Eight Lancaster-Lebanon League football teams will be in District Three playoff action this weekend across seven total games. Of those seven games, three are rematches of games from earlier this season, highlighted by the District 3 Class 5A quarterfinal tussle between Manheim Central and Warwick.
Here are some notes on what to watch for in those postseason contests. All but one are slated for 7 p.m. kickoffs Friday, while Annville-Cleona will be in District 3 Class 3A semifinal action at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Class 6A semifinals:
No. 4 Harrisburg (8-3) at No. 1 Wilson (10-1):
The L-L League Section One runner-up Bulldogs will look to avenge last year’s 36-12 district semifinal loss to defending district champ Harrisburg. The Cougars are 3-1 against Wilson in four previous district playoff matchups. Wilson's defense is holding opponents to 75.5 rushing yards per game, and will have to keep a lid on Harrisburg's 5-8 speedster back Jahmir Plant, who rumbled for 153 yards and two TDs in last week’s quarterfinal-round win over Central York. Plant picked up an FBS athletic scholarship offer from Toledo earlier this year. … Harrisburg is allowing just 14 points a game, and will face a Wilson offense that is averaging 38 points a game and has put up 40 or more points seven times this season, led by running back Avanti Lockhart, who enters the game 116 rushing yards shy of 1,000 for the season.
Additional info from LNP|LancasterOnline sports writer Jeff Reinhart: Wilson coach Doug Dahms and his Bulldogs are in the D3 playoffs for the 28th time, and they are now 40-20 overall after last Friday’s riveting, come-from-behind 41-13 win over Chambersburg, when Wilson dug out of a 13-0 first-half hole for a resounding victory over the Trojans. The Section 1 runner-up Bulldogs have seven D3 championships, the last in 2016 with a 6A win over Cumberland Valley. … Harrisburg is making its 18th D3 trip, and the Cougars are now 17-14 after beating Central York 47-13 in the quarterfinals. ... Harrisburg's three losses: Archbishop Hoban (42-12 in Akron, Ohio), Central Dauphin (15-14 in a controversial finish) and State College (21-6; the Little Lions are 9-1 and are set to face Erie McDowell out of District 10 in a sub-regional playoff game). …Wilson vs. Harrisburg common opponents: Central Dauphin (Wilson won 21-13, Harrisburg lost 15-14) and Chambersburg (Wilson won, 41-13 in the quarterfinals, Harrisburg won 27-25).
No. 3 Central Dauphin (9-2) at No. 2 Manheim Township (11-0):
L-L League Section One champ Manheim Township is just the fifth Blue Streaks' team in program history to go unbeaten in its first 10 games, and became just the second to go perfect through its first 11 games, matching the 1977 squad (11-0). A Manheim Township win Friday would match the single-season program record for victories, set by the 2017 District 3 Class 6A championship squad (12-2). … In the regular season, the Streaks’ defense held opponents to 5.5 points and hadn’t given up more than 13 points in a game, before getting a scare in last Friday’s 32-26 district quarterfinal win over Cumberland Valley. Two CV scores came on a fumbled punt return and a botched kick return, so the Streaks’ defensive unit is still solid. ... Up next is a rematch with Central Dauphin, which knocked out Manheim Township in last year’s district semifinals, 27-0. However, the Streaks beat the Rams back in Week Three, 10-7, on Jackson Wright's 27-yard field goal with 1:09 left. That defensive slugfest marked season-lows in points for both clubs, which also included a season-low in rushing yards for Manheim Township (28). Since then, Central Dauphin has won eight games in a row. Both teams are evenly-matched, each having a 1,500-yard passer, 800-yard rusher and a stout defense. Should be another good one in Neffsville.
Additional info from LNP|LancasterOnline sports writer Jeff Reinhart: The Streaks are 33-4 in their last 37 games, with three 10-win seasons in a row. Those losses: In 2017, to Governor Mifflin (49-14) in a Week 3 nonleague game, and to eventual state-champ Pine-Richland (28-7) in the state semifinals; and in 2018, to Wilson (16-14) in a Week 6 Section 1 showdown, and to CD (27-0) in the D3-6A semifinals. ... Township key kid: QB Harrison Kirk (133-of-216, 62 percent completions, for 2,234 yards, 21 TDs, 4 INT; 159 rushing yards, 8 TD keepers) makes the Streaks’ top-ranked offense go; they’re averaging 416 yards and 45 points a game, both tops among L-L League teams. … CD is in the district playoffs for the 22nd time, and skipper Glen McNamee and his Rams are now 27-18 after clocking Cedar Crest 36-6 in the quarterfinals. CD has three D3 championships — the last was in 2011, with a 4A win over Wilson — and the Rams fell to conference rival Harrisburg in last year’s 6A title game. … This is the fifth time CD and Township will square off in the D3 playoffs; Township won in 2007 (4A); CD bounced back with wins in 2012 (4A) and 2016 (6A); and the Rams blanked the Streaks 27-0 in the semifinals last fall. … CD key kid: Like his counterpart Kirk, Rams’ QB Max Mosey has also been ultra efficient (109-of-170, 64 percent completions, for 1,501 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INT) guiding CD’s O attack. ... Township vs. CD common opponents: Wilson (Township won 30-14, CD lost 21-13) and Cedar Crest (Township won 62-0, CD won 36-6 in the quarterfinals).
