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 …
Here are three top takeaways from Friday’s Week 6 games:
1. It’s a different world at Pequea Valley. It really is. And that’s probably why I love going there so much. Like this past week, when I passed three or four horse and buggies on my way to Kinzers to chat with coach Jeff Werner and senior QB Nate Fisher, who epitomizes the Braves’ do-or-die, keep-throwing-haymakers-until-the-final-horn attitude. For the first time since the last night of the 2017 season, that gunslinger mentality finally paid off with a victory on Friday, when PV went to Fredericksburg and blanked Northern Lebanon 14-0. The W snapped the Braves’ 24-game losing streak, dating back to a 28-27 win over Elco on the first Friday in November back in 2017. Exhale, Braves Nation. Hey, that’s a long time. That’s a lot of games. And that’s a lot of trips to the weight room and film study and practice sessions out behind PV’s high school on the rolling grass fields opposite some of Lancaster County’s most picturesque farmland. It really is a different world down there, I told you. PV’s practices don’t look like practices at Manheim Township or at Hempfield or at Wilson or at Manheim Central. It’s not uncommon for the Braves to have anywhere from only 15-25 guys suited up, going through their paces, running plays over and over and over again, until they perfect them. And ramming their bodies into those blocking sleds until their shoulders burn. Nope, PV’s practices might not look the same as a 6A or a 5A outfit. But the Braves work hard. They put in the time. They grind. Just like the guys at the bigger schools, in the bigger programs, with the fancier weight rooms and practice facilities. So to see PV finally crack the dub column on Friday is a big deal. A really big deal. Hey, it’s not always about the wins and the losses. But when you see a group of hard-working players put in all of that time, and not see it payoff with one simple victory in nearly three years … well, you have to feel good for the Braves. Nobody deserves those kinds of streaks. PV’s is finally over, and now the Braves can move forward with some momentum and a great taste in their mouths, instead of wondering when that slide was finally going to end.
BONUS NUGGET — Wilson in Section 1, Warwick in Section 2, Lampeter-Strasburg in Section 3 and Elco in Section 4 all clinched outright section championships with victories on Friday. ... That's an L-L-record 28 titles for Wilson; seventh for L-S; and sixth for Warwick and Elco, which captured its first outright banner in those half-dozen titles.
2. I Tweeted out three separate times on Friday night that I have sorely underestimated Conestoga Valley. Seriously. Go look. So how about those Buckskins? Things weren’t looking too hot when CV had its Week 1 game against Daniel Boone bagged because of a coronavirus shutdown in the school district. Then came a humbling 41-0 loss at Warwick. But the Bucks showed some signs of life with a hard-fought 10-7 win over Elizabethtown to get going. Yes, there was a 33-7 setback against Cocalico after that. But CV has answered with back-to-back signature wins: 41-35 over Manheim Central for the Bucks’ first win over the Barons since 2006, and Friday’s 31-7 victory over Solanco, which beat Cocalico and Central earlier this season. CV went from COVID shutdown to 1-2 and trying to find its way with a retooled offensive line, to a 2-game winning streak with a big-play offense. Friday’s hero: Booper Johnson had three TD runs, covering 51, 62 and 16 yards, respectively. We told you after the Warwick game that rookie soph QB Macoy Kneisley had the tools, and that he’d get things figured out. Has he ever; Kneisley had a 22-yard TD flip to Zach Fisher against Solanco, one week after going 8 for 10 for 234 yards with a pair of TD strikes against Central in his breakout moment on the big stage. We knew CV was returning a good battalion of skill kids this season — Fisher, Johnson, Jaiyell Plowden, Keaghan Sweigart, etc. — but with a revamped line and a rookie QB, we weren’t expecting a whole lot from coach Gerad Novak and his crew, especially with juggernauts like Warwick, Central, Cocalico and Solanco out there. But here are the Bucks — at 3-2 and turning heads in this topsy turvy season — playing some really good, up-tempo, big-play, big-boy football. They’ll go for three wins in a row next Friday against winless McCaskey in the league-mandated crossover game. And for the fourth time on the record — hey, why not — I have seriously underestimated this bunch. Stop sleeping on CV. I have.
3. So who made the playoffs? Playoffs!?!? You can compile District 3 power points through Monday night, so there are still a few more days to go. But through Friday’s games, it looks like just four L-L League teams will make the postseason, and they're all outright section champs: Lampeter-Strasburg (6-0) and Elco (6-0) in Class 4A; Warwick (6-0) in Class 5A; and Wilson (5-1) in Class 6A. Again, nothing is official until late Monday — and D3 will release official brackets Tuesday morning — but it appears the Pioneers, Raiders, Warriors and Bulldogs are poised to get in. … The mystery team is Harrisburg in 6A. The Cougars are currently 3-0, and one game shy of the 4-game minimum to make the bracket. Harrisburg is still searching high and low for a game this weekend, but have been striking out across the board. So if the Cougars can’t get a game before Monday night, Wilson would likely gobble up one of the 6A slots. … If Wilson gets in, the Bulldogs would play in the district semifinals next Friday, giving up their Week 7 league-mandated crossover game vs. Manheim Central. That would leave the Barons scrambling for a Week 7 game, should they want to play; Central has tilts on Nov. 6 vs. Hershey and Nov. 13 against Ephrata on its docket. … Meanwhile, L-S, Elco and Warwick would all play their Week 7 games because the 4A and 5A semifinals aren’t until Nov. 6. But their spots in the D3 brackets would be set regardless of what happens in Week 7. L-S hosts Northern Lebanon, Elco is at Donegal and Warwick is at Hempfield in league-mandated crossover games next Friday.
Much, much more about Week 7 and all of the playoff info coming soon. Stay tuned …