Donegal’s AJ McCarty sheds a block from Columbia’s Aiden Gladfelter at Donegal High School on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019.

Here is what we learned about all 24 L-L League football teams in the 18 Week 3 games, as told by our LNP/LancasterOnline reporters:


CEDAR CREST: The Falcons are not a team overlook, regardless of the situation. Underdogs, on the road and trailing by two touchdowns just nine minutes into Friday’s game at York, Cedar Crest found a way to stifle the Bearcats’ high-flying offense. Shutting out York over the final 39  minutes, the Falcons tied the game early in the second half, and won it on Jack Beasley’s 38-yard field goal with 50 seconds left. Tyler Cruz was a main reason, as he controlled the ball, keeping the Bearcats’ offense on the sidelines. Cruz finished with 194 yards on 30 carries, and he was tackles for a loss just one time. — Steve Navaroli

HEMPFIELD: Not only did the Black Knights finish their nonleague schedule with a respectable 1-2 record against a trio of powerhouse programs, but the Hempfield also utilized a hodgepodge of players in key roles to keep pace each and every week. Against Central York, starting QB Tanner Hess and veteran signal-caller Colin Peters split the snaps, with four different running backs getting meaningful carries, as a grueling battle with the Panthers raged on. “I know we were down to our fourth running back and at some point we had to put in another quarterback and move the other quarterback to running back,” Hempfield coach Ron Zeiber said. “We were just bouncing balls all over the place and one of the combinations started to work pretty well. Our kids played hard. They didn’t give up on anything and our linemen, really proud of them, they were getting after it against a very good Central York team.”  — Daryl Simione

MANHEIM TOWNSHIP: After the Blue streaks outscored their opponents 99-13 through the first two weeks of the season, Township ran into its first major test in the form of a Central Dauphin team that held them scoreless through three quarters and led, 3-0, a quarter of the way into the final quarter. But Township answered the adversity, scoring 10 unanswered points with big plays on offense and key stops on defense, passing the early season test that could pay dividends later. A key to the Streaks' success Friday was the week-long work from Joel Miranda, who played Central Dauphin's standout receiver, Nick Chimienti, against Township’s defense in practice. Miranda's scout-team work, said head coach Mark Evans, went a long way in preparing the defense for the challenge. — Tim Gross

McCASKEY: Rookie coach Sam London spent several minutes addressing his players in the postgame huddle on Saturday, after the Red Tornado slid to 0-3 following a 37-13 setback at Reading. London preached staying the course, sticking together and continuing to work hard, now more than ever, after a wonky start and with the Section 1 schedule starting next with undefeated Cedar Crest coming to Lancaster. “The kids want to taste some success, and our job right now is keeping them focused and keeping them together,” London said after his long pow-wow with his players on Saturday. “We’ll keep coaching up the positives and not worry about the negatives. That’s all we can do. It’s coming … but it’s not going to be easy.” Tip of the cap to McCaskey punter Yamere Nixon, who was a serious weapon against Reading, averaging 40 yards per punt on six boots. He pinned the Red Knights deep several times, helping out the Tornado’s defense. — Jeff Reinhart

PENN MANOR: The Comets’ defense held an opponent under 200 yards of total offense for the first time this season, another sign that they are much improved from the outfit that gave up more than 40 points and 400 yards a game last season. The defense also set the table for the offense on Friday, giving Penn Manor starting field possession on Dallastown’s side of the field four times — leading to all three of the Comets’ touchdowns. But when the defense didn’t set up the offense, Penn Manor had trouble moving the ball. Against Dallastown, the Comets ran 36 offensive plays on their half of the field and mustered just 43 yards. Through three games, Penn Manor is averaging just 171 yards of total offense a game. — Will Welliver

WARWICK: The Warriors entered 2019 coming off having split last year’s L-L League Section 1 crown with Manheim Township and Wilson, and winning a district playoff game for the first time in program history. By beating Manheim Central for the first time in 36 years, to the tune of a 37-7 final, Warwick appears ready to take the next step as a program, something echoed by junior blue-chip lineman Nolan Rucci: “Coach talked a lot before the game about hope and belief. Last year we hoped to beat Manheim Township. We hoped to beat all those teams. This year we believe we can win. We believe we can beat all those teams,” he said. By the end of Friday’s game, Warwick’s student section chanted, ‘We want Township.’ They’ll have to wait four more weeks for that matchup, because up next is a trip to Landisville to take on a solid Hempfield squad. — John Walk

WILSON: The Bulldogs are 3-0 for the first time since 2013, and that squad went on to win the D3-4A championship. There was plenty to like about Wilson’s 42-23 win over Spring-Ford. Yes, Rams’ QB Ryan Engro went up top for 408 yards. But Spring-Ford played from behind all night, and had to pass to try and get back in it. Wilson’s rush defense was tough as nails, holding the Rams to 27 yards on 25 carries, a scant 1.1 yards per carry. The Bulldogs also cashed in with a key play in special teams, when Mason Lenart zoomed 95 yards for a kickoff return TD, as the Bulldogs set up next week’s L-L-mandated crossover game against Manheim Central, in West Lawn. Circle that one. — Jeff Reinhart


