Here are five must-see individual matchups you’ll want to watch when L-L League football teams hit the field for Week 5 games:
Columbia at Annville-Cleona: On paper — and we know: games aren’t played on paper, but still — this is not exactly a great matchup for the Little Dutchmen, who have allowed a league-most 878 passing yards. That includes a 347-yard effort last week by Northern Lebanon’s Ethan Borcky, and an air-it-out 380-yard night by Ephrata’s Caden Keefer a couple of weeks back. Columbia QB Matt McCleary (73-of-126 for 931 yards, 11 TD passes) has gone up top early and often, and he has a four-pack of reliable pass-catchers in Ryan Redding (26-333, 5 TD; those 26 grabs are most in the league), Demetrius Diaz-Ellis (14-229, 3 TD), Darnell Tucker (14-154) and Michael Poole (11-124) at his disposal. Safe to say the Dutchmen must limit the Tide’s air assault, so keep an eye on A-C safety Josh Speraw (12 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 INT) to help out in coverage.
Wilson at Penn Manor: Heads up, Comets’ special teams participants. Penn Manor must be on its toes in kickoff situations, because Bulldogs’ speedster Mason Lenart is simply scorching. Two weeks back, he returned a kickoff 95 yards for a TD in Wilson’s win over Spring-Ford. Last Friday, Lenart took another kickoff to the house, zooming 90 yards for a kick-return TD in the Bulldogs’ victory over Manheim Central. Yo, Comets: Don’t kick it to the Lenart kid. He averages 21.2 yards every time he gets his hands on the football, including rushes, catches, returns and an interception on defense. He’s been a jack-of-all-trades weapon for undefeated Wilson.
Manheim Township at Cocalico: Arguably the tastiest matchup on this week’s slate, the unbeaten Blue Streaks will unleash their piping-hot defense against the undefeated Eagles’ Veer offensive attack, which has churned out 1,065 rushing yards, plus 350 yards and 40 points a game. Blitzing D-end Ben Mann (18 tackles, 6 for losses, 3 1/2 sacks) has been a key cog for Township’s D, which has allowed just 89 rushing yards, and is tops in the L-L League with a mere 135 yards a game against. The Streaks are allowing just 22 yards per game on the ground, they’ve held two of their four opponents to negative rushing yards in a game, and they are allowing — get this — minus-2.8 yards per rush (89 yards against on 117 attempts). Township has 13 sacks, 35 stops for losses and nine takeaways, and now the Streaks must limit shifty Cocalico QB Noah Palm and the Eagles’ ground-and-pound scheme.
Lancaster Catholic at Lebanon: Last Friday, the opportunistic Crusaders got pick-6 interception-return touchdowns from LB Henry Gartley and DE Devin Atkinson in a clutch win over Ephrata. Catholic will need that kind of a defensive effort against the Cedars, who aren’t shy about going up top; QB Isaiah Rodriguez (67-of-120 for 666 yards, 6 TD) has a go-to flank guy in Alex Rufe (21-192, 2 TD), so keep an eye on the Crusaders’ secondary — anchored by safety Nevin Roman, who is finally healthy and on the field — to make plays. This was a good game last year; Catholic held off Lebanon 27-21 in Lancaster. Now the Crusaders must go to Lebanon for a natural grass game.
Donegal at Ephrata: The Indians are firing on all cylinders, with three wins in a row and a share of the Section 3 lead with Lancaster Catholic. You think they’d love a Week 1 do-over, when Elizabethtown had a better second half for a 17-7 win? Anyway, Donegal’s top priority against Ephrata: Slowing down QB Caden Keefer (45-of-69 for 692 yards, 7 TD) and whirling dervish RB Miracle Wratto (312 rushing yards, 6 TD), who have helped the Mounts average 363 yards a game. And they are only two weeks removed from that 648-yard, 58-point detonation against Annville-Cleona. Donegal LB Kasper Sipe (28 tackles, 1 forced fumble) has helped the Indians’ D register 31 stops for losses and 9 1/2 sacks. Sipe and his mates will need another big effort against Ephrata.