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 …
Kicking off the Week 9 prep with a look at where everyone stands, section-by-section:
1. SECTION 1 SCENARIO
Manheim Township (4-0, 8-0): Blue Streaks are alone in first place, and finish up at McCaskey and home with Hempfield. With a win over McCaskey, Township clinches no worse than a tie for the section championship — which would be the Streaks’ third in a row, after winning the outright crown in 2017, before sharing it with Warwick and Wilson last year. Township is also No. 1 in the D3-6A power ratings, and a 1-seed would give the Streaks a home game in Neffsville through the championship round.
Wilson (3-1, 7-1): Bulldogs are alone in second place, a game behind Township and a game in front of Cedar Crest and Warwick. Wilson finishes up at Cedar Crest and home against McCaskey. The Bulldogs need wins and for someone to trip up Township to force a tie with the Streaks for the section lead. Wilson is also No. 2 in the D3-6A power ratings, setting up a potential collision-course of 1 vs. 2 to get another shot at Township, which beat the Bulldogs 30-14 in West Lawn in Week 6.
Cedar Crest (3-2, 6-2): Following a 62-0 L against Township last Friday, the Falcons are suddenly looking up at a 2-game deficit in the section race. Cedar Crest finishes up at Wilson and at home vs. Garden Spot in a crossover game. The Falcons are also sitting on the 6-line in the 8-team D3-6A bracket, so they need to take care of business to secure a playoff bid; they could — could — end up drawing a rematch against Township or Wilson, depending how the brackets break down.
Warwick (3-2, 6-2): Warriors have hit a 2-week hiccup, with back-to-back losses to Township and Wilson. They finish up at Conestoga Valley in a crossover game, and at home against Penn Manor. Warwick also sits at No. 6 in the D3-5A ratings, where the top 14 teams qualify. The Warriors certainly look safe to make that bracket, but you know they’d love to pick up some momentum down the stretch, now that their section-title dreams have basically been dashed.
Hempfield (1-3, 3-5): Black Knights picked up their first section win last week, compliments of a 46-0 victory over McCaskey. Hempfield finishes up with two road games: At Penn Manor and at Manheim Township. The Knights are on the 10-line in D3-6A, and the top eight go, so Hempfield would need a 2-0 finish and help to make a return trip to the postseason.
Penn Manor (1-3, 3-5): Comets are coming off a crossover victory against Elizabethtown, and they’ll finish up at home with Hempfield and then at Warwick.
McCaskey (0-4, 0-8): Red Tornado finishes up at home against Manheim Township and then at Wilson, so McCaskey will get a crack at the section leaders in the last two weeks. The Tornado’s losing streak is at 15 in a row, and you know they’re jonesing to get that snapped.
2. SECTION 2 SCENARIO
Manheim Central (4-0, 6-2): Barons are in the driver’s seat in the section chase, alone in first place and a game clear of Cocalico and Lampeter-Strasburg. Central beat the Eagles and Pioneers head-to-head, and the Barons finish up at home against Garden Spot and then at Solanco. A win over the Spartans on Friday would clinch no worse than tie for the section crown for Central, which has won or shared the last four Section 2 titles in a row. The Barons are also up to No. 2 in the D3-5A ratings, as they’ll go for their third district championship in a row next month.
Cocalico (3-1, 6-2): Eagles are right on the Barons’ heels, and finish up at Solanco and then at home vs. L-S. Two intriguing games there, for sure. Cocalico needs wins, and for Garden Spot or Solanco to knock off Central to get back into a tie for the lead. The Eagles are also sitting on the 3-line — right behind Central — in the D3-5A rankings. Central, Cocalico and Warwick should all be major players in that bracket, and Solanco is also close to locking up a bid, but faces a tough closing stretch.
Lampeter-Strasburg (3-1, 6-2): Pioneers got back on track last week with a 41-14 Milk Jug trophy win over Solanco to remain a game behind Central in the race. L-S finishes up with two road trips: At Elizabethtown and at Cocalico. That Cocalico game is mighty intriguing, and there could be any number of implications swirling around that matchup when Week 10 rolls around. Stay tuned. L-S is also at No. 6 in the 14-team D3-4A bracket, so the Pioneers have some more work to do to secure a lower seed, and a first-round home game, which is always nice.
Solanco (2-2, 5-3): Golden Mules need a golden finish to punch their tickets into the D3-5A bracket; Solanco is at No. 11 in a 14-team field, and the Mules finish up with two tricky home games: They’ll host Cocalico and Manheim Central — the front-runners — to close out the regular season. The schedule-makers didn’t do the Mules any favors with that slate. But they’ll be at home, and they’ll have plenty of motivation with a playoff spot dangling out there.
