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 …
A playoff primer, with plenty of news, notables, nuggets and links for the next round of District 3 postseason games:
1. CLASS 6A SEMIFINALS
(4) Harrisburg (8-3) at (1) Wilson (10-1): Coach Doug Dahms and his Bulldogs are in the D3 playoffs for the 28th time, and they are now 40-20 overall after last Friday’s riveting, come-from-behind 41-13 win over Chambersburg, when Wilson dug out of a 13-0 first-half hole for a resounding victory over the Trojans. The Section 1 runner-up Bulldogs have seven D3 championships, the last in 2016 with a 6A win over Cumberland Valley. … Wilson key kid: Avanti Lockhart has been rugged and reliable at RB (884 rushing yards, 18 TDs; he needs 116 yards for a 1,000-yard season) and LB (54 tackles, 9 for losses, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery) for the Bulldogs, who have allowed just 831 rushing yards. ... Harrisburg is making its 18th D3 trip, and the Cougars are now 17-14 after beating Central York 47-13 in the quarterfinals. Harrisburg is the defending D3-6A champ — coach Calvin Everett and his Cougars stopped Mid-Penn Commonwealth rival Central Dauphin in last year’s finale — and this is the fifth time Harrisburg and Wilson will knock heads in a D3 playoff game: In 2007 (4A), the Cougars clipped the Bulldogs in OT; Wilson came back with victories in 2012 (4A) and 2016 (6A), and Harrisburg beat the Bulldogs 36-12 in the 6A semifinals last year. … Harrisburg also beat Manheim Central to win 5A gold in 2016, and the Cougars won the 4A title in 2007 with a victory over Governor Mifflin. ... Harrisburg's three losses: Archbishop Hoban (42-12 in Akron, Ohio), Central Dauphin (15-14 in a controversial finish) and State College (21-6; the Little Lions are 9-1 and are set to face Erie McDowell out of District 10 in a sub-regional playoff game). … Harrisburg key kid: RB Jahmir Plant is a wily vet, and he knows how to follow his blockers to daylight. He raced for 153 yards with two TD runs in the Cougars’ quarterfinal-round win over Central York. ... Wilson vs. Harrisburg common opponents: Central Dauphin (Wilson won 21-13, Harrisburg lost 15-14) and Chambersburg (Wilson won, 41-13 in the quarterfinals, Harrisburg won 27-25). … (3) Central Dauphin (9-2) at (2) Manheim Township (11-0): Coach Mark Evans and his Blue Streaks are in the D3 playoffs for the 14th time, and they are now 10-12 after rallying past Cumberland Valley 32-26 in a nail-biter, instant-classic quarterfinal-round game. Township has one D3 title — in 2017, with a 6A win over Cumberland Valley — and the Streaks are 33-4 in their last 37 games, with three 10-win seasons in a row. Those losses: In 2017, to Governor Mifflin (49-14) in a Week 3 nonleague game, and to eventual state-champ Pine-Richland (28-7) in the state semifinals; and in 2018, to Wilson (16-14) in a Week 6 Section 1 showdown, and to CD (27-0) in the D3-6A semifinals. ... Township key kid: QB Harrison Kirk (133-of-216, 62 percent completions, for 2,234 yards, 21 TDs, 4 INT; 159 rushing yards, 8 TD keepers) makes the Streaks’ top-ranked offense go; they’re averaging 416 yards and 45 points a game, both tops among L-L League teams. … CD is in the district playoffs for the 22nd time, and skipper Glen McNamee and his Rams are now 27-18 after clocking Cedar Crest 36-6 in the quarterfinals. CD has three D3 championships — the last was in 2011, with a 4A win over Wilson — and the Rams fell to conference rival Harrisburg in last year’s 6A title game. … This is the fifth time CD and Township will square off in the D3 playoffs; Township won in 2007 (4A) and 2017 (6A); CD bounced back with wins in 2012 (4A) and 2016 (6A); and the Rams blanked the Streaks 27-0 in the semifinals last fall. … This is also a rematch from a Week 3 game this season; Township, which has now won three Section 1 championships in a row, escaped CD 10-7 on Jackson Wright’s game-winning field goal with time running out. … This is also the sixth time in the last three seasons that the Rams and Streaks will do battle, so these teams are very familiar with each other. … CD key kid: Like his counterpart Kirk, Rams’ QB Max Mosey has also been ultra efficient (109-of-170, 64 percent completions, for 1,501 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INT) guiding CD’s O attack. ... Township vs. CD common opponents: Wilson (Township won 30-14, CD lost 21-13), Cedar Crest (Township won 62-0, CD won 36-6 in the quarterfinals) and Cumberland Valley (Township won 32-26 in the quarterfinals last week, CD won 13-7).
