Hempfield vs Wilson-LL Football

Hempfield's Matt Heuston (21) is smothered by the Wilson defense during first half action of an L-L League Section One football game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.

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

1. What a great start for Wilson, which is humming right along at 4-0, with victories against four 2018 playoff teams: Central Dauphin (D3-6A runner-up), Governor Mifflin (D3-6A quarterfinalist), Spring-Ford (D1-6A qualifier) and Manheim Central (D3-5A champ, PIAA-5A runner-up). The secret to the Bulldogs’ success? Defense. That’s hardly a secret in West Lawn, we know. But Wilson has been pretty gnarly stopping the run and chasing quarterbacks. The Bulldogs’ overall D stats are a little skewed, because pass-happy Spring-Ford went up top for 408 yards in attempting to mount a rally against Wilson back in Week 3. But check the rushing numbers: The Bulldogs have allowed just 247 rushing yards (second-least in the L-L League behind Manheim Township, which has allowed a minuscule 89 rushing yards in four games), and despite that big passing night by Spring-Ford, Wilson is only allowing 272 yards and 16 points a game. That D number is fourth-best in the section; again, take out that big passing number, and coach Doug Dahms and his Bulldogs — who are giving up a scant 2.2 yards per carry — would likely be at or near the top. Key cogs have been the linebackers, who are all doing major damage: A.J. Futrick (28 tackles, 2 for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery), Anthony Koper (24 tackles, 1 for loss), Avanti Lockhart (20 tackles, 5 for losses, 4 sacks) and Nate Hoekstra (8 tackles, 2 for loss) can all swarm and drop unsuspecting ball-carriers with the best of them. Wilson hits the road to Millersville on Friday to face Penn Manor (0-1, 1-3) in a Section 1 tilt. The Bulldogs host undefeated Manheim Township next Friday — hang a couple of stars next to that one — before welcoming Warwick (4-0) on Oct. 11 and playing at Cedar Crest (4-0) on Oct. 18. Will Wilson’s defense carry the day yet again? That group certainly has been razor-sharp so far.

L-L LEAGUE FOOTBALL STANDINGS, STATS

2. Exhale, Myerstown. Elco finally cracked the win column last week, compliments of a hard-fought 14-6 victory over Octorara. That came on the heels of three gut-punch losses: 21-19 against Susquenita, when the Raiders rallied out of a 21-0 hole, and nearly tied the game and forced OT with time running out; 14-9 against Lebanon, when the Cedars got an Isaiah Rodriguez to Andrew Bowers TD pass with five seconds to go to stun Elco; and 28-7 against undefeated Lancaster Catholic, when the Raiders were much sharper than last year’s 48-0 setback against the undefeated Crusaders. Our Mike Gross wrote after that Catholic game that Elco was the best winless team in the area. Coach Bob Miller and his Raiders, fresh off their first D3 playoff performance last fall for the first time since 2009, never sulked and kept working. It paid off with the dub over Octorara, which was coming off a shutout victory the previous week. Up next for Elco is a bus ride over to Fredericksburg on Friday to take on Northern Lebanon. The key matchup there: Elco’s defense (third-best in Section 3, allowing 245 yards a game) against Northern Lebanon’s big-play offense; Vikings’ QB Ethan Borcky had a 347-yard, 3-TD night last week in a 49-20 setback against Annville-Cleona. But Northern Lebanon saw its losing skid hit eight games in a row. With a victory under its belt, Elco knows the pressure is finally off, and now the Raiders would love to go on a run and make some noise in the Section 3 hunt — and perhaps make a return trip to the postseason.

3. WEEK 5 PICKS

Ran the table last week for the first time this season — a 12-0 record in the picks department. Will that streak continue this time around? We shall see …

LAST WEEK: 12-0

OVERALL: 53-15

Warwick over McCaskey

Wilson over Penn Manor

Cedar Crest over Hempfield

Manheim Township over Cedar Crest

Manheim Central over Elizabethtown

Lampeter-Strasburg over Garden Spot

Octorara over Pequea Valley

Lancaster Catholic over Lebanon

Donegal over Ephrata

Annville-Cleona over Columbia

Elco over Northern Lebanon

Solanco over Conestoga Valley (Saturday)

TWITTER: @JeffReinhart77

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