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. Plenty of intriguing matchups on the Week 9 docket, and that’s the way it should be, with two weeks to go in the regular season and section titles and playoff trips hanging in the balance. The top four teams will collide in Section 4. There will be a first-place showdown in Section 2. And there will be another must-see Section 1 clash, as all the section races approach the finish line. … In Section 4, front-runner Columbia (3-0) will host defending champ Elco (2-1) and Annville-Cleona (2-1) will head to Octorara (2-1). According to District 3 officials, Pequea Valley has forfeited last week’s game to Octorara, which will get a 2-0 victory in the books. The forfeit gave Octorara a W and power points, and the Braves will start the week directly on the D3-4A cut-line. Columbia clinches no worse than a tie for the title with a win over Elco, as the Crimson Tide angle for their first section flag since a tri-crown in 2002. … In Section 2, sole possession of first place will be on the line when Cocalico (3-0) and Warwick (2-0) duke it out in Denver. The Warriors are down a game after last week’s showdown against Solanco was bagged because of coronavirus issues. Not sure how that makeup date will proceed moving forward just yet, but for now, Cocalico and Warwick are tied in the loss column, and Friday’s winner nabs the 1-line to themselves. … Circle Friday’s Wilson at Hempfield Section 1 tilt. The Bulldogs (3-0) are alone at the top, but the Black Knights (2-1) and Manheim Township (2-1) — which travels to McCaskey — are on Wilson’s heels. And the Bulldogs host Township next week, so don’t etch anything into stone in the Section 1 race just yet. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks — Hempfield lost to Cedar Crest; Hempfield KO’d Township — so anything can still happen here.
2. Most anxious to see how the teams that were idle last week snap-back this week: Pequea Valley against Northern Lebanon (as the Vikings try and end a 4-game losing streak); Octorara against Annville-Cleona (the Braves were juiced to play their rivalry game last week vs. PV and now they have to tangle with the Dutchmen’s punishing ground attack); Solanco against Conestoga Valley (shouldn’t take the Golden Mules’ running game to get cranking again, right?); and Warwick against Cocalico (although the Warriors will have had more than a week and a half of prep time for the Eagles). Not a big fan of an extra week off in football (although these days you just can’t help it); always anxious to see how the rust factor plays into these games.
3. Has anyone played in more nail-biter games than Penn Manor? The Comets are 5-3 overall, and four of those victories came by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins …
PM 16, Conestoga Valley 12: Noah Bolin’s 22-yard TD dash with 4:22 left gives the Comets the lead for good, and PM’s D fends off the Buckskins late.
PM 30, Warwick 28: The Hail Mary Game. QB Eli Warfel heaves a 31-yard TD pass to Clark Wagstaff at the horn and the Comets stunned the Warriors on their home turf in Lititz.
PM 21, Solanco 17: Warfel zips a go-ahead TD pass to DeShawn Stanley with 4:47 to play, and PM makes it back-to-back late-game heroics to edge the Golden Mules — in Quarryville.
PM 21, McCaskey 17: Another game, another 21-17 result, and another late rally for the Comets. Trailing with 1:22 to go, Warfel hits Wagstaff and Stanley for key completions, and Erik Hinkle’s 2-yard plunge in the waning seconds wins it for PM — again, on the road.
Those four riveting victories came by a grand total of 14 points, and PM has clinched its first non-losing season since 2014. The Comets finish up with home dates vs. Cedar Crest and Hempfield.