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 …
Sad to report that this is the final 3 daily L-L League football facts post for the one-of-a-kind 2020 season. And what a season it was, with Lampeter-Strasburg going the deepest among the local teams; the Pioneers came up just shy of a PIAA Class 4A championship-game appearance, dropping a heartbreaker to Jersey Shore in the state semifinals on Friday night. I’ll still have some random football posts in the days ahead — stats, any topical notables, plus the all-star lists, which will hit the streets on Dec. 2. But as far as the daily notebook goes, this is the final post for 2020.
1. We had L-S QB Sean McTaggart for 476 passing yards against Jersey Shore in the state semifinals. According to our records, that’s the third-best single-game passing performance in L-L League history, dating back to 1972. Did we miss some along the way? Perhaps. But the list is pretty solid, with now nine known 400-yard passing games in league annals. The list …
530 yards — Joey McCracken, Warwick vs. Wilson in 2018 (11-of-21, 5 TD)
506 yards — Zakee Sailsman, Lebanon vs. Hempfield in 2017 (34-of-46, 4 TD)
476 yards — Sean McTaggart, Lampeter-Strasburg vs. Jersey Shore in 2020 (24-of-47, 4 TD)
429 yards — Grant Stoltzfus, Conestoga Valley vs. Lampeter-Strasburg in 2014 (25-of-40, 4 TD)
428 yards — Mark Pyles, Lebanon vs. Elizabethtown in 2013 (21-of-33, 6 TD)
428 yards — Todd Shelley, Lampeter-Strasburg vs. Conestoga Valley in 2017 (29-of-39, 5 TD)
416 yards — Cole Patrick, Elizabethtown vs. Dover in 2018 (15-of-22, 6 TD)
415 yards — Cole Patrick, Elizabethtown vs. Donegal in 2018 (18-of-25, 4 TD)
415 yards — Tanner Schwilk, Conestoga Valley vs. Lampeter-Strasburg in 2017 (34-of-43, 5 TD)
2. Nobody asked me but … Here are some award-winners from this season:
SECTION 1 MVP: Manheim Township QB Evan Clark completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,505 yards with 18 TD tosses against zero picks in his debut season as the Blue Streaks’ starter. Not too shabby. Runner-up: Wilson QB Kaleb Brown had a dynamic dual-threat season for the section champs.
SECTION 2 MVP: Warwick RB Colton Miller rumbled for 879 yards with a league-best 23 TD runs — in eight games, which is mind-boggling. He was a horse for the section-champ Warriors. Runner-up: Nods to Warwick WR Caleb Schmitz (league-best 43 catches for 777 yards, 6 TD) and Warriors’ OT Nolan Rucci, who helped pave the way for Miller’s magnificent season.
SECTION 3 MVP: L-S QB Sean McTaggart was simply spectacular; including three playoff games, he threw for 1,865 yards with 27 TD strikes for the section champs. In three postseason games, McTaggart had 13 TD passes, including that epic 350-yard, 7-TD performance against Conrad Weiser in the D3-4A semifinals, plus his sensational 476-yard, 4-TD night vs. Jersey Shore in the final four. Runner-up: Could have gone any number of ways here — pick an L-S kid, any kid — but a tip of the cap to Garden Spot QB-DB Jesse Martin, who was all over the place on both sides of the ball for the Spartans, who picked up a couple of wins and snapped a 25-game losing skid before seeing their season cut short because of coronavirus.
SECTION 4 MVP: Elco QB-DB Braden Bohannon was excellent for the section champs; he paced the league with 990 rushing yards — becoming just the second QB in L-L history to lead the league in rushing — and he tacked on 17 TD keepers and six interceptions on defense, as Elco won a D3-4A playoff game for the first time in 20 years. Runner-up: Octorara RB-DB Mike Trainor helped the Braves go 6-2 and challenge Elco right down to the wire in the section chase. He rushed for 817 yards with 12 TD jaunts, and he was a stick-machine at safety for Octorara, which had a breakout season in its third year as full-time L-L League members.
3. Nobody asked me but … Here are a few more award-winners from this season:
SECTION 1 TOP COACHING PERFORMANCE: Gotta go with Wilson’s Doug Dahms, who guided the Bulldogs to a 5-0 league run and to their — gulp — 28th L-L League section championship. Things weren’t looking so hot after that 48-7 Week 1 setback vs. Governor Mifflin. But Wilson rattled off six wins in a row and made a — shall we say — really, really strong case for a D3-6A playoff spot. Sorry, West Lawn. I’ll stop there. Runner-up: Rookie skipper George Eager had Hempfield off to a 3-1 start in his debut, and the Black Knights ended up 4-4, but they have everyone’s attention moving forward.
SECTION 2 TOP COACHING PERFORMANCE: Warwick gobbled up its first outright section crown since 1979, and had a perfect season going before coronavirus forced the Warriors to forfeit the D3-5A championship game. That was a stinger. Skipper Bob Locker was out front the whole time, keeping this group together, focused and on the road to the district finals. He also picked up his 100th career coaching victory this fall. Runner-up: Raise your hand if you thought Conestoga Valley would end the season riding a 5-game winning streak and finish up 6-2 overall. Tip of the cap, Gerad Novak.
SECTION 3 TOP COACHING PERFORMANCE: John Manion and his troops had to overcome some obstacles this season — like a coronavirus outbreak in the summer, which cost them plenty of practice time. Heck, Manion beat COVID-19 before returning to guide his squad to the outright section title and to another D3-4A championship. The Pioneers didn’t get the happy ending they were hoping for — falling in the state semifinals for the second year in a row — but it was an unforgettable season nonetheless for L-S, which steamrolled to nine wins and more gold trophies in the case. Runner-up: Garden Spot finally snapped that 25-game losing streak, won a couple of games, and played everybody tough — before COVID cut their season short. Take a bow, Matt Zamperini.
SECTION 4 TOP COACHING PERFORMANCE: What a season for Elco, which captured its first section championship since 2000, and won a D3-4A playoff game before falling to L-S in the title tilt. Bob Miller has a terrific thing going in Myerstown, with three playoff trips in a row, a postseason win, and now an outright section title, the first solo crown in program history. With Miller at the helm, it’s one big, happy family in Raiders’ Country. Runner-up: Must mention two coaches here — Octorara’s Jed King led the Braves to a 6-win season and a second-place finish in the section, and Pequea Valley’s Jeff Werner really got his Braves turned around this season; PV snapped a 23-game losing streak and played everyone extremely tough.
Again, I thank you for playing along and reading these daily notes throughout the fall. I hope I did the 2020 season justice. Fingers crossed for a “normal” 2021 campaign.