The return of Lancaster Lebanon League media day is a family reunion of sorts..

“Everybody knows this is the culminating event of summer,” said Manheim Township Head Coach Mark Evans. “Basically, ‘sorry dear, football is here.’ My wife has a sign that says ‘we interupt this marriage for football season.'”

Media day was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the 2020 season persisted, in a less than normal way.

“I felt bad for the seniors who it was their last year playing,” said Penn Manor’s Pedro Gomez. “They had to sit out, have things be canceled, practices were canceled some times.”

For some teams, like Manheim Central, there is a sour taste in their mouths. After back-to-back state playoff appearances, the Barons went 3-5 in 2020.

“It hurts to say, but it was honestly a waste,” said Barons senior Jefferson Hauser. “We didn’t get to make any progress. All it was, was some wasted experience.”

While 2020 wasn’t ideal, a new year and a new season brings a renewed sense of hope.

“We can overcome the hardest challenges that we face,” Hauser said.

For Northern Lebanon, a new season brings a new coaching staff.

“Seeing the way they want to run things and how they want to change our culture is honestly amazing,” said Vikings senior Kalani Adams.

In the offseason, the Vikings hired Jason Rice to take over the program. He has experience on the college level, coaching at Lebanon Valley College.

“New coaches brought out a bunch of more kids,” said Northern Lebanon senior Mitchell Hetrick. “Everyone is more motivated.”

Over in Lancaster, the J.P. McCaskey football team had one of the toughest seasons in 2020. The School District of Lancaster kept students virtual for the entire fall with extremely limited access to the building.

In 2021, JPM is allowed back in the building and even had a normal offseason training and conditioning.

“It means a lot because a lot of us we put in a lot of work,” said Tornado senior Isaac Burks. “It’s been hard, not only having a rough season but it’s been rough.”

With a new season, comes new opportunity.

“We’re really special because we’re all dedicated,” said Manheim Township senior Michael O’Hara. “We’re all hardworking and we all have the goal to win a state championship.”

After months of daydreaming, the 2021 football season is right around the corner.

“Our whole team is in it together,” said Hempfield senior Adam Acker. “They’re ride or die until the end.”

The goals are set, the conditioning is done, and it all starts with a week one matchup.

“I’d like to see a positive record,” said Lancaster Catholic J.J. Keck. “I’d like to see us to win our first game. Let’s start with that, I’d like to see a win week one.”

Lancaster Lebanon League and all Midstate programs start heat acclimatization on Monday, August 9.