The first week of Lancaster-Lebanon League football was interrupted by wicked thunderstorms and lightning, which pushed 11 season-openers back a day.
The second week of L-L League football comes on the heels of another round of rain, compliments of a hurricane that wrecked some southern states. Needless to say, it’s been a pretty wet first couple of weeks in our neck of the woods.
The Week 2 slate is a lengthy one, with 20 nonleague games on the docket. That includes a trio of games on Thursday, 16 on Friday and a Saturday tilt.
Annville-Cleona, Elco and Pequea Valley — which missed their season-openers because of COVID-19 concerns — are back on the field and ready for their first games this week.
Here’s previewing the Week 2 fare, with all games starting at 7 p.m. unless noted ...
Cocalico (1-0) at Cedar Cliff (1-0): If this matchup rings a bell, it should. The Eagles clocked the Colts 45-7 in the District 3 Class 5A finale back in 2019, and these two have butted heads frequently in nonleague action. They’re both also off to hot starts; Cocalico sashayed past Conrad Weiser 36-21, while Cedar Cliff galloped past Red Lion 56-35. Two explosive ball-carriers on display here: Cocalico’s Anthony Bourassa bolted for 206 yards and three scores vs. Weiser; Cliff’s Jontae Morris zoomed for 151 yards and two TDs vs. Red Lion. Busy night for both rush defenses on the West Shore. Key kid: CC D-end Mike Arminini can blow stuff up; two of his three sticks against Red Lion went for losses. And this: It would behoove Cocalico’s pass-rushers to put plenty of pressure on Cliff QB Ethan Dorrell, who hit on a nifty 13-of-15 attempts for 254 yards and 3 TDs against Red Lion.
Warwick (1-0) at Central Dauphin East (0-1): The Warriors’ air game certainly sizzled in their Week 1 win over Lampeter-Strasburg, when Jack Reed threw for 323 yards with a trio of TD passes to WR Cooper Eckert, who hauled in seven catches for 228 yards up top. Warwick’s D also came up big with a couple of second-half interceptions — including a pick-6 by Ryan Fink — to subdue the comeback-minded Pioneers. Lost in it all was a solid 82-yard, 2-TD rushing night by Christian Royer, who kept the chains moving. That’s a lot of weapons for CD East to keep track of, and the Panthers are spitting fire after a last-second loss at Manheim Township, when CD East muffed a snap on a potential game-tying field goal attempt at the horn. Key kids: East QB Tony Powell and WR Mekhi Flowers (Penn State recruit) are quite the 1-2 punch. Warwick’s secondary must come up big against the Panthers. And this: Get well soon Warwick RB-LB Brendon Snyder.
Annville-Cleona (0-0) at Fleetwood (0-1): After a week off coping with COVID-19 issues, the Dutchmen finally got back to practice and they’ll get their 2021 season started with a bus ride to Berks County. The Tigers dropped their opener last week, a 27-14 setback at West Chester Henderson. Fleetwood went 2-6 last fall, and they’re just two years removed from an 8-3 campaign and a trip to the D3-4A playoffs. Key kid: A-C QB Gavin Keller attempted 22 passes last fall, when he shared the signal-calling duties. He’s got the keys to the Dutchmen’s Veer attack full-time this time around, with some vet blockers and dangerous ball-carriers behind him. And this: A-C’s 3-pronged backfield — Rogan Harter, Chase Maguire and Alex Long — combined for 1,166 rushing yards and 15 TDs last fall. Pow. Fleetwood needs to tackle.
Hempfield (1-0) at Manheim Central (1-0): A couple of longtime L-L League bigwigs will collide in Manheim, and the Black Knights and the Barons are both feeling fine after dandy Week 1 wins. A fun QB matchup in this showdown, featuring Hempfield’s Cam Harbaugh (195 passing yards, 99 rushing yards, 3 totals TDs vs. Dallastown) and Central’s Judd Novak (310 passing yards, 4 TDs vs. Cumberland Valley). Key kid: MC WR Owen Sensenig had eight receptions for 144 yards with two TD grabs in the opener. Hempfield’s secondary can’t let him find open spaces. And this: Hempfield’s last win over Central was a 10-3 dub in Manheim on Sept. 11, 2015.
Columbia (1-0) at Donegal (0-1): These schools are separated by four miles, so this definitely qualifies as a backyard scrap. The Crimson Tide put of 46 points in its opener, as QB Robert Footman passed for 339 yards and five scores. The Indians had a slugfest against another neighboring rival, and Elizabethtown scored late for a 14-7 win. Key kid: Columbia newbie WR Artie Poindexter had nine catches for 99 yards and a TD vs. Eastern York. He’s a sophomore. And this: Donegal is riding a 9-game winning streak vs. Columbia. The Tide’s last win vs. the Indians: 47-27 on Nov. 5, 2010 in Mount Joy. During this 9-game clip, Donegal is averaging 48 points a game vs. Columbia, and the Indians have scored 50 points or more four times, and 60 points or more twice (61-8 in 2017; 60-8 in 2012) against the Tide. You think Columbia wants some payback here?
