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A quick look at every L-L football playoff game

The regular season is over. The best teams in each class of District 3 have surfaced, and now it’s time to starting finding out who is primed to take their season to the next level.

Let’s look over all nine L-L teams that qualified for districts.

Class AAAA

No. 15 Harrisburg (5-5) at No. 2 Wilson (9-1)

If you want some kind of simple measuring stick, the Cougars and Bulldogs have two common opponents this year in Central Dauphin and Central Dauphin East. Wilson fared much better in both of matchups.

How Wilson can win: Essentially, all the Bulldogs have to do is stick the formula that got them to where they are. Play shutdown defense, control the ball/clock and make a big play or two on offense.

How Harrisburg can win: The Cougars will have to have to go above and beyond to win this game and not play a second of conservative football. If Wilson gives them an inch, they must try to extend that inch to a mile to have a chance.

No. 13 Governor Mifflin (6-4) at No. 4 Manheim Township (8-2)

These two teams met in Week 3 with the Blue Streaks cruising to a 42-28 victory. In that game, Erik Benjamin threw five touchdown passes and zero touchdowns.

How Township can win: “Dance with the one that brung ya.” Benjamin had arguably his best game of the year against the Mustangs, and the Streaks could try to go through the air early and often once again.

How Mifflin can win: First thing’s first: try to slow down Township’s pass game. If the Mustangs can create some turnovers and keep Township’s offense off the field, they’ll have a shot.

No. 12 South Western (7-3) at No. 5 Hempfield (8-2)

The Black Knights were the biggest threat to Wilson in Section One this year and probably don’t see themselves as a No. 5 seed. Now they have a date with a South Western squad that allows just 16 points per game.

How Hempfield can win: The Black Knights have had success all year controlling the line of scrimmage and wearing down their opponents. If they can have success running the ball early with QB Sam Kramer and tailback Will Blair, the Knights should be in a position for success.

How South Western can win:  The Mustangs will only be able to lean on their defense for so long before they’ll have to score some points. If they can somehow get ahead early and put the Knights in “catch-up mode”, they have a shot to hold off Hempfield.

No. 14 Cedar Crest (5-5) at No. 3 Exeter (10-0)

The Falcons held their own in Section One this season and finished with three straight wins to clinch their first playoff berth since 1999.

How Crest can win: The bad news is that Exeter scores a bunch of points (37 ppg) while allowing just 11.7 points per game. That means the Falcons will have to find a way to slow down the Eagles’ run game that sports three rushers with over 600 yards this season.

How Exeter can win: Establishing that run game early and often will not only elevate your team, but it can be demoralizing for your opponent.

L-L Football Playoff Preview: Nov. 11, 2015
Preview the first week of the District 3 playoffs and the Lancaster-Lebanon League teams that will be playing this week.

Class AAA

No. 14 Shippensburg (7-3) at No. 3 Solanco (9-1)

The Mules were the talk of the L-L this year, grabbing a share of the Section Two crown and rattling off nine straight wins for the first time in school history before falling to Manheim Central in a Week 10 barnburner. Now the Mules will face Shippensburg, a team with a rather contrasting offensive philosophy.

How Solanco can win: The Mules sported one of the most physical run games in the L-L with quarterback Noah McCardell and fullback Robbie Hassel. Throw in the breakaway speed of Troy Miller, Prosper Eguzouwa and Darren Whearry coming around the outside and the Mules have a deceptive offense that can drive opposing defenses crazy. If the Mules execute like they’re capable of doing, they’ll be successful.

How Shippensburg can win: The Greyhounds have to take advantage of every possession they get. Solanco loves to control the ball and the clock, which drops the margin of error dramatically for their opponents on offense. Ship will have to have an explosive offensive performance to get Solanco out of their normal rhythm.

 No. 12 Palmyra (7-3) at No. 5 Lampeter-Strasburg (8-2)

The Pioneers are one of the hottest teams coming into the district playoffs, tallying six straight wins to close out their regular season. John Manion’s squad will now face Palmyra, which started the year 6-0 but faded late in the year.

How L-S can win: The Pioneers defense looked suspect early in the season but progressed well week-to-week. If the defense can get some stops and quarterback Bear Shank can work with a lead, the Pioneers should be in a position to win.

How Palmyra can win: If the Cougars can keep Shank off the field, their chances of winning increase exponentially. That means giving the Pioneers’ defense a heavy dose of tailback Alon Rhette.  However, anyone can say they are going to establish the run. It’s another thing to actually do it.

No. 15 Northern Lebanon (8-2) at No. 2 Northeastern (8-2)

This is a rather odd mixing. Though they are a 15-seed, Northern Lebanon’s only two losses of the year came in the way of forfeits. This isn’t a normal 15 vs 2 matchup.

How Northern Lebanon can win: The recipe for the Vikings has been simple this season: dominate the line of scrimmage and run the ball effectively. With the playmaking ability of quarterback Issac Wengert and tailback Luke Funck, Northern Lebanon can keep up with about anyone.

How Northeastern can win: The Bobcats have allowed double-digit points just four times this season and that will go a long way in having success if they can force Northern Lebanon into passing situations.

No. 14 Spring Grove (5-5) at No. 3 Manheim Central (8-2)

The Barons are flying high after claiming a share of the Section Two title with a 21-18 win over previously unbeaten Solanco. Now the No. 3 Barons will host a well-tested Spring Grove team from the York-Adams League.

How Manheim Central can win: The Barons aren’t too discreet about what they want to do: wear you down and control the ball. Central has one of the most explosive tailbacks in the L-L in Damon Camacho and quarterback Kody Kegarise has shown that he can get it done through the air when necessary. For Central to be successful, they just need to avoid costly mistakes.

How Spring Grove can win: Playing at Manheim is no easy task. The Baron Nation can be intimidating for teams that aren’t used to it so Spring Grove will have to try to take the crowd out of it early. It’s imperative that the Rockets take advantage of any mistake Central makes.

GameTimePA-TV: District 3 playoff edition, Nov. 11, 2015
Preview the first-round matchups in the District 3 football playoffs.
John Buffone/GameTimePA

Class AA

No. 7 Annville-Cleona (6-4) at No. 2 Berks Catholic (9-1)

The Little Dutchmen are reeling after a rough 21-10 Week 10 loss to Pequea Valley while Berks Catholic tasted defeat for the first time last week to undefeated Wyomissing.

How Annville-Cleona can win: It will be very important for A-C to get on the board early with their style of play. If the Saints get ahead by multiple touchdowns at any point, it will be hard for the Little Dutchmen to come back. A special teams touchdown would go a long way in helping as well.

How Berks Catholic can win: Not much needs to be said about a team that averaged 46 points per game in the regular season while allowing just 14.3. Isaac and Cooper Lutz have combined for over 1,700 yards rushing and 31 total touchdowns.