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 …
1. A nice start for Northern Lebanon, no doubt. The Vikings are sitting at 2-1 heading into Friday’s in-county nonleague tilt at Lebanon, which is 0-3 and still figuring some things out. This is a much-needed getaway for rookie coach Jason Rice and NL, which hit the season on a 2-26 tailspin. So why the early success? QB Grady Stichler has been a dual-threat; he had a 105-yard rushing/137-yard passing/4-TD-producing game in last week’s 33-6 triumph over York Tech. But the Vikes have been able to hang their hats on defense; in its two wins, NL allowed a grand total of 153 rushing yards. Against Pine Grove, the Vikes picked off three passes. Against York Tech, NL held the Spartans to just 107 total yards and scooped up a fumble. The middle of the Vikes’ D has teed off on unsuspecting ball-carries; against York Tech, Kalani Adams had 12.5 tackles, three stops for losses and a sack; Mitchell Hetrick had 8.5 tackles, two stops for losses and 2.5 sacks; and Eli Thompson had six tackles, three for losses and three sacks. Hello. Can the Vikes go to 3-1 on Friday at Lebanon?
2. Speaking of Lebanon County defensive players … Alex Long is off to an eye-popping start from his hybrid safety/LB spot for Annville-Cleona. In two games, he’s piled up a team-best 24 tackles, with 16 solos sticks, two hits for losses, a sack and a fumble recovery. He’s been everywhere. In the Dutchmen’s 43-20 win over Littlestown on Friday, Long went off for 14 tackles, with 10 solo takedowns and a fumble recovery as A-C evened up its mark at 1-1. The Dutchmen welcome Donegal for an intriguing nonleague date on Friday. The Indians are 2-1, and will bring a 2-game winning streak to Annville. Don’t forget: Donegal fell to Elizabethtown by a mere 14-7 back in Week 1, when the Bears scored with time running out. The Indians are thisclose from a 3-0 start. Long and his D mates must tangle with Donegal’s Wing-T attack, which has picked up major steam in the last two weeks. The Indians have a tick under 600 rushing yards and they’re averaging just a hair under 300 yards a game. Rookie QB Landen Baughman has passed for 290 yards and five scores, and the 3-pronged backfield attack of Cody Stough (213 yards, 4 TD), Noah Rohrer (158 yards, 1 TD) and Jon Holmes (158 yards, 1 TD) are finding their groove. Stough also has a pair of TD receptions for six total scores. Excellent matchup here when A-C hosts Donegal. Circle it.
3. You won’t hear any crying from the good folks at Hempfield, but the Black Knights are right smack dab in the middle of a grueling scheduling stretch. Two weeks ago, Hempfield suffered a 14-0 setback against undefeated and streaking Manheim Central. Last week, the Knights had to deal with reigning PIAA-6A state runner-up Central York, and Hempfield dropped a 35-21 nod. This Friday, the Knights welcome Exeter, which is coming off a 42-14 romp over … Wilson, Hempfield’s Section 1 rival. That’s a lot of big games in a row, for so early in the season. Exeter’s lone loss, by the way, was a 35-28 setback against Central York. The Eagles sailed past Boyertown 56-8 before falling behind Wilson 14-0 last week. Then Exeter unloaded 42 unanswered points and dropped the Bulldogs to 1-2. Hempfield’s top priority Friday: Limiting Eagles’ RB Eric Nangle, who rushed for 209 yards on 22 carries with three TD runs — including a spiffy 82-yarder — against Wilson. By the way, it won’t get any easier for Hempfield in Week 5, when the Knights go to high-powered Warwick (2-1) for their L-L League crossover game.