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. Safe to say Lampeter-Strasburg’s defense will need a big effort on Friday, when the Pioneers visit Rocco Ortenzio Stadium in Harrisburg for a D3-4A semifinal-round clash against postseason nemesis Bishop McDevitt. The 14-time D3-champ Crusaders are riding a 6-game winning streak, and coach Jeff Weachter’s crew has scored 40 or more points in four of their last six games. Interestingly, three of McDevitt’s top offensive playmakers are underclassmen, including a ninth-grader: QB Lek Powell (1,780 passing yards, 15 TDs) is a junior; RB Marquese Williams (933 yards, 14 TDs) is a freshman; and WR Mario Easterly (51-739, 7 TDs) is a sophomore. … Williams rushed for 116 yards and two scores in the D3-4A quarterfinals vs. Susquehanna Township. … Powell’s QB guru is longtime local QB guru Jim Cantafio at Nook Sports. ... Former Elizabethtown standout Devyn Clair, who transferred into McD prior to his junior season in 2018, has rushed for 256 yards and three scores, and he's registered a team-best 117 tackles (with 20.5 stops for losses and two sacks) from his LB spot. … As for L-S’s D, the Pioneers have been stingy in that department all fall; L-S is yielding 236 yards a game, and that’s second-best among L-L League teams. Only Manheim Township (151 yards a game against) has had a better team D this season across the league. The Pioneers have given up 1,733 rushing yards and 1,100 passing yards, and they have 27 takeaways for a plus-14 turnover margin. That’s a good stat. L-S D ringleaders include Michael Del Grande (111 tackles, 12 for losses, 2 sacks, 5 QB hurries, 1 INT) and Jake Hines (85 tackles, 12 for losses, 3 sacks, 12 QB hurries, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles) up front, and Jacob Kopelman (83 tackles, 10 pass breakups, 3 INT) in the secondary. L-S’s pressure defense up the middle, against McDevitt’s quick-strike, spread offense. There’s your crux for Friday.
2. Colton Miller is simply sizzling for Warwick. During the Warriors’ 4-game winning streak, Warwick’s workhorse RB has put up some seriously crooked numbers, as the Warriors — with the weather getting colder and the games getting bigger — have committed to the ground game. And Miller has delivered: 18 carries for 113 yards and a pair of TD runs in a win over Conestoga Valley; 25 carries for 111 yards and five TD runs in a win over Penn Manor; 25 carries for 160 yards and three TD runs in a win over Mechanicsburg; and 34 carries for 163 yards and three TD runs in a win over Manheim Central. That’s 102 carries for 547 yards with 13 TD romps in the last four games for Miller, who is now up to 1,259 rushing yards with 29 TD bolts this season. Warwick’s high-octane offense is cranking out 393 yards and 37 points a game, and while Miller has done most of the damage lately, you simply can’t forget about the Warriors’ passing attack, with QB Joey McCracken (2,682 yards, 26 TDs) and deep threats Conor Adams (58-937, 8 TDs) and Caleb Schmitz (54-922, 13 TDs) at the ready. That’s a lot for Cocalico to keep tabs on, when Warwick comes calling to Denver for a D3-5A showdown on Friday. File the Eagles’ defense under bend-but-don’t-break this fall; Cocalico is yielding 345 yards a game, as the Eagles have found themselves in a number of crazy shootout games this season. But here they are: The No. 1 seed in the bracket, and playing at home in mid-November in the D3 semifinals. Four Cocalico defenders to watch vs. Warwick: LB Tyler Angstadt (75 tackles, 4 for losses, 1 forced fumble), D-end Shawn Fester (51 tackles, 6 for losses, 8 sacks, 1 forced fumble) and heavy hitter, knock-your-block-off safeties Noah Palm (74 tackles, 7 for losses, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 INT) and Ronald Zahm (61 tackles, 6 for losses, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 INT, 4 pass breakups) have been the stalwarts. They’ll all need to be razor-sharp against Warwick’s multi-purpose attack.
3. As usual, keep an eye on the special teams department on Friday, when Cocalico, Warwick and L-S hit the field. Their three kickers have just two field goals combined all season — both by Warriors’ booter Tanner Haines — but all three have been very reliable. We’ll start with Haines, who hit the biggest field goal of his young life last Friday, when he drilled a 17-yarder as time expired in Warwick’s riveting 31-28 win at Manheim Central. Haines is 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts this season, both against the Barons; he boomed a 33-yarder against Central back in Week 3. He’s also 48-for-55 on PAT kicks. … Cocalico K Alex Mellinger has not attempted a field goal this season, so file that nugget away in your memory banks. He is 43-for-53 on PAT attempts. … L-S K Andrew Reidenbaugh is 0-for-2 on field-goal attempts, but he’s a solid 53-for-56 on PAT boots, and he has six touchbacks on kickoffs. As mentioned before, it’s been a fantastic season for L-L League kickers. We’ll see if Haines, Mellinger and Reidenbaugh can keep that trend going in D3 semifinal-round games.