Friday marks the start of league play for just about every team in Sections One and Two. Meanwhile, Section Three is already into its third week of league play, and there’s two games there between a pair of teams tied for first place.
The lone crossover features two historically strong football programs when Manheim Central travels to Wilson. Here’s a look at those dozen matchups, with all but one slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Manheim Central (2-1) at Wilson (3-0): Manheim Central will try to avoid back-to-back losses, something that hasn't happened to the Barons since 2014, which was Mike Williams’ final season on the job. That year, Central fell to Cocalico 26-24 in Manheim on Oct. 17, and then the Barons dropped a 21-14 decision at Garden Spot the next week. ... Wilson leads Manheim Central in the all-time series, 6-4. Central won in comeback fashion last year, 20-10. ... The Bulldogs are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2013, and Wilson's defense has 22 total sacks. That’s an average of around seven a game. Keep that in mind against a Manheim Central club that gave up four sacks a week ago. ... Since the start of the 2008 season, Wilson and Manheim Central have played five times, with Wilson holding a 3-2 edge. The Bulldogs last beat the Barons in 2011.
Warwick (3-0) at Hempfield (1-2): Two weeks ago, Hempfield fell to Manheim Central 24-14. Last Friday, Warwick topped Manheim Central 37-7. It was the Warriors’ first win over the Barons since 1983. And it gave Warwick a 3-0 start for the first time since 2007, for a Warriors' bunch that is clicking in all areas. A Warwick win Friday would give the Warriors victories over Hempfield in back-to-back years for the first time since 2009-2010. ... Meanwhile, Hempfield is coming off a narrow Week Three loss to Central York for the second year in a row. Black Knights’ veteran QB Colin Peters (back) has seen limited action each of the last two weeks but is expected to be back at full strength this Friday, though second-leading rusher Luke Miller (31 carries, 273 yards, one TD) is out indefinitely with a foot injury. In his place will be Tanner Hess, who will switch to running back after playing well in backup QB duty the last two weeks. ... Hempfield's defense is holding opponents to 245 yards a game, the fifth-best clip in the league. It’ll go up against a Warwick team sporting the league’s top offense (481 yards a game) and top passer in junior QB Joey McCracken (900 passing yards).
Cedar Crest (3-0) at McCaskey (0-3): Cedar Crest came back from down two touchdowns to beat York High — a District 3-5A semifinalist last season — on a 38-yard field goal from Jack Beasley with 50 seconds left. It lifted the Falcons to a 3-0 start for the second time in three years and for just the third time since 2004. The 483 passing yards from junior QB Chris Danz is the fifth-best mark in the league. He’ll face a McCaskey team that has given up the second-most points in the league (137). The Red Tornado's setback streak is at 10 in a row. ... Cedar Crest has won the last four head-to-head meetings with McCaskey. the Tornado last beat Cedar Crest in 2012.
Penn Manor (1-2) at Manheim Township (3-0): Since the season-opening road win at Conestoga Valley, the Comets have dropped two in a row, including a narrow 23-20 home defeat to a previously winless Dallastown squad last Friday. The Comets have given up 442 rushing yards in those two losses, and now face Manheim Township running back Jaden Floyd, whose 341 rushing yards are the fourth-best clip among L-L rushers. And the Blue Streaks are riding high after last week’s 10-7 nail-biting victory over Central Dauphin — last year’s District 3 Class 6A runner-up — in which kicker Jackson Wright hit the game-winning 27-yard field goal with a minute left. The Streaks have won the last five head-to-head meetings against the Comets.
Elizabethtown (2-1) at Cocalico (3-0): Elizabethtown sophomore QB Patrick Gilhool (33-for-63, 552 yards, five TDs) will be out Friday, according to Kyle Morgan at the Elizabethtown Advocate. Gilhool is still recovering from a big hit he absorbed in last week’s 30-9 setback to Conrad Weiser. Freshman QB Josh Rudy will get the start. ... Cocalico senior QB Noah Palm needs 62 rushing yards for 3,000 in his career. He had a busy Week Three effort a week ago with nine throws and a team-high 23 rushing attempts. The Eagles have won the last eight head-to-head meetings over the Bears. E-town last beat Cocalico in 2010.
