Friday Night Leftovers: Week 1
Friday Night Leftovers, a weekly notebook during the high school football season, returns for its second year on a high note. Lebanon County teams went 4-1 during a Week 1 slate that included an intra-county showdown, the annual Cedar Bowl.
Check out the extra notes and quotes from under the Friday night lights.
Sailsman shines in Cedar debut: Amid the disappointment of a fifth straight Cedar Bowl defeat, the Lebanon High football team still had reason for optimism thanks to the performance of sophomore quarterback Zakee Sailsman.
Sailsman, a Lancaster Catholic transfer, had his share of rough moments, but also plenty of bright ones in the Cedars' 26-14 loss.
Displaying speed and elusiveness in the pocket and a strong arm, Sailsman produced modest statistics - 91 yards passing and a touchdown and 35 yards rushing - but nonetheless impressed observers on both sides of the rivalry, including his own head coach, Gerry Yonchiuk.
"I think the play of Zakee Sailsman," Yonchiuk said, when asked to identify some bright spots on Friday night. "You can tell he's gonna be a great player. He's very electrifying when he has the ball in his hands and he keeps plays alive with his athleticism. I thought that was a real good positive."
Elco follows "tribe" mentality to victory: Last spring, the Raiders baseball team leaned on a new mental approach, rooted in togetherness and competition, to guide them through close games. What eventually unfolded was one of the best seasons in recent memory
While Elco football faces a taller task, replacing a bevy of key starters on both sides this fall, it's following the same recipe and already yielding great results.
"First half we had some jitters and (Susquenita) made some adjustments on us and was able to move the ball," said Raiders coach Bob Miller whose team won 17-7 in its opener. "But the leadership was really good. No one lost their cool, got upset. Our captains set the tone and ... we're really proud of them."
New quarterback Kyle Knight also impressed, complemented by a running game that gained steam in the second half. The Raiders will host Palmyra next week.
Palmyra's Robertson off to good start in QB role: Peter Robertson was a standout receiver for Palmyra during the Cougars' run to the district playoffs last season, but has found himself taking on a new role this season after the graduation of last year's starting quarterback, Tyler Gallagher.
The position switch figured to include a steep learning curve, but so far that hasn't been the case. Robertson has been superb while helping Palmyra to a 2-0 start, completing 17 of 22 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Robertson has also been a playmaker with his legs, rushing 11 times for 71 yards and a 35-yard TD in the Cougars' 35-7 rout of West Perry.
The law of averages may catch up to Robertson eventually and force some tough times on him, but based on his play through the first two games it's got a lot of chasing to do. Hard to imagine a better start to the season for Palmyra and its new starting QB.
Cedar Crest quiets O-line questions: It was only one game and, more pointedly, a game against a team they've beaten five straight times. But for the Falcons' offensive line, Cedar Bowl XLV was a big win.
Following an off-season riddled with questions about how it would replace last year's line, which led Cedar Crest back to districts, the blue and gray's big boys cleared space for 285 rushing yards against Lebanon. They also rarely allowed pressure on sophomore quarterback Logan Horn, even surviving a third-quarter injury to find continued success.
If Cedar Crest can continue to generate strong trench play, Section Two will be even more up-for-grabs than expected.