From the first day of heat acclimatization practice on Aug. 5, until the very 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 happening around the league …
1. And the winners get … A district-championship gold trophy and a spot in the PIAA playoffs will be on the line Friday night when Cocalico hosts Cedar Cliff in 5A and Lampeter-Strasburg heads to Berks Catholic in 4A. The Cocalico/Cedar Cliff survivor moves on to the 5A state semifinals, and will get the winner of the District 1 championship game, matching Cheltenham (11-1) against Academy Park (10-2). The lower 5A bracket features the WPIAL championship winner — Peters Township (11-1) or Gateway (10-2) — advancing to face the winner of District 12 champ Archbishop Wood (7-3) against District 11 winner Southern Lehigh (11-1). … Meanwhile, in the 4A bracket, the L-S vs. Berks Catholic winner moves on to face the winner of WPIAL champ Thomas Jefferson (12-0) against District 10 survivor Erie Cathedral Prep (10-2). The other half of the 4A bracket features District 4 champ Jersey Shore (9-3) against District 11 champ Pottsville (10-2), and District 12 winner Imhotep Charter (7-4) against District 2 champ Dallas (12-0).
2. Christian Garver has been an absolute menace from his LB spot for L-S: He’s piled up 78 tackles, 11 for losses, plus six sacks, 11 QB hurries, four forced fumbles, a pair of fumble recoveries and two pass breakups. Here’s the stat we really like: Garver has two pick-6 plays this season, both in crunch-time, rivalry games. He had interception returns for touchdowns in the Lampeter Bowl game vs. Conestoga Valley, and in the Milk Jug game vs. Solanco. Talk about rising to the occasion. Safe to say Garver must be one of the Pioneers’ defensive ringleaders on Friday against Berks Catholic’s run-first offense.
3. If there is one Cocalico defensive player who must be in disrupt-mode on Friday night, look no further than D-end Shawn Fester. He has been a force blitzing off the edge all season, and with Cedar Cliff featuring scatback 2,300-yard rusher Jaheim Morris, it will be ultra important to fill gaps, run-stuff, and not let the Colts’ breakaway back find any open spaces. Fester has been nimble, with 52 tackles — 6 for losses — and a team-best eight QB sacks. He’s also forced a fumble. This will be Cocalico’s toughest run-stopping assignment to date; keep an eye on Fester and his D-line mates to control the line of scrimmage and keep Morris contained as much as possible.