In the second installment of our new Point/Counterpoint series, Pat and Andrew debate which Lebanon County football team - Annville-Cleona, Elco or Northern Lebanon - will fare the best in the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three title race. We know what we think, how about you?
Pat: I'll start things off by saying I like the potential of both Annville-Cleona and Elco, and both could both make my argument look bad. But I'm going with the two-time defending section champs from Northern Lebanon to be the county's best section squad.
Yes, the Vikings were hit hard by graduation, but they bring back a stud running back in Luke Funck, as well as a winning attitude from dominating Section Three the last two seasons. That's a hugely important intangible in my book.
Andrew: And dominate they certainly did. But when I look at Section Three this fall, I see a wide open race; one Annville-Cleona can claim for itself. They'll get the Vikings at home this year, and their toughest section road trip is at Elco. Last season, the Little Dutchmen arguably should've held on in a tough OT loss to the Raiders. Expect A-C to make a significant jump in its second year under coach Matt Gingrich, one that aids most in close contests like that. This is a team on the rise.
Pat: As I said, I like Annville-Cleona's potential. Gingrich is a quality coach and back Cameron Hoch's big-play ability can make A-C a dangerous opponent on most nights. But I believe Northern Lebanon under Roy Wall is becoming one of those programs that reloads rather than rebuilds. I remember thinking they had some holes at the start of last season and look how that turned out.
Hey, and don't forget about Elco, which boasts a beast in the backfield in senior bruiser Tyler Horst. Good luck tackling him.
Andrew: I'm certainly not getting in any line to tackle him. But good luck tackling this A-C team, too. Junior quarterback Noah Myers figures to fill in capably for Adam Fox, while the team as a whole should be even better conditioned after a changed regimen under Gingrich a year ago. There's a reason this team scored at least four touchdowns in eight games, and many of those reasons are back. Combine that with a favorable schedule and the fact they won't endure as much overhaul in the trenches as their rivals, and the Little Dutchmen are ready to roll.
Pat: Admittedly, the schedule should play a very big role in how all of this plays out. And Northern Lebanon's got a very tough three-week stretch in October when it hosts Donegal before back-to-back road matchups with Annville-Cleona and Elco. But I think it'll be physical and tough enough - with just enough of a chip on its shoulder - to get through it.
Andrew: The Vikings certainly could. And as I mentioned at the open, this projects as a wide open race. Just don't lose sight of these Little Dutchmen. There's something to be said for greater comfort with a staff and a system. And when the talent under those pads is enough to compete, like it is at Annville, special things can happen.