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 …
Some section-by-section nuggets with the Week 4 games all teed up and ready to go:
1. SECTION 1 NOTABLES
Cedar Crest goes for a 4-0 getaway on Friday at McCaskey; the Falcons are out to match their 5-0 start in 2017, when they made the D3 playoffs. They’ll get Hempfield at home next week — when the regular season (gulp) hits the halfway mark already. … Hempfield will reconfigure its backfield Friday vs. Warwick: Colin Peters (healthy again, back at QB), Tanner Hess (shifting from QB to RB) and RB Luke Miller (injured and out indefinitely). … Manheim Township leads all Section 1 squads in total defense (147 yards against per game), and the Blue Streaks’ stingy D has allowed just 120 rushing yards, second-least in the L-L League. Township’s biggest D enforcer has been swarming LB Bryce Casey (16 tackles, 6 for losses, 2 1/2 sacks). And this Streaks’ nugget: After Friday’s tussle with Penn Manor — get this — Township goes at Cocalico (3-0), at Wilson (3-0), at Warwick (3-0) and then home with Cedar Crest (3-0). Not sure there’s another team in D3 (or the state?) that has a tougher clip than that on the horizon. … McCaskey is still looking for some firm footing on offense; the Red Tornado has produced just 94 total rushing yards, and is averaging 84 yards per game on O, and that’s last in the L-L League. … Penn Manor’s defense has allowed just 275 passing yards — third-least in the league. … No all-state wideout Trey Glass — and we hope he’s on the road to recovery with knee rehab — but Warwick’s receiving corps is certainly stepping up: Conor Adams (15-275, 3 TD, 18 yards per catch), Caleb Schmitz (13-243, 4 TD, 19 yards per catch) and Justin Gerhart (8-206, 2 TD, 26 yards per catch) have all been reliable, sure-handed targets for QB Joey McCracken, who is completing 70 percent of his attempts and he leads the league in passing yards (900 on the dot) and TD tosses (11). … How’s this for a home-run threat: Wilson’s Mason Lenart has 14 carries for 181 yards (12.9 yards per tote), one catch for 22 yards, and he’s averaging 45 yards on four kickoff returns, including a 95-yard return for a TD. On 19 total touches in three games, he’s averaging 20.2 yards every time he gets his hands on the football.
2. SECTION 2 NOTABLES
Cocalico is angling for its third 4-0 start in a row, and the Eagles can reach that mark with a win at home vs. Elizabethtown. Cocalico was 4-0 last year before falling to Manheim Township in the league-mandated crossover game in Week 5, and in 2017, the Eagles were also 4-0 before a setback against Manheim Central in a Section 2 game in Week 5. The last time the Eagles did not get off to a 4-0 start was in 2016, when they were 0-2 — with setbacks against Red Land and Governor Mifflin out of the chute — but rallied for a 9-4 finish and a deep trip in the D3 playoffs. … Conestoga Valley QB Bradley Stoltzfus leads all Section 2 signal-callers with 59 completions, 83 pass attempts, 663 passing yards and six TD throws. … When was the last time E-town defeated Cocalico? It’s been a little while: The Bears last beat the Eagles in a Section 2 game back on Oct. 15, 2010, 22-21 in E-town. They’ll try and snap that string Friday in Denver. … Garden Spot WR Ethan Good — who has a terrific football IQ — is getting some college looks, and he’s certainly off to a fast start in his senior season, with 14 grabs for 282 yards (20 yards per catch) with three TD receptions. He’s been a superb bright spot for the re-tooling Spartans, who will look to snap this head-scratching 17-game losing streak on Friday at Solanco. … Lampeter-Strasburg has allowed an L-L League-low 12 points, and the Pioneers lead all Section 2 outfits in total offense (442 yards per game) and total defense (138 yards against per game). That’s not easy to do in Section 2.. … Manheim Central QB Evan Simon continues to creep up on Jeff Smoker’s program mark for career passing yards. Heading into Friday’s much-anticipated crossover matchup against Wilson, Simon is sitting on 5,632 yards, so he needs 269 air yards to snap Smoker’s mark of 5,900 for the Barons. … Busy Mule: Solanco DB Mason St. Clair has four interceptions, he’s broken up six passes, he’s recovered a fumble, and he’s returned a kickoff 93 yards for a TD. Another busy Mule: FB Nick Yannutz leads all L-L League backs with 444 rushing yards.
