The Thanksgiving feast is being prepped. The holiday shopping blitz is teed up and ready to go. And five Lancaster-Lebanon League football teams are still standing in the postseason, which resumes in full force on Friday.
Four L-L League teams are set to do battle in District 3 championship games, while one is readying for a PIAA state-playoff clash:
On Friday, Cocalico visits Exeter for D3-5A glory, while Manheim Central heads to Bishop McDevitt for a collision of longtime district heavyweights for D3-4A gold. Meanwhile, freshly minted D3-3A champ Wyomissing is set to invade Danville for a PIAA quarterfinal scrap.
The action wraps up Saturday, when Manheim Township heads to Harrisburg for D3-6A supremacy.
Here’s a preview of all the Week 14 playoff games involving L-L League teams …
> District 3 Class 5A championship
(12) Cocalico (9-4 overall) at (2) Exeter (12-0), 7 p.m.: It’s the Eagles vs. the Eagles, as a pair of L-L League teams will collide for 5A gold in Reading. Exeter is out to defend its championship — coach Matt Bauer’s club clipped Governor Mifflin in last year’s title game — while Cocalico maneuvered its way to the finale as the 12th and final seed in the bracket. … How they got here: Cocalico, riding a 6-game winning streak, crunched Elizabethtown 42-2, held off Gettysburg 23-13 and KO’d top-seeded Solanco 32-8; Exeter dropped Dover 42-12 and held off Northern York 21-7. All three of Cocalico's wins have been on the road, behind enemy lines, as the Eagles are angling to become the first 12-seed to win a D3 championship. No seed higher than a No. 8 has won a D3 title. … D3 playoff history: Cocalico is in its 10th championship game — and is here for the third time in the last five years — with three titles, including the 5A crown in 2019; Exeter, which is 12-0 for the first time in program history, is in its second championship game, and is the reigning champ in this bracket. … The crux: Cocalico’s powerful triple-option offensive attack (cranking out 332.2 yards and 31 points per game) against Exeter’s air-tight defense (allowing 190.4 yards, second-best in the league). … Key stat: Under coach Bryan Strohl, Cocalico has rushed for 4,022 yards, most in the L-L League. Exeter has allowed 917 rushing yards, fewest in the L-L League. … Key kids: Two battering-ram backs on display in this showdown in Cocalico FB Sam Steffey (1,728 yards, 22 TD runs) and Exeter slugger Richie Karstien (1,533 yards, 19 TD runs). Exeter's X-factor has been Joey Schlaffer; the Penn State recruit has been a handful on the flanks. His career receiving numbers: 122 catches for 2,504 yards (Berks career record) with 31 TD grabs (another Berks career record). ... Fun fact: Cocalico's four losses are against Section 3 champ Solanco, Manheim Central, Lampeter-Strasburg and Section 4 champ Wyomissing. Those teams are a combined 43-5; Central is in the D3-4A finale and Wyo won D3-3A and is in the state playoffs. … Winner gets: WPIAL champ Pine-Richland or D10 champ Erie Cathedral Prep in the PIAA semifinals.
> District 3 Class 4A championship
(2) Manheim Central (11-1) at (1) Bishop McDevitt (10-1), 6 p.m.: The two winningest programs in D3 history will square off for the 4A crown, as McDevitt tries to defend its title in this showdown of D3 royalty. … How they got here: Coach Dave Hahn and Central cruised past York Suburban 63-14 and hammered Lampeter-Strasburg 42-6; skipper Jeff Weachter (a Lititz native and former Lebanon Catholic coach) and McDevitt erased East Pennsboro 42-7 and took care of Twin Valley 47-3. … D3 playoff history: The Barons and the Crusaders both have a record 61 D3 playoff victories, while Central owns a record 18 championships and McDevitt is next with 15. The Barons will be playing in their record 23rd title game; the Crusaders will go for gold for the 19th time. … The crux: Central’s defense (giving up 239.9 yards a game with 24 takeaways and 24 sacks) against McDevitt blue-chip QB Stone Saunders, a 3,000-yard passer who has 44 TD tosses against just one interception. The Crusaders can run the ball, too; Marquese Williams, a B1G Minnesota recruit, is a 1,000-yard rusher with 23 TD runs. … Key stat: Central is averaging 51.9 points and 445.7 yards a game — both No. 1 in the L-L League. Conversely, McDevitt is averaging 47.6 points and 399.1 yards a game. … Key kid: MC RB Brycen Armold has 2,204 rushing yards — he’s the eighth back in L-L League history to reach the magical 2,000-yard stripe plateau — and a league-best 34 TD runs. Can he do damage against McDevitt’s swarming defense? … Winner gets: D12 champ Bonner-Prendergast or D2 champ Crestwood in the PIAA semifinals.
> PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals
D3 champ Wyomissing (12-0) at D4 champ Danville (12-0), 7 p.m.: The L-L League Section 4-champ Spartans begin their quest to get back to the state title game for the third year in a row, and they’ll get a stingy Ironmen outfit that has eight victories via shutout, and is giving up a paltry 4.7 points a game, as the two top-ranked teams in the state in 3A (Wyo is 1; Danville is 2) will clash. It’s the second time in three years these programs will knock heads in a win-or-go-home PIAA scrap; Wyo decked Danville 44-14 in a 3A state semifinal back in 2020. Wyo also clocked Danville 52-0 in the 2A state semifinals back in 2012, on the way to winning PIAA gold. The Spartans are seeking their third trip in a row to the state finale; Wyo fell to Central Valley in the last two PIAA-3A title games. … How they got here: Wyo walloped West Perry 63-7 in the D3 title game for the Spartans’ fourth D3 title in a row and 11th overall; Danville, out of the Heartland Athletic Conference, defeated Loyalsock 41-20 in the D4 title game. That’s three straight D4 titles for the Ironmen. … The crux: Wyo’s powerful O-line and bulldozer Wing-T attack (3,916 rushing yards, 393.3 yards a game, 44.4 points a game) against Danville’s air-tight defense, which has 29 takeaways and is allowing just 4.7 points a game. … Key stat: Wyo is allowing just 165.3 yards and 7.5 points a game, and the Spartans have yielded 675 passing yards — all fewest in the L-L League. Wyo also has nine mercy-rule victories this fall. … Key kid: Danville WR Carson Persing has 23 TD catches this season, and he has 221 receptions for 4,228 yards with 59 TD grabs in his career. He and QB Zach Gordon (program-best 32 TD tosses this season) and RB Ty Brown-Stauffer (an Army recruit who has 21 TD runs this fall and 3,000-plus rushing yards in his prep career) have been tough to tame under 3rd-year Ironmen skipper Mike Brennan this fall. … FYI: Wyo coach Bob Wolfrum earned his 349th career victory last week, when the Spartans axed West Perry for D3 gold. He moved ahead of Manheim Central legend Mike Williams for most coaching victories in D3 history. … And this: Wyo could have a pair of backs hit the 1,000-yard plateau in this clash; Charlie McIntyre (946 yards, 13.3 avg., 12 TD) and Matt Kramer (909 yards, 8.5 avg., 24 TD) are on the doorstep. They’ve spearheaded a runaway Wyo rushing attack that averages 8.6 yards per carry and 326.3 rushing yards a game. … Winner gets: D12 champ Neumann-Goretti or D11 champ Northwestern Lehigh in the PIAA semifinals.
> District 3 Class 6A championship
(5) Manheim Township (9-3) at (3) Harrisburg (9-2), 1 p.m.: Rematch alert: Township rode into Harrisburg and slayed the Cougars 24-20 in a riveting, down-to-the-wire nonleague game back on Sept. 10. … How they got here: Coach Mark Evans and Township rallied past Cumberland Valley 37-31 and topped rival Hempfield 42-7; coach Calvin Everett and Harrisburg upended Wilson 32-21 and drilled Central York 44-7. … D3 playoff history: Township is in the finals for the second time; the Streaks won a big-school title in 2017. Harrisburg is in the title tilt for the seventh time, and for the fifth time in the last seven years with a trio of crowns. … The crux: Township’s pinpoint passing attack (QB Hayden Johnson has thrown for 2,513 yards with 26 TD strikes) against Harrisburg’s bum-rushing defense, spearheaded by hit-machine D-end Terrell Reynolds (101 tackles, 29 for losses, 19.5 sacks). … Key stat: Harrisburg has 100 tackles for losses, 36 sacks and 28 takeaways. … Key kid: MT RB-LB Declan Clancy (812 rushing yards, 13 TD runs, 112 tackles) will need a big dual-threat effort for the Streaks. … Winner gets: WPIAL champ North Allegheny or D6 champ State College in the state semifinals.