For the first time since the league was hatched in 1972, the Lancaster-Lebanon League is set to debut a four-section format in football. Those head-to-head games highlight the Week 2 slate, which kicks off Friday.
The schedule includes a pair of heavyweight, throw-down matchups, including Wilson visiting Manheim Township in Section 1, and Cocalico welcoming Manheim Central for a Section 2 tussle — plus a Saturday tilt mixed in there for good measure.
Here’s a preview of the Week 2 offerings:
Wilson (0-1) at Manheim Township (0-1), 7 p.m.: The Blue Streaks and the Bulldogs are both licking their wounds after Week 1 setbacks, and Wilson is dealing with some early season injury woes to make matters worse; QB Kaleb Brown and RB Mason Lenart both came out of last week's game vs. Governor Mifflin with issues. This has become a fierce rivalry — Township is 3-1 against Wilson since 2017, and the Streaks have at least a piece of the last three Section 1 titles after the Bulldogs dominated the previous nine years — and the winner here gets an all-important leg-up in this year’s race. Key kid: Township QB Evan Clark had a fantastic opener, with 178 passing yards and two touchdowns strikes, and another 80 yards on the ground against La Salle College. Wilson’s D — singed for 355 total yards and 250 rushing yards last week vs. Governor Mifflin — must contain Clark. Hard to believe someone is walking out of this game 0-2. ... And this: It would behoove Wilson's DB's to keep close tabs on Township WR Anthony Ivey; last year, in the Streaks' 30-14 victory in West Lawn, Ivey caught eight passes for an L-L League single-game record 292 receiving yards with a pair of TD snags. He's off to a hot start this season with nine grabs for 107 yards and two scores last week vs. La Salle College.
Cedar Crest (0-1) at McCaskey (0-1), 7 p.m.: Both teams are coming off lopsided losses against Section 2 clubs; the Falcons fell 41-6 to Manheim Central while the Red Tornado suffered a 42-6 setback against Elizabethtown for McCaskey’s 18th loss in a row. The Tornado’s last win against Cedar Crest was back in 2012, and the winner here will get some much-needed positive vibes — and a 1-0 section record — moving forward. Key kid: Falcons’ RB Aadyn Richards rushed for 141 yards last week against Central. McCaskey’s defense, which yielded 388 total yards and 252 rushing yards against E-town last week, can’t let Richards and the Falcons’ O-line find their groove.
Penn Manor (0-1) at Hempfield (0-1), 7 p.m.: A pair of teams looking to pick up the pieces after tough losses last week; the Comets surrendered 43 points and had three turnovers against Warwick, while the Black Knights suffered a gut-punch 41-34 OT loss at Exeter. Hempfield has won five games in a row in this series, and starting Friday, the Comets and the Knights — longtime backyard rivals situated just eight miles apart — will play for the “Battle of 462” trophy. Key kid: Penn Manor RB Isaiah Stoltzfus rushed for 91 yards with a TD against Warwick. Hempfield must keep tabs on him — one week after Exeter piled up 437 total yards vs. the Knights.
Elizabethtown (1-0) at Solanco (0-1), 7 p.m.: The Bears and the Golden Mules were heading in completely different directions coming out of Week 1; E-town forced three turnovers and took care of McCaskey, while Solanco had five giveaways and fell to Lampeter-Strasburg. The Bears are angling for their fifth 2-0 start in a row, and these teams have split their last four meetings, including Solanco’s 28-21 win last fall. Key kid: E-town’s Riley Drager rushed for 76 yards, and he returned an interception 75 yards for a TD against McCaskey. Yes, the Mules’ D will need an inspired effort. But Solanco’s O simply must take care of the ball in this all-important section opener.
Manheim Central (1-0) at Cocalico (1-0), 7:30 p.m.: The Barons will put their sparkling 23-game section unbeaten streak on the line in Denver, where the Eagles — the last team to beat Central in a Section 2 game, back in 2016 — will be ready, willing and waiting. The Barons are 6-0 against Cocalico since that setback, including the 2018 district title game — and last year's wild and wacky 46-43, hold-them-off-at-the-wire win. There’s never any love lost in this rivalry, which has become one of the juiciest matchups in the league in the last decade. Key kids: A pair of rookie quarterbacks in the spotlight in Cocalico’s Carson Nash and Central’s Judd Novak. And yes, it will be weird not seeing Noah Palm or Evan Simon on the field leading their respective teams in this skirmish.
