From the first day of heat acclimatization practice on Aug. 5, until the very last Lancaster-Lebanon League football team is standing later this fall, we’ll bring you three fun L-L League pigskin facts on a daily basis to keep you updated about what’s happening around the league …
Every weekend we post our What We Learned story, with LNP/LancasterOnline reporters detailing what they learned about all 24 L-L League football teams. Since Annville-Cleona and Pequea Valley didn’t play until Monday, we had to leave the Little Dutchmen and Braves out of the original Week 7 post. Now that A-C and PV played their Section 3 game, here’s what we learned about those squads on Monday:
1. WHAT WE LEARNED: Pequea Valley — Don’t let the record fool you; the Braves are a resilient bunch, and they proved that yet again on Monday. Despite looking up a 45-0 deficit, and with the rain pelting down in Annville, the Braves played right up until the final whistle, never once backing down, hanging their heads or sulking. This has not been a successful season on the stat sheet for PV, but first-year coach Jeff Werner and his staff — including former Ephrata skipper Scott Shelley, who is volunteering his time to help out this season — are getting max effort out of their troops. And there aren’t a lot of them; the Braves suited up 21 players for Monday’s game vs. A-C. One of those kids is senior interior lineman Jake Stoltzfus, and he made an impassioned speech to his teammates in the postgame huddle, pointing out some near-misses and mistakes that can be corrected, plus more words of encouragement as PV readies for its final three games. “Being a first-year coach, it’s taking a little while for everyone to learn a new system,” Werner said. “So next year we’re looking forward to having spring ball, and doing more camps and 7-on-7’s. It’s a great group of kids. I’m really proud of them. Now we just have to keep working hard every single day.” And a tip of the cap to PV’s players and staff for giving A-C’s crew candy bars in pregame goody bags. Great sportsmanship all around on Monday.
2. WHAT WE LEARNED: Annville-Cleona — Kudos to the Dutchmen for hanging in there after a difficult weekend. You’re never sure how kids are going to react to the news that their friends were involved in a car accident. It turned out to be a therapeutic couple of hours for A-C, which topped PV. “You never know how they’re going to react,” Dutchmen coach Matt Gingrich said. “Plus, it was Monday at 5 p.m., not Friday at 7 p.m. So I had no clue. I could tell that a couple of them weren’t ready to play. I could see it. My thing was, how can I get them to snap out of it? That was it. It wasn’t a personal thing; I was just trying to get them to play their best. And I thought they did really well.” A-C won 45-0 to nudge a game above .500 and remain in the thick of the D3-3A playoff chase. And after a short week of practice, the Dutchmen have a key game on Friday at home against section tri-leader Donegal.
BONUS NUGGET: Go ahead and add A-C RB Trevor Porche to the final list of Week 7 Helmet Sticker winners. The Dutchmen's bullish back rumbled for 174 yards on 22 tough-sledding carries with a pair of TD bolts in A-C's water-logged dub over PV.
ANOTHER BONUS NUGGET: After his 40-yard field goal in the slop vs. PV on Monday, A-C's Mac Plummer now has three of the four longest made field goals in the L-L League this season. There was his 40-yarder vs. the Braves in the rain on Monday; his 46-yarder vs. Lancaster Catholic in Week 6; and Plummer's L-L League-record 51-yard make back in the season-opener vs. Milton Hershey. The league's second-longest boot this season belongs to Elizabethtown's Cade Denlinger, who drilled a 47-yarder back in Week 1 against Donegal.
3. Speaking of the Section 3 tri-leaders, Lebanon and Lancaster Catholic are the other two teams in that crowded mix. The Crusaders will gas up the bus and head to Fredericksburg on Friday for a clash with Northern Lebanon. The Vikings’ bugaboo this season has been rush defense; Northern Lebanon has yielded 1,993 ground yards, most in the league. And now the Vikes are tasked with stopping Catholic’s powerful ground attack, which piled up 358 stripes on the grass last week in a 33-13 W at Octorara. Speed-back Jeff Harley (92-678, 10 TDs) darted for 216 yards against the Braves, and Alex Cruz (63-567, 7 TDs) averages 9.0 yards per carry and he’s a hammer between the tackles. Catholic can’t get caught looking ahead; the Crusaders will welcome Donegal in Week 9.