Football: Section 3 Preview

 We're under one week away from the kickoff of the 2021 high school football season, and it's about time to take a look at the Pioneers and their Section 3 counterparts before the first whistle blows. 

Beau Heyser stiff-arms defender in District III 4A title game (Klein Media)

Donegal Indians

Connor Hyle in Game vs Lebanon (Chris Knight LNP)

Previous Record: 3-4
Last Year: L-S 42, Donegal 0

    The Indians have very few returning starters- a common theme across the L-L League. The two-headed backfield monster of Mason Ober and Garrett Blake are gone, but still expect to see a run-heavy style from the Indians. 2023 grad Landen Baughman (who only has 2 career pass attempts) is set to take over as the new QB. There will probably be some growing pains for this very young and inexperienced group, but there's enough talent in Mount Joy to remain around the .500 mark.  
Ephrata Mountaineers

Andre Weidman in Game vs ELCO (Missy Mortimer LNP)

Previous Record: 4-3
Last Year: L-S 54, Ephrata 16

    There won't be many familiar faces on the field for the Mounts. From an offensive standpoint, the top passer, rusher, and receiver are all gone. On the other end of the ball, stud strong safety Andre Weidman is back for more. He forced 6 turnovers and recorded 33 solo tackles last season. The Mounts have made great progress since losing 53 straight games in the 2010s, but a lack of experience and a tough non-conference schedule creates concern for a step backwards this season. 
Garden Spot Spartans

Joel Martin in Game vs Donegal (Patrick Blain LNP)

Previous Record: 2-4
Last Year: L-S 40, Garden Spot 7

    The Spartans took a step in the right direction last season, finally cracking their 20+ game losing streak. There's a good bit of experience on this team, but they'll need to find a new signal-caller after the graduation of Jesse Martin. Expect a few more wins out this team over the course of the season. 

Lancaster Catholic Crusaders

Mason McClair in Game vs Lebanon (Mark Palczewski LNP)

Previous Record: 2-6
Last Year: L-S 48, Lancaster Catholic 0

    The Crusaders are the only team in the Section to return their starting quarterback (Will Cranford). There are plenty of offensive weapons returning in Tony Cruz and Mason McClair, but the offensive line will need to hold up their end of the bargain. The defense is very young and will be the major question mark for this team heading into the season. Expect a solid season from the Crusaders.
Lebanon Cedars

Zahir Stone in Game vs Lancaster Catholic (Mark Palczewski LNP)

Previous Record: 3-3
Last Year: L-S 42, Lebanon 20

    There aren't many recognizable names on the Lebanon roster for second-year head coach Frank Isenberg. The dynamic duo of Isaiah Rodriguez and Alex Rufe has graduated, along with the majority of the rest of the offense. This team has some major question marks and holes to fill. 

Lampeter-Strasburg Pioneers

Beau Heyser leaps for TD catch in District III 4A Semifinal (Klein Media)

Previous Record: 9-1
(District III 4A Champions, PIAA Semifinalist)
 
    After back-to-back District III titles, there are a whole lot of new faces in West Lampeter. Assistant coach Victor Ridenour is the new head coach, replacing the long-tenured John Manion. The core of last year's team is mostly gone, but there's a surplus of talent to fill the gaps. Coastal Carolina commit Nick del Grande will anchor an inexperienced offensive line, while Berkeley Wagner takes over under center. The defense is also inexperienced, but the Pioneers are overwhelming favorites to repeat as Section 3 champs. 

-By Logan Moyer LS News reporter

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