Three weeks down and seven weeks to go in Lancaster-Lebanon League regular-season football action.
Time is definitely flying.
The Week 4 games represent the last full slate of nonleague clashes; the league’s crossover games are up next, followed by the section openers on Oct. 1. Annville-Cleona, Elco and Pequea Valley, you'll recall, have makeup nonleague dates on Nov. 5.
With just two undefeated teams still standing — Manheim Central and Octorara are both 3-0 — the Week 4 docket includes a traveling trophy showdown and some backyard rivalry scraps, plus a Saturday tilt.
One Week 4 clash has been scrapped; Cedar Crest had to postpone its game at Governor Mifflin because of COVID-19 issues in the school district. No game this week for the Falcons, who will explore their options for a potential makeup game on Nov. 5.
Mifflin picked up a Week 4 game against Harrisburg, which was also looking for an opponent after its game vs. Central Dauphin was postponed because of lingering coronavirus issues at CD.
Previewing the complete Week 4 schedule, with all games starting at 7 p.m. unless noted ...
Solanco (2-1) at Lampeter-Strasburg (2-1): The always popular Milk Jug traveling trophy showdown celebrates its 12th year, and the Pioneers own an 8-3 lead in the series. Both teams are coming off whitewash wins last week — Solanco 42-zip over Muhlenberg and L-S 19-0 over Conestoga Valley in the Lampeter Bowl — and the Pioneers have won their last two games via shutout. Key kid: Solanco DB Josiah Forren (21 tackles, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery) has been making plays in the secondary. And this: Solanco leads the league with 962 rushing yards; L-S is seventh in the league in team defense, allowing 262 yards a game.
Manheim Central (3-0) at Perkiomen Valley (2-1): The Barons are blistering-hot, with back-to-back shutout wins and a slobber-knocker defense that has allowed just 51 rushing yards and is yielding a scant 105 yards a game with four takeaways. Central has outscored its first three opponents by a whopping 109-7. Perk Valley, out of the Pioneer Athletic Conference, is coming off a 55-20 triumph over 2019 D1-6A champ Downingtown West. That score turned some heads in Philly burb neighborhoods. The Vikings' setback was a 35-27 loss against D1-6A kingpin Coatesville. Key kid: PV QB Ethan Kohler has completed 64 percent of his throws for 647 yards with seven TD tosses against no picks. Central’s D must rattle him in the pocket. And this: The Barons have 14 sacks — 3.5 by LB Jaden Weit.
Donegal (2-1) at Annville-Cleona (1-1): Former section foes collide, and they’re both feeling it: Donegal is a riding a 2-game winning streak, and A-C chalked up 450 yards of offense last week, while picking up its first victory. Can the Dutchmen stop the Indians’ Wing-T? Can the Indians stop the Dutchmen’s Veer? May the best rush defense win. Key kid: Donegal DB Ruben Mumper (20 tackles, 1 for a loss, 5 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery) has been a ball-hawker in the back for the Indians. And this: Donegal holds a 3-2 edge over A-C in their last five meetings, including a 54-6 romp in 2017.
Lancaster Catholic (2-1) at Columbia (2-1): This longstanding rivalry resumes up on the hill, and the Crusaders will bring a 2-game winning streak and plenty of momentum to Tide town. They’ll get a Columbia bunch that hasn’t been shy about going up top. Key kid: LC RB-LB Tony Cruz rushed for 106 yards and two scores last week against Archbishop Carroll, and he’ll need another chain-moving, clock-gobbling ground performance to help the Crusaders play keep-away from Columbia’s potent offense. And this: Catholic is 4-1 in its last five matchups against Columbia; the Tide snapped a 4-year slide with a 19-14 victory last year.
Octorara (3-0) at Phoenixville (0-2): Caution: Flammable. The Braves are simply scorching, averaging a league-best 433 yards a game. They’ll go for their first 4-0 start in program history against the Phantoms, out of the Pioneer Athletic Conference. Key kid: Octorara RB Mike Trainor is averaging a nifty 10.4 yards per carry; he has 24 rushes for 249 yards with 3 TD runs. And this: Octorara has given up just 156 passing yards, least in the league.
McCaskey (2-1) at Elizabethtown (1-2): The Red Tornado is angling for its first 3-1 start since a 4-1 getaway back in 2006. McCaskey has some serious momentum after scoring 60 points last week against Lebanon. The Bears have dropped two in a row since that riveting Week 1 win at Donegal. Key kid: E-town DB Braden Cummings (7 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 INT) must help the Bears keep tabs on McCaskey deep-threat WR Isaac Burks (9-234, 2 TD). And this: E-town is giving up 226 yards a game — fourth-best in the league.