Conestoga Valley (2-3, 2-6): Buckskins have slipped into the role of spoilers, and the way they’ve been scoring points and putting up crooked offensive numbers, CV has made everyone earn it. The Bucks finish up with two home games in Witmer, welcoming Warwick in a crossover clash, and then Elizabethtown comes to town. CV would love to throw another monkey wrench Warwick’s way.
Elizabethtown (1-3, 3-5): Ditto for the Bears, who would love a fast finish and maybe play spoilers themselves. E-town has L-S at home and then is at CV to wrap it up.
Garden Spot (0-5, 0-8): Spartans’ losing streak is at a maddening 22 games in a row, and they finish up with two tricky games: At Manheim Central and then home with Cedar Crest in the Week 10 crossover matchup.
3. SECTION 3 SCENARIO
Lancaster Catholic (6-1, 7-1): Crusaders are feeling fine after they crunched Northern Lebanon 63-0 last week, and then Ephrata KO’d Lebanon and Annville-Cleona decked Donegal to knock the Cedars and the Indians out of a 3-way tie with Catholic. So the Crusaders are a game clear of four teams: A-C, Donegal, Elco and Lebanon, in this topsy-turvy race. Catholic finishes up at home vs. Donegal before welcoming Pequea Valley. If the Crusaders beat the Indians on Friday, they’ll clinch no worse than a tie for the section title — as Catholic tries to defend its crown from last fall. The Crusaders are also at No. 3 in the D3-3A rankings; the top six finishers go, and you know Catholic is fired up for a better showing there, after earning the 1-seed last year, before being upset in the semifinals.
Here comes the logjam ...
Annville-Cleona (5-2, 5-3): Little Dutchmen are still in this race, after they clipped Donegal last Friday. They’ll finish up at Elco and then at home against Lebanon — two of the three teams they’re tied with for second place in the chase. Circle both of those games for sure for A-C, which is at No. 4 in the D3-3A ratings, right behind Catholic.
Donegal (5-2, 5-3): So the Indians went from alone in first place, to a 4-way tie for second place after losses to Elco and Annville-Cleona. And now they’ll get a shot at first-place Catholic in Lancaster on Friday, before finishing up at home vs. Northern Lebanon. Donegal is also a bubble team in the D3-4A rankings; the top 10 go, and the Indians are … 11th.
Elco (5-2, 5-3): Raiders are simply scorching, with five wins in a row, including the victory over Donegal a couple of weeks back that knocked the Indians out of solo first place. Elco finishes up with two home games in Myerstown, with A-C and then Columbia set to pay visits. Friday’s game vs. the Dutchmen will give the section standings a facelift, as this four-pack of chasers is hoping someone can clip Catholic. Elco is right behind Donegal — at No. 12 — in the D3-4A ratings, and you know the Raiders would love a return trip to the postseason. But they’ll need wins, and help, to make it.
Lebanon (5-2, 5-3): Cedars lost their grip on the first-place tie last week, falling to Ephrata 24-22. Now the Cedars need wins and help to get back to the 1-line. They finish up at home against Octorara and then at A-C, and there could be a lot riding in that Week 10 clash. Stay tuned. Lebanon has dipped to No. 11 in the 8-team D3-6A field. Good news: The Cedars are eligible for the Eastern Conference playoffs, so a fast finish just might land Lebanon in the postseason after all.
Ephrata (4-3, 4-4): Mountaineers are a long-shot for section gold, but a 2-0 finish would give Ephrata it’s first winning season in a couple of decades. They went 5-5 last fall, and would love a 6-4 season. The Mounts finish up at home vs. Pequea Valley and then at Octorara.
Columbia (2-5, 3-5): Crimson Tide could still have a say in this with a trip to Elco looming in Week 10; Columbia is home with Northern Lebanon this week, and the Tide needs a 2-0 finish, and help, to make the D3-2A bracket. The top four go there, and Columbia is at No. 7.
Octorara (2-5, 2-6): Braves have played everyone tough, including Columbia last week, when the Tide held on for a wild 52-49 win. Octorara finishes up at Lebanon and then home vs. Ephrata, so the Braves could play spoiler down the stretch.
Northern Lebanon (1-6, 1-7): Vikings have wrapped up their home slate, and finish up at Columbia and then at Donegal.
Pequea Valley (0-7, 0-8): Braves finish up with a 2-game road trip, at Ephrata and then at Lancaster Catholic. PV’s losing skid is at 18 games in a row, and you know they’d love some positive momentum heading into the offseason.