Donegal’s Trent Weaver is sacked by Elizabethtown’s Adnan Traore at Donegal High School on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.

Here is what we learned about the 24 L-L League football teams from the first week of games this season, as told by LNP/LancasterOnline reporters who covered all the action:


CEDAR CREST: The Falcons appear to have found themselves a quarterback; at one point early in the second quarter of Friday’s 28-6 defeat of Lebanon, junior Chris Danz was 5-for-5 passing for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Crest’s defense chased Isaiah Rodriguez, Lebanon’s talented junior QB, around all night and kept the Cedars’ speed guys in front of them. One thing we did not learn: whether the Falcons can win on the line of scrimmage enough to compete with the big boys in Section 1. — Mike Gross

HEMPFIELD: The Black Knights’ defense stood out against Dallastown, holding the Wildcats to just three points and 167 yards in a 26-3 triumph. Hempfield also forced two turnovers and got plenty of backfield pressure with 12 Dallastown plays stopping behind the line of scrimmage. The Knights’ offense generated over 400 yards of total offense and scored four touchdowns, but they were also penalized eight times, had three turnovers, and failed to score on three trips into the Red Zone, mistakes that will become costlier later in the season.  — Will Welliver

MANHEIM TOWNSHIP: We knew the Blue Streaks would have the talent coming out of the gates. The question is what the finished product will look like at season’s end. The initial signs are positive, after Township overcame a handful of miscues with regular aplomb during their Week 1 43-6 rout over visiting CD East. “It’s a big relief,” offered offensive player of the game Jaden Floyd, Township’s running back. “But next week is a new week. We’re 0-0 next week, and have to come to work Monday.”  — Daryl Simione

McCASKEY: In its 39-14 loss to visiting Red Lion, McCaskey fumbled the ball five times at the line of scrimmage — recovering it four times — and picked up two illegal procedure penalties in the first half. With a freshman at quarterback, an inexperienced line and just one preseason scrimmage to acclimate to new coach Sam London's scheme, the Red Tornado showed room for improvement. Friday's game also showed flashes of athletes making plays, but McCaskey's development will hit a higher gear when the Tornado can find its footing in the trenches. — Tim Gross

PENN MANOR: We learned a bunch about the Comets. Junior QB Luke Braas is mobile and has a nice arm, connecting with six different players for 176 passing yards on 16-of-28 attempts, two of them TD throws in Friday’s 19-13 season-opening win at Conestoga Valley. Meanwhile, senior bruising back Josh Gibson piled up 101 rushing yards with a score, and he hauled in a 34-yard reception. Credit to the solid blocking from senior lineman Nick Baker, junior O-linemen Peyton Suydam, Austin Miller, and Benjamin Weaver and sophomore Pedro Gomez. On the other side, Penn Manor’s defense appears much improved. After having given up more than 40 points a game last season, the Comets held CV to two scores and less than 100 rushing yards. — John Walk

WARWICK: The Warriors’ defense was expected to be a team strength this season, and it didn't disappoint in Warwick’s 61-0 shutout over Ephrata on Friday night. Coming off a season in which the Warriors had four shutouts and limited opponents to 12.2 points per game, they picked up where they left off, allowing an improved Mountaineers’ team just seven first downs. Caleb Schmitz had a pick-6, Nate Maher knocked down a fourth-down pass, and Warwick's D allowed Ephrata to cross midfield just one time in the first half as the Warriors took a 33-0 lead. — Bruce Morgan

WILSON: Butterflies? What butterflies? Kaleb Brown had a successful debut at QB for the Bulldogs, who held off reigning D3-6A runner-up Central Dauphin 21-13 for a hot start in West Lawn. Brown, a junior, completed a tidy 10-of-13 passes for 82 yards and a TD, and he added a game-icing 5-yard TD keeper for Wilson, which snapped a 4-game losing skid vs. CD. The biggest play Friday came in special teams, when Wilson’s Ethan Capitano recovered blocked punt for a TD to give the Bulldogs an early lead. It was just what Wilson needed, with next week’s game against arch-rival Governor Mifflin on the slate. — Jeff Reinhart


COCALICO: If there was one thing to come out of Cocalico’s 42-15 victory over Conrad Weiser, it’s that Noah Palm is pretty good. Obviously we already knew that. But the senior New Hampshire pledge put his team on his back with his 5-touchdown performance, leading a rather young Cocalico group to an important season-opening win. If those young Eagles can follow his lead and get better each week while learning on the fly, Cocalico should be in the mix once Section 2 play rolls around. In addition, the Eagles’ defense, led by Palm, mammoth senior lineman Brock Gingrich and fellow senior Shawn Fester, also looks to be a strength for Cocalico. Before being pulled late in the third quarter while leading 42-0, the starting defense limited a normally potent Weiser offense to just 94 total yards. — Todd Ruth

