The Lancaster-Lebanon teams had a solid showing in the first round of the District Three playoffs last week with six teams advancing to the second round. There’s no time to sit and reflect however with an array of interesting and tough games for L-L teams that include two inter-league matchups. Despite going a perfect 8-0 in first round predictions, I also have no time to bask in any sense of glory and will hope to keep my momentum rolling in the next round.
LAST WEEK: 8-0
THE GAME: No. 9 Penn Manor (9-2) at No. 1 Wilson (11-0)
THE WINNER: Wilson
THE REASON: This is the matchup I’ve been rooting for. The Comets held a fourth quarter lead over Wilson during their October 25 Section One game only to see the Bulldogs score 14 answered points and snatch away a victory. Wilson had a solid 44-6 win in their first round game against Manheim Township despite not having starting quarterback Matt Timochenko. Junior Jake Templin filled in nicely for Timochenko; completing 10-of-15 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown while John Raifsnider and Matt Close led a Bulldogs rushing attack that put up 221 ground yards. Timochenko has been battling mono but was medically cleared to play this Tuesday and is expected to start. Meanwhile the Comets needed a late-game surge to defeat no. 8 Cedar Cliff, 35-34 in a very exciting game. While I think the Comets are playing some of their best football of the year, I simply can’t predict the dethroning of the Bulldogs at home.
THE GAME: No. 10 Hempfield (8-3) at No. 2 Cumberland Valley (9-2)
THE WINNER: Hempfield
THE REASON: Styles make fights in all heavyweight matchups. In this particular matchup; I like the road warrior Black Knights. Hempfield has won four straight road games heading into this weekend and gained momentum by defeating Central Dauphin, 17-7 last Friday. Cumberland Valley however, squeezed out a 27-23 victory over no. 15 Harrisburg. The Black Knights will have to contain the Eagles strong backfield combo of senior Tyler Updegraff and Tyler Heisy. Updegraff rushed for over 1300 yards and ten total touchdowns this year while Heisy approached 700 yards but had 23 touchdowns. The reason I like Hempfield is because of their ability to contain such runners with their immense line (both defensive and offensive). If the Knights can force Cumberland Valley into some third and longs, they can put some serious pressure on quarterback Chris Galbraith who has only attempted 96 passes all year. I picked them to upset last week and I’m picking them to pull off another one this week.
THE GAME: No. 10 SusquehannaTownship (6-5) at No. 2 Manheim Central (11-0)
THE WINNER: Manheim Central
THE REASON: Central was tested in their first round game by L-L foe, Garden Spot but came out on top with a 34-17 victory. Those were the first points the Barons gave up since October 14 against Lampeter-Strasburg. Though the Indians had a nice first round upset over Hershey last week, it will be very difficult to handle tailbacks Marc Royer and Ian Hanselman this week. Even if Susquehanna can contain the run game, the Barons can win through the air if necessary. Central will simply be too much for the Indians this week.
THE GAME: No. 6 Lancaster Catholic (6-5) at No. 3 Cocalico (10-1)
THE WINNER: Cocalico
THE REASON: The Crusaders had a pretty convincing, 49-21 win over Lampeter-Strasburg last week in which tailback Trey Miller rushed for 308 yards and five touchdowns while Cocalico rolled Gettsburg, 43-8 in their first round matchup. Lancaster Catholic has the potential to put up a lot of points but they’re too unpredictable for me to pick them against a Cocalico team with such a dynamic veer offense. I have to give the edge to the Eagles.