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 …
Three quick takeaways from Friday’s District 3 playoff games:
1. The rematch more than lived up to the hype when Warwick visited Manheim Central for a much-anticipated D3-5A quarterfinal-round showdown. The Barons were out for some payback after the Warriors pinned a 37-7 setback on Central back in Week 3. But Warwick made it 2-0 this season against their backyard rivals, when Tanner Haines drilled the game-winning 17-yard field goal as time expired. Adam Martin set it up with a blocked punt with less than two minutes to play, and the Warriors advanced to next week’s D3-5A semifinals vs. another L-L League foe, Cocalico. And guess who Warwick’s annual August scrimmage partner just happens to be? Yep, the Eagles. They’ll meet for keeps with a trip to the D3-5A finale on the line next week. It was the third playoff win in the history of Warwick’s program, and this will be the Warriors’ deepest postseason trip to date. For Central, no three-peat; the Barons had won the previous two D3-5A crowns, and were angling for a fourth straight trip to the district finals. Central’s 32 D3 trips, 59 D3 wins and 18 D3 championships are all still records. But Martin and Haines delivered in absolute crunch time against the Barons, sending Warwick to victory lane. It was the Warriors' 10th victory this season — a single-season program record.
BONUS NUGGET: We have Central senior QB Evan Simon at 8,078 career passing yards, which will put him at No. 2 in L-L League history. Simon passed Lampeter-Strasburg grad Bear Shank (8,012 yards) in what turned out to be his swan song on Friday. Simon passed for 214 yards and rushed for 102 yards — including a simply jaw-dropping 64-yard TD keeper — against Warwick. Alas, Central was eliminated, putting a capper on Simon’s outstanding prep signal-calling career in Manheim. Just a hunch, but he very likely has some postseason all-star games coming up in his future (including the Big 33, perhaps?). With Simon’s stats in the books, Lancaster Catholic grad Kyle Smith’s league passing mark (8,545 yards) is safe — for now. If there is someone who could challenge it, it just might be Warwick junior Joey McCracken, who went over 2,600 yards this season on Friday vs. Central, and he’s closing in fast on 5,000 career yards — with at least one more game to play this season (and all of 2020). Stay tuned.
ANOTHER BONUS NUGGET: Kinda scrambling around for this at a late hour, but here's an interesting factoid — Warwick went 2-0 against Manheim Central this season. Who was the last team to go 2-0 against the Barons in the same season? Lampeter-Strasburg, back in 2010: The Pioneers won 27-24 in a Section 2 game in Lampeter, and L-S won again, 25-20, in a D3-3A playoff game, also in Lampeter.
2. Had an inkling that the bye week wouldn’t hurt top-seeded Cocalico, and it didn’t: Eagles 42, Governor Mifflin 14, as Noah Palm continued his scintillating senior season with four more TD runs. Cocalico had some nagging injuries, so coach Dave Gingrich was able to use the two weeks to get some players off their feet. The Eagles shook off whatever rust they did have pretty quickly vs. Mifflin, piling up 293 rushing yards while holding the Mustangs to 99 rushing yards and nine first downs. It’s the second time the Eagles beat the Mustangs this season, as Friday’s games were littered with rematches. Cocalico vs. Warwick next. The winner goes to the D3 finals; the loser is out.
3. We also had an inkling that L-S — thanks to its rugged schedule, and a couple of close-calls against said slate — would be A-OK against undefeated, top-seeded York Suburban on Friday. Even on the road, in hostile territory. End result: L-S 27, Suburban 18, as the Pioneers punched their tickets to next week’s D3-4A semifinals opposite old playoff foe Bishop McDevitt. With leading rusher Bryan McKim hobbled — L-S with the injuries this season, oh brother — Alex Knapp had a big night running the ball, and Jacob Kopelman popped a kickoff return 84 yards for a TD for the Pioneers, who will have their playoff dancing shoes on for another week, after slaying a 1-seed.
FYI: 4-2 with the picks on Friday (won Harrisburg, Cocalico, L-S and Middletown; lost Manheim Township and Manheim Central). Now 129-27 overall with the selections for 2019.
Don’t forget: Annville-Cleona at Wyomissing in a D3-3A semifinal-rounder on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Much more about this weekend’s games — including Helmet Sticker winners, notes and stats — plus a look ahead to next week’s matchups coming up soon.