Garden Spot (0-3) at Solanco (2-1): Mules’ D-back Mason St. Clair tallied two interceptions and returned a kick for a TD in last Friday’s 21-10 road win at New Oxford, with Solanco now having won two in a row. Though, the Mules have given up 620 rushing yards, fourth-most among all L-L teams. So perhaps Garden Spot can get its ground game going after being held to 2.5 yards a carry on 36 attempts in last week’s 34-20 loss at Palmyra, as the Spartans’ are aiming to snap a 17-game losing streak.
Conestoga Valley (0-3) at Lampeter-Strasburg (3-0), 7:30 p.m.: It’s a special 7:30 p.m. start for the Lampeter Bowl due to the pre-game Hall of Fame ceremony. ... After being held to two scores in each of its first two games, CV's offense woke up last Friday with six TDs, but it wasn’t enough in a 42-39 road loss at Spring Grove. The Buckskins are giving up the fourth-most yards of any defense in the league (359.7) and now get a red-hot L-S team that leads the league in points scored (134) and rushing yards (912).
Ephrata (2-0 league, 2-1 overall) at Lancaster Catholic (2-0, 3-0): A matchup between a pair of first-place teams. The Crusaders now own the league’s longest current regular-season win streak (13 games), while Ephrata is off to the best three-game start since 2010. The Mountaineers have scored 50-plus points in each of the last two weeks, with senior QB Caden Keefer coming off a bonkers 453-total-yard performance. ... This is just the fourth meeting between these teams in this century, with Lancaster Catholic having won the last three by a combined score of 114-16. The last time Ephrata beat Lancaster Catholic was in 1996, when the Mounts edged the Crusaders 21-20.
Donegal (2-0, 2-1) at Lebanon (2-0, 2-1): Both teams have won two in a row after dropping its season-opener, and the winner stays in a first-place tie in Section Three. This matchup will feature contrasting offensive approaches, as the Indians prefer to pound the rock with their Wing-T offense, which gathered 330 rushing yards in their Week Three win over Columbia. Lebanon will counter with its pass-heavy, air-raid offense, steered by second-year QB Isaiah Rodriguez, who is second in the league in pass completions and attempts (48-for-85).
Pequea Valley (0-2, 0-3) at Columbia (1-2, 0-2): Pequea Valley is at 13 setbacks in a row, dating back to the last game of the 2017 season. … After a season-opening win over Eastern York, Columbia has gone down to the wire in back-to-back losses the last two Fridays against a pair of likely playoff teams (Lancaster Catholic and Donegal). But a win Friday would give the Tide its best four-game start since 2013. Keep an eye on Columbia senior QB Matt McCleary, who leads the league in pass completions and attempts (61-for-111) and is second in passing yards (763).
Octorara (1-1, 1-2) at Elco (0-3, 0-2): With last week’s 35-0 win over Northern Lebanon, Octorara picked up its first shutout victory since 2011, and just the second whitewash in program history (the Braves began playing football in 2009). Now, the Braves are aiming for their first victory over Elco (the two teams met for the first time last year). ... After narrow losses by a combined seven points in the first two weeks, Elco dropped a 28-7 Week Three game to Lancaster Catholic, leading to an 0-3 start for the first time since 2015. While the Braves’ 4-2-5 defense has kept opponents to a league-best 165 passing yards, the Braves were gashed for 348 rushing yards by Annville-Cleona’s Veer offense in Week Two. And 529 of Elco’s 575 total yards has come in large part to its run-heavy, Veer offense.
Annville-Cleona (1-1, 1-2) at Northern Lebanon (0-1, 0-3): The Vikings are off to a 0-3 start for the second year in a row, while the Little Dutchmen gave up 648 yards and 58 points in a loss at Ephrata last Friday. The 58 points allowed by A-C were the most since a Week Eight 58-36 loss to Northern Lebanon in 2015. ... Northern Lebanon has given up a league-worst 936 rushing yards, so A-C’s Veer offense could be in for a big night.
LNP sports writer Jeff Reinhart contributed to this report.