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 …
Hard to believe, but after this weekend’s games, teams will be halfway home in their 2019 regular-season schedules. So don’t look now, but the section races — and races for all-important District 3 power points — are definitely taking shape. More notes to get you ready for the Week 5 slate:
1. Last year, it was a brave new world for Octorara, which made the jump to the L-L League full-time. By all accounts, it was a smooth transition for coach Jed King and his Braves, who have fit in quite nicely in their new digs. The one constant in Octorara’s football program — which hatched in 2009 — has been a yearly battle with backyard neighbor Pequea Valley, which has become the hard-fought, bragging-rights Brave Bowl, as both schools share that moniker. The Braves and the Braves will square off for the 10th time in the series on Friday in Atglen, as both teams are looking for some momentum. PV (0-3 in Section 3, 0-4 overall) hasn’t won a varsity tackle football game since Nov. 3, 2017, when the Braves edged Elco 28-27. So PV’s losing streak sits at a maddening 14 games in a row heading into Friday’s clash. The Braves’ bugaboo? Turnovers. PV has 18 giveaways, and first-year skipper Jeff Werner and his Braves are averaging just 93 yards of total offense per game. Octorara (1-2, 1-3) has a nifty 35-0 shutout victory over Northern Lebanon — the program’s first whitewash win since the Braves blanked PV 33-0 back in 2011 — but they’ve had two close-call setbacks: 14-13 against Pottstown in Week 1, and then 14-6 last Friday vs. Elco. Octorara’s calling card so far has been defense; the Braves have allowed just 194 passing yards, and they have the second-ranked D in Section 3, yielding just 236 yards per game. Octorara leads the series 6-3, including last year’s 19-6 triumph in its L-L League debut. There have been two crazy games in this series: Octorara outlasted PV 41-33 in double-OT in 2014, and in the team’s first meeting, back in 2010, Octorara won a 54-41 shootout. Friday’s winner not only gets backyard bragging rights, but some serious mo heading into Week 6. … FYI: All of the Octorara vs. PV results since this series started: 2010 (Octorara W 54-41); 2011 (Octorara W 33-0); 2012 (Octorara W 25-6); 2013 (PV W 18-13); 2014 (Octorara W 41-33 in 2-OT); 2015 (PV W 21-6); 2016 (PV W 20-18); 2017 (Octorara W 21-13); 2018 (Octorara W 19-6).
2. The juiciest matchup on the Week 5 slate? Look no further than Denver, where Cocalico (4-0) will welcome Manheim Township (4-0) for the league’s mandated crossover game. Not only are coach Dave Gingrich and his Eagles and skipper Mark Evans and his Blue Streaks both unscathed, but they sit atop their respective District 3 power ratings: Cocalico is No. 1 in Class 5A, and Township is No. 1 in Class 6A. And with the lower seeds hosting through the championship games this fall, a No. 1 seed is a golden ticket. This was an entertaining game last year: The Streaks outlasted the Eagles 36-24 in Neffsville — and then both teams went on to accomplish some big things. Township ended up sharing the Section 1 championship with Warwick and Wilson, before the Streaks went to the D3-6A semifinals and won 10 games for the second year in a row. Cocalico snared a second-place finish in the Section 2 hunt, and then embarked on a terrific ride to the D3-5A title game, where the Eagles were tripped up by rival Manheim Central. They also won 10 games yet again. The crux in Friday’s matchup: Township’s defense has been truly gnarly; the Streaks have allowed a grand total of 89 rushing yards, and they’re giving up just 135 yards per game, tops in the L-L League. They also have 35 tackles for losses and 13 QB sacks, plus five interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Township’s D will be tested by Cocalico’s Veer offensive attack, piloted by shifty, playmaker QB Noah Palm. The Eagles have churned out 1,065 rushing yards, and average 350 yards and 40 points per game. Eagles. Streaks. Denver. Be there.
3. Some of the league’s departmental leaders after four games:
Passing yards: Joey McCracken, Warwick — 1,180 yards
Touchdown passes: Joey McCracken, Warwick — 15 TD throws
Rushing yards: Nick Yannutz, Solanco — 659 yards
Rushing touchdowns: Noah Palm, Cocalico — 9 TD runs
Receptions: Ryan Redding, Columbia — 26 catches
Receiving yards: Cole Rice, Elizabethtown — 482 yards
Touchdown receptions: Conor Adams, Warwick; Jake Shoemaker, Donegal — 6 TD catches apiece