From the first day of heat acclimatization practice on Aug. 31, until the 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 going on around the league …
One last Jersey Shore at Lampeter-Strasburg primer before the big PIAA Class 4A state semifinal kicks off Friday night:
1. L-S must keep Jersey Shore’s high-octane offense under wraps; the Bulldogs are averaging a hefty 426 yards and 38 points a game and — much like the Pioneers’ offense — they can matriculate the ball down the field any number of ways. L-S’s defense has been mega stout, giving up just 187 yards a game. Last week, the Pioneers kept high-scoring Elco and the Raiders’ vaunted Veer rushing attack out of the end zone. So when it comes to wrapping and tackling vs. Jersey Shore, keep an eye on a 4-pack of roving Pioneers’ linebackers to do plenty of swarming: Elijah Carr (team-best 63 tackles, 7 for losses, 2 sacks, 5 QB hurries), Nick Del Grande (57 tackles, 6 for losses, 3 sacks, 4 QB hurries, 2 fumble recoveries), Brady Cole (38 tackles, 7 for losses, 2 forced fumbles, 5 pass breakups) and Conner Nolt (38 tackles, 2 for losses, 2 forced fumbles, 5 pass breakups, 4 INT) are all ball-hawkers. The more three-and-outs L-S can force, the better.
2. Conversely, Jersey Shore’s top two tacklers are linebackers: The Packer boys — Hayden and Gabe — have dropped their fair share of ball-carriers this fall; Hayden Packer has a team-best 69 tackles, with seven stops for losses, plus a pair of sacks, 12 QB hurries and a pick. Gabe Packer has 63 stops, including six hits for losses, two sacks and a dozen QB hurries, plus a pair of forced fumbles. The Bulldogs have 22 takeaways and they’ve pitched four shutouts. The Packer tandem has been right in the middle of all of the action; Hayden Packer had 12 tackles last week in Jersey Shore’s win over Crestwood.
3. Jersey Shore has only turned the ball over four times — one pick and three lost fumbles. That’s it. L-S has nine giveaways — three picks and six lost fumbles. That’s not a very big number, either. These are two clean teams that are used to playing with a lead, finishing drives and cashing in after a takeaway. Keep an eye on the turnover battle and the field-position battle in this clash. Who can get the most short fields? Who can cash-in the most off turnovers? Who wins the special teams wars? The little things should go a long way in this showdown.