With Warwick’s golf team moving up to join Manheim Township in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League this fall, the section race is expected to be a close, match-for-match turf war between the league’s two best teams.

That didn’t really happen Tuesday.

Township got a career-best round of 71 from Sean Cliff and won handily, with a 309 total of runner-up Warwick’s 335, in the Section One season opener at Conestoga Country Club.

“I’m delighted,’’ Township coach Steve Brenner said. “I thought the kids played great.’’

Scores were high on an opening day under gloomy skies with slight, intermittent rain, on a quality golf course.

Of the section’s presumed top guns, only Warwick’s Tyson Mitchell, with a 77, and Township’s Connor Strine, last year’s league individual champ, broke 80, and Strine did so just barely, with a 79.

However, if the Streaks get low-70s rounds from their number two (Cliff) and number four (Dante Billoni, who shot 73) players, the suspense might be over.

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The Blue Streaks remain very aware f the Warriors, with whom they share a home course, Overlook.

“Me and Connor are pretty friendly with (Mitchell), so we know they’re good,’’ Cliff said. “It’s going to be fun competing against them.’’

A senior, Cliff was his team’s number four a year ago. His 71, one over par, wasn’t just the best round of his high school career. It was the best of his life.

Brenner, who was the marker for Cliff’s group, thought ball-striking was the key.

“He’s a grinder,’’ he said. “Tee-to-green, he just hit it so good.’’

Cliff thought his short game was the difference.

“I putted really well,’’ he said. “I just tried to keep my head up, stay in position, keep going for pars.’’

There was evidence for both viewpoints. On the par-3 15th, Cliff stuffed a 7-iron to 10 feet, and made the birdie putt. On the par-5 first, Cliff’s 11th due to a shotgun start, he missed the green left in two, short-sided, in a tough spot, but came up with a superb chip, leading to another birdie.

Cedar Crest, behind Brock Smith’s 81, finished third at 357. Lancaster Catholic was fourth (359), followed by Penn Manor (373) and Hempfield (382).

Section One gets back at it Thursday, Lancaster Catholic hosting at Bent Creek at 1 p.m.


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