FOOTBALL: Northern Lebanon, Cedar Crest on the verge of history
There are few guarantees in football.
You get one ball, two teams, 11 players on each side and then, a blow of the whistle. After that, it's up to you.
Through nine weeks this season, Northern Lebanon (7-2, 5-0 Section Three) has made the most of its post-whistle opportunites, most recently clinching a share of the Section Three title Friday at Donegal. And while there's no guarantee the Vikings leave Columbia with a win in Week 10, it's hard to imagine them falling short of their ultimate goal of claiming the entire championship again.
The Crimson Tide (1-8, 1-4) was handed a 35-8 loss at Annville-Cleona Friday, after earning its only victory of the season against a winless Ephrata team. Meanwhile, Northern Lebanon overcame its toughest road adversity of the season against the Indians, reeling off 20 fourth-quarter points to complete its comeback.
So while you can't crown them yet, best get that polish ready. The Vikings are about to go back to back.
CEDAR CREST FACES ROLE REVERSAL>> One year ago, Cedar Crest took a Week 10 trip down to Penn Manor with zero playoff hope on the line against a Comets squad destined for the postseason. Four quarters later, having played solely for themselves and the love of the game, the Falcons left with town a 43-28 upset victory.
This fall, the season-finale roles are reversed, but Cedar Crest, now one victory from its first district berth since 1999, must work to ensure that outcome stays the same.
"You want to look forward to districts, but one more game. You don't want to ruin it," senior Evan Horn said. "Last year we went down with no outside reason to play, played our hardest and ended up winning. So it's the same situation here, and we've got to be ready for it."
Falcons coach Rob Wildasin went so far as to tell his team to enjoy Friday's 37-14 thumping of Conestoga Valley for "a millisecond," in order to keep the focus forward. And Wildasin, as you can count on him to do, backed up his words post-game,
"The question is how much would you give up to achieve your goal? And I'd give up a ton," Wildasin said. "So I'd rather not enjoy this and start grinding on Penn Manor. And that's what I'm going to try to do, and my staff will do the same thing."
ELCO FINISHING STRONG>> 0-3 seems like a long time ago for the Elco football team.
The Raiders continued to bury the memory of three straight losses to open the season on Friday night, burying Ephrata 48-7 for their fifth win in their last six outings.
The only loss in that stretch was a 44-41 setback to Northern Lebanon in an epic first-place showdown a few weeks back.
There is plenty of credit to go around when noting the Raiders' resurgence, including much to offensive catalysts Tyler Horst and Jeff Martin, the county's all-time passing yardage leader who fired five TD passes on Friday night.
But head coach Bob Miller is ultimately responsible for the turnaround, just as he was for the 0-3 start.
Miller wasn't happy with the way the Raiders were conducting themselves on and off the field early on in the season and insisted on better. Much better. He's gotten it and then some, which is both a commentary on both the maturity of the players and their regard for Miller as their head coach.