COCALICO: While the high-flying Eagle’s offense sputtered a bit in a 26-14 win over Governor Mifflin on Friday, the defense stood tall and held the Mustangs, featuring Nick Singleton, a Division 1 blue-chip recruit at fullback, to just 200 total yards. Cocalico forced a pair of turnovers, including one late in the first half that led to the go-ahead touchdown just before the half. “We’re young on the defensive side and they just hung in there and did a great job,” Cocalico coach Dave Gingrich said. “The defense kept us in that game.” — Joel Schreiner

CONESTOGA VALLEY: Bradley Stoltzfus had a pair of TD passes and a pair of TD keepers, and Booper Johnson had two TD runs for the Buckskins, but CV came up just short in a wild and crazy 41-39 setback at Spring Grove on Friday. It was 21-21 at the half, and the Rockets got the final score late for the victory, as the Bucks dipped to 0-3. Stoltzfus hit Zach Fisher for a TD pass for the third game in a row, but the Rockets piled up 350 yards of total offense and won their second game in a row after a Week 1 loss against Lampeter-Strasburg — who the Bucks play on Friday in the Section 2 opener for both teams. That’s also the Lampeter Bowl matchup; CV won it last year, 20-7 over the Pioneers. — Jeff Reinhart

ELIZABETHTOWN: Some teams live and die by their quarterback, and no more is that apparent than with the Bears, who utilize a high-volume passing attack, and that means having a dependable gunslinger. Through two-and-a-half games, sophomore Pat Gilhool fit that mold perfectly. Without him, coach Andy Breault and his staff would have to consider drastically changing the way their offense runs. That's a reality they're facing now. Gilhool suffered a possible concussion midway through the third quarter of E-town's 30-9 loss to Conrad Weiser on Friday, leaving the game with 120 yards, a TD and an interception — which was returned for a touchdown — on 10 for 24 passing, though he was victimized by a handful of drops. Freshman backup Josh Rudy went 0-for-5 afterward, a stat line also hurt by drops. The Bears' rushing numbers have fallen following a nice performance in their opening win against Donegal; they had just 45 yards on 14 carries against the Scouts. As Gilhool waits to see if he'll miss any further action, his teammates and coaches must now consider their next move. — Kyle Morgan

GARDEN SPOT: The Spartans can win, but they need to take advantage of opportunities for all 48 minutes of a game. In Friday's 34-20 loss to Palmyra, Garden Spot did not recover two Palmyra fumbles in the first quarter. Instead of gaining the initiative, the Spartans allowed the Cougars to take an early 20-0 lead. Garden Spot pulled within a touchdown twice but never evened the score. — Dave Bohr

LAMPETER-STRASBURG: The Pioneers can beat teams a lot of different ways. In Saturday’s 49-6 win at West York, L-S ran for four touchdowns, two by Bryan McKim. Connor Nolt threw for three more scores, two of which went to Austin Stoltzfus. Add in a sure-tackling defense, and the Pioneers are ready for Section 2 play. — Steve Navaroli

MANHEIM CENTRAL: The Barons aren’t the juggernaut everyone assumes they’ll be every season, something head coach Dave Hahn admitted after Friday’s 37-7 loss to Warwick. Manheim Central failed to generate much on the ground and struggled to give QB Evan Simon time to throw, as the senior signal-caller was constantly under pressure, leading to two interceptions and four sacks. The 37 points from Warwick are also the most given up in a regular-season game by Manheim Central since L-S beat the Barons 40-27 back on Oct. 16, 2015. And Manheim Central senior linebacker Clay Bedi, the team’s fourth-leading tackler, is out for the foreseeable future, nursing a right ankle injury suffered in Week 2 against Hempfield. Bedi said before Friday’s game he hopes to be back in time for the postseason. The road doesn’t get any easier, either, as the Barons have a trip to undefeated Section 1 powerhouse Wilson on Friday. — John Walk

SOLANCO: Nick Yannutz showed again how important he is to the Golden Mules’ offense. The senior fullback came into the game averaging better than 8 yards per carry, and New Oxford came in looking to stop him. The Colonials did slow him down some in the first half. Yannutz had 40 yards on eight carries before the intermission, but spent most of the first half as a decoy, with QB Grady Unger faking the handoff to Yannutz before scampering around the corner. In the second half, Yannutz took over the game and almost singlehandedly wore down New Oxford’s defense, piling up 86 yards and a touchdown on 13 totes. Any question just how important Yannutz is to Solanco’s attack came when he sat out eight plays in the third quarter after a minor injury. While he was on the sidelines, Solanco ran eight plays, netting just 6 yards. Yannutz carried the ball 11 times for 69 yards once he returned. — Chris Courogen



