COVID-19 has barely laid a glove on golf, compared to most high school sports. That’s why the Lancaster-Lebanon League season begins Thursday, before all other sports even begin practice.
“It’s not going to be a huge change for us,’’ said Manheim Township coach Steve Brenner. “Once you’re on the golf course, you’re pretty much on your own.’’
Some players and teams to watch, dates to remember and things to consider:
New league alignment: Warwick has moved up to Section One, which includes Cedar Crest, Hempfield, Lancaster Catholic, Manheim Township and Penn Manor.
Manheim Central has moved up to Section Two, which includes Conestoga Valley, Elizabethtown, Ephrata, Garden Spot and Solanco.
Section Three loses Central, and now consists of Cocalico, Elco, Lampeter-Strasburg, Northern Lebanon and Octorara.
Section Four loses Lebanon Catholic, and consists of Annville-Cleona, Lancaster Country Day, Lancaster Mennonite, Lebanon and Pequea Valley.
Last year: Section champions - Township (20-0) in One, Warwick (30-0) in Two, Cocalico (27-3) in Three and Mennonite (28-2) in Section Four. Mennonite won the District Three Class 2A championship for the second straight year.
Top returning players: Township senior Connor Strine won the league individual title a year ago with a 67 at Foxchase. He finished 15th in the Class 3A state tournament.
Last year’s league girls champ, Ammala Moua of Cocalico, is also back. She shot 74 at Foxchase, won by 10 shots and finished seventh in the 2A girls state tournament.
Strine and Moua were the league’s male and female golfers of the year.
Jonathan Glick leads Mennonite’s run at a fourth straight section and third straight district title. Glick averaged 73, and finished second in the points standings, in the Lancaster County Junior Golf Tour this summer.
Warwick junior Tyson Mitchell finished fifth in the LCJGT standings and finished second in the season-ending Tour Championship with a 72 at Lancaster Country Club.
Hempfield’s Sawyer Martin, also a junior, was medalist in a Section One match last fall, finished third in the LCJGT championship last month, and had top 10s in all four events he played in.
Other players to watch: Solanco’s Logan Wagner, Northern Lebanon’s Luke Spangler (a state qualifier last year), Ephrata’s Jeet Patel
Top returning teams: Township, last year’s Section One and league champ, owns two state and seven District Three team titles even though those competitions have only existed since 2005.
Another run seems possible, although the Blue Streaks lose two all-Section players: Hamilton McNaughton, who has graduated, and Graham Calhoun, who will focus on swimming.
“We’re all, collectively, going to fill (their) roles,’’ said Strine. “Everyone has improved, for sure.’’
The addition of Warwick, undefeated last year in Section Two, is a factor. The Warriors return a solid nucleus including Mitchell and another junior, Brant Bomberger.
“Watching their scores last year,’’ Brenner said, “they should be right there with us.’’
Section Two appears wide-open in Warwick’s absence. Take a flier on Elizabethtown, with five returning lettermen including district qualifiers Alex Williams and Westin Kolaric.
Section Three could be as freewheeling as Two. Cocalico has a nucleus with league girls champ Moua and solid junior Trey Rios.
In Section Four, Lancaster Mennonite loses last year’s 2A district individual champ Gavin Baer and a coach, Corey Wenger, who’s the Lanco Mid-Amateur champ. The Blazers, led by Glick, should still have enough.
Postseason calendar: The L-L tournament is Sept. 21 at Meadia Heights. The District Three championships are Oct. 9-10 at Briarwood in York. The East Regional is Oct. 14 at Golden Oaks in Fleetwood. The state individual championship is Oct. 21-22 at Heritage Hills in York, and the state team is Oct. 23, also at Heritage Hills.