3. SECTION 3 NOTABLES
In a season already full of injuries — argh — here’s another one: Pat Huggins at Lebanon Daily News is reporting that Annville-Cleona freshman RB Alex Long, who was already getting some touches as a ninth-grader in the Little Dutchmen’s Veer attack, is out with an ACL knee injury. … Columbia hasn’t been shy about going up top, and QB Matt McCleary has delivered: He leads all L-L League quarterbacks with 61 completions and 111 pass attempts, and he’s second in the league with 763 passing yards, and second in the league with eight TD tosses, as the Crimson Tide continues to fly the friendly skies. They’ll look to snap a 2-game slide on Friday when Pequea Valley comes to town. … Five of Jake Shoemaker’s 11 catches for Donegal so far this season have gone for touchdowns. … Elco is 0-3 for the first time since 2015, when the Raiders fell to Hamburg, Palmyra and Lebanon to get that season started. They snapped the streak with a victory over Pequea Valley in Week 4. When Elco hosts Octorara on Friday, the Raiders will be out to snap their longest losing skid since 2009-2010, when Elco went 0-2 to finish 2009, and then opened the 2010 campaign at 0-6, for an 8-game slide. You get the feeling that the Raiders are poised for a breakout, especially with so many key returning players from last year’s D3 playoff qualifier squad on board. … Despite two wins in a row and spot atop the Section 3 standings, Ephrata brings up the rear in total team defense in the L-L League; the Mounts are yielding 400 yards per game — and that’s what playing Warwick will do to your average. The Warriors piled up 602 yards in a 61-0 win over Ephrata back in Week 1, but the Mounts have been pretty clean ever since, with victories against Northern Lebanon and Annville-Cleona for a 2-0 section start. Ephrata at Lancaster Catholic for a first-place showdown on Friday. Be there. … Speaking of Catholic, the Crusaders’ rush defense has been finicky; Catholic has yielded just 221 ground stripes, fourth-least in the L-L League. So we’re anxious to see how Ephrata’s offense attacks the Crusaders, coming off last week’s epic 648-yard, 26-first-down, 58-point powder-keg explosion against A-C. And one more Catholic note: Now that Manheim Central's 27-game regular-season unbeaten streak is over, the Crusaders own the league's longest current regular-season winning streak with 13 in a row. Catholic went 10-0 last year, and is 3-0 early on this season. The Crusaders' last regular-season loss was Nov. 3, 2017 at home against Northern Lebanon by a 21-14 score. Two things from that night: First, the Vikings rode into Lancaster and clinched their third Section 3 championship in four years. And that was the last game on the sidelines for longtime Catholic coach Bruce Harbach, who guided the Crusaders to a pair of PIAA titles. … We almost always think of Lebanon as an offensive team, with the Cedars’ Air Raid scheme putting up crooked numbers on a yearly basis. Coach Gerry Yonchiuk has vowed in recent seasons to get Lebanon’s defense on the strait and narrow, and the Cedars are getting the job done: Lebanon is tops in Section 3 and third overall in the league in total team D, giving up just 169 yards per game. And the Cedars have allowed just 37 points, fourth-least in the L-L League. They’ll be tested by Donegal’s Wing-T on Friday, when the Indians visit the Cedars for a first-place throw-down. … Northern Lebanon’s losing streak is at seven in a row, as the Vikings re-tool and try and find some mojo in Fredericksburg. Perhaps no team has struggled more with numbers this season than NL. … Octorara, fresh off a 35-0 win over Northern Lebanon for just the second shutout victory in program history, will go for its first 2-game winning streak since 2017 when the Braves visit Elco on Friday. Octorara beat a pair of L-L League teams in back-to-back weeks in 2017, topping Columbia 21-12 and then Pequea Valley 21-13 in nonleague games for a 2-1 start that season — the Braves’ last in the Ches-Mont League before jumping to the L-L League full-time last fall. … Pequea Valley’s bugaboo so far: Turnovers. The Braves have lost seven fumbles and have had five passes intercepted.