Around this time a year ago, one of the early story-lines to the 2018 Lancaster-Lebanon League football season was when Ephrata snapped its 52-game losing streak with a Week Two win over Northern Lebanon. That’s now a thing of the past.
After finishing with five wins in 2018, the Mountaineers brought back 18 starters and are 2-1 through three games in 2019, the program’s best three-game start in nine years. It sets up a big L-L Section Three showdown at defending section champ Lancaster Catholic.
The Mountaineers picked up their second win last Friday by topping Annville-Cleona, 58-26, in part thanks to the performance senior quarterback Caden Keefer, last year’s L-L Section Three QB of the Year.
Keefer completed 21 of 23 passes (91.3 percent) for 380 passing yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 73 yards on 13 keepers, and made his first career tackle that prevented what would have been a go-ahead A-C touchdown after a Little Dutchmen defender scooped up a fumble in the first half.
For his efforts, Keefer is LNP’s Week Three Football Player of the Week, sponsored by Kegel's Produce. Keefer reflected on last Friday's game and more in a Q&A conducted at Monday’s practice.
You’ve connected with nine different receivers each of the last two games. What’s the secret?: “We’ve got a lot of guys who are capable of catching the ball. So I’m not afraid to spread the ball around. It’s a luxury. ...Last year I threw to Tucker (Parmer) a lot. I still do. But I trust all of my receivers now.”
Can you evaluate yourself as a QB from last season to this season?: “I think my pocket presence has gotten a lot better. I’m less worried about running out of the pocket. Last year a lot of times teams could contain the outside and I would try to get around them. Now I’m stepping up in the pocket. That’s helping my game a lot more.”
Walk us through the touchdown-saving tackle you made on an Annville-Cleona player last Friday: “So I handed the ball off and we fumbled. I saw the guy scoop it up. The (A-C) kid was fast. I thought I was going to catch him sooner. I got him at the five-yard-line. That was my first varsity tackle ever, which is a little bit of a milestone. ...that ended up being a big momentum swing because our defense then picked (intercepted) them and we went back out and went down the field and scored.”
Were there any critiques of how you tackled when watching the game film earlier?: “I think they were just happy I got him. It might have been a little high.”
What are your goals for the rest of the season?: “Our goals are the same as they were coming into the year, which is just take each game one at a time and try to win that one. We’re on to Lancaster Catholic now.”
What challenges does Lancaster Catholic present?: “They’re a good team. They won the section last year. We know it’s going to be a big test. They run jet sweeps and stuff. We need to figure out how to stop them.”
You’re also good at lacrosse. How does that sport translate onto the football field?: “I think they go hand in hand. Sometimes I find myself in the open field and I’ll dodge somebody like I do in lacrosse when I make a cut. When I’m on the lacrosse field I’m more aggressive because of having played football. And football makes you more disciplined.”
Time for some fun questions. ...what’s your favorite class?: “Math.”
What do you want to do after high school?: “I want to go to college. I’m not sure what I want to study yet.”
Let’s say you’re in charge of the lunch menu at school for a day. What would you add?: “I’d so so much. First of all, I’d make all the food better. And secondly I’d offer more drinks.”
What’s your favorite superhero?: “Batman. Just because he’s a normal person who doesn’t have any super powers.”
If you had a super power, what would it be and why?: “Flying. I just get to wherever I want really fast.”
What advice would you give to freshman Caden Keefer?: “I would just tell myself football-wise to hang in there. Everything will get better and that it’ll all pan out.”
What motivates you in life?: “My parents just motivate me to strive to be better on and off the field. They’re always pushing me to do my best.”