If there is one area where Lancaster-Lebanon League football is gushing with talent, it’s definitely in the special teams department.
A multitude of all-star kickers, punters, snappers and return guys are due back this season, as teams continue to gear up for the start of heat acclimatization practice on Aug. 10.
As for the those returning all-stars, there will be four kick-return guys due back; seven punters are set to return; a pair of long-snappers will be back in the fold; and — gulp — more than a dozen kickers are set to return to their squads this season.
Here are those lists …
Elizabethtown rising senior Billy McNitt was a first-team Section 2 all-star and Octorara rising junior Kaden King was an honorable mention Section 3 all-star last fall, and both of those guys are set to return to handle the special teams snapping duties for the Bears and the Braves, respectively, this fall.
Mason Lenart, rising senior, Wilson — A first-team Section 1 kick-return all-star last fall, Lenart excelled in the return game for the Bulldogs, averaging a gaudy 34.8 yards per return (13 for 452 yards). He also took a pair of returns to the house: 95 yards for a TD against Spring-Ford, and 90 yards for a TD against Manheim Central.
Jaden Jimenez, rising senior, Hempfield — A second-team Section 1 all-star last season, Jimenez made his mark with a 90-yard kick-return TD against Lampeter-Strasburg — the eventual D3 4A champ.
Max Jesberger, rising senior, Penn Manor — Comets’ multi-purpose kid played tight end, linebacker and returned kicks for Penn Manor last fall, when he shared second-team Section 1 all-stars honors with Jimenez.
Mason St. Clair, rising senior, Solanco — A Section 2 honorable mention all-star kick-returner last season, St. Clair was a jack-of-all-trades player for the Golden Mules. He returned 19 kickoffs for 584 yards — a nifty 30.7 yards per pop — and he took two returns to the house: 98 yards for a TD against McCaskey and 93 yards for a TD against New Oxford. A running back/slot type player last fall — and a trusty punter, averaging 35.5 yards per boot for the Mules — St. Clair is listed as a QB on Solanco’s preseason depth chart.
Daniel Mueller, rising junior, Lancaster Catholic — How good is the Crusaders’ specialist? In the Class of 2022 rankings by Kohl’s Kicking Camps, Mueller has 4.5 stars and he’s at No. 16 among punters. A first-team Section 3 all-star selection last year, he also snagged a top performers nod at the prestigious Kohl’s Scholarship Camp earlier this month.
Kaleb Brown, rising senior, Wilson — Also the Bulldogs’ returning vet QB, Brown is also known for his punting prowess. Last season he averaged 33.2 yards per boot on 23 attempts, with a long of 49 yards plus five punts downed inside the 20. He was a Section 1 honorable mention all-star for his efforts.
Cade Denlinger, rising senior, Elizabethtown — The Bears’ specialist was a Section 2 honorable mention all-star in 2019 after averaging 30.1 yards on 31 punts, with a long of 42 yards and a pair of punts downed inside the 20. He’ll also return to handle the kicking chores for E-town.
Brock Boyer, rising senior, Ephrata — A second-team Section 3 all-star last fall, Boyer boomed 22 punts for a 34.5 average, with a long of 53 yards plus five punts downed inside the 20. He’s a jack-of-all-trades kind of a kid for the Mountaineers, and is definitely a weapon in special teams.
Mac Plummer, rising senior, Annville-Cleona — Known for his kicking abilities — Plummer nailed a league-record 54-yard field goal last fall — he also shines in the punting department. Plummer drilled 23 punts for a 31.3 average last season, with a long of 42 yards and one punt downed inside the 20. He earned a Section 3 honorable mention all-star nod.
Ryan Kernan, rising senior, Octorara — A Section 3 honorable mention all-star selection last fall, Kernan punted 27 times for a 30.3 average, with a long of 44 yards and one punt downed inside the 20.
Matt Carvajal, rising senior, Lebanon — A Section 3 honorable mention all-star pick in 2019, Carvajal is set to return to handle the punting duties for the Cedars again this fall.
There are so many talented kickers due back in the L-L League this season; here they are, listed alphabetically …
Cade Denlinger, rising senior, Elizabethtown — Also on the punter list, Denlinger was a Section 2 honorable mention kicker last fall after drilling 17 of 22 PAT attempts. He also made a pair of field goals, including a nifty 47-yarder, and Denlinger added three touchbacks on kickoffs for the Bears.
Jacob Erb, rising junior, Donegal — Section 3 honorable mention all-star connected on 40 of 43 PAT attempts and made good on his only field goal attempt last season — a 37-yarder — for the Indians.
