There is no shortage of talent due back on the defensive side of the ball in L-L League football this season, with 46 all-stars set to make their return this fall.

It’s an impressive list, which includes D-ends, D-tackles, linebackers, cover corners and safeties. Here’s the list, with some news and notables about the players …

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DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Chuckie Drain, DT, Cocalico — A Section 2 first-team all-star pick last fall, Drain was a big-play machine with 10 tackles for losses, five sacks and a pass breakup for the Eagles. This kid’s ticker is always going.

James Ellis, DE, Ephrata — A Section 3 second-team all-star pick last fall, Ellis was a pest off the edge with seven stops for losses, 6.5 sacks and three forced fumbles for the Mountaineers.

Tyler Fahnestock, DT, Manheim Central — A Section 2 first-team all-star pick last fall, Fahnestock wrapped and tackled with 63 stops and three sacks for the Barons.

Jose Garcia, DE, McCaskey — A Section 1 second-team all-star pick last fall, Garcia was active off the edge with 45 tackles, four QB hurries and a pair of pass breakups for the Red Tornado.

Tyler Hurst, DT, Garden Spot — A Section 3 second-team all-star pick last fall, Hurst piled up 28 tackles and three sacks for Sparty Nation.

Kaden King, DT, Octorara — A Section 4 first-team all-star pick last fall, King amassed 45 tackles and five sacks for the Braves, who won six games for the first time in program history.

Josue Marente, DE, Conestoga Valley — A Section 2 honorable mention all-star pick last fall, Marente will be one of just four returning defensive starters due back in Buckskin Country this fall.

Elian Rodriguez, DT, Wilson — A Section 1 second-team all-star pick last fall, Rodriguez had three hits for losses and a fumble recovery for the section champs.

John Sankus, DT, Solanco — A Section 2 second-team all-star pick last fall, Sankus had 25 tackles and a pair of sacks for the Golden Mules.

Damien Wolf, DE, Cocalico — A Section 2 second-team all-star pick last fall, Wolf did damage with 12 sticks for losses, plus 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble for the Eagles. Wolf and Drain should give opposing quarterbacks and ball-carries a lot of headaches in the coming months. They’re a handful.

LINEBACKERS

Kalani Adams, Northern Lebanon — A Section 4 first-team all-star pick last fall, Adams is one of the most underrated two-way players in the L-L League; he was also an O-line all-star pick last season, and he is the Vikings’ trench leader.

Luke Angstadt, Cocalico — A Section 2 second-team all-star pick last fall, Angstadt had a team-best 63 tackles, with 10 stops for losses and a sack for the Eagles.

Michael Burnett, Conestoga Valley — A Section 2 honorable mention all-star pick last fall, Burnett returns to lead the Buckskins’ LB crew, as CV brings back just four D starters from a team that won five games in a row to cap last season.

Tony Cruz, Lancaster Catholic — A Section 3 second-team all-star pick last fall, Cruz can swarm from his LB spot, and he’ll double up as the Crusaders’ top returning rusher on offense from a year ago.

Rocco Daugherty, Manheim Central — A Section 2 honorable mention all-star pick last fall, Daugherty had 46 tackles, a sack and an interception for the Barons. Also: He’s definitely on the short list for the all-name-team.

Nick Del Grande, Lampeter-Strasburg — Say hello to the reigning Section 3 Linebacker of the Year, and Del Grande was also a first team all-star pick last fall after he lowered the boom for 69 tackles, with six stops for losses, three sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries for the Pioneers. Also a gifted O-tackle, Del Grande has given a verbal commitment to play D1 football for Coastal Carolina.

Tyler Gillenwater, Garden Spot — A Section 3 second-team all-star pick last fall, Gillenwater registered a team-leading 55 tackles with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for the Spartans.

Beau Heyser, Lampeter-Strasburg — A Section 3 second-team all-star pick last fall, Heyser was a hammer from his LB spot with 11 hits for losses, plus two sacks, three pass breakups, a pair of picks and two fumble recoveries for the section and D3-4A champs. Two-way terror here; Heyser is also one of the top returning tight ends in the area.

Aaron Hess, Warwick — A Section 2 second-team all-star pick last fall, Hess had a team-high 75 tackles, with five sticks for losses and a pair of fumble recoveries for the Warriors.

Jadyn Jones, Wilson — A Section 1 honorable mention all-star pick last fall, Jones — who is also one of the top running backs in the league due back this season — had 13 tackles, with a pair of sticks for losses, plus a sack and two pass breakups for the Bulldogs.

Gavin Lenart, Wilson — A Section 1 first-team all-star pick last fall, Lenart is a key cog on a Bulldogs’ defense that allowed just 241 yards a game last fall — tops in the section. If there’s one thing we almost never worry about at the start of a new season, it’s Wilson’s defense. Lenart should make that group tick.

Alex Long, Annville-Cleona — A Section 4 honorable mention all-star pick last fall, Long amassed 52 tackles with four sticks for losses plus a forced fumble for the Dutchmen — and then he spent this summer on a recruiting/camp tour all over the country.

Johnny Morales, Solanco — A Section 2 honorable mention all-star pick last fall, Morales should do plenty of swarming once again for a Golden Mules’ defensive unit that is set to return seven starters.

