Introduction by: JEFF REINHART | Staff Writer

Just a hunch, but the Section One race should include the usual suspects. Wilson for sure. And a very determined, very motivated Manheim Township squad. Warwick is coming off an excellent eight-win season and a trip to the district playoffs, and the Warriors are set to return a slew of talent — plus senior QB Grayson Kline transferred in from Wilson, giving Warwick a vet triggerman.

We have to believe that Hempfield — with Temple commit David Martin-Robinson in tow — will wedge its way into the mix, while Conestoga Valley, McCaskey, Penn Manor and Lebanon will keep those usual suspects honest.


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Conestoga Valley

  • Nickname: Buckskins
  • Head coach: Gerry Novak (2nd season, 4-6)
  • Base offense: Spread
  • Base defense: 4-4

After a middle-of-the-road 2016 that saw Conestoga Valley finish 2-5 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League and 4-6 overall, the Buckskins are building their current program off the history and mindset of the teams that came before them.

Head coach Gerad Novak enters the second season of his second stint at the helm of the Conestoga Valley program. Much of last year was spent reshaping expectations — now the Buckskins are ready to make strides.

"In the second year, kids understand formations, schemes, blocking better," Novak said. "Last year we were learning new terminology. This year there is less teaching in that aspect, and we can get to the X’s and O’s much quicker."

Read the full Conestoga Valley preview.

Hempfield

  • Nickname: Black Knights
  • Head coach: Ron Zeiber (7th season, 35-31)
  • Base offense: Spread
  • Base defense: 3-5

The deck was already stacked against Hempfield at the start of the 2016 football season, considering the Black Knights had graduated 26 players from the previous year. In stepped a relatively inexperienced bunch. And down went quarterback Mark Himmelsbach in Week Two, missing the next two weeks with a concussion.

Hempfield counting on Himmelsbach, Martin-Robinson to raise a ruckus on the football field

By the time he returned and Hempfield got on the same page, it wouldn’t be until Week 10 when everything finally clicked in a 59-32 triumph over Lebanon in the season finale.

“Towards the end of the season,” Himmelsbach said, “a lot of the guys started getting a grasp for the offense.”

Read the full Hempfield preview.

Lebanon

  • Nickname: Cedars
  • Head coach: Gerry Yonchiuk (12th season, 35-77)
  • Base offense: Air Raid
  • Base defense: 3-3 Stack

This season is the second of Lebanon’s two-year stint in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, thanks to a quirky bubble in male enrollment two years ago.

It’s not unfair to say the Cedars seem overmatched against the league’s biggest schools, especially since they didn’t come close to winning a Section One game a year ago. They’ll drop to Section Three next year.

So it could be easy to write Lebanon off in 2017. Two arguments against that:

1. In junior Zakee Sailsman, the Cedars will feature a dual-threat quarterback who’s attracting some Division I recruiting interest and is capable of creating offense on his own.

2. The Cedars took their beating last year, didn’t like it —understandably — and spent the offseason doing something about it.

Read the full Lebanon preview.

Manheim Township

  • Nickname: Blue Streaks
  • Head coach: Mark Evans (5th season, 26-20)
  • Base offense: Spread/Pro Set
  • Base defense: 3-4

This year's edition of the Manheim Township Blue Streaks has the potential to be quite offensive, literally.

The Streaks have plenty of returning weapons, along with a big ol’ side of beef up front, that could result in a lot of points being scored.

"We have a bunch of interchangeable parts that allows us to do a lot of different things," coach Mark Evans said. "We're able to give a lot of different looks."

Luke Emge, Rece Bender and Grayson Sallade accounted for nearly 3,800 yards of offensive production last year.

Sallade rushed for 885 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Bender hauled in 28 passes for 575 yards and five touchdowns.

Read the full Manheim Township preview here.

McCaskey

  • Nickname: Red Tornado
  • Head coach: Eric Spencer (2nd season, 4-6)
  • Base offense: Spread
  • Base defense: 4-3

It's Year Two of the Eric Spencer Era at McCaskey, and if you go by what's on paper, it could be a mighty interesting season for the Red Tornado.

Of course, football games aren't played on paper. But on paper, McCaskey has a lot going for it. Like 15 total returning starters. And a boatload of talented, fast skill players. Not to mention some veteran defenders, plus plenty of motivation after a 4-6 season that left the Tornado on the outside of the playoff picture yet again.

And did we mention those fast skill kids?

Spencer is thrilled with his team's speed and athleticism, which he's hoping the Tornado will unleash in the coming weeks. Plug a hole here and find a new starter or two there, and if everything goes just right, McCaskey, it says here, will be in the race — and the Section One race is always much more fun when the Tornado is running with the lead pack.

Read the full McCaskey preview here.

Penn Manor

  • Nickname: Comets
  • Head coach: John Brubaker (3rd season, 2-18)
  • Base offense: Veer Midline
  • Base defense: 3-4

The time is now for what is a hungry group of seniors at Penn Manor.

Two years ago, as sophomores, the Comets welcomed a new coach and endured an 0-10 season.

A season ago, as juniors, there were two Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One wins, against Lebanon and Conestoga Valley.

But the seniors are not fond of moral victories. Instead, they want something to show for all their hard work, on and off the field.

Read the full Penn Manor preview.

Warwick

  • Nickname: Warriors
  • Head coach: Bob Locker (17th season, 73-91)
  • Base offense: 1-Back, 4-Wide Spread
  • Base defense: 4-3

First look to last year’s breakout 8-3 campaign and runner-up finish in the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One standings. Then point to the fact Warwick brings back just about everyone from that squad.

What do you get?

Well, from longtime Warwick coach Bob Locker it’s the following response: “Anything a team did last year gets you this many wins ...”

You’ll then watch as Locker holds up his left hand and forms his thumb and index finger into a zero, just as he did at L-L football media day.

Read the full Warwick preview.

Wilson

  • Nickname: Bulldogs
  • Head coach: Doug Dahms (12th season, 129-20)
  • Base offense: Pistol Zone
  • Base defense: 4-4

Wilson has absolutely, positively dominated Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One play for the last decade.

The Bulldogs will open this year’s section slate riding a 64-game league winning streak dating back to 2007, and coach Doug Dahms’ crew has won a staggering nine section championships in a row.

Wilson is also the reigning District Three Class 6A champ, so the Bulldogs will be looking to defend that title as well.

But not all is rosy in West Lawn. There are holes to be filled, with 15 full-time starters gone from last fall. And we’re talking key spots too, like outside linebacker, the offensive line and the secondary.

Read the full Wilson preview.


Section Two previews | Section Three previews | Complete schedule