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John Buffone and Pat Huggins break down four Week 8 matchups in the Lancaster-Lebanon League. Video by John Buffone

A wacky Week 7 has set up an ultra-important Week 8 in the Lancaster-Lebanon League. With just three regular season games remaining, section races and playoff hopes are approaching the boiling point.

Record last week: 6-6

Overall record: 70-33

Winning percentage: 68%

THE GAME: Lampeter-Strasburg (5-2, 2-2) at Cocalico (5-2, 4-0)

THE WINNER: Cocalico

THE REASON: This is a big game for a number of reasons.

After slipping by E-Town, 31-30 last week, the Pioneers will have to win to stay relevant in the Section Two race while Cocalico wants to stay the lead dog with an unblemished section record.

I have to roll with the home team in this one. Once again, the Eagles had a good defensive performance against Garden Spot last week; allowing just six second half points and creating a turnover late in the game to seal the deal.

On the offensive side of the ball for Cocalico, expect another heavy dose of “The Bru-dozer”, Brandon Brubaker sprinkled with some big runs to the outside from Colton Goodman.

THE GAME: Cedar Crest (4-3, 2-2) at Manheim Central (6-1, 3-1)

THE WINNER: Manheim Central

THE REASON: The Falcons have lost two straight games but they probably won’t get much sympathy from the Barons. After dropping their first game of the season two weeks ago to Cocalico, the Barons bounced back with a 55-0 victory over Ephrata last Friday.

This should be a tight game early but look for the Manheim Central offense to pull off some big plays as the game progresses.

THE GAME: Elizabethtown (4-3, 1-3) at Garden Spot (4-3, 2-2)

THE WINNER: Garden Spot

THE REASON: Both of these teams are coming off losses and really need a win this week to keep their season going in the right direction.

Garden Spot saw the return of tailback Jahad Jeffers last week in which he rushed for over 100 yards. He should feel even more comfortable in his second week back, which could mean a big offensive performance for the Spartans.

THE GAME: Solanco (3-4, 2-2) at Ephrata (0-7, 0-4)

THE WINNER: Solanco

THE REASON: The Mules are looking rejuvenated after back-to-back wins over L-S and Cedar  Crest. I expect them to keep the momentum going this week when they roll into Ephrata to take on a Mounts team that is giving up a lot of yards on the ground.

THE GAME: Conestoga Valley (4-3, 2-2) at Hempfield (2-5, 2-2)

THE WINNER: Hempfield

THE REASON: The Black Knights have won two of their past three games and are trending upwards. I like the playmaking abilities of Mark Himmelsbach and David Martin-Robinson, whether they’re under center or otherwise.

THE GAME: Manheim Township (5-2, 3-1) at Wilson (6-1, 4-0)

THE WINNER: Wilson

THE REASON: This heavyweight bout lost a bit of luster after Township was upended by Warwick last week but that won’t make this any less of a slugfest.

Both of these teams are going to try to establish the run game early and set the tone for the duration of the game and both Wilson’s Iggy Reynoso and Township’s Grayson Sallade should see a big workload in this one.

I like the Bulldogs in this matchup because of their defense. Since their September 9 loss to Central Dauphin, Wilson has only given up 10.5 points per game.

And while I don’t foresee it being a factor, there is always a possibility of Township coming in flat after an emotional loss.

THE GAME: Penn Manor (2-5, 2-2) at Warwick (5-2, 3-1)

THE WINNER: Warwick

THE REASON: With their dramatic, last-second win over Manheim Township last week, Warwick has snuck into the District 3 Class 6A playoff picture.

I’m picking them to stay there by re-focusing and defending their home turf against Penn Manor this week.

Although the Comets held Conestoga Valley to just seven points last week, I like Warwick’s offense to get humming early with quarterback Tyler Trimarchi at the helm.

THE GAME: McCaskey (2-5, 0-4) at Lebanon (1-6, 0-4)

THE WINNER: McCaskey

THE REASON: One of these teams is going to get their first section win this week and I’m rolling with the Red Tornado.

Since section play began, the Cedars have given up 53 points per game.

THE GAME: Lancaster Catholic (4-3, 2-1) at Columbia (0-6, 0-4)

THE WINNER: Lancaster Catholic

THE REASON: The Crusaders are coming off a huge, emotional win over Pequea Valley last week to close down Rossmere Stadium.

In that game, Bryan Downey looked like a man possessed; scoring six total touchdowns and I expect that fire to keep burning this week against Columbia.

The Crimson Tide are giving up points in bunches this year and will have a hard time containing Catholic’s offense unless they create some turnovers.

THE GAME: Donegal (3-4, 3-0) at Pequea Valley (4-3, 1-2)

THE WINNER: Pequea Valley

THE REASON: The Braves were caught up in an emotional whirlwind last week. Even head coach Mike Choi admitted that his team was a little too caught up in the moment before getting leveled, 45-0 at Lancaster Catholic.

With that game out of their system, look for the Braves to get back into their comfort level at home this week when they host a Donegal team that is coming off a 20-14 loss to Hazleton.

Braves tailback Connor Horst couldn’t get going against Catholic’s defensive front last week so look for Pequea Valley to throw in some wrinkles this week to get the ball in his hands a little more.

Lebanon County Pick

Northern Lebanon at Elco

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