Penn Manor (2-1) at Warwick (2-1): The Comets are angling for their best start since a 4-0 getaway in 2013, as they’ve ridden the dual-threat capabilities of QB Eli Warfel to two early wins. The Warriors straightened their ship last week with a 42-point outburst in a victory over rival Ephrata for the George Male traveling trophy — their 15th dub in a row in that series against the Mountaineers, by the way. Key kid: PM ball-hawker Will Stover had six tackles, with three hits for losses and a pair of sacks in the Comets’ win over Northeastern York last week. And this: Warwick has won the last six matchups in a row against Penn Manor; these two are former longtime Section 1 neighbors.
Cocalico (1-2) at Garden Spot (0-3): Two teams looking to pick up the pieces will knock heads in New Holland; the Eagles have dropped two games in a row, lost multiple starters to injury, and have been singed defensively, while the Spartans have lost a couple of heart-breakers and haven’t made enough big stops on defense. Key kid: GS DT Tyler Hurst (10 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery) must help clog up the middle and limit Cocalico’s ball-carriers. And this: Cocalico is allowing 433 yards a game — 23rd out of 24 teams in the league.
Ephrata (2-1) at Elco (1-1): Back to the drawing board for the Mounts and the Raiders, who are both coming off setbacks after hot starts. Ephrata RB Andre Weidman (497 yards, 7 TD) leads the league in rushing and TD runs. Key kid: Ephrata LB Travis Martin (27 tackles, 4 for losses, 1 sack) needs to swarm and keep Elco QB Cole Thomas guessing. And this: Ephrata has rushed for 768 yards — third-most in the league.
Northern Lebanon (2-1) at Lebanon (0-3): Two teams going in completely different directions will square off in Cedar Country. The Vikings have figured some things out, and have picked it up defensively for a pair of early wins. The Cedars are flat-out struggling; Lebanon has allowed 140 points — most in the league — and is giving up 407 yards a game. Key kid: NL WR Dwight Ostermayer (9-177, 2 TD) has been a key flank threat for the Vikes. And this: Lebanon is looking to avoid its first 0-4 start since the Cedars went 0-10 in 2012.
Conestoga Valley (1-2) at Daniel Boone (1-2): The Buckskins are coming off a shutout loss against Lampeter Bowl foe L-S, while the Blazers picked up their first win last week against Garden Spot. Don’t look now, but this is a very important road trip for CV. Key kid: DB QB Dean Rotter passed for 256 yards with two TD strikes and a TD keeper against Garden Spot. And this: CV RB Nick Tran (358 yards, 4 TD) is third in the league in rushing.
Martin Luther King (0-1) at Wilson (1-2): The Bulldogs’ defense has been singed for 719 rushing yards, and Wilson is giving up 335 yards and 35 points a game. That’s probably not going over very well in West Lawn. MLK — the 2019 Philly Public League Class 5A champ — dropped its opener to Chester last week, after its first two games were postponed because of coronavirus issues. Key kid: Wilson LB Landon Farrell (13 tackles, 3 for losses) needs to help rally the Bulldogs’ D battalion. And this: Wilson is mired in its first 2-game regular-season losing streak since 2003 — Chad Henne’s senior season in a Bulldogs’ uniform, by the way.
Exeter (2-1) at Hempfield (1-2): Another week, another big-boy opponent for the Black Knights, who are coming off setbacks against undefeated Manheim Central and reigning PIAA-6A state runner-up Central York. Exeter axed Wilson with 42 unanswered points last week. Key kid: Hempfield’s Tommy Minnich had six tackles and a sack against Central York. The Knights must wrap and tackle Exeter RB Eric Nangle, who had 209 yards and three TDs vs. Wilson. And this: Exeter is cranking out 450 yards a game — No. 2 in the Berks League.
Manheim Township (1-2) at Spring-Ford (2-1), 7:30 p.m.: The Blue Streaks are coming off a heart-breaking OT loss to Harrisburg, and Township has played three teeth-pulling squeakers in a row. The Rams, out of the Pioneer Athletic Conference, outscored their first two opponents 92-0 — in shutout wins over West Chester East and Chambersburg — before falling to Cumberland Valley last week. Key kid: S-F QB Ryan Freed has thrown for 612 yards with eight TD strikes. And this: Career stats for MT WR Anthony Ivey: 83 receptions for 1,648 yards — 20 yards per grab — with 16 TD snags. He’s a Penn State commit.
If you lost track, three L-L League teams (Manheim Central, Octorara and Manheim Township) are playing against a trio of District 1 Pioneer Athletic Conference squads (Perkiomen Valley, Phoenixville and Spring-Ford) on Friday — all on the road. Enjoy those bus rides.
Jenkintown (0-1) at Pequea Valley (0-2), 12 p.m.: The Drakes, out of the Bicentennial Athletic Conference in the Philly burbs, dropped their opener against league foe Bristol last week, and they’ll get a Braves’ outfit that must muster a way to make stops. PV gave up 76 points, 587 rushing yards and 656 total yards last week against Kutztown. Key kid: PV multi-purpose back Orlando Stoltzfus has 146 total yards from scrimmage and two TD runs, and he’s returned a kickoff for a TD. And this: PV receivers Dominic Wallace and Jonathan Carter both have three TD catches in two games.