donegal went 2-0 against Lebanon in their set the last two years in Section 3, including a 35-24 win last fall. ... Key kid: Donegal’s secondary must blanket Lebanon WR Alex Rufe, who is averaging a lights-out 23.7 yards a catch (24-569, 6 TD).