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. OK, so perhaps Manheim Central at Wilson lost a smidge of luster after the Barons saw their shiny 27-game regular-season unbeaten streak come to a crashing halt last week, when Warwick pinned a 37-7 loss on the Barons. But hey, it’s still Manheim Central at Wilson, and that’s L-L League football royalty. And so another season of L-L League-mandated crossover games begins — and they’ll continue next year when the league goes to four sections — and West Lawn will be the place to be on Friday when Manheim Central (2-1) comes to town to square off against a rampaging Wilson squad that is off to a snappy 3-0 getaway — the Bulldogs’ first 3-0 start since 2013. My two favorite notables about this matchup: First, Manheim Central needs a win to avoid its first two-game losing streak since Oct. 17-24, 2014, when the Barons fell in consecutive weeks to Cocalico and Garden Spot in Section 2 games. Second, Manheim Central comes into Friday’s showdown with 564 career victories in program history. Wilson is sitting on 563 career wins in program history. So if the Bulldogs get the dub, they’d knot the Barons for most program wins in L-L League football history. How about that? Wilson leads the all-time series 6-4 vs. Manheim Central. The Barons won 20-10 in Manheim last year, overcoming a 10-0 first-half deficit to rally for the W.
2. There are four teams tied atop the Section 3 race with 2-0 league marks and — thank you, Mr. Schedulemaker — they’ll square off head-to-head on Friday in a pair of first-place showdowns. The funky four-way tie will be snapped when Donegal (2-0, 2-1) visits Lebanon (2-0, 2-1) and when Ephrata (2-0, 2-1) heads to Lancaster Catholic (2-0, 3-0). The Crusaders are one of seven undefeated L-L League outfits, along with Cocalico, Lampeter-Strasburg and the Section 1 four-pack of Cedar Crest, Manheim Township, Warwick and Wilson. … The crux in the Donegal-Lebanon clash: The Indians’ Wing-T attack (producing 318 yards a game) against the Cedars’ stingy defense (they’re allowing just 169 yards a game, third-best in the L-L League), as Donegal and Lebanon both put two-game winning streaks on the line. … The crux in the Ephrata-Catholic skirmish: The Crusaders’ defense (giving up 273 yards a game, including 600 total passing yards through the air, fourth-most in the league) against the Mountaineers’ heavy hitter offense (cranking out 417 yards a game, third-best in the L-L League). Ephrata singed Annville-Cleona for 648 total yards and 26 first downs last week in a scoreboard-busting 58-26 win.
3. Penn Manor had that really nice Week 1 win at Conestoga Valley, dropping the Buckskins 19-13 behind some clutch offense and an opportunistic defense, as the Comets forced three turnovers in the victory. But then came a 35-0 defeat against undefeated Lampeter-Strasburg. And last week, Penn Manor — which has just five seniors on its roster, which is kind of a head-scratcher number for a 6A program — battled tooth and nail all the way to the end in a 23-20 setback against Dallastown. After a 1-9 season last fall, the Comets are definitely turning the corner this time around. Why? Check the defensive numbers. After surrendering 415 yards a game last season — dead last in the L-L League — coach John Brubaker's crew is yielding just 270 yards a night through three games this season. That’s quite an improvement. Last year, the Comets gave up 41 points a game. This year, 23. Safe to say Penn Manor’s defense will be tested this week by Manheim Township; the Blue Streaks are cranking out 395 yards a game, they average 36 points a night, and they have weapons all over the place. Two Comets’ defenders to watch on Friday: LB Jared Musser piled up a team-high nine tackles last week against Dallastown, and fellow ‘backer Isaiah Stoltzfus and three stops, including one hit for a loss, against the Wildcats.