2. CLASS 5A QUARTERFINALS
(8) Governor Mifflin (8-3) at (1) Cocalico (8-2): After a first-round bye, coach Dave Gingrich and his Section 2 runner-up Eagles will get back on the field for a rematch against the Mustangs; Cocalico topped Mifflin 26-14 in a Week 3 nonleague clash earlier this season. … Cocalico key kid: QB Noah Palm (40-of-61, 66 percent completions, for 855 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INT; 1,075 rushing yards, 24 TD keepers) is a vet option engineer, and he needs 145 passing yards for a rare 1,000-pass/1,000-rush season. Palm is also Cocalico’s top tackler from his safety spot. … Mifflin, the Berks Section 1 champ, and riding an 8-game winning streak after a 0-3 start, is back in the D3 playoffs for the 15th time, and coach Jeff Lang and his Mustangs are now 20-14 after waffling Northern York 54-14 in the first round. Mifflin has never won a D3 championship. … Mifflin key kid: RB Nick Singleton (1,669 rushing yards, 31 total TDs) leads all of Berks in rushing yardage and touchdowns, and the sophomore plow-horse already has five scholarship offers in his back pocket, including one from the Nits up in Happy Valley. Singleton scooted for 207 yards and a pair of scores against Northern York last week. … Cocalico is making its 22nd D3 trip, and the Eagles are 23-18 with a pair of championships, both in 2A, in 1985 (over East Pennsboro) and 1994 (over Juniata). In the last three years in 5A, Cocalico has reached the semifinals twice, and the title game last year, falling to Section 2 uber rival Manheim Central all three times. … This is the first time Cocalico and Mifflin will tangle in a playoff game. ... Cocalico vs. Governor Mifflin common opponent: Cedar Cliff (Cocalico won 43-14, Mifflin lost 18-13). Cedar Cliff is the No. 2 seed in 5A, and the Colts (8-2) host New Oxford (7-4) on Friday. That winner gets Shippensburg (11-0) or Exeter (8-3) in the semifinals. … (5) Warwick (9-2) at (4) Manheim Central (9-2): Coach Dave Hahn and his Barons are back in the D3 playoffs for the 32nd time, and they are now 59-13 after whitewashing Waynesboro 48-0 in the first round. Central, which has now won five Section 2 championships in a row and 26 overall, has won 18 D3 championships, including the last two 5A crowns in a row — and they’re also angling for their fourth championship-game appearance in a row, after falling to Harrisburg in the 2016 5A finale. … By the way, those are all D3 records for the Barons: 32 trips, 59 wins, 18 gold trophies. ... Central key kid: QB Evan Simon (142-of-248 for 2,411 yards, 23 TDs, 8 INT; 828 rushing yards, 14 TD keepers) has been a dual-threat machine for the Barons. He needs 136 passing yards to join the 8,000-yard club, and Simon needs 149 passing yards to jump into second place on the league’s all-time passing-leader chart (Lancaster Catholic's Kyle Smith had 8,545 yards; Lampeter-Strasburg's Bear Shank had 8,012). … Warwick is in the D3 playoffs for the seventh time, and coach Bob Locker and his Warriors are now 2-6 after dispatching Mechanicsburg 34-6 in the first round. Warwick has now won a first-round playoff game in back-to-back years, and this is the first time the Warriors and the Barons — neighboring school districts and backyard rivals — will get together in the playoffs. … Warwick key kid: QB Joey McCracken (148-of-240, 62 percent completions, for 2,510 yards, 25 TDs, 4 INT) is cool as a cucumber in the pocket, and he steers the Warriors’ spread attack. … Warwick handled Central 37-7 in a nonleague showdown in Lititz back in Week 3, when McCracken aired it out for 290 yards and three TD tosses. The rematch is in Manheim, for a spot in the D3-5A semifinals opposite the winner of Cocalico-Mifflin, as the three L-L League entrants still standing all find themselves on the same side of the bracket. ... Warwick vs. Central common opponents: Garden Spot (Warwick won 56-13, Central won 63-13), Hempfield (Warwick won 55-7, Central won 24-14) and Wilson (Warwick lost 14-7, Central lost 49-14).
