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BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – If each practice is classroom work and every Friday night a quiz, then this was Northern Lebanon’s sternest test, at the end of the first semester. Now its on to a whole next semester where the tests don’t figure to be quite as difficult.

On a calm Friday night at Northern Lebanon High School’s Fred Gahres Stadium, the Vikings completed the first-half, non-league portion of their 2021 schedule with a disappointing 42-2, mercy-rule loss to a powerful Lampeter-Strasburg unit. Northern Lebanon was competitive with the Pioneers for most of the first half, before the Pioneers posted a pair of quick passing touchdowns to take a 28-2 margin to the break.

With outcome, the Vikings slipped to 3-2 overall. Northern Lebanon will open the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four part of its campaign next week when it hosts the Little Dutchmen of Annville-Cleona.

Lampeter-Strasburg improved to 4-1 on the year.

“No, it’s not a step back,” said Northern Lebanon first-year head coach Jason Rice. “It’s a next step. We’ve got to teach our guys how to lose, just like we have to teach them how to win. This was a test. We had a first season. Now we have a section season.

“To say they’re (the Pioneers) 40 points better than us and we only put two points on the board, it doesn’t showcase what we can do,” continued Rice. “We’re like 0-0 going into a five-game schedule. These (section) games are important. They come with a little extra meaning.”

Lampeter-Strasburg marched the opening kickoff 74 yards in nine plays to get quarterback Berkeley Wagner’s one-yard sneak and a 7-0 lead. Then 48 seconds into the second quarter, the Pioneers added seven points to their advantage when Jonathan Mellinger returned an interception for a touchdown.

Northern Lebanon responded with an 18-play, 73-yard possession that was short-circuited by the Pioneers’ goal-line stand at their own one-yard line. But on the next play, Wagner was swarmed under by the Vikings’ defense in the end zone for a safety.

Northern Lebanon would not threaten to score the rest of the night.

“When you’re standing there, you sniff the end zone and can’t get in, it can be deflating,” said Rice. “We’re trying to teach these guys it’s OK, because you’ve still got a chance to stop them (the Pioneers). Just because we didn’t score on that play, doesn’t mean we can’t score on the next one.

“We haven’t played a team this good,” added Rice. “That’s not a knock on any team we’ve already played. We’re trying to make a name for ourselves. To beat a team like Lampeter-Strasburg would prove we’re not a fluke and that we’re making strides.”

“Northern Lebanon’s a good team,” said Lampeter-Strasburg head coach Victor Ridenour. “They’ve got some really good football players. They’re going to be OK.”

What really put the Vikings in a deeper hole were the two touchdowns Lampeter-Strasburg scored in a span of a minute just before the intermission. Wagner hit Austin Cole on matching 27-yard scoring strikes, the last of which came on the final snap of the first half.

“We definitely had to bring a little energy into the locker room at halftime,” said Rice. “Those two plays before halftime were just a lack of assignment football. You’ve got to understand that we’re trying to compete with a very good football team. You’ve got to have that discipline.

“We could’ve done better on both sides of the ball,” Rice continued. “They (the Pioneers) ran the ball very well on us. Their quarterback had time to throw the ball and he put it on the spot each time.”

“That was huge,” said Ridenour of the turn of events before halftime. “It was a game at the time. I’m just proud of the way we played. We didn’t give up. We did a good job with the time we had on the clock.”

The Pioneers brought the mercy rule into play by scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half.

Lampeter-Strasburg out gained Northern Lebanon 444 total yards to 163.

“Give the credit to Lampeter-Strasburg,” said Rice. “They’re a darn good football team. They’re going to compete in their section (Three of the L-L), if not win it. They’re well-organized from top to bottom. That kind of showed. We’re a little younger, a little premature with assignments.

“When you have a four-game high, you want to come out and beat those guys so bad,” Rice added. “You expect to have success. But you learn so much from losing games. When you fall behind, you just have to understand how to stay competitive.”

“We did OK,” said Ridenour. “We had some guys banged up, but we had other guys step up. We ran the ball well and we threw the ball well.”

To purchase images in this article please email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2021 Northern Lebanon Football Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
8/28
7:00 pm
Pine Grove
at Northern Lebanon
7
13

Nonleague
9/03
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Hamburg
6
47

Nonleague
9/10
7:00 pm
York Tech
at Northern Lebanon
6
33

Nonleague
9/17
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon
27
0

Nonleague
9/24
7:00 pm
Lampeter-Strasburg
at Northern Lebanon

Nonleague
10/01
7:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon

League
10/08
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Columbia

League
10/15
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

League
10/22
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Pequea Valley

League
10/29
7:00 pm
Octorara
at Northern Lebanon

League

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