L-L Football bold predictions: Week 1
The time has come for me to face even more public ridicule as I begin my 2014 version of “Bold Predictions”.
The first few weeks are always the roughest because it’s hard to tell how a team will rebound after losing a group of seniors and how players will react to new roles. Throw in all of the out of league games and sometimes this is like flipping a coin.
That being said, I’m currently undefeated. Don’t get used to it. Let’s roll.
THE GAME: Penn Manor vs Cedar Cliff
THE WINNER: Penn Manor
THE REASON: This week one matchup has a special twist to it by taking place across the Atlantic in Dublin Ireland. The Comets are entering the season with a lot of experienced players including senior quarterback Tanner Erisman who coach Todd Mealy called the most cerebral quarterback he has ever had at Penn Manor. Mealy also has a lot of international traveling experience and will be able to properly prep his kids while dealing with a five-hour time difference in the Emerald Isle. Though Cedar Cliff is looking for some retribution after Penn Manor booted them from the playoffs, I like the Comets to leave the Land of Saints and Scholars with a win.
THE GAME: Warwick at Manheim Central
THE WINNER: Manheim Central
THE REASON: The Barons kick off coach Mike Williams’ final season in a section crossover game with a Warwick squad that is trying to revamp its identity. Bob Locker is determined to shorten games by running the ball a lot more than last year in order to keep games as close as possible. While that may keep things tight in the first half, I expect the mixture of Barons quarterback Tony Staffieri and fullback Justin Moreno to wear down the Warriors defense and pull out a win.
THE GAME: Solanco at Oxford
THE WINNER: Solanco
THE REASON: This out-of-league rivalry went in Oxford’s favor last season by a score of 16-6. Solanco is entering this season with a new attitude under first-year coach Anthony Cox and is also coming in with experienced player such as quarterback Noah Mccardell and tailback Robbie Hassel. I think the Mules start 2014 out strong with a notch in the win column.
THE GAME: York County Tech at Pequea Valley
THE WINNER: Pequea Valley
THE REASON: Another first-year coach gets his initial taste of L-L football when Mike Choi and the Braves host York County Tech. Pequea Valley is determined to get over the .500 threshold this season and have the weapons (quarterback Gabe Allgyer and fullback Hunter Smith) to handle the Spartans on Friday. There’s too much excitement surrounding the new-look Braves for me not to pick them here. Pequea Valley defeated Tech, 42-16 in last season’s contest.
THE GAME: Hempfield at Lampeter-Strasburg
THE WINNER: Hempfield
THE REASON: Both teams are coming off playoff seasons and match up well against each other. It will be interesting to watch how much Pioneers junior quarterback Bear Shank has progressed since last year but I’m still taking the Black Knights to win. With playmakers on offense like tailbacks Devin Washington and Caleb Jean-Louis and receiver Will Blair, the Knights have a lot of different ways to light up the scoreboard. A lot will depend on how junior quarterback Sam Kramer reacts to his role running the Hempfield offense however. The Knights handled the Pioneers, 40-7 last season.
THE GAME: Twin Valley at Garden Spot
THE WINNER: Garden Spot
THE REASON: The Spartans lit up Twin Valley, 48-3 in the season opener last season and had a commanding 41-0 lead at halftime. Quarterback Mitch Martin had five touchdowns in the game and while he lost a good amount of lineman to graduation, I expect him to lead another dominating performance this time around.
THE GAME: Ephrata at Conestoga Valley
THE WINNER: Conestoga Valley
THE REASON: The Buckskins got the best of the Mounts last season, 17-13 and I’m picking them to do it again this year. With a year under his belt, CV sophomore quarterback Grant Stoltzfus is primed to take the next step in his progression and help his team move forward. While Ephrata should be able to scratch together some wins in Section Three this season, I don’t see them being able to take a section crossover game with the Buckskins.
THE GAME: Elizabethtown at Donegal
THE WINNER: Donegal
THE REASON: Here’s a rivalry game sporting the favorite in Section Three and an underdog in Section Two. I’m rolling with the Indians in this one because their attacking Wing-T offense that should really keep an inexperienced E-Town defense off-balanced.
THE GAME: Daniel Boone at Cocalico
THE WINNER: Cocalico
THE REASON: The Eagles are ready to hush the haters who have been harping on the fact that they lost 22 seniors from last year. With junior Dante Haines taking over at quarterback, expect the Cocalico veer offense to continue to work like a well-oiled machine. Cocalico’s 2014 quest for respect starts with a win over Daniel Boone.
THE GAME: Eastern York at Columbia
THE WINNER: Columbia
THE REASON: The Crimson Tide got the best of Eastern York last year by a score of 25-21 and I’m picking a similar outcome this season. Although there is some uncertainty on the line, Columbia has enough experienced skill position players (including senior quarterback Kyle Warfel) to defeat the Golden Knights.
THE GAME: Lancaster Catholic at Dallastown
THE WINNER: Dallastown
THE REASON: The Crusaders are looking for more consistency from the quarterback position this year. Bruce Harbach decided on sophomore Jordan Scott to take the snaps this year but it will probably take a week or two for the new starter to get fully comfortable. That’s something that heavily favors Dallastown. The Wildcats defeated Lancaster Catholic, 21-6 last year.
THE GAME: Central Dauphin at Manheim Township
THE WINNER: Central Dauphin
THE REASON: The Rams got the best of the Blue Streaks last year in the season opener and I can see it happening again. Most of Central Dauphin’s stingy defense is returning and could stifle a lot of Blue Streaks’ drives. Township has the tools to be a very good football team this season and if the skill players have progressed to their potential, I could be dead wrong about this pick.
THE GAME: Governor Mifflin at Wilson
THE WINNER: Wilson
THE REASON: In the history of this blog I have never picked against Wilson and it has fared pretty well for me. While this is a solid rivalry, Wilson’s defense is over-intimidating while its offense isn’t short of capable playmakers. Chalk up win one for the Bulldogs.
THE GAME: McCaskey at Harrisburg
THE WINNER: Harrisburg
THE REASON: I truly believe McCaskey is going to surprise some people this year after going 0-10 is 2013 but I think it may take a few weeks for the personnel to gel properly. The firepower is there for the Red Tornado but they may misfire a couple times before they figure it out.
Lebanon County Picks
Biglerville at Annville Cleona
Northern Lebanon at Pine Grove
Cedar Crest at Lebanon
Hamburg at Elco