Paulie Murray, Octorara — A Section 4 second-team all-star pick last fall, Murray accumulated a team-best 50 tackles with a pair of sacks for the Braves.

Aadyn Richards, Cedar Crest — A Section 1 second-team all-star pick last fall, Richards is a gifted athlete who should also gobble up plenty of yards out of the backfield as the Falcons’ feature RB.

Steven Rivas, Columbia — A Section 4 second-team all-star pick last fall, Rivas is one of seven defensive starters due back in the saddle for the Crimson Tide.

Cole Thomas, Elco — A Section 4 first-team all-star pick last fall, Thomas was a spark plug for the Raiders’ D with 30 tackles, including one stick for a loss. He’ll be called upon to make stops for Elco again this fall — while taking over the full-time QB gig from 4-year starter and all-state performer Braden Bohannon.

Austin Vang, Cocalico — A Section 2 second-team all-star pick last fall, Vang does a ton of dirty work for the Eagles. Last season he rang up 51 tackles with nine stops for losses for Cocalico — while also playing a mean FB out of the backfield.

Ty Washington, Manheim Township — A Section 1 honorable mention all-star pick last fall, Washington was second on the squad with 44 tackles, plus a hit for a loss and a fumble recovery for the Blue Streaks.

Jake Williams, Elco — A Section 4 first-team all-star pick last fall, Williams had a bust-out freshman season with 25 tackles, including four sticks for losses and an interception for the Raiders.  

Luke Williams, Elco — A Section 4 first-team all-star pick last fall, Williams was a hit machine with a team-best 91 tackles, plus 5.5 stops for losses and a sack for the section champs and D3-4A runners-up.

Trayvon Zerbe, Cedar Crest — A Section 1 first-team all-star pick last fall, Zerbe will team up with Richards to give the Falcons a heck of a 1-2 ‘backer punch, right smack dab in the middle of Cedar Crest’s defense.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

J’von Collazo, Columbia — A Section 4 first-team all-star pick last fall, Collazo will be called upon to quarterback the Tide’s secondary.

Elijah Cunningham, Solanco — A Section 2 second-team all-star pick last fall, Cunningham had 12 tackles, four pass breakups and a pick for the Golden Mules.

Josiah Forren, Solanco — A Section 2 second-team all-star pick last fall, Forren had 46 tackles and four pass breakups for the Golden Mules, and the Forren-Cunningham combo returning in the secondary is certainly a great start for Solanco.

Erik Hinkle, Penn Manor — A Section 1 first-team pick last fall, Hinkle will be a key cog in the Comets’ secondary from his safety spot, as Penn Manor must replace three D-line thumpers up front.

Cam Jones, Wilson — A Section 1 second-team all-star pick last fall, Jones had a pair of pass breakups and a fumble recovery for the Bulldogs.

Brayden Koehler, Cedar Crest — A Section 1 first-team all-star pick last fall, Koehler should team with Zerbe and Richards to give the Falcons a trio of heat-seeking missiles in the middle of the field.

Ethan Missimer, Annville-Cleona — A Section 4 first-team all-star pick last fall, Missimer had an impressive stat line a year ago: 53 tackles — No. 2 on the team — with two stops for losses, plus a pick, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles for the Dutchmen.

Eli Rodriguez, Manheim Township — A Section 1 second-team all-star pick last fall for McCaskey, Rodriguez has transferred in to Township, where he’s penciled in to play LB for the Blue Streaks. He had 60 tackles and a pass breakup in his breakout ninth-grade season last fall.

Demari Simms, Columbia — A Section 4 second-team all-star pick last fall, Simms joins fellow all-stars Collazo and Rivas on this list, as the Crimson Tide is set to return a lot of defensive talent this fall.

Weston Stoltzfus, Octorara — A Section 4 second-team all-star pick last fall — and also an all-star selection at his other position, QB — Stoltzfus had 25 tackles, two picks and a fumble recovery for the Braves.

Mike Trainor, Octorara — A Section 4 second-team all-star pick last fall, Trainor was a terror for the Braves with 44 tackles and an interception. FYI: He’s also the league’s leading returning rusher from his RB spot on offense for Octorara.

Mason Weaver, Manheim Central — A Section 2 first-team all-star pick last fall, Weaver piled up 41 tackles with three fumble recoveries for the Barons.

Berkeley Wagner, Lampeter-Strasburg — A Section 3 second-team all-star pick last fall, Wagner thrived from his safety spot with 69 tackles, including three stops for losses, plus three picks and seven pass breakups for the Pioneers. He’ll play safety yet again this fall for L-S. Wagner’s other new gig: Taking over the full-time QB duties from all-stater Sean McTaggart.

Andre Weidman, Ephrata — A Section 3 first-team all-star pick last fall, Weidman is a jack-of-all trades on defense for the Mountaineers. Playing a hybrid safety/OLB spot, Weidman piled up 67 tackles, including 5.5 hits for losses, plus three picks, three forced fumbles and a pair of pass breakups last season for Ephrata. Special talent here; Weidman spent the summer hitting the recruiting/camp circuit, with stops at a couple of D1 programs.

TWITTER: @JeffReinhart77

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