ANNVILLE-CLEONA: The Little Dutchmen, while their offense moved the ball at times on Friday, coach Matt Gingrich’s group needs to find consistency when it comes to grinding out first downs and ultimately producing points. After scoring on its opening drive against Ephrata, A-C went three-and-out on three straight trips during the pivotal first half ,when the Mountaineers were able to take control. On the other side of the ball, Gingrich certainly couldn’t have been too pleased watching his team give up all of that yardage and points. At 1-2, the Dutchmen are at a crossroads; the good news is that they get a chance to work things out this Friday when they host winless Northern Lebanon. — Todd Ruth

COLUMBIA: Penalties. Penalties. Penalties. The Crimson Tide was whistled for 14 infractions, good for 100 yards of lost acreage in a 28-21 setback against Donegal. Most egregious was an ineligible man down field call that erased a 10-yard, third-quarter TD pass that would have given Columbia the lead.  — Dave Byrne

DONEGAL: The Indians’ ground game is strong. Donegal rushed 52 times for 330 yards with Garrett Blake accounting for 126 yards, two touchdowns and a 2-point PAT conversion run; Mason Ober gaining 121 and a score, including a back-breaking 45-yard run that set up his clinching touchdown; and Joe Fox pitching in with 55 yards and a score. Nudging their way into the picture, Donegal’s defense had its say, keeping Columbia out of the end zone twice in the last five minutes. Conner Ruhl had 2 1/2 sacks and Fox had two interceptions and the key pass breakup as the clock ran out. — Dave Byrne

ELCO: The Raiders tried a new wrinkle Friday, using do-everything junior Braden Bohannon at running back and quarterback. Bohannon did about what he usually does — 118 rushing yards, Elco’s only TD, plus defense, punting, punt returning, etc. —  and the alternate QB, sophomore Cole Thomas, looked capable. But the Raiders still didn’t generate enough attack against Lancaster Catholic, which earned a 28-7 win. The game was closer than the final score looked, and the Raiders are better than their record. Wins are coming. — Mike Gross

EPHRATA: The Mountaineers continued trending upward on Friday as they rolled to a 58-26 victory over Annville-Cleona. After being shutout 61-0 in the season opener against Warwick, Ephrata’s offense has produced 115 points in the last two weeks. Caden Keefer had the best night of his career on Friday, throwing for 380 yards and four scores on an extremely efficient 21-for-23 night, as Ephrata churned out 648 yards of total offense. The Mounts will now play perhaps their most meaningful game in a decade on Friday when they battle unbeaten Lancaster Catholic with first place in Section 3 on the line. — Todd Ruth

LANCASTER CATHOLIC: The Crusaders are young, and now they’re apparently beat up; Catholic was working with a makeshift lineup late in Friday’s game against Elco. Coach Todd Mealy said inexperience and unforced errors have been a bigger issue, and it didn’t get completely solved — five fumbles, seven penalties — against the Raiders. The Crusaders are 3-0, though, and still look like the head of the class in L-L Section 3. — Mike Gross

LEBANON: Junior QB Isaiah Rodriguez captained an effective Air Raid assault on Friday, accounting for five touchdowns in the Cedars' 45-0 win over Pequea Valley. Lebanon's defense, not to be outdone, forced four turnovers — one fumble, three interceptions — and held the Braves' offense to just 87 total yards. If the Cedars can maintain this level of production, they'll be a solid contender in the Section 3 race. — Kyle Kutz

NORTHERN LEBANON: The Vikings were unable to establish any type of offense against Octorara in Friday 35-0 defeat. They had minus-1 yards on the ground in the first and third quarters, and QB Ethan Borcky scrambled outside of the pocket any time he stepped back to pass. Yes, it was a rough one for Northern Lebanon. But chalk this one up to a bad matchup. Look for the Vikings to get their passing game going against a team not quite as strong as Octorara. — John Finger

OCTORARA: The Braves’ defense was particularly stingy in Friday Section 3 victory over Northern Lebanon. Though its defense didn’t score, it put Octorara in position to punch a few in when the game hung in the balance. The Braves scored three touchdowns in the third quarter thanks to their defense keeping them in perfect field position in the 35-0 victory. Octorara also stepped up to make the plays it needed to make when the situation arose. But if there was one element of Friday’s victory that Octorara hopes isn’t a harbinger, it’s the penalties. Octorara was whistled for seven penalties for 80 yards, which kept Northern Lebanon in the game a little longer than it should have been.  — John Finger

PEQUEA VALLEY: Coming off back-to-back losses, the Braves were shutout on Friday by Lebanon, 45-0. PV's defense couldn't stop QB Isaiah Rodriguez, who racked up 166 total yards and five touchdowns. The Braves' offense committed four costly turnovers — one fumble, three interceptions — and amassed a mere 87 total yards. Next week's match-up may be just what the doctor ordered, as PV will face another struggling team out of Section 3, Columbia, which has dropped two games in a row. — Kyle Kutz

More LNP L-L League football coverage