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 …
Some nuggets to get the Week 5 preview items started. Today, fun with quarterback numbers:
1. Welcome to the club, Noah Palm. Cocalico’s senior QB rushed for 81 yards in the Eagles’ 49-12 triumph over Elizabethtown in the Section 2 opener last Friday. That output gave Palm 3,019 rushing yards in his career — from the QB spot, in Cocalico’s dastardly wicked Veer attack. He has amassed those yards on 379 keepers, good for 7.9 yards per pop, with 57 TD runs. Tack on 1,743 passing yards and 132 yards in interception and fumble return yardage, and Palm, a New Hampshire recruit, heads into Friday’s much-anticipated crossover game against Manheim Township with 4,894 total yards. That’s just 106 yards shy of 5,000 yards — passing, rushing, defensive returns — for Palm’s career. But here’s our favorite Noah Palm stat: In 159 career pass attempts — he took snaps as a ninth-grader, and he's been Cocalico’s starting QB since Game 1 in his sophomore campaign — he has been intercepted just one (one!) time.
BONUS NUGGET: The 3,000-yard rushing career for Palm is certainly sweet. But he’ll be hard-pressed to crack the L-L League’s all-time leaderboard. Here are the league’s all-time top-5 leading rushers:
Roman Clay, Lancaster Catholic — 5,940 yards
Tommy Long, Lebanon Catholic — 5,662 yards
Austin Hartman, Cocalico — 5,107 yards
Jaren Hayes, Cedar Crest — 4,882 yards
Iggy Reynoso, Wilson — 4,778 yards (includes 2 seasons at Hamburg; we could probably split hairs over this one, I know. But what a career for Reynoso. His rushing-yard total and 79 career touchdowns are both Berks County all-time records.)
2. Speaking of joining clubs, Manheim Township senior QB Harrison Kirk had a 214-yard passing effort in the Blue Streaks’ 65-7 win over Penn Manor in Week 4. That gave Kirk 730 passing yards this season. Tack on his breakout 2,308-yard effort in his junior season last fall, and Kirk, a Colgate verbal commit, is now up to 3,038 career passing yards.
3. Several other L-L League vet quarterbacks are approaching some milestone numbers of their own. Here’s the list …
Evan Simon, senior QB, Manheim Central: The Rutgers commit has 493 passing yards so far this season, giving him 5,791 in his career — including Central’s single-season mark of 2,701 last season, when Simon and the Barons went all the way to the PIAA-5A state championship game. Heading into Friday’s Section 2 opener at Elizabethtown, Simon needs just 110 passing yards to leapfrog Jeff Smoker’s program mark of 5,900 air yards. Any time you break a record held by Smoker — or another former Barons’ standout QB, Matt Nagy — you’re really doing something.
Matt McCleary, senior QB, Columbia: Here’s another 3,000-yard kid; McCleary hit that milestone earlier this season, and he’s up 931 yards through the first four weeks for the Crimson Tide. So he’s 69 yards shy of hitting 1,000 for the season. McCleary had a breakout year last fall, going up top for 1,899 yards. He also took some snaps as a sophomore. Heading into Friday’s Section 3 game at Annville-Cleona, McCleary is up to 3,379 career passing yards. He needs 621 yards — with six games to go — to join the 4,000-yard club. That’s a cool number.
Joey McCracken, junior QB, Warwick: What a sizzling start for Mr. McCracken, who was the first L-L League QB to eclipse 1,000 passing yards this season; he’s up to 1,180 yards already in the Warriors’ 4-0 start. McCracken didn’t take over the starting duties until midway through last season, and he ended up throwing for 1,570 yards, helping Warwick share the Section 1 championship and win a D3 playoff game for the first time in program history. Heading into Friday’s Section 1 game at McCaskey, McCracken has 2,750 career passing yards, just 250 shy of joining the 3,000-yard club as a junior. McCracken (with another year to go) and Simon should/could wedge their way onto the L-L League’s all-time passing list (keep reading).
FYI: Simon, in fact, is very close to cracking the top 10.
Isaiah Rodriguez, junior QB, Lebanon: Another 11th-grader, Rodriguez is starting to put up some gaudy numbers in the Cedars’ Air Raid system. Last fall, he went up top for 1,935 yards in his debut campaign. Tack on 666 this season, and Rodriguez goes into Friday’s Section 3 game against Lancaster Catholic with 2,604 yards — so he’s also creeping up fast on 3,000 for his career, with another full season to go.
Caden Keefer, senior QB, Ephrata: He took snaps as a sophomore, so Keefer has also accumulated some nifty passing numbers for the Mountaineers. After a 1,240-yard season last fall in his junior campaign, and 692 air yards already this season, Keefer heads into Friday’s Section 3 game against first-place Donegal with 2,417 career passing yards. So he’s also a serious candidate to hit 3,000 yards in his career.
Bradley Stoltzfus, senior QB, Conestoga Valley: He won’t catch his big brother (see list below) but Stoltzfus is closing in fast on 2,500 career yards. In his second full season as the Buckskins’ starter, Stoltzfus heads into Saturday’s Section 2 game vs. Solanco with 2,324 career yards — 176 shy of 2,500.
Ethan Borcky, senior QB, Northern Lebanon: Here’s a cool number for you — After a 347-yard, bombs-away effort last Friday against Annville-Cleona, Borcky is now sitting on … 1,999 career passing yards. So he’ll need just one yard on Friday against Elco to hit the 2,000-yard milestone.
Here are the L-L League’s all-time top-10 leading passers:
Kyle Smith, Lancaster Catholic — 8,545 yards
Collin “Bear” Shank, Lampeter-Strasburg — 8,013 yards
Grant Stoltzfus, Conestoga Valley — 7,273 yards
Pat Bostick, Manheim Township — 7,260 yards
Chad Henne, Wilson — 7,071 yards
Brennan Scott, Manheim Township — 6,973 yards
Jeff Martin, Elco — 6,750 yards
Ben Meyers, Pequea Valley — 6,028 yards
James Capello, Lebanon — 5,996 yards
Zac Kulp, Elco — 5,922 yards