Class 5A quarterfinals:
No. 8 Governor Mifflin (8-3) at No. 1 Cocalico (8-2):
The L-L League Section Two runner-up Eagles topped the Mustangs back in Week Three, 26-14. The loss dropped Governor Mifflin to 0-3. Since then, the Mustangs have won eight in a row while averaging 44.4 points during that stretch, capturing the Berks League Section One crown. Cocalico's defense will try to contain Mustangs’ 5-11, 185-pound sophomore running back Nick Singleton (1,669 rushing yards, 31 total TDs), who already has five scholarship offers: Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. The Eagles will counter with senior QB Noah Palm (855 passing yards, 1,075 rushing yards, 24 rushing TDs) and its bevvy of backs, including senior Ronald Zahm (545 rushing yards, 528 receiving yards, 511 return yards, 14 total TDs). Cocalico is surrendering an average of 170.5 rushing yards, 350.5 total yards and 23.8 points a game, so perhaps give the slight defensive edge to Governor Mifflin, which is holding opponents to 140.7 rushing yards, 227.6 total yards and 20 points a game. Cocalico kept the Mustangs to 145 rushing yards on 43 carries, or 3.4 yards per carry, in the previous matchup.
Additional info from LNP|LancasterOnline sports writer Jeff Reinhart: Governor Mifflin is back in the D3 playoffs for the 15th time, and coach Jeff Lang and his Mustangs are now 20-14 all-time in the district playoffs after waffling Northern York 54-14 in the first round. Mifflin has never won a D3 championship. …Cocalico is making its 22nd D3 trip, and the Eagles are 23-18 with a pair of championships, both in 2A, in 1985 (over East Pennsboro) and 1994 (over Juniata). In the last three years in 5A, Cocalico has reached the semifinals twice, and the title game last year… This is the first time Cocalico and Mifflin will tangle in a playoff game.
No. 5 Warwick (9-2) at No. 4 Manheim Central (9-2):
A highly-anticipated rematch after Warwick beat Manheim Central in Week Three, 37-7, which marked the Warriors’ first victory over the Barons since 1983. It also snapped Manheim Central’s 27-game regular-season unbeaten streak. ... After winning a district playoff game last year for the first time in program history, Warwick is back in the district quarterfinals for the second year in a row, with hopes to go even deeper in the playoffs. ... The Barons appear to be a much-improved team than the one that began the season 2-2, especially on the offensive side. During its current seven-game win streak, Manheim Central, averaging 49 points, with blue-chip QB Evan Simon finding his groove in averaging nearly 300 passing yards a game during that stretch. Simon needs 136 passing yards to become just the third QB in L-L League history to throw for 8,000 career yards, and 149 passing yards to become the league's second leading all-time passer. He trails only Lampeter-Strasburg's Bear Shank (8,012 yards) and Lancaster Catholic’s Kyle Smith (8,545). ... In the Week Three matchup, the Warriors kept Simon scrambling, leading to four sacks and two interceptions, so the Barons will look to keep the pocket clean this time around. Manheim Central has also held its last seven opponents to an average of 116 passing yards per game, which is worth pointing out against Warwick's high-octane offense, paced by junior signal-caller Joey McCracken (2,510 passing yards, 25 TDs, four INTs), who tossed for 290 yards and three TDs against the Barons earlier this season.
Class 4A quarterfinals:
No. 8 Lampeter-Strasburg (8-3) at No. 1 York Suburban (10-0): L-S veteran coach John Manion said leading rusher Bryan McKim (1,111 rushing yards, 8.3 per carry, 15 TDs) is a game-time decision. McKim suffered a lower-body injury near the end of last Friday’s win over Elco. But injuries haven’t slowed this resilient Pioneers' team, considering starting QB Sean McTaggart went down in Week One, with Conner Nolt stepping in and putting together a spectacular campaign before he was injured in the regular-season finale. Sophomore Berkeley Wagner and senior Logan Bradley then split signal-caller duties in last week’s 34-7 District 3 Class 4A first-round thumping of Elco. If McKim can’t go, expect juniors Owen Fikkert (34 carries, 157 rushing yards, two TDs) and Alex Knapp (568 rushing yards, 318 receiving yards, eight total TDs) to pick up the slack in L-S's rushing attack. York Suburban is giving up 240 total yards a game. ... L-S's defense had no trouble shutting down Elco’s prolific running offense a week ago, and will need a similar effort Friday against York Suburban running back Savion Harrison (1,499 rushing yards, 9.0 per carry, 20 TDs). By the way, the Trojans are well-rested after a first-round bye last week.
