Lebanon quarterback Mark Pyles has thrown for 18 touchdowns in five games this season, one of several bright spots to come out of the first half of the
Lebanon quarterback Mark Pyles has thrown for 18 touchdowns in five games this season, one of several bright spots to come out of the first half of the high school football season in Lebanon County. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS JEREMY LONG)
It may seem like practice began just yesterday, but believe it or not the high school football regular season has already reached the halfway point.

It's been a slightly better one thus far for Lebanon County teams, compared to a season ago when two local squads went winless and another lost its last eight games of the 2012 campaign.

There have, of course, been good and bad moments for each of the six county football teams to this point, as is the case in any season. So while we look ahead to the locals' Week 6 matchups, we'll also take a quick look at what's gone right and wrong for them in the first half of the season:


Record: 0-5 overall, 0-1 in Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three

What's gone right?: Despite its winless status, A-C has been far from a doormat thus far. It's been in every game against a challenging string of opponents, whose combined record right now is 18-7. But obviously the Little Dutchmen, who've seen four of their five defeats come by nine points or less, have been unable to turn any of those efforts into a victory yet.

Individually, defensive lineman Richmond Owusua has been a bright spot, earning Section Three Lineman of the Week honors a few games back.

What's gone wrong: See above. A-C just hasn't been able to finish strong in any of its setbacks and essentially gave away the Northern Lebanon game (a 33-26 loss in Week 4) with six damaging turnovers.

There's also been the infamous helmet-swinging incident with Hamburg to provide a distraction and a gimpy ankle that has limited the contributions of dynamic senior quarterback Mitch Rodkey.


This week: Home vs. Garden Spot, 7 p.m. The Little Dutchmen's schedule doesn't get any easier with preseason Section Three favorite Garden Spot coming to town. Gonna be tough for A-C to avoid an 0-6 start, but based on the first five weeks, if it goes down it will go down fighting.

Cedar Crest

Record: 2-3 overall, 1-1 in Section One

What's gone right: The Falcons have come a long way from the easy out they were from 2010-12. Though their record is south of .500 at this point, the Falcons are not all that far away from being 4-1, as evidenced by narrow losses to playoff contenders Lower Dauphin and Hershey.

Senior Gage Ocker has been the catalyst for a big-play offense that rolled up 32 points per game the first four weeks, but he's just one member of a talented group of offensive playmakers that make Cedar Crest a formidable opponent most weeks.

What's gone wrong: Cedar Crest found out how far it still has to go in a 35-0 loss at Wilson last week, and its defense isn't quite where it needs to be to get into the thick of the Section One race. And the LD and Hershey games were winnable ones that the Falcons didn't quite have the chops to pull off yet.

That said, there's a lot less going wrong than there has been the last few years.

This week: Home vs. Manheim Township, 7 p.m. Cedar Crest grad and former Elco coach Mark Evans brings his 3-2 Blue Streaks to Earl Boltz Stadium for an intriguing matchup of good, but not great, section rivals. It's a big game for both teams, but a little more so for the Falcons, who could enhance their improving reputation with a win here. Should be a good one.


Record: 1-4 overall, 1-1 in Section Three

What's gone right: It's been a disappointing start for the Raiders, but that's largely been due to inexperience and a leaky defense. Offensively, Elco has been above average most of the time led by the big-play trio of running back Cameron Strause, wide receiver Derek Miller and quarterback Jeff Martin. A team that averages 31 points a game should be better than 1-4. Which brings us to...

What's gone wrong: Quite simply, Elco hasn't been able to stop anybody. It's certainly not for lack of effort, but it is a fact. It's already surrendered 222 points and allowed 48 or more in three of its losses.

It should be noted, though, that high-powered offenses like Steel-High, Lebanon and Garden Spot haven't exactly provided a soft early schedule. The Raiders are giving up a lot of points, but they're facing a lot of teams that score plenty on an almost weekly basis.

This week: Home vs. Donegal, 7 p.m. It doesn't get any easier for the Raiders, who now have to welcome Section Three co-leader Donegal to town. The same Donegal team that upset Garden Spot in Week Four.


Record: 3-2 overall, 1-1 in Section Two

What's gone right: A lot, actually. Behind the prolific production of senior quarterback Mark Pyles (18 touchdown passes) and big-play receivers Nicholas Negron and Jeremy De La Cruz, Lebanon has mostly wiped away the memory of an ugly 0-10 2012 season.

The dramatic 40-39 overtime victory over Northern Lebanon in Week 2 got Lebanon breathing again, and ensuing wins over Elco and Ephrata added to the good feelings. There's a few more potential wins on the Cedars' schedule, so a .500 or better record is a possibility.

What's gone wrong: Quite frankly, last week was a disaster. Losing 72-0 to anyone, even mighty Manheim Central, is unacceptable. And if it's possible, Lebanon was even worse than the final score indicates. May have just been an aberration, but the Cedars can not let last week's poor effort carry over into the rest of the season.

This week: Home vs. Solanco, 7 p.m. This week provides a great bounce-back opportunity for the Cedars. Solanco is 0-5 and has allowed 85 points in its first two section games. If the Air Raid offense can get back on track, this shouldn't be that close. But last week was a red flag for Cedar watchers, so we'll have to wait and see.

Northern Lebanon

Record: 2-3 overall, 2-0 in Section Three

What's gone right: Well, two straight wins and a share of first place in Section Three is a good place to start. Especially since it was preceded by an 11-game losing streak.

The Vikes' resurgence has been led by an increasingly potent option offense that has gotten strong contributions from backs Derek DiAngelis and Dominic Trader, big-play wideout Mason Yost and steady QB Isaac Ray. They're not a full-fledged contender yet, but the Vikings are in a lot better shape than they've been in in a while.

What's gone wrong: NL was in position to win in each of the first three weeks and didn't get it done against Pine Grove, Lebanon or Hamburg. Even winning one of those three would have been a huge boost. But costly mistakes at inopportune times kept that from happening.

This week: Home, vs. Fleetwood, 7:45 p.m. The Vikings look to make it three in a row against a Fleetwood squad that's come a long way in recent years. Once a doormat, the Tigers, who beat NL at home last season, are coming off back-to-back blowout wins against previously unbeaten Hamburg and Schuylkill Valley. This will be a tough one for the Vikings.


Record: 1-4 overall, 0-2 Mid-Penn Keystone Division

What's gone right: The Cougars ended a 13-game losing skid with a gut-check 31-30 win over a pretty good Donegal club in Week 3. It was a well-earned reward from persevering amid a brutal schedule while in rebuilding mode.

Given that schedule, it will be difficult to add to the win total this season, but with emerging players like quarterback Michael Lewis and wideout Mitchell Cooper there is hope for the Cougars when they return to the Capital Division next season.

What's gone wrong: A 45-0 loss at Northern to start the season was disheartening, and other than the Donegal win Palmyra has struggled to be competitive. But that's more due to the quality of the opposition than anything else. The Cougars have one of the toughest schedules in District Three, for sure.

This week: Home, vs. Cedar Cliff, 7:30 p.m. Here comes another high-powered opponent for Palmyra to deal with. Led by blue-chip QB Andrew Ford, the Colts are 5-0 and averaging more than 41 points a game.

That about covers it.