Lancaster Catholic vs Ephrata-LL Football

Ephrata punter Brock Boyer (35) takes off for the first down on a fake punt against Lancaster Catholic during first-half action of an L-L League Section 3 football game in Crusader Stadium, Friday September 13, 2019.

Previewing the L-L League Section 3 teams, which are listed alphabetically ...

DONEGAL INDIANS

PIAA: Class 4A

Coach: Chad Risberg (3rd season, 12-8)

2019: 6-3 Section 3, 6-4 overall

Base offense: Wing-T

Base defense: 5-2

Key players returning: RB-DB Garrett Blake, C Owen Champ, OG-DE Gavin Creek, C-K Jacob Erb, TE-DE Owen Fisher, OG-LB Joel Grillo, WR-DE Gavin Hawk, OT-DT Ethan Halbleib, RB Conner Hyle, OT-DT Owen Kling, DB Nolan O’Connell, RB-DB Mason Ober, QB-DB Trent Weaver

Outlook: There’s a lot to like in Mount Joy, where a good chunk of the Indians’ Wing-T weaponry are set to return, including shifty playmakers Weaver, Blake and Ober. There’s a ton of size due back, as well, with trench stalwarts like all-stars Grillo and Kling returning to lead the way. This new-look section is there for the taking; with this much talent due back, Donegal has the horses to run with the lead pack.

EPHRATA MOUNTAINEERS

PIAA: Class 5A

Coach: Kris Miller (5th season, 11-29)

2019: 6-3 Section 3, 6-4 overall

Base offense: Pistol Spread Option

Base defense: 4-3

Key players returning: WR-DB-P Brock Boyer, OG-DE Zach DaBella, WR-DB Ricardo Dyer, C-DT James Ellis, RB-DE Richard Greer, QB-DB Joey Gunzenhauser, OT-DT Deric Hoover, WR-DB Taj London, C-LB Trent Martin, K Kai Mast, TE-LB Owen Morrongiello, OT-LB Tyler Nelson, C-DT Bryan Stewart, WR-DB Castor Shuman, OG-DT Griffin Snyder, LB Zach Wanous, RB-LB Andre Weidman, QB Miracle Wratto

Outlook: Plenty of good vibes flowing in Mountaineers’ camp, as Ephrata is coming off its first winning season since 2003. Dual-threat all-star QB Caden Keefer graduated, but the offensive cupboard is hardly bare with a plethora of returning talent — including the fleet-footed Wratto, who is poised to assume the signal-calling duties. And do not miss Weidman, who had a breakout ninth-grade campaign last fall. He’s a heat-seeking missile.

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GARDEN SPOT SPARTANS

PIAA: Class 5A

Coach: Matt Zamperini (12th season in second stint, 56-62)

2019: 0-6 Section 2, 0-10 overall

Base offense: Spread

Base defense: 4-3

Key players returning: DB Kupakwashe Agbokah, DB Tim Allen, RB-DE John Dykie, RB-LB Tyler Gillenwater, DB Andrew Good, DE Tom Hartman, WR-DB Derrick Lambert, DT Israel Mares, QB-DB Jesse Martin, WR-DB Joel Martin, K Walker Martin, OT Aiden McCloud, OT-DT Bryce Mercer, DB Gavin Miller, OG Isaiah Rivera, OG-DT Luke Shirk, C Brandon Swope, DB Cameron Wing

Outlook: The Spartans have the goods to snap their current 24-game losing streak, which they’re tired of lugging around. Jesse Martin is an experienced, electric dual-threat QB who knows his way around a pocket, and Dykie is a multi-purpose player out of the backfield. Tack on some vet trench leaders and ball-hawkers, a reliable kicker in Walker Martin, plus the motivation to end this skid once and for all, and Garden Spot is poised to take a big leap forward this fall.

LAMPETER-STRASBURG PIONEERS

PIAA: Class 4A

Coach: John Manion (23rd season, 168-82)

2019: 4-2 Section 2, 11-4 overall

Base offense: Spread Wing-T

Base defense: 3-3 Stack

Key players returning: TE-LB Brady Cole, OT-LB Nick DelGrande, OG-DL Neil Eckman, RB Owen Fikkert, RB Drew Harris, WR-LB Ian Herr, TE Beau Heyser, RB-DB Alex Knapp, QB Sean McTaggart, WR-LB Conner Nolt, OT-DL Parker Owens, OG-DL Jake Scranton, OT-DL Zac Shelley, C Ashton Spahr, WR-DB Austin Stoltzfus, RB-DB Matt Weese

Outlook: Plenty to like in Lampeter, as the Pioneers say so long to Section 2, hello to Section 3, and open defense of their District 3 Class 4A championship. All eyes on McTaggart, who is returning from a knee injury that cost him his junior year. He’ll have weapons aplenty at his disposal, including Knapp, who is a Swiss army knife, plus sure-handed receivers like Stoltzfus, Herr and Heyser. Meanwhile, people-movers DelGrande, Owens and Shelley are also set to return, and they’re all heavy hitters on both sides of the ball. L-S should be thinking big. Very big.

LANCASTER CATHOLIC CRUSADERS

PIAA: Class 3A

Coach: Chris Maiorino (1st season)

2019: 8-1 Section 3, 10-2 overall

Base offense: Multiple

Base defense: 4-2-5

Key players returning: WR-DB Nahjeir Aikens, OG-DT Robert Anater, OT-DE Devin Atkinson, DT Isaiah Caine, QB Will Cranford, RB-DB Tony Cruz, TE J.J. Keck, QB-WR-DB Mason McClair, K-P Daniel Mueller, LB Andrew Reece, RB-DB Nevin Roman, LB Christian Thompson

Outlook: Maiorino slides into the captain’s chair to guide the Crusaders, who are coming off back-to-back Section 3 crowns. He inherits a nice nucleus, including vet trench thumpers Anater and Atkinson, plus two-way threats Cruz and Roman, who should share carries out of the backfield. Keep an eye on the QB battle, as McClair, a converted wideout, and Cranford duke it out for the starting gig. And in Mueller, Catholic has one of the best specialists in the state.

LEBANON CEDARS

PIAA: Class 5A

Coach: Frank Isenberg (1st season)

2019: 6-3 Section 3, 7-4 overall

Base offense: Spread

Base defense: 3-3 Stack

Key players returning: LB Matt Brown, OT Matt Carvajal, WR-DB Pedro De’Arce, OG-DE Jaden Deitzler, C Camren Eberhart, WR-LB Nasir Enoch, OT-DT Synsier Gonzalez, WR-DB Kaden Harbaugh, OG Thomas Hershey, WR-DE Nathan Hollinger, RB-LB Rafael Quinonez, WR-DB Alex Rufe, WR Darryl Reed, QB Isaiah Rodriguez, WR-LB Skyler Sattizahn

Outlook: Isenberg takes over the Cedars’ program, which is feeling fine after last year’s victory in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Two bits of great news for Lebanon: First, the pitch-and-catch combo of Rodriguez — a 6-foot-5 physical specimen who is quickly approaching 5,000 career passing yards — and Rufe, an all-star wideout last fall, returns, so opposing D-backs beware. Second, the Cedars are set to return their entire starting offensive line, which is always a huge advantage. Don’t sleep on Lebanon.

TWITTER: @JeffReinhart77

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