Additional info from LNP|LancasterOnline sports writer Jeff Reinhart: L-S is making its 14th D3 trip, and skipper John Manion and his Pioneers improved to 14-11 all-time in the district playoffs after last Friday’s win. L-S has one D3 title, a 3A crown in 2007 (over Gettysburg). ...York Suburban is one of five D3 teams that made it through the regular season with an unscathed record, and coach Andy Loucks and his Trojans will be back on the field after a first-round bye. ... This is Suburban’s ninth playoff trip, and the Trojans are 3-6, including a 2A championship win over Susquehanna Township back in 1986. … Suburban vs. L-S common opponent: West York (Suburban won 41-10, L-S won 49-6). ... This is Suburban’s first D3 appearance since 2016, when the Trojans fell to — wouldn’t you know it — L-S, 48-0 in a 4A quarterfinal-round matchup.
Class 3A semifinals:
No. 4 Annville-Cleona (7-4) at No. 1 Wyomissing (10-0), Saturday, 1 p.m.:
It’s been quite a season of ups and downs for the Little Dutchmen. They lost junior nose guard and leading tackler Logan Wagner to a season-ending foot injury in Week Three. Two other starting D-linemen were injured in last month’s car accident that involved three players. Those players are now back on the sideline, including Steven Colledge, who was in attendance in a wheelchair last Friday when A-C won a district playoff game for the first time in program history. … The Dutchmen now fully embrace the underdog role against a Wyomissing program accustomed to playoff football. The Berks League Section Two champion Spartans are in the district semifinals for the 10th year in a row. Their 31 postseason victories are the fifth-most in District Three history, while their seven district crowns are tied for sixth-most among District Three teams, last winning gold in 2014. The Spartans are also well-rested after a first-round bye. This is the first time Annville-Cleona and Wyomissing are squaring off in the district playoffs. … Both teams love to run the ball, with Annville-Cleona averaging 36 points and 285 rushing yards per game, and Wyomissing averaging 40.6 points and 280 rushing yards per game. Give the defensive edge to Wyomissing, which is holding opponents to an average of 9.5 points, 84.5 rushing yards and 85.2 passing yards per game. ... The Spartans’ run attack is paced by 5-11 senior running back Max Hurleman (1,042 rushing yards, 17 TDs), 6-2 junior back Evan Niedrowski (491 yards, 14 TDs) and 6-1 senior back Jevin Tranquillo (486 yards, nine TDs). ... The Dutchmen's rushing attack is led by 5-10 fullback Trevor Porche (1,605 rushing yards, 15 TDs) and senior QB Junior Bours (716 rushing yards, 18 TDs).
No. 3 Lancaster Catholic (10-1) at No. 2 Middletown (9-1): A Lancaster Catholic win would put the L-L League Section Three champion Crusaders in a district title game for the first time since 2011 and 10th time overall. However, Lancaster Catholic second-year coach Todd Mealy and his staff have not yet been to that stage, even dating back to Mealy’s seven highly-successful seasons steering Penn Manor from 2008 through 2014. ... Middletown has won three-straight District 3 Class 3A titles, and reached the state title game each of the last three seasons. ... The Crusaders’ run defense has been like a steel wall all season, holding opponents to 72.3 rushing yards per game. It’ll certainly be tested Friday against Middletown's offense, which features a pair of 1,000-yard backs in Jose Lopez (1,395 yards, 7.9 per carry, 16 TDs) and Tymir Jackson (1,095 yards, 8.4 per carry, 10 TDs). This will be the third meeting between Lancaster Catholic and Middletown in a district playoff game, with the Crusaders having won the previous matchups in the 2008 2A title game (41-0) and 2009 2A semifinals (48-14).
Additional info from LNP|LancasterOnline sports writer Jeff Reinhart: Lancaster Catholic improved to 25-10 all-time in the district playoffs after last week’s 30-7 quarterfinal-round win over Bermudian Springs. The Crusaders are 20-2 in its last 22 games. … Lancaster Catholic key kid: RB Jeff Harley (1,246 rushing yards, 9.2 per carry, 18 TDs) has been superb; he bolted for 144 yards and a TD last week vs. Bermudian Springs, and he’s had a pair of 200-yard games during the second half of the season. … Middletown, out of the Mid-Penn Capital, had a first-round bye, and the Blue Raiders are back in the D3 playoffs for the 14th time, and they are 14-8 with five crowns. ... Middletown and Lancaster Catholic have common opponent this season: Camp Hill (Middletown won 41-12, Catholic won 39-25).