It’s the beginning of September, which means it’s time to kick the dirt off the tires and crank start the 2016 edition of “Bold Picks” for the 2016 L-L Football season. With three L-L teams in action last weekend, I start my 2016 campaigning with a 3-0 record, something you readers should not get used to. Either way, let’s break out the pigskin and make some picks.
Record last week: 3-0
Overall record: 3-0
THE GAME: Red Land (1-0) at Cocalico (0-0)
THE WINNER: Cocalico
THE REASON: Red Land is coming off a monumental upset win over perennial powerhouse Bishop McDevitt on opening weekend, which either means the Patriots can continue riding that momentum or fall flat after such an emotional win the week before.
I’m predicting the latter. With Cocalico opening up their season at home, they’re hungry to start off their bounce-back season with a win. While both teams are going to try to run the ball, I can see Cocalico controlling the clock with their veer offense and edging out Red Land for the win.
The L-L guys break down three interesting matchups in the Lancaster-Lebanon League for Week 1. Video by John Buffone
THE WINNER: Central Dauphin
THE REASON: While there’s no doubt that Township will be a formidable squad in 2016, a road trip to Central Dauphin in Week 1 is quite the tall task. CD is returning dual-threat quarterback AJ Millar along with plenty of other contributors on offense that helped the Rams defeat Township, 42-12 in 2015.
THE GAME: Hempfield (0-0) at Dallastown (0-0)
THE WINNER: Hempfield
THE REASON: While it might take the Knights a few weeks to really gel, I’m confident in their ability to control both lines of scrimmage to create opportunities for their playmakers.
THE GAME: Ephrata (0-0) at Conestoga Valley (0-0)
THE WINNER: Conestoga Valley
THE REASON: The Mounts are hoping to put their losing ways behind them with first-year head coach Kris Miller but they’ll have their hands full with CV quarterback Grant Stoltzfus and the Buckskins’ air attack.
In their matchup in 2015, Stoltzfus threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns.
THE GAME: Governor Mifflin (0-0) at Wilson (0-0)
THE WINNER: Wilson
THE REASON: When two rivals meet in Week 1, anything can happen. That being said, it’s hard to pick against Wilson at home. This could also be the coming out party for transfer running back Iggy Reynoso. Wilson defeated Mifflin, 14-3 in the season opener in 2015.
THE GAME: Camp Hill (0-0 at Lancaster Catholic (0-0)
THE WINNER: Lancaster Catholic
THE REASON: Camp Hill is coming off a bad 31-0 loss to Palmyra last week and is without star tight end Zack Kuntz, who sat out last week with a toe injury. Without their big target, Camp Hill sputtered on offense while their defense gave up over 200 yards on the ground.
With dual-threat QB Bryan Downey at the helm for Catholic, there could be opportunities for some big plays for the Crusaders.
THE GAME: Eastern York (0-0) at Lampeter-Strasburg (0-0)
THE WINNER: L-S
THE REASON: This will be the first game in the post-Bear Shank era for the Pioneers and they’ll get a solid test from the YAIAA’s Eastern York. I can see both teams wanting to establish a running game early but I like the explosiveness that the Pioneers have in Chad Gaudino and Shane Lawler.
If Eastern keys in on one, the other will have room to flourish. If they fail to contain either, the Pioneers should be in a great position to win the game.
THE GAME: Garden Spot (0-0) at Wyomissing (0-1)
THE WINNER: Garden Spot
THE REASON: If Garden Spot is going to get back into the mix in 2016, a win on the road against Wyomissing would be a good start.
Wyomissing gave up over 250 yards on the ground last week to Pottsville, which is a great omen for Garden Spot tailback Jahad Jeffers.
THE GAME: Columbia (0-0) vs. Neumann-Goretti (0-1) (in Wildwood, NJ)
THE WINNER: Columbia
THE REASON: This is quite an obscure game with each team having to travel out of state to play an afternoon game on Saturday.
If the Crimson Tide can get the running game going, they have a real chance to win this game. Goretti gave up 222 rushing yards and 34 points to Delaware Valley Charter last weekend.
THE GAME: State College (0-0) at McCaskey (0-0)
THE WINNER: State College
THE REASON: If McCaskey can force State College out of their running game, they’ll have an opportunity to stay in the game. It’ll still be a tough task for the Red Tornado to down State College this week
THE GAME: Pequea Valley (1-0) at Kennard-Dale
THE WINNER: Pequea Valley
THE REASON: Unlike my thought process in the Red Land/Cocalico game, I believe Pequea Valley’s emotional 14-13 win over Schuylkill Valley last weekend will give them a boost in their second game.
The Braves had every reason to give up in their opening game but made plays when they needed it. Quarterback Jordan Lapp should get better with every game under his belt so I predict continued success for Pequea Valley this week.
THE GAME: Donegal (0-0) at Elizabethtown (0-0)
THE WINNER: Donegal
THE REASON: Regardless of preseason predictions, this matchup is always an interesting one. While Donegal should and will be the favorite in the game, E-Town should take a step in the right direction in 2016.
Until they prove that however, I’m rolling with Donegal.
THE GAME: Solanco (0-0 at Pottstown (0-1)
THE WINNER: Solanco
THE REASON: Pottstown is coming off a tough 27-6 loss to Sun Valley last weekend but won’t get any sympathy from the Mules.
Despite a lot of new faces, expect the same physical, pounding formula from the Mules’ offense that garnered their success in 2015.
THE GAME: Warwick (0-0) at Manheim Central (0-0)
THE WINNER: Manheim Central
THE REASON: Warwick is going to surprise some teams this year. I don’t Manheim Central is one of them however. Look for the Barons offense to become too much to handle late in the first half or early in the third quarter.
THE GAME: Penn Manor (0-0) at Cedar Cliff (0-0)
THE WINNER: Cedar Cliff
THE REASON: The Comets gave up a ton of yards to Cedar Cliff in their matchup in 2015 so if Penn Manor wants a shot to win this, they’ll have to tighten up on defense.
LEBANON COUNTY PICKS
Cedar Crest at Lebanon
Biglerville at Annville-Cleona
Elco at Susquenita