Last week was the final warmup before section play opens up this weekend. This is the first real taste we’ll get of what the pecking order may turn out to be in Sections 1-3. People are getting so excited, we’re having another Thursday game this week. Let’s get started.
Last week’s record: 13-5
Overall record: 40-13
THE GAME: Donegal (2-1) at Annville-Cleona (2-1)
THE WINNER: Donegal
THE REASON: The Indians bounced back from their bad loss against Fleetwood by defeating Palmyra 18-14 last week. Now they open up Section Three play with possibly the most important game of the year at A-C this Thursday night. I believe this is the week we see Donegal’s unique Wing-T offense fire on all cylinders with dual threat quarterback Connor Ness and tailback Bryce Sadler. I look for Donegal to control the ball, the clock and eventually, the game.
THE GAME: Elco (1-2) at Pequea Valley (2-1)
THE WINNER: Pequea Valley
THE REASON: The Braves are an overtime victory away from being undefeated but I don’t see Mike Choi’s squad dwelling on the loss heading into this weekend. Both sides of the ball are improveing for Pequea Valley and fans should expect to see quarterback Gabe Allgyer get better each week as he gains more experience in his first year under center. With weapons like Hunter Smith and Austin Fisher at his disposal, I expect Allgyer and the Braves to take care of Elco.
THE GAME: Solanco (2-1) at Lampeter-Strasburg (2-1)
THE WINNER: Lampeter-Strasburg
THE REASON: Pioneers coach John Manion said his team doesn’t need any more “character building” after three straight down-to-the-wire games to start the season. Manion also said that his team needs to have it all “click” so they won’t be in position to just eek out games anymore. Look for the Pioneers offense and defense to play a full game this week to edge out a much-improved Solanco team.
THE GAME: Lebanon (2-1) at Cocalico (2-1)
THE WINNER: Cocalico
THE REASON: The Eagles dropped a heartbreaker against Cedar Cliff last Thursday but will have an extra day of rest/preparation heading into this contest against the Cedars. It will be a tall task for Lebanon to control Cocalico’s veer offense that has the potential to score on every play. I look for the Eagles to score early and often.
THE GAME: Penn Manor (2-1) at Hempfield (3-0)
THE WINNER: Hempfield
THE REASON: Talk about a heavyweight fight. This matchup will go a long way in deciding the top contender to Wilson in Section One this season and I’m going to give the slightest of edge to the home team. The Knights are riding high so far this season with two wins over big players in Section Two (L-S and Manheim Central) and a 22-7 victory over Central York last week. Hempfield’s defense continues to improve and with explosive playmakers on offense like receiver Will Blair and workhorse tailback Devin Washington, I can’t help but pick the Knights.
THE GAME: Garden Spot (3-0) at Lancaster Catholic (1-2)
THE WINNER: Garden Spot
THE REASON: Catholic finished their rough non-league schedule with a convincing win over Littlestown last week while the Spartans stayed undefeated with a 28-26 win over Exeter. The Crusaders are more talented than 1-2 but I’m rolling with Garden Spot simply because of the experience of quarterback Mitch Martin vs the inexperience of Catholic QB Jordan Scott. Martin has 780 passing yards already with 10 touchdowns to just two picks. Scott has improved since week one (4 TDs, 4 INTs) but has yet to have that “breakout performance”. However, if Catholic tailback Nassir Weaver gets going like he did last week, all bets are off.
THE GAME: Manheim Central (2-1) at E-Town (0-3)
THE WINNER: Manheim Central
THE REASON: There isn’t much to explain about this pick. E-Town’s young squad is having trouble putting points on the board (9ppg) and the Barons are averaging nearly 33 points per game. There’s no reason (real or make believe) not to roll with Central here.
THE GAME: Cedar Crest (1-2) at Warwick (1-2)
THE WINNER: Warwick
THE REASON: The Warriors notched their first win of the season over Ephrata last week and hope to keep the momentum going in their first Section One matchup against Cedar Crest. Warwick is going to try to control the clock by running the ball with their experienced O-line and athletic skill position players like quarterback Collin Gibble who also lit up the air last week against the Mounts. The Falcons are yielding 32.6 points per game and while they’ll be able to put up points offensively, they might not be able to keep up with the Warriors.
THE GAME: Manheim Township (1-2) and Conestoga Valley
THE WINNER: Manheim Township
THE REASON: CV almost pulled off an impressive upset over Lampeter-Strasburg last week thanks to a heroic effort by sophomore quarterback Grant Stoltzfus. Now the Buckskins will play host in their first Section One contest to Manheim Township who had a rough go of it in non-league play. I think this game will be a lot closer than some people think but Township is a better rounded team and if they can put the reins on CV’s passing game; they’ll be in great shape to win.
THE WINNER: Northern Lebanon
THE REASON: The Mounts have now been outscored 176-0 throughout their first three games. For their sake, this is hopefully the week they get on the board but it appears that they are a long way away from seriously competing in a game.
THE GAME: McCaskey (1-2) at Wilson (3-0)
THE WINNER: Wilson
THE REASON: This is the first step for Wilson as they try to continue their era of dominance in Section One. While the Red Tornado has some athletic playmakers, I can’t see them keeping pace with the Bulldogs. I expect Wilson to pound the rock early to open up some things for quarterback Jake Templin later on.
THE GAME: Columbia (1-2) at Berks Catholic (3-0)
THE WINNER: Berks Catholic
THE REASON: This is a bad equation for the Crimson tide; The Saints are averaging 46 points per game so far in 2014 while Columbia is allowing over 36 points per game. Though they battled to a one-point victory over Trinity last week, their defense will have to step up big time if they want to win this game.
For more picks, check out the Pigskin Picks by the Lebanon Daily News crew.