Ephrata (1-0) at Palmyra (0-1): The Mountaineers got 143 yards and three touchdowns from shifty RB Andre Weidman in their season-opening win over Muhlenberg, while the Cougars fell to Solanco. They’ll get another L-L League outfit here. Key kid: Ephrata D-tackle Weston Nolt wreaked havoc vs. Muhlenberg with eight tackles, including five hits for losses, plus 2.5 sacks, a pair of QB hurries and a forced fumble. And this: Big game momentum-wise here for Ephrata, with the George Male Trophy game vs. backyard rival Warwick coming up next week.
Elizabethtown (1-0) at Mechanicsburg (0-1): The Bears needed a Week 1 win for some positive mo, and they got it, edging out Donegal on Hayden Haver’s TD run with 46 seconds to play. Clutch. Mechanicsburg was 6-0 last year before falling to Governor Mifflin in the D3-5A semifinals. Then the Wildcats were tripped up by Carlisle in their opener. Key kid: E-town LB Logan Lentz had three sticks for losses and two sacks against Donegal. And this: Lentz and the Bears’ D must keep Mechanicsburg RB Jeff Lougee under wraps; he motored for 109 yards on 10 carries with a pair of TD jaunts vs. Carlisle.
Manheim Township (1-0) at Dallastown (0-1): A big exhale for the Blue Streaks, who rallied past and then survived CD East in their opener for an important 1-0 start. The Wildcats fell to Township’s Section 1 rival, Hempfield. Key kid: MT edge rusher Jackson Roache ripped up CD East with 10 tackles, including two stops for losses, a pair of sacks and a QB hurry. And this: That’s six wins in a row for Township, which closed its 2020 campaign on a smoking-hot 5-0 clip.
Solanco (1-0) at Kennard-Dale (0-1): The Golden Mules came out slugging, piling up 294 rushing yards in a victory over Palmyra. K-D coughed up a halftime lead and fell to Octorara in its opener, and the Rams get another L-L League heavy hitter here. Key kid: Solanco LB Nick Defrancesco was big in the middle with five tackles against Palmyra. And this: A funky stat from Solanco’s Week 1 win — The Mules had six pass breakups, including three by DB Trent Henry. That’s some heads-up D.
Wilson (1-0) at Governor Mifflin (1-0): It’s the granddaddy of Berks County backyard rivalries, and the Gurski-Linn Trophy will be up for grabs when the Bulldogs and the Mustangs knock heads in Shillington. It’s the 63rd time these squads will do battle, and Wilson leads the trophy series 7-2, although Mifflin pinned a 48-7 loss on the Bulldogs last year. Key kid: GM RB Nick Singleton, a Penn State recruit, rushed for 280 yards with five TD sprints last week in a 55-6 stampede over York. And this: Wilson had seven QB hurries vs. Central Dauphin in Week 1, so this Bulldogs’ D knows how to bum-rush a backfield.
Penn Manor (1-0) at Lampeter-Strasburg (0-1): A superb start for the Comets, who rallied past Conestoga Valley on Noah Bolin’s 22-yard TD dash in the waning minutes. Back to the drawing board for the Pioneers, who fell to Warwick in their opener. Key kid: PM safety Erik Hinkle had a pick and five tackles against CV, and the Comets’ secondary must keep tabs on L-S TE Beau Heyser, who had a pair of TD grabs against Warwick, including a miraculous 1-handed snag in traffic for a score. And this: L-S has won the last six games in a row in this series, and the last two have been via shutout: 35-0 in 2019 and 42-zip in 2018. Penn Manor’s last win over L-S? Sept. 6, 2013 by a 28-14 count at L-S.
Northern Lebanon (1-0) at Hamburg (1-0): Just what the doc ordered in Week 1 for the Vikings, who snapped a 12-game losing skid with a victory over Pine Grove. Hamburg also got off to a hot start with a 47-point outburst in a victory over York Tech. Key kid: NL WR James Voight had five catches against PG, and two of them went for touchdowns in the Vikes’ victory. And this: Northern Lebanon’s D must contain Hamburg RB Diohnny Ruiz, who had three TD runs against York Tech.
