From the first day of heat acclimatization practice on Aug. 31, until the last Lancaster-Lebanon League football team is standing later this fall, we’ll bring you three fun L-L League pigskin facts on a daily basis to keep you updated about what’s going on around the league …
1. Annville-Cleona, set to visit Columbia for a Section 4 scrap on Friday, has put up some seriously crooked numbers against the Crimson Tide lately: During the Little Dutchmen’s 7-game winning streak against Columbia, they’re averaging a robust 51 points a game. Check out the final scores, since 2013: 42-14, 56-20, 35-8, 56-20, 42-12, 56-8, and last year’s point-fest, a 70-43 A-C victory. Needless to say, the Tide’s D-coordinator probably watched a lot of Dutchmen film this week, including A-C’s 47-22 nonleague win over James Buchanan on Monday, when the Dutchmen piled up 368 rushing yards, and got 100-yard nights from RB Rogan Harter (8-131, 3 TD) and Alex Long (15-109, 3 TD). Harter had a fourth TD gallop — a 55-yard dash — wiped out by a holding flag. A-C has churned out 886 rushing yards — 221 ground stripes a game behind their trusty Veer scheme — so Columbia’s rush-D needs to step up; the Tide yields 158 rushing yards and 247 total yards a game, so they’ve been pretty solid. … And this: With truncated D3 playoff brackets, this is a key game in the postseason race. Columbia is No. 3 — directly on the bubble — in the 2-team 2A bracket, and A-C is No. 4 — and currently in — in the 4-team 3A bracket. The winner here remains in the thick of those playoff chases as the Oct. 26 D3 cutoff date quickly approaches.
BONUS NUGGET — Just some clarity, and a refresher course, about the D3 playoffs and when those games are: The Class 1A title game is Oct. 30 and the Class 2A title game is Nov. 6. ... In Class 6A and Class 3A, the semifinal games are Oct. 30. That means any L-L League teams that qualify for those brackets will give up their Week 7 game — which are the league-mandated crossover games on the master schedule — and go directly to the D3 semifinals. ... Meanwhile, in Class 5A and Class 4A, those semifinal-round games are set for Nov. 6. So any L-L League teams that make those brackets will complete their 7-game regular-season slate — unless they're playing a Class 6A or Class 2A team that made the D3 playoffs and are skipping their Week 7 game. Yeah, it's confusing. I know. The D3 cutoff date is Oct. 26. The final night of L-L League play is Oct. 30. Teams can schedule games through Nov. 28 and yes, teams that lose in the postseason can come back and add games, through that Nov. 28 date. These are all 1-year deals because of the truncated season. And no, there is no pop quiz. You're off the hook. Complete D3 football power rankings here.
2. It’s been a couple of funky years for Northern Lebanon. Since winning the Section 3 title in 2017 — capping a glorious run of three section crowns and a trio of playoff trips in four years — the Vikings are just 2-22, including a 0-4 start this fall. Both of those victories were against Pequea Valley, which is riding a 23-game losing streak (sorry, Brave Nation). And the road gets no easier on Friday, when undefeated Elco comes to town for a Section 4 clash. But there have been some positives in Fredericksburg, like all-star OL-LB Kalani Adams, who has been a force. And RB Conor Leonard, who has chipped in with 225 yards, is averaging a healthy 9.3 yards a carry. Then there’s Tyler Wolfe, who has a team-best 11 receptions. Rasheed Beldor has come up big in special teams; he had an 87-yard kick-return TD against Columbia last week. And NL has been playing a pair of quarterbacks who are both getting plenty of on-the-job experience; Nate Shirk (167 passing yards, 1 TD) and Grady Stichler (2 TD passes) have both run the offense and made plays. Baby steps, Viking Nation. NL is just three years removed from a pretty awesome 4-year joy ride. They’ll figure it out again.
BONUS NUGGET — A lot of bonus nuggets this week, eh? Already a tweak in the Week 6 slate ... Donegal at Lebanon next week will be played on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. Mark your calendars accordingly.
3. Ephrata has added a nonleague game against Manheim Central on Nov. 13. The Mounts also have a makeup Section 3 game vs. Donegal on Nov. 6. … No makeup dates as of yet for Penn Manor vs. McCaskey or Lancaster Catholic vs. Lebanon. Stay tuned. Thinking Nov. 6 will end up being a busy night for makeup games — plus any games that teams add moving forward. And we’re expecting more of those, as teams can add games through Nov. 28.