Northern Lebanon’s first two games were different, but both ended up as tough losses. It’s definitely not the type of beginning that the Northern Lebanon football team was seeking.

But there’s good news. There’s plenty of football left to be played and the Vikings will get better.

On a cool Friday night at Fred Gahres Stadium, Northern Lebanon dropped their second game to start the season, this one to Susquehanna Township, 42-14. After slipping into an early 28-0 hole, the Vikings enjoyed some positive moments, but not enough to make the contest competitive.

In light of last week’s season-opening 20-17 overtime loss at Pine Grove, Northern Lebanon is now 0-2 on the still young year. Susquehanna evened its overall mark at 1-1.

“We’re not where we want to be,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Jason Rice. “But we think we’re in a position to turn the tide. The message in the locker room (after the game) was, ‘Guys, we’re turning the page.’”

Northern Lebanon head coach Jason Rice. (Will Trostel)

“I hope people don’t look at our 0-2 record and throw in the towel on us,” continued Rice. “We’re getting into the part of our schedule where we can compete. We have games coming up that I know we can win.”

“We’re still playing good football,” said Northern Lebanon senior linebacker and emotional leader Luke Shaffer. “We lost to two tough teams. We’re going to be a good football too, at the end of the day.”

Northern Lebanon tight end Luke Shaffer finds room down the sideline to set up Northern Lebanon’s first score of the night. (Will Trostel)

Following their rocky start, the Vikings righted their ship to a degree in the middle of the second quarter. Parlaying a 20-yard pass completion from quarterback Kael Erdman to Moises Gonzalez and back-to-back receptions by Shaffer, Northern Lebanon drove 64 yards on six plays to get the one-yard Erdman sneak that made it 28-7, 9:22 before the intermission.

Northern Lebanon quarterback Kael Erdman throws a pass downfield. (Will Trostel)

Then, the Vikings recovered the ensuing on-side kick. But they could do nothing with it.

A Susquehanna Township receiver being chased by Northern Lebanon defensive back Brendan Ryan finds his way into the endzone. (Will Trostel)

“At the beginning, we were kind of waiting to see who was going to make the first big play,” said Rice. “We were waiting for someone to step up. It was a slow first quarter, but in the second quarter, it just clicked. We at least won the second quarter. We showed we could play this game.”

“We were playing really tight,” said Shaffer. “It wasn’t the start we wanted. It took our leaders to loosen us up. We tried to make the most of it. We were trying to have fun.”

With the outcome very much in doubt, Susquehanna Township tallied a pair of second-half touchdowns, one on an 11-play, 85-yard march late in the third quarter and the other on a 48-yard punt return by burner Lex Cyrus early in the fourth that brought the mercy rule into play. The Vikings posted the final score of the evening when Gonzalez turned a short pass from Erdman into an 83-yard touchdown reception, with 50 seconds remaining.

“Our goals haven’t changed,” said Rice. “The ultimate goal is to be in a position to compete in the fourth quarter of every game. Were we in the game tonight? No. But we fought to the last breath.”

Northern Lebanon head coach Jason Rice looks on at his players. (Will Trostel)

“That’s a good football team,” said Shaffer. “We gave it our all. We played four quarters. We didn’t give up. They (the Indians) got the momentum at the start, but we kept our heads up.”

Using its speed, playmaking abilities and NL miscues, Susquehanna Township tallied 21 points in the game’s first 9:38. Then, on the first play of the second stanza, Indian back Dorian Smith shredded the Northern Lebanon defense for an 85-yard scoring jaunt that brought the visitors’ advantage to 28-0.

“We don’t see a lot of teams with the kind of speed that Township brings,” said Rice. “There may have been moments where our guys were doing the best we can. After a while, we got settled in. That second quarter showed me a lot.”

Some 316 of Susquehanna Township’s 463 total yards came in the first half. The Vikings were limited to a total of six rushing yards.

Northern Lebanon Vikings

Read all our coverage of the Vikings here.


Head Coach: Jason Rice

Assistant Coaches: Mark Rice, Josh Thompson, John Heisey, Josh Wolfe, Rusty Wallace, Hunter Wallace, Collin Wall

Jersey NumberNameGradePosition
2Bryan Mitzel10WR/DB
3Moises Gonzalez12WR/LB
4Kael Erdman10QB/LB
5Julian Rivera9QB/WR/DB
7Brendan Ryan11WR/DB
8Luke Shaffer12TE/LB
10Bryce Yocum9TE/LB
11Tanner Feagley12WR/DE
12Kaleb Barr10WR/DB
14Riley Messinger11K/P
17Owen Dohner9WR/DE
18Sincere Perez10RB/LB
19Garrett Bohn11K
20Jack Kleisath9RB/LB
21Corey Jackson11RB/DE
22Kade Erdman12WR/DB
23Eli Ostermayer12RB/LB
25Brady Ryan9WR/DB
27Jaxin Bush9WR/LB
29Myles Watson11RB/DB
30Raheim Rushton11WR/DE
42Joe Billig9WR/DB
43Jasper Uhler10WR/DB
51Matthew Chernich10OL/DL
52Russell Beers11OL/DL
55Kyle Hitz12OL/LB
57Eli Thompson11OL/DE
60Christian Peiffer10OL/DL
62Hayden Adams11OL/DL
66Caleb Wright10OL/DL
68Bryce Wimer11OL/DL
73Ethan Hughes11OL/DL
74Kale Loser11OL/DL
77Andrew Stohler11OL/DL
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Jeff Falk is a seasoned journalist based in Lebanon, PA. He's a graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Penn State University, and a lifelong resident of Lebanon, born and raised. Currently, he is a feature writer for Engle Publishing in Lancaster, the editor of, sports director at WLBR...


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