The time is here. This Friday kicks off the district playoffs and the L-L League is very well represented. This is a truly exciting time in the sports year because regular seasons don’t mean much now. It’s simply win or go home. Let’s break down this weekend’s L-L games and predict who will survive and advance.
LAST WEEK: 11-1
THE GAME: No. 16 Manheim Township (5-5) at No. 1 Wilson (10-0)
THE WINNER: Wilson
THE REASON: While the Blue Streaks should be proud of making the playoffs, they get the distinct privilege of facing the no. 1 team in the district and L-L foe, Wilson. The status of Bulldogs quarterback Matt Timochenko is very questionable due to a bout with Mono. Even if Timochenko can’t go, Wilson possesses enough firepower on offense with running back John Raifsnider and backup QB Jake Templin to outscore Township. In their meeting on October 18 at Township, Wilson shut out the Streaks by a score of 17-0.
THE GAME: No. 9 Penn Manor (8-2) at No. 8 Cedar Cliff (9-1)
THE WINNER: Penn Manor
THE REASON: After their loss to Lancaster Catholic on September 28 which head coach Todd Mealy called the team’s “worst loss in years,” the Comets went on to outscore their opponents, 209- 75 in their final five games. Penn Manor would have been a much higher seed if they would have held on to a fourth quarter lead against Wilson on October 25 but definitely played better football in the final month of the season. Cedar Cliff meanwhile, was the only team to knock off AAA powerhouse Bishop McDevitt this year and scored over 30 points in nine of their 10 games this season. I’m going with Penn Manor here because of their dynamic running game with Levonta Jones and Charlie Bell. Plus, I really want to see a Wilson/Penn Manor rematch in the next round.
THE GAME: No. 10 Hempfield (7-3) at No. 7 Central Dauphin (8-0)
THE WINNER: Hempfield
THE REASON: I might get a “homer” label here for picking the L-L team but I love the way the Black Knights ended the season; winning three straight away games against Lancaster Catholic (playoff team), Warwick and Manheim Township (playoff team) all in convincing fashion. Hempfield is huge up front and if they can control the line of scrimmage early on, their offense will score enough points to win. Central Dauphin has scored over 35 points just once this year while the Black Knights have done it six times in 2013.
THE GAME: No. 14 Lebanon (7-3) at No. 3 Dallastown (8-2)
THE WINNER: Dallastown
THE REASON: It’s been a great turnaround season for Lebanon who finished 0-10 in 2012. If they can turn this game into a track meet, they’ll have a shot but I still have to go with the Wildcats who are allowing just 13.6 points per game. Throw in the fact that Dallastown is 5-0 at home this year and it’s clear that the Cedars will have a real uphill battle ahead of them.
THE GAME: No. 15 Garden Spot (8-2) at No. 2 Manheim Central (10-0)
THE WINNER: Manheim Central
THE REASON: Though they couldn’t defend their Section Three crown, Garden Spot did qualify for the playoffs while 2013 Section Three winner Donegal did not. That being said, it’s hard to imagine the Spartans being able to keep up with the Barons who allowed just 76 points all season while scoring 535. It’ll be hard for the Spartans to contain the buzz saw that is Manheim Central. Just an added stat: Manheim Central hasn’t allowed a single point since October 14.
THE GAME: No. 14 Gettysburg (6-4) at Cocalico (9-1)
THE WINNER: Cocalico
THE REASON: The Eagles only blemish of the season came after a 24-12 loss to Maheim Central. In all their other games against human teams, Cocalico has outscored their opponents 416-72. Whether it’s quarterback Jhet Janis or tailbacks Spencer Moser and Bran Whittaker, the Eagles should have way too much offense for Gettysburg to handle.
THE GAME: No. 11 Lampeter-Strasburg (5-5) at No. 6 Lancaster Catholic (5-5)
THE WINNER: Lancaster Catholic
THE REASON: This should be a highly-contested game. Lampeter-Strasburg had leads over both Manheim Central and Cocalico this season but was unable to finish. Quarterback Collin Shank is a constant dual-threat is a real challenge to bring down. As for Lancaster Catholic, they gave Wilson all they could handle and upset Penn Manor, 21-20 at the end of September. The Crusaders rested workhorse tailback Nassir Weaver last week against McCaskey so he should be healthy and ready to run the ball early and often this week. I’m going to give the edge to the home team because on the constant progression of Crusaders quarterback Evan Purvis who looks more comfortable every week directing the offense. Purvis took over the starting position in week four and has thrown for over 1200 yards and 16 touchdowns.
THE GAME: No. 8 Annville-Cleona (4-6) at No. 1 Littlestown (10-0)
THE WINNER: Littlestown
THE REASON: The Dutchmen making the playoffs is a great story in itself. That may be where the story ends however. Littlestown is averaging 37 points per game and has allowed just 118 points all season. A-C is going to have a difficult time containing the Thunderbolts running game that collectively eclipsed 2300 yards and 33 touchdowns this year.