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 …
First, a housekeeping item: Friday's Solanco at Warwick Section 2 game has been postponed because of coronavirus issues.
1. Hempfield at Manheim Township on Friday. Talk about bitter rivals. The Black Knights and the Blue Streaks want to beat the stuffing out of each other in everything, and pretty much every time those two get together in any athletic event — boys or girls, fall, winter or spring sports — first place is usually on the line in one way or another. Like here: Township is tied for first place with Wilson in the Section 1 hunt, and Hempfield — bumped off the 1-line last week by Cedar Crest — can play spoiler, and even get back into first place depending on what Wilson does vs. Cedar Crest. It’s also the start of a mega 2-week chunk of games for the Knights, who will welcome the Bulldogs to Landisville next week. But first things first: Hempfield has to find a way to slow down Township, which is riding a 4-game winning streak and is averaging 41 points a game over that blazing clip. The Streaks’ passing game — piloted by Hayden Johnson, who has 900-plus passing yards and 14 TD strikes during Township’s winning streak — has gotten a lot of pub. But the Streaks also feature a pretty gnarly ground game, and they’ll use a trio of backs at any time to change the pace of the game: Nick Good (265 yards, 2 TD), Isaiah Jones (227 yards, 4 TD) and Jake Laubach (117 yards, 3 TD) can all go ground-and-pound, as Township has totaled 800-plus rushing yards and 13 TD runs. Hempfield must keep tabs on the Streaks’ air attack, yes. But the Knights also have to be ready to run-stuff; keep an eye on Hempfield middle ‘backer Kaleb Elslager, who piled up 12 tackles and a sack last week vs. Cedar Crest. Safe to say Elslager and the Knights’ D will need a big effort against their nemesis in the latest installment of their rivalry clash.
2. Berkeley Wagner has really come into his own as Lampeter-Strasburg’s QB. He recently had back-to-back 100-yard rushing/100-yard passing nights, and he’s been a dual-threat game-manager for the Pioneers, who will take a snazzy 6-game winning streak into Friday’s first-place showdown at Garden Spot. Turns out Wagner has also been a key cog on defense for L-S, which is allowing a league-low 209 yards a game. Wagner is a vet safety man and a former L-L League all-star at that spot. Just because he’s also playing QB this season hasn’t slowed him down on the defensive side one iota. Check the numbers: 35 tackles, four for losses, plus four interceptions and nine pass breakups. Wagner is throwing TD passes on one side of the ball, and picking off passes and batting away potential completed passes on the other — while trying to help L-S defend its Section 3 title before going for its third D3-4A championship in a row. What a season so far for Wagner — on both sides of the ball.
3. Donegal needs a bounce-back week in a big way. Not much went right for the Indians last Friday at L-S. The 55-0 score wasn’t very pretty, and Donegal never got anything going. And now the Indians find themselves in another first-place game, when they go to Section 3 co-leader Ephrata on Friday. Donegal can bounce the Mountaineers out of their first-place tie with L-S with a victory, and the Indians should be plenty motivated to get back on track after last week’s trip to Lampeter. Priority No. 1 for Donegal is limiting Ephrata RB Andre Weidman, who is second in the league with 1,173 rushing yards, and he’s rumbled for 16 TD runs, tied for most in the league. He has back-to-back 200-yard rushing nights, and he’s spent the first two months of the season shredding opposing defenses. Donegal has some active linebackers — Noah Rohrer and Connor Hyle have become household names around Section 3 — and here’s another LB to remember: James Turbedsky has been a backfield crasher with 24 tackles, including five sticks for losses and a pair of sacks for the Indians. If Donegal wants to crash the party and cause a facelift in the Section 3 standings, the Indians must bottle up Weidman. No ifs, ands or buts.