From the first day of heat acclimatization practice on Aug. 9, until the very last Lancaster-Lebanon League football team is still 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 …
Finally, some normalcy — we hope — moving forward with the schedule. Week 5 marks the L-L League crossover games, with Section 1 teams squaring off against Section 2 teams and Section 3 teams taking on Section 4 teams. These games do not count toward the section records; they’re nonleague games, but mandated by the league. That means only 12 games on this week’s slate, and that’s a great thing. This is the fourth — and final — year of the crossovers. Some folks like the matchups. Some flat-out don’t. But they are what they are, and they’ll disappear next year when the 13 Berks League teams come aboard to form the 37-team mega conference. We’ll cross that (long) bridge when the time arrives. For now, it’s L-L League football crossover week. Digging into those matchups:
1. They are the two most decorated programs in L-L League history, and they’ll square off Friday in West Lawn: Manheim Central vs. Wilson is always a beauty, and the Barons (who own 26 section championships) and the Bulldogs (who own a league-best 28 section crowns) are set to knock heads. The Bulldogs lead the crossover series 2-1; the Barons won 20-10 back in 2018, but Wilson has responded with back-to-back resounding victories: 49-14 in 2019 and 40-21 last year. Plenty of juice — and story lines — for this clash. Central is the league’s last remaining undefeated team at 4-0, and the Barons are coming off a 43-40 escape-job win at Perkiomen Valley, when Central’s defense finally took a hit. But the Barons’ O has gotten some great play up front in the trenches, and the 1-2 RB punch of Justin Heffernan and Jaden Weit has done damage. Wilson picked up a must-have win in Week 4 vs. Martin Luther King, holding the Cougars to a grand total of 5 yards in a 50-8 romp. The Bulldogs (2-2) needed it, coming of back-to-back losses to Governor Mifflin and Exeter. So some much better vibes in Wilson’s camp this week, as the Bulldogs prep for the Barons. Absolutely circle it — in ink.
2. The Manheim Township vs. Cocalico crossover has been one-sided in the win-loss column — the Blue Streaks are 3-0 in the series, and have outscored the Eagles 133-38 in those tilts — but Friday’s matchup has plenty of intrigue. Both clubs will enter at 2-2, and will be coming in off momentum-building wins: Township used its air attack to double-up Spring-Ford 26-13, while Cocalico got a huge rushing effort from Anthony Bourassa — 313 yards, three touchdowns, boom — in a 31-20 dub over Garden Spot. Contrasting styles for sure in this matchup: Township prefers the airways — sleek WR Anthony Ivey had 13 receptions for 175 yards with a pair of TD snags vs. Spring-Ford — while Cocalico will go ground and pound with Bourassa (league-best 710 rushing yards, 8 TD) and its Flexbone. May the best defense win this showdown on the grass in Denver.
3. The third game that caught my eye this week: Columbia (3-1) at Ephrata (3-1) is a must-see. This is another one of those contrasting styles kind of a matchup, with the Crimson Tide going up top — QB Robert Footman leads the league in passing yards (1,246) and TD tosses (14) — and the Mountaineers preferring the ground game with RB Andre Weidman (630 rushing yards, 8 TD) garnering a lot of defensive attention. This crossover game was not played last year because of the coronavirus pandemic; Ephrata had a makeup section date on the books, and had to reschedule that game first, so the Tide clash was shelved. The Mounts have won their last two meetings against Columbia: 28-26 in 2018 and then 70-22 in 2019. … FYI: The Tide outlasted Lancaster Catholic 60-41 in Week 4; the last time Columbia put up 60-plus in a game was in a 62-14 dub over Northern Lebanon back on Oct. 18, 2019.