The first snap of the 2019 Lancaster-Lebanon League football season is still about a month away. But one local team already has a trio of college commitments.
Manheim Township rising seniors Jon Engel, Harrison Kirk and Ben Mann, who helped the Blue Streaks go 10-2 last fall, including a tri-Section One title and a trip to the District Three Class 6A quarterfinals, all recently made verbal pledges to accept scholarship offers to the colleges of their choice.
* Engel, a 6-3, 215-pound wide receiver and strong safety, committed to Lafayette College in the Patriot League.
* Kirk, the Streaks’ 6-2, 210-pound gunslinger quarterback, committed to Colgate University, also in the Patriot League.
* Ben Mann, a 6-4, 230-pound tight end/defensive end/long snapper specialist, committed to Yale University in the Ivy League.
“It’s exciting, no doubt,” Township coach Mark Evans said. “I’m kind of speechless because I’m just so happy for our guys. It’s an exciting time for them to be able to see the fruits of their labor payoff. It’s fantastic.”
Engel was dangerous on both sides of the ball last fall for Township. He hauled in 11 catches for 103 yards with a touchdown grab on offense, and from his safety spot on defense, he was in on 85 tackles with three interceptions, a pair of pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.
Engel earned L-L Section One honorable mention all-star status for his work at D-back last season, when Township had the top-ranked defense in the section.
“Jon plays downhill,” Evans noted. “He’s long and he’s lean and he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. He’ll give Lafayette a lot of options because he has great ball skills.”
Kirk had a breakout debut season behind center in 2018 for the Streaks, stepping into Luke Emge’s shoes at QB and helping steer Township back to the postseason. He completed 161 of 288 passes for 2,308 yards with 19 TD throws, and he also rushed for five scores.
By the way, Emge repped Township in the Big 33, after he helped the Streaks win L-L Section One and D3-6A championships in his senior season in 2017. He’s now playing at Harvard.
“He’s got great pocket presence,” Evans said about Kirk. “He’s a cool customer and he’s very solid. And now he’s a veteran back there. He has a very strong arm — one of the strongest arms I’ve coached in 22 years.”
Kirk was an L-L Section One second-team all-star selection last season.
Mann will be a legacy at Yale; his parents, one of his grandfathers and one of his uncles all went to Yale, and the grandparent and the uncle played football for the Bulldogs.
Mann is a tri-threat for Township; last fall he had eight catches for 102 yards with a pair of TD receptions on offense, and on defense he registered 54 tackles, with eight stops for losses and five sacks off the edge. And he also serves as the Streaks’ long snapper.
“He’s big, he’s strong and he’s intelligent,” Evans said. “He’s like an all-American kid.”
Mann was an L-L Section One honorable mention all-star pick at tight and D-end last season.
At least four more Township players are drawing heavy college recruiting interest, including rising senior WR-DB Brett Benjamin, rising senior all-star twins/linebackers Josh and Sam Emge, and electrifying rising sophomore wideout/return-man Anthony Ivey, who already has offers from Virginia Tech and West Virginia in his back pocket.
Township is at Manheim Central for a much-anticipated scrimmage on Aug. 17 at 7 p.m., and Evans and his Streaks open the regular season on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. with a nonleague game at home in Neffsville against CD East.