CONESTOGA VALLEY: The Buckskins will likely be working on their special teams in practice to correct this list of blunders done in Friday’s 19-13 loss to Penn Manor: A muffed punt-return catch, a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, a muffed kickoff return catch, a blocked extra-point kick, and a costly face-mask penalty on a kickoff. A positive takeaway for the Buckskins is the offense started figuring things out in the second half behind the cannon arm of senior QB Bradley Stoltzfus (169 passing yards, two TDs), mixed in with some designed QB keepers and option pitch plays that led to 78 second-half team rushing yards for CV. — John Walk

ELIZABETHTOWN: The Bears’ defense stood tall in their 17-7, eke-it-win over backyard rival Donegal. E-town’s D snuffed out the Indians’ new-look Wing-T attack, holding Donegal to just 55 rushing yards on 28 carries. That’s 1.9 yards per attempt, and that’s some pretty stout defense. Offensively, newbie QB Patrick Gilhool made his debut behind center, throwing for more than 120 yards. It looks like E-town has found its power back, as Leon Allen had a pair of TD bursts in the second half to help the Bears win it. — Jeff Reinhart

GARDEN SPOT: Matt Zamperini made his return to the sideline for the Spartans, and Garden Spot hung incredibly tough before dropping a 20-14 decision at Daniel Boone. The Spartans had a 7-0 lead and a 14-13 lead before the Blazers rallied for the victory with a pair of third-quarter scores. It looks like QB Jesse Martin — who rushed for 108 yards — has found a new go-to target in Ethan Good, who hauled in a 42-yard TD grab to open the scoring. Good had four catches, but it wasn’t enough, as the Spartans dropped their 11th game in a row.— Jeff Reinhart

LAMPETER-STRASBURG: The Pioneers appear balanced on offense, and they overwhelmed Spring Grove at line of scrimmage — both offensively and defensively. — Mike Pollis

MANHEIM CENTRAL: With just one returning offensive lineman, senior all-star Troy Kolk, the Barons were going to have a baptism-by-fire in the trenches in the season opener on Friday against Susquehanna Township. It took the young linemen 24 hot minutes to catch up to the speed of the game, 24 minutes that imperiled the life of all-state quarterback Evan Simon. But in the end they had enough moxie to finish off the victory. It's just one game, but Central gave up 193 yards to Hanna quarterback Rahsaan Carlton, and 102 on the ground to Jacob Seigle. That will need to be tightened up before Hempfield comes to town next Friday. — Dave Byrne

SOLANCO: Despite heavy losses to graduation, we learned that the Golden Mules are going to be a tough opponent, regardless. Young and inexperienced, Solanco played with tenacity and extreme effort against a very good Northeastern squad on Friday. Nick Yannutz can run from his FB spot, and new QB Grady Unger showed leadership. It’s just a matter of putting things together. — Steve Navaroli


ANNVILLE-CLEONA: The Little Dutchmen need to hold on to the football. A-C turned the ball over eight times in a 48-16 season-opening loss at Milton Hershey. The other key stat, penalties, was not so bad. The Dutchmen were flagged only four times for 25 yards. However, they need to stop the run to their defensive left, regardless of turnovers or flags. The Spartans ran for 255 yards on 41 plays, with several 10-plus-yard bursts going outside to A-C’s left. — Dave Bohr

COLUMBIA: Coming into the season, the Crimson Tide was expected to have an explosive passing attack, and their Week 1 performance confirmed those suspicions. Senior QB Matt McCleary is the real deal. The 6-1 senior has a strong, accurate arm, and he has a host of targets, including 6-2 TE Ryan Redding, who has wideout speed. But the Tide’s running game was none existent in their 35-28 win at Eastern York. Columbia’s running backs carried the ball just five times, gaining a total of five yards, all in the first half. McCleary picked them up by netting 62 yards on 17 keepers. The 225-pounder is not the fleetest of foot, but he has size and he likes to try to run people over. Columbia can ill afford an injury to McCleary. Somebody else is going to have to step up to carry the ground game if they are to reach their goal of a District 3 playoff berth. — Chris Courogen

