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 …
1. Warwick junior QB Joey McCracken did indeed join the 4,000-yard passing club last week, in the Warriors’ 30-6 crossover triumph against Conestoga Valley. After his breakout sophomore season last fall, when he passed for 1,970 yards, McCracken is now at 2,044 air yards through nine games this season, giving him a grand total of … 4,014 yards. Manheim Township senior QB Harrison Kirk also joined the 4,000-yard club last week, in the Blue Streaks’ 71-0 victory over McCaskey; the Colgate commit is up to 4,067 career air yards. … The next L-L League QB to hit 4,000 career passing yards should be Lebanon junior Isaiah Rodriguez; he had 1,938 yards last fall, and heading into the Cedars’ Week 10 showdown at Annville-Cleona, he has 1,818 yards this season. Tack on 59 yards in his freshman season, and that’s 3,815 yards — 185 shy of 4,000 — for Mr. Rodriguez. … Columbia’s Matt McCleary (2,370) and McCracken (2,044) have already eclipsed 2,000 yards through the air this season. In Week 10, Conestoga Valley’s Bradley Stoltzfus (1,935) needs 65 yards; Manheim Central’s Evan Simon (1,844) needs 156 yards; and Rodriguez (1,818) needs 182 yards for 2,000-yard seasons. Simon is going for his third 2,000-yard campaign in a row.
2. Here’s a pretty cool nugget: There have been 16 plays of 90 or more yards for touchdowns by L-L League players so far this season, and six of them (nearly half) have been scored by Cocalico. In fact, three of the longest TD plays this season belong to Eagles’ players. Here’s the list of Cocalico’s long TD plays so far in 2019 …
98-yard kickoff return TD — Ronald Zahm (tied for longest in the league this season with Solanco’s Mason St. Clair).
96-yard kickoff return TD — Ronald Zahm.
95-yard kickoff return TD — Steven Flinton.
93-yard TD run — Ronald Zahm (second-longest in the league this season behind Octorara’s Jansen Schempp, who had a 94-yard TD gallop).
90-yard punt return TD — Ronald Zahm (longest in the league this season).
90-yard fumble return TD — Noah Palm (longest in the league this season).
* Zahm has four 90-plus-yard touchdown plays himself this season, and both of his kickoff return TD plays came in the same game, in Week 6 vs. Manheim Central. Never a dull a moment in a Cocalico game, and the Eagles have a key Section 2 clash at home Friday vs. Lampeter-Strasburg. Two things: First, Cocalico and L-S are tied for second place, so the winner finishes no worse than alone in second place; Manheim Central has already clinched a tie for the title, and scarfs it up outright with a win at Solanco. If the Golden Mules knock off the Barons, the Cocalico/L-S winner gets a share of the title. Second, this will be L-S's final Section 2 game; the Pioneers shuffle down to Section 3 next year, so it'll be a sentimental kind of game for coach John Manion and his troops.
3. Ephrata can end two long droughts in Week 10. First and foremost, with a win at Octorara, the Mountaineers would lock up a 6-4 season, and that would be Ephrata’s first winning season since 2003. Second, the Mounts currently sit on the 15-line in the D3-5A power ratings, and the top 14 finishers get in. The two teams directly in front of Ephrata are (14) Mechanicsburg and (13) Solanco. The Golden Mules (5-4) host Manheim Central on Friday; Mechanicsburg (5-4) is at home vs. Lower Dauphin (0-9). If Ephrata gets in, it would be the Mounts’ first postseason trip since … 1987, when Ephrata made its first and only playoff foray, falling to Bishop McDevitt 21-12 in a 3A semifinal-round game. McD went on to beat another L-L League club, Elizabethtown, 49-12 in the championship game. By the way, if Ephrata gets a win and help, and nabs the No. 14 seed, and if the rest of the bracket holds tight, the Mounts would draw a road game at the No. 3 seed, which is currently held by … old Section 2 rival (and back-to-back reigning D3-5A champ) Manheim Central. All kinds of fun scenarios floating around in the D3 ratings, so stay tuned. Something crazy is bound to happen on the last weekend of regular-season play.