When you’re coming off another winless football season, like the Lebanon Cedars are, the first order of business is simply to get off the mat.

And that is what fourth-year head coach Frank Isenberg and his squad are trying to do. Grab one, then build from there. Not much more to it. Actually lends itself to a sort of hyperfocus, a singular task at hand. No talk of schedules or Lancaster-Lebanon Section 2. Just. Win. One.  

Lebanon’s Cedars are ready to go to work. The Cedars open their 2023 season on Friday at home against Palmyra. (Will Trostel)

“The message for this year is that we have to come together,” Isenberg said. “We have to ride through adversity and battle back through it all.”

Lebanon’s winless skid is at 23 games. The Cedars’ last victory came at home against Garden Spot, 35-23, on Oct. 9, 2020.

Lebanon returns nine players on offense and eight on defense, so there is a nucleus back on which to build.

A pair of Cedars run a drill at a recent preseason practice. Lebanon has been working hard since preseason camp opened on Aug. 7. (Will Trostel)

Isenberg was encouraged by what he saw when the Cedars faced Mid-Penn conference opponent Boiling Springs in a preseason scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 19.

“We battled, we competed, our kids were very excited and feeling confident,” he said. “Heading into this first week, there is definitely a different feeling than in 2022.” 

The Cedars open the season at Alumni, against Palmyra, on Friday night.

In an effort to forge a different path, the Cedars have scrapped the high-tempo, hurry-up Air Raid offense, in favor of huddling. It’s as much about giving the defense a blow as it is about schematics.

“For the first time in 16 or 17 years, we’ll be huddling,” Isenberg said. “It’ll definitely be something different for our kids. The thing is, with our numbers (42 players listed on the current roster), sometimes they’re playing so fast, throwing the ball all over the yard, three incompletions, now you’re putting your defense in a hole.

“Schematically, we’re trying for balance. As an old offensive lineman, I love running the football.” 

The Spread attack returns, minus that frenetic tempo. 

Juniors Brandyn Castro and Kareem Stoner are battling at the quarterback positon. Stoner is coming off a broken leg suffered in last season’s first game. Castro helmed the offense.

“It’s been a battle all camp,” Isenberg said. “We’ll probably go with a package for each in Week 1. Brandyn is more of a drop-back passer, a big arm. Kareem is more mobile.”

Lebanon head coach Frank Isenberg puts his charges through their tasks. Isenberg is in his fourth season as the Cedars’ head man. (Will Trostel)

Derek Infante, Braylon Beaver, Derrick Briddell and Paul Trace return as weapons on offense, at receiver and running back. Aidan Fernandez is listed at tight end.

A beefy offensive line returns Corbett Brickle and Mahkye Cortes at the tackle spots.

“Physical, strong kids. We’re pretty big up front,’ Isenberg said. “Corbett’s 6-3, 300. Mahkye is 6-4, around 265.”

Cayden Clentimack returns from a shoulder injury suffered last year. He tips the scales at 6-5, 325.

The defensive line within Lebanon’s 3-3 scheme is a strength. Brickell is at nose. Josiah Wright, a four-year starter, is back, as is Colin Johnsen.

The linebacking corps will see Fernandez and Kai Rivera return, in rotation, as well as Jack Herr, who was safety last year and moves down, given strong mobility. Freshman Camron Buckmoyer brings speed to the outside.

Briddell, a three-year starter, quarterbacks the defense from the secondary. “A high football IQ, a downhill player,” Isenberg said.

Infante will man one corner, while newcomer Richie Estevez draws duty at the other corner.

Lebanon Cedars always put their best feet forward. Lebanon is seeking early success upon which to build some momentum. (Will Trostel)

Isenberg was asked about the season’s prospects.

“The simple answer is getting a win,” he replied. “It’s a cliché, but our goal will be to get better every day. Get 1 percent better every day when you’re out there. And that’s what I try to look at.

“Our section is what it is. I would argue it’s one of the toughest in the L-L league. But we can’t control any of that and I don’t worry about it. We have to play who we have to play, and we’re gonna do the best that we can.”

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you want to see more from LebTown?

Support local news. Cancel anytime.

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

Jeff Dewees has written about sports for more than 30 years, with local stops including the Patriot-News, York Daily Record, Hummelstown Sun and Carlisle Sentinel. He resides in North Lebanon Township.


LebTown membership required to comment.

Already a member? Login here

Leave a comment

Your email address will be kept private.