DONEGAL: The Indians’ Wing-T was hit-or-miss in Donegal’s 17-7 loss against Elizabethtown. The running attack never got up to speed, producing just 55 yards on 28 attempts. But Trent Weaver clicked in the passing department, going up top for 180 yards, including a 54-yard TD lob to Jacob Shoemaker. Odd to see Donegal pass for 180 yards in a game. But with an all new backfield, Weaver felt more comfortable going up top against the Bears. And it worked. But this is Donegal; expect that Wing-T ground attack to start churning out some bigger numbers here soon. — Jeff Reinhart

ELCO: Football is a game of inches. And the Raiders came up about an inch short in their opener at Susquenita on Friday. Trailing 21-0, Elco mounted a second-half charge with 19 unanswered points. And when QB Braden Bohannon scored in the waning seconds, the Raiders attempted a 2-point play to try and tie the game and force OT. But Bohannon came up about an inch short of the goal line, as Susquenita held on for a heart-stopping 21-19 win. The Blackhawks got some payback, after Elco won this matchup 20-0 last year. It wasn’t the W-L result the Raiders wanted in their opener. But they showed a lot of moxie with a second-half comeback, and nearly pulled it off in the end. — Jeff Reinhart

EPHRATA: Mountaineers’ junior running back Miracle Wratto provided a couple of Ephrata’s biggest offensive highlights on Friday in a losing cause against Warwick in the battle for the George Male Trophy. After taking a handoff on a jet sweep, he tossed a 45-yard pass to Sammy Knowles to get Ephrata its initial first down with just under four minutes left in the first half. Later, Wratto’s 23-yard third-quarter run accounted for Ephrata's largest gain on the ground. He finished with a team-high 55 rushing yards on 15 carries. — Bruce Morgan

LANCASTER CATHOLIC: In a preseason interview, Lancaster Catholic offensive coordinator Gordie Eck indicated the Crusaders’ success this season would rely — in part, anyway — on the effectiveness of the offensive line. That unit, made up of Liam Besecker, Trey Wells, Devin Atkinson, Andrew Nicklaus and Robert Anater, got better as the game progressed, allowing a quartet of backs to rush for 269 yards in the Crusaders' victory over Camp Hill. Those rushers were led by Jeff Harley’s 123-yard, three-TD effort. Lancaster Catholic’s defensive backs are in for some film study this week, having surrendered 373 yards in the air. But those D-backs were up against a tough first-week duo in Camp Hill quarterback Daniel Shuster and his receivers, led by Greg LaBine, who caught nine passes for 129 yards. — Kevin Freeman

LEBANON: The Cedars made so many unforced errors — 17 penalties for 116 yards — that it’s hard to see beyond that. But Lebanon plays an unusual, 3-3 defensive front, and that front six looks like it’ll be hard to block in Section 3. Cedar Crest, which fancies itself a running team, managed just 69 yards on the ground. Lebanon’s Air Raid offense had to be content with short, underneath strikes, but they do have a QB, Isaiah Rodriguez, and some guys who can run and make people miss. The Cedars are almost certainly better than they looked Friday night. — Mike Gross

NORTHERN LEBANON: This was not the start the Vikings were hoping for, coming off a 1-9 season and with just 23 players on their preseason depth chart. But it was all Pine Grove on Friday, as the Cardinals charged into Fredericksburg and pinned an opening-night 50-8 loss on NL. It was 50-0 before the Vikes punched in a second-half TD. Back to the drawing board for NL, which gets Ephrata at home next Friday in the Section 3 opener. You’ll recall the Mountaineers topped the Vikes last year to snap their 7-year losing streak. So NL should have payback on its mind. — Jeff Reinhart

OCTORARA: The Braves’ offensive line will cause problems in Section 3. Though it didn’t work out in the end, Octorara showed it will be a handful for teams in Section 3 this season. Glimpses of its running attack, bolstered by its strong offensive line, showed through in Friday tough, 14-13 loss to Pottstown in the season opener. Oftentimes, Octorara’s O-line looked as if it was running downhill, shoving aside the defense as it cleared holes for the backs. Averaging nearly 4.2 yards per carry in the loss, it will be interesting to see what Octorara offensive line — led by senior Colby Wrigley, junior Aidan Ross and sophomores Angel Mauricio and Kaden King — will be able to do against smaller or slower teams in Section 3. — John Finger

PEQUEA VALLEY: Following a 0-10 campaign in 2018, Pequea Valley opened the 2019 season hoping for a fresh start under new head coach Jeff Werner. Instead, the Braves were routed by Kennard-Dale, 55-6. As Coach Werner said, "One game doesn't define a season.” However, if Pequea Valley truly wants to snap its 11-game losing streak, it will need to drastically improve on both sides of the ball. — Kyle Kutz

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