Donegal (1-0) at Lancaster Catholic (0-1), 7 p.m.: The Crusaders have owned this series lately with four wins in a row, including last year’s 32-0 triumph, which knocked the Indians out of the playoff chase. Donegal is feeling fine after decking Annville-Cleona with an inspired defensive effort last week. Catholic is looking to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2017 after a heart-breaking loss against Columbia last Friday. Key kids: Donegal’s Wing-T backfield trio of Mason Ober (73 rushing yards, 3 TDs), Garrett Blake (133 yards, 2 TDs) and Ian Brown (131 yards) helped the Indians gouge out 377 rushing yards last week. Safe to say Catholic’s rush D will be tested in this showdown.
Garden Spot (0-1) at Ephrata (0-1), 7 p.m.: The Spartans and the Mountaineers will clash for the first time since 2017, with Garden Spot looking to snap this maddening 25-game losing skid. Ephrata had a close call with Section 4 favorite Elco last week — the Raiders hung on for a 28-27 W — so the Mounts should also be plenty motivated. Key kid: Ephrata DB Joey Gunzenhauser piled up 16 tackles from his safety spot last week against Elco. Nice to see Garden Spot and Ephrata — longtime backyard foes separated by nine miles of blacktop — back in the same section, right?
Lampeter-Strasburg (1-0) at Lebanon (1-0), 7 p.m.: The Pioneers, who feasted on five takeaways in a win over Solanco last week, and the Cedars, who breezed past Northern Lebanon in their opener, will tangle for the first time since 2015 for an early leg-up in what promises to be an intriguing Section 3 chase. Key kids: Lebanon QB Isaiah Rodriguez passed for 200 yards with a pair of TD strikes, and he scored three rushing touchdowns last week. He’s up to 4,352 career passing yards for the Cedars, who can make a major statement here against the reigning D3-4A champs. Rodriguez, who has plenty of protection up front from five returning O-linemen, must steer clear of L-S DE Parker Owens, who had eight tackles — including three bone-jarring sticks for losses — and a pair of sacks vs. Solanco.
Annville-Cleona (0-1) at Elco (1-0), 7 p.m.: The Raiders snapped a three-year losing skid against the Little Dutchmen with a 35-17 victory last fall, and Elco has some good vibes after rallying past Ephrata in Week 1. A-C, breaking in 20-plus total new starters across the board, struggled in its opening-night setback against Donegal. Key kid: Elco freshman RB Jake Williams rushed for 135 yards and two scores in his varsity debut. Hello, world. A-C yielded 446 total yards vs. Donegal; the Dutchmen can’t let that happen again.
Columbia (1-0) at Pequea Valley (0-1), 7 p.m.: The Crimson Tide hasn’t had a 2-0 start since 2013, and Columbia has some early momentum after rallying past Lancaster Catholic for its first victory over the Crusaders in more than a decade. The Braves went toe-to-toe on the road with Pottsville Nativity BVM last week, but fell just short for their 21st loss in a row. But PV did some good things, most notably RB Tony Lazar, who rushed for 190 yards. Key kid: Columbia RB Steven Rivas rushed for 130 yards and a TD against Catholic. PV’s D must zero-in on Rivas; ditto for the Tide’s defenders, who can’t let Lazar run wild.
Northern Lebanon (0-1) at Octorara (1-0), 7 p.m.: The Braves are angling for their first 2-0 start since they were 3-0 back in 2011, and Octorara is 2-0 against the Vikings since joining the L-L League in 2018. The Braves sailed past Schuylkill Valley with a 40-point night in their opener; it’s back to the drawing board for Northern Lebanon after the Vikes fell to Lebanon. Key kid: QB Nate Shirk is at the controls of Northern Lebanon’s spread offense. He and the Vikes’ O would love a quick start against the Braves, who held Schuylkill Valley to just 55 rushing stripes last week.
Conestoga Valley (0-0) at Warwick (1-0), 7 p.m.: It’s the season opener for the Buckskins, who were idle last week after a COVID-imposed quarantine in the school district. They’ll get a Warriors’ squad coming off a 43-point barrage in a win over Penn Manor, and hoping to have all-state QB Joey McCracken (knee) back under center. Jack Reed threw for 196 yards and a TD in relief vs. Penn Manor. Longtime Warwick coach Bob Locker goes for his 100th career victory against CV, which hasn’t defeated the Warriors since 2015. Key kid: Bucks’ rookie QB Macoy Kneisley makes his debut behind center for CV, which will also be kicking off some rust. Might see Warwick’s defenders pinning their ears back and bum-rushing the backfield in this matchup.