BONUS NUGGET: One L-L League team is still standing in the D3-4A bracket, and that’s Lampeter-Strasburg in the quarterfinals — (8) L-S (8-3) at (1) York Suburban (10-0): The Pioneers knocked off L-L League neighbor Elco in the first round for the second year in a row, this time by a 34-7 count last Friday to advance. L-S is making its 14th D3 trip, and skipper John Manion and his Pioneers improved to 14-11 after the win over the Raiders. L-S has one D3 title, a 3A crown in 2007 (over Gettysburg). ... L-S key kid: RB Bryan McKim (1,111 rushing yards, 8.3 per carry, 15 TDs) has been the Pioneers’ workhorse out of the backfield; he rumbled for 140 yards and a TD last week vs. Elco. … Suburban is one of five D3 teams that made it through the regular season with an unscathed record, and coach Andy Loucks and his Trojans will be back on the field after a first-round bye. ... Suburban key kid: RB Savion Harrison (1,499 rushing yards, 9.0 per carry, 20 TDs, plus 11 catches out of the backfield) is having a monster season for the Trojans. … This is Suburban’s ninth playoff trip, and the Trojans are 3-6, including a 2A championship win over Susquehanna Township back in 1986. … Suburban vs. L-S common opponent: West York (Suburban won 41-10, L-S won 49-6). ... This is Suburban’s first D3 appearance since 2016, when the Trojans fell to — wouldn’t you know it — L-S, 48-0 in a 4A quarterfinal-round matchup. The rematch is for a spot in the D3-4A semifinals vs. the Bishop McDevitt/Susquehanna Township survivor. McDevitt is the defending 4A champ; L-S fell to last year’s runner-up, Berks Catholic, in the quarterfinals.
3. CLASS 3A SEMIFINALS
(3) Lancaster Catholic (10-1) at (2) Middletown (9-1): Coach Todd Mealy and his back-to-back Section 3-champ Crusaders are in the D3 playoffs for the 17th time, and they improved to 25-10 after jetting past Bermudian Springs 30-7 in the quarterfinals, getting some payback for last year’s semifinal loss to the Eagles. Catholic, which is 20-2 in its last 22 games, has won six D3 championships, the last in 2011 with a 2A win over Wyomissing (Catholic went on to win the PIAA title that season, after also pocketing a state championship in 2009). … Catholic key kid: RB Jeff Harley (1,246 rushing yards, 9.2 per carry, 18 TDs) has been superb; he bolted for 144 yards and a TD last week vs. Bermudian Springs, and he’s had a pair of 200-yard games during the second half of the season. … Middletown, out of the Mid-Penn Capital, had a first-round bye, and the Blue Raiders are back in the D3 playoffs for the 14th time, and they are 14-8 with five crowns; coach Brett Myers and his squad are the back-to-back-to-back reigning D3-3A champs, and Middletown has gone to the last three PIAA state-championship games in a row, falling all three times. They beat Wyomissing for D3 gold in 2016 and 2017, before topping Bermudian Springs in the title game last fall. … Middletown key kids: The Blue Raiders feature a pair of 1,000-yard breakaway backs in all-state vet Jose Lopez (1,395 yards, 7.9 per carry, 16 TDs) and Tymir Jackson (1,095 yards, 8.4 per carry, 10 TDs). ... Middletown vs. Catholic common opponent: Camp Hill (Middletown won 41-12, Catholic won 39-25). … This will be the third meeting between Catholic and Middletown in a D3 playoff game, and the Crusaders won the first two: 41-0 in the 2008 2A title game, and 48-14 in the 2009 2A semifinals. The rematch is for a spot in the D3-3A championship tilt, opposite the winner of … (4) Annville-Cleona (7-4) at (1) Wyomissing (10-0): This game is Saturday at 1 p.m. over in Berks County, don’t forget. … A-C is fresh of its first playoff victory, 39-12 over Littlestown. Coach Matt Gingrich and his Little Dutchmen, in the postseason for the eighth time, are now 1-7. Exhale, Annville. … A-C key kid: Bell-cow RB Trevor Porche (1,605 rushing yards, 6.3 per carry, 15 TDs) has been tough to tackle; he’s had three 200-yard games this season, including a 200-yard, 1-TD night in the win over Littlestown. … A-C’s reward for its first playoff dub: A trip to undefeated Wyo, the top-ranked team in the state, coming off a bye week, and angling for its eighth D3 championship. Coach Bob Wolfrum — who is in the 300-win club — and his Berks Section 2-champ Spartans are in the D3 playoffs for the 26th time, and are 31-18. Their last D3 title came in 2014, a 2A crown over backyard rival Berks Catholic. ... No common opponents between A-C and Wyo. … Wyo key kid: RB Max Hurleman (1,042 rushing yards, 10.5 per carry, 17 TDs) has been a key cog out of the Spartans' backfield. … This is the first playoff meeting between A-C and Wyo.