Nate Heck, rising senior, Conestoga Valley — Section 2 honorable mention all-star was nearly automatic on PAT attempts, and he chipped in with a 20-yard field goal for the Buckskins.
Sam Hershey, rising senior, McCaskey — Section 1 honorable mention all-star didn’t arrive on the scene until his sophomore season with the Red Tornado, and he had a breakout 2019 campaign, going 10 for 13 on PAT boots with a pair of field goals, including a 37-yarder. Hershey also had six touchbacks, and his progress at showcase events led to an invitation to the Kohl’s Scholarship Camp earlier this month; he has 4.5 stars and is at No. 100 in the Class of 2021 rankings.
Walker Martin, rising junior, Garden Spot — No all-star nod last fall, but the Spartans’ booter is quickly making a name for himself after being invited to the Kohl’s Scholarship Camp earlier this month. In his debut season last fall, Martin made 13 of 19 PAT attempts and clicked on both of his field goal attempts, including a 34-yarder. Remember his name moving forward.
Kai Mast, rising senior, Ephrata — Section 3 honorable mention all-star clicked on 43 of 46 PAT attempts, boomed a 29-yard field goal and had four touchbacks on kickoffs for the Mountaineers, who won six games and challenged for a D3 5A playoff spot.
Trent McDowell, rising junior, Solanco — Section 2 second-team all-star carved himself into a weapon for the Golden Mules, going 33 for 34 on PAT attempts, and adding three touchbacks on kickoffs.
Alex Mellinger, rising senior, Cocalico — Section 2 second-team all-star helped the Eagles snag the D3 5A championship, going 52 for 62 on PAT boots. He also made his only field goal attempt, a 30-yarder during Cocalico’s playoff journey to district gold.
Daniel Mueller, rising junior, Lancaster Catholic — As mention in the punting section, Mueller is putting together quite the special teams career for the Crusaders. Last fall he earned Section 3 all-star honors after booting a league-high 10 field goals, including a 37-yarder, as Catholic successfully defended its section title. Mueller also snagged PA Football and EasternPAFootball all-star honors last fall, and he’s a 4.5-star kicker and at No. 16 in Kohl’s Kicking Camps Class of 2022 rankings.
Mac Plummer, rising senior, Annville-Cleona — Accolades aplenty last fall for the Little Dutchmen’s special specialist, who went 52 for 53 on PAT attempts — making his final 52 attempts in a row after missing his first point-after of the season — with nine field goals. Plummer also re-wrote the L-L League record book, first with a 51-yard field goal, and then with a shiny new league-record 54-yard make. His haul: Section 3 first-team all-star, PA Football Writers’ all-state, PA Football News all-state and EasternPaFootball all-star honors. Plummer has 4.5 stars and is at No. 100 in the Class of 2021 Kohl’s Kicking Camps rankings.
Nate Reed, rising senior, Manheim Central — No all-star honors last fall, when Reed shared the kicking duties with another rising senior, Logan Shull. Reed was nearly perfect in 2019, going 8 for 9 on PAT attempts and a perfect 5 for 5 on field goals, including a 31-yarder. Central’s primary kickoff man, he had a pair of touchbacks, and Reed earned an invite to the Kohl’s Scholarship Camp earlier this month; he's up to a 4.5-star with a No. 100 ranking in the Class of 2021.
Reese Shuey, rising junior, Elco — Section 3 honorable mention all-star went 32 for 35 on PAT attempts and drilled a 27-yard field goal last season for the Raiders, who went to the D3 4A playoffs for the second year in a row.
Logan Shull, rising senior, Manheim Central — Section 2 first-team all-star was nearly automatic for the Barons last fall, making 41 of 45 PAT attempts while going 4 for 4 on field goals, including a 32-yarder. He added one touchback on kickoffs, while sharing the duties with another kicker set to return for Central, Nate Reed. They formed quite the 1-2 kicking punch for the Barons in 2019, going 9 for 9 on field goals.
Jack Wagner, rising senior, Wilson — Section 1 second-team all-star made good on 56 of 57 PAT attempts and he made a 20-yard field goal for the Bulldogs. His specialty is kickoffs; Wagner boomed 34 touchbacks last fall, and Kohl’s Kicking Camps has taken notice: Wagner has a 5-star rating and is at No. 65 in the Class of 2021 rankings. He finished among the leaders in the kickoff competition at the Kohl’s Scholarship Camp earlier this month.