Oh, what a wonderful time of the sports year. Week 1 of the high school football season is a time when teams around the county are full of hope while sporting the same 0-0 record when they run through their respective banners Friday night.
With the excitement of Week 1 also comes the excitement (for me, at least) of the return of “Bold Predictions”.
Last year, I sported a respectable 93-30 record and I’m hoping to improve on that this year.
That being said…let’s roll…
THE GAME: Lampeter-Strasburg at Hempfield
THE WINNER: Hempfield
THE REASON: I went back and forth on this one for a while and actually changed my pick from L-S to Hempfield earlier in the week. There are plenty of storylines for both teams headed into this game but when it comes down to the play on the field, the Black Knights might have a slight edge in the trenches. Hempfield squeaked out a 38-35 win over L-S in Week 1 last season and it wouldn’t surprise me if this one came down to the wire as well.
THE GAME: Manheim Central at Warwick
THE WINNER: Manheim Central
THE REASON: For the first time in over three decades, someone other than Mike Williams will be heading the sidelines for Manheim Central when Dave Hahn leads the Barons into Lititz on Friday. Look for Central to set the tone early with tailback Damon Camacho, win the time of possession game and eventually grind down the Warriors.
THE GAME: Cedar Cliff at Penn Manor
THE WINNER: Penn Manor
THE REASON: The last time these two teams met was a year ago across the pond in Ireland in which the Comets pulled out a 27-20 victory. This season, the two teams will meet in the friendly confines of Biemesderfer Stadium in Millersville. Expect Penn Manor to give Cedar Cliff a heavy dose of runningbacks Jamal McCaskell and Carter Kinser and try to control the clock. If Penn Manor can avoid turning the ball over, they’ll be in a position to win this game.
THE GAME: Cocalico at Daniel Boone
THE WINNER: Cocalico
THE REASON: The Eagles took care of Daniel Boone twice last year (once in Week 1 and again in the playoffs) and I’m picking them to keep that trend going. This will give us a glimpse at how Cocalico’s new-look offensive line will play but quarterback Dante Haines has expressed that he has something to prove this season after tearing his ACL last year. I expect him and tailback DJ Fabiani to have a big game against the Daniel Boone defense.
THE GAME: Columbia at Eastern York
THE WINNER: Eastern York
THE REASON: Columbia is looking to turn the page this season under new coach Anthony Sottasante but it might be too tough to go on the road Week 1 against a rival team like Eastern York. The Golden Knights defeated Columbia 35-14 in their matchup in 2014 and while Columbia has a chance to better in 2015, it might take some time for them to gel properly.
THE GAME: Conestoga Valley at Ephrata
THE WINNER: Conestoga Valley
THE REASON: The Buckskins rolled Ephrata, 70-0 in Week 1 last year and while the score may not be that lopsided in 2015, I just can’t pick against quarterback Grant Stoltzfus and company in this one.
THE GAME: Dallastown at Lancaster Catholic
THE WINNER: Dallastown
THE REASON: If the Crusaders can clean up their knack for committing penalties and turnovers at the worst possible time, I truly believe they will surprise some people this year. But without seeing that they are able to be more consistent yet, I have to give the nod to Dallastown. The Crusaders had 104 penalties yards in their 35-14 loss to Dallastown last year.
THE GAME: Donegal at E-Town
THE WINNER: Donegal
THE REASON: In a true rivalry game, records and expectations don’t mean much. The Bears proved this two years ago when they upset the Indians, 20-6. Donegal responded emphatically in 2014 with 34-6 victory. While some think the Indians will have an uphill battle this season, the Bears will also have a lot on their plate as new coach Bill McDonald tries to erase the bad taste of an 0-10 season last year. Barring an abundance of bad turnovers, I believe Donegal’s run-heavy offense will produce enough points to handle the Bears.
THE GAME: Garden Spot at Twin Valley
THE WINNER: Garden Spot
THE REASON: The Spartans have plenty of questions to answer in 2015 but a game against Twin Valley, who has just six wins in the past five years, might just be what they need to gauge what they have. Garden Spot defeated Twin Valley, 34-6 last year and led 28-0 at halftime.
THE GAME: Harrisburg at JP McCaskey
THE WINNER: Harrisburg
THE REASON: McCaskey isn’t a team short of playmakers, which makes them dangerous in any matchup. However, the Red Tornado will have to tighten up their defense if they want a chance in this game. Harrisburg downed McCaskey, 46-21 last year.
THE GAME: Oxford at Solanco
THE WINNER: Solanco
THE REASON: This is another highly contest out of conference rivalry that regularly comes down to the wire. The Mules get to open their 2015 season at home and with a number of veterans returning and second-year coach Anthony Cox preaching discipline all offseason, I don’t expect Solanco to suffer too many first game jitters.
THE GAME: Wilson at Governor Mifflin
THE WINNER: Wilson
THE REASON: It’s always a treat to see two of the best teams in District 3 (Class AAAA) duke it out on opening night. The Bulldogs squeaked out a paper thin 35-34 win last year, but yielded more points to the Mustangs than any other team for the rest of the season. I’m rolling with Wilson on this one because I think the mixture of the Bulldog defense and a completely fresh Shane Dantzler in the backfield will be enough to edge Mifflin again.
THE GAME: Manheim Township at Central Dauphin
THE WINNER: Manheim Township
THE REASON: CD has had Township’s number for the past five years on Week 1, including a 34-27 overtime decision last year. With the Streaks looking to take the next step in Section One this year, a good way to start that process would be changing their trend in Week 1. Look for a new, balanced offensive attack from Township to get the job done.
THE GAME: Pequea Valley at York County Tech
THE WINNER: Pequea Valley
THE REASON: If The Braves plan on registering their first winning season in school history, they’ll have to have a good performance when they hit the road for a Saturday game against YCC. It will be interesting to see how the transition of Gabe Allgyer to fullback and Jordan Lapp to quarterback plays out on the field but I think this will be a good way to gauge how ready Pequea Valley is to start being a real player in the L-L.
Lebanon County Picks
Annville-Cleona at Biglerville
Elco at Hamburg
Lebanon at Cedar Crest
Pine Grove at Northern Lebanon