York (0-1) at McCaskey (1-0): Finally, some happy vibes in Tornado Alley, after McCaskey axed Reading to snap that maddening 26-game losing streak. The Bearcats are picking up the pieces after dropping a 55-6 decision against Governor Mifflin. Key kid: McCaskey WR Isaac Burks made his presence felt right out of the gates with two catches for 63 yards against Reading, including a 37-yard TD grab for the Tornado. And this: York is the reigning D3-6A runner-up; the Bearcats fell to rival Central York in last year’s title game, and they feature blue-chip RB Jahiem White, who zoomed for 1,300-plus yards with 16 TD sprints last year. He’s a good one.
Pequea Valley (0-0) at Hanover (0-1): It’s the season opener for PV, which had to sit out a week while Biglerville was dealing with COVID-19. Hanover dropped a 22-7 decision to Susquehannock, which was 0-6 last fall. Kid key: PV QB Peyton Temple is ready for his debut behind center. And this: The last time PV won its season-opener was in 2016, when the Braves edged Schuylkill Valley 14-13 on the way to a 3-0 getaway.
Elco (0-0) at Schuylkill Valley (0-1): Game No. 1 for the Raiders, who had their Week 1 opener vs. Susquenita postponed because of COVID-19 issues at Nita. SV, which was supposed to play Annville-Cleona last week before the Dutchmen had to bag because of a coronavirus outbreak, added a game on the fly and fell to Springfield (Montgomery County) by a 35-7 count. The Panthers’ coach is none other than former longtime Lancaster Catholic skipper Bruce Harbach. Key kid: Elco QB Cole Thomas makes his starting debut behind center for the Raiders. And this: Elco is riding a 13-game regular-season unbeaten streak. The Raiders went 6-0 in regular-season play last fall, after winning their final seven regular-season games in 2019.
Delone Catholic (0-1) at Lancaster Catholic (0-1): The Crusaders were tripped up by reigning D3-2A runner-up York Catholic last week, and now Lancaster Catholic must tangle with reigning D3-1A runner-up Delone Catholic. Tricky first couple of weeks schedule-wise for the Crusaders. The Squires fell to Trinity in their opener, so both of these teams are looking for some firmer footing in Week 2. Key kid: Lancaster Catholic punter du jour Daniel Mueller averaged 43 yards on six punts against YC. He had a 75-yard punt — 75! — called back on a penalty. And this: Mueller has scholarship offers from Villanova, Cornell and UPenn.
Garden Spot (0-1) at Conestoga Valley (0-1): The Spartans and the Buckskins are both coming off close-call setbacks; Garden Spot fell in OT to Twin Valley, while CV had a late lead at Penn Manor before the Comets rallied. Key kid: Sparty Nation kicker Walker Martin boomed five field goals against TV, tying the PIAA single-game record. And this: CV has won the last two games in the series, 37-25 in 2019 and 42-14 in 2018. The Bucks and the Spartans were longtime Section 2 foes.
Reading (0-1) at Lebanon (0-1): This is a rematch of a 2019 Eastern Conference playoff clash, won by the Cedars. Reading had 25 carries for 0 yards in its Week 1 loss against McCaskey, while Lebanon had 0 passing yards in its setback vs. Cedar Crest. Key kid: Not much success up top, but Lebanon QB Pedro De’Arce raced for 76 yards on 17 keepers vs. Cedar Crest. And this: Reading is 1-8 in its last nine games, including a 0-3 finish last spring, after the Red Knights opted out of their fall schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gettysburg (1-0) at Cedar Crest (1-0): A couple of 1-0 teams are set to square off here, after the Warriors beat Northeastern York 34-13 and the Falcons blanked Lebanon 38-0 in the Cedar Bowl. Key kid: CC QB Jay Huber clicked on 12-of-15 passes for 227 yards with three TD strikes in the opener. Gettysburg’s D-backs will be tested against the Falcons’ pass-catchers. And this: This is Gettysburg’s final season in the YAIAA; the Warriors’ athletic programs are heading back to the Mid-Penn Conference at the start of the 2022 school year.
Octorara (1-0) at York Tech (0-1), 11 a.m.: An excellent start for the Braves, who rallied past Kennard-Dale in their opener, when Weston Stoltzfus passed for 175 yards, rushed for 60 yards, accounted for two touchdowns, forced a late fumble during Octorara’s comeback, and he iced the game with an interception with two seconds to play. Rumor has it he sold popcorn at halftime, and swept out the locker room and turned out the lights on his way to the bus. York Tech fell to Hamburg in its opener. Key kid: Octorara LB Zion Raison-Peters had 10 tackles and a forced fumble vs. K-D. And this: York Tech is 1-29 in its last 30 games. That win was last fall, a 14-13 triumph over Hanover.