Here's something defensive coordinators don't want to hear: York Suburban running back/receiver Jaime Nixon-Alark may be even faster this year than last year.
Nixon-Alark ran a blazing 4.44-second 40-yard dash during the offseason at a Nike Combine.
"I've been working out, getting my speed up, trying to get faster," the Trojans' running back/wide receiver said during York-Adams Football Media Day. "I've been focusing on things I messed up last year."
The 5-foot, 10-inch 160-pounder was plenty fast last year, when he averaged a first down on every carry (75 rushes for 747 yards). The senior also caught 16 passes for 312 yards, which is almost 20 yards a reception (19.5).
Nixon-Alark's ability to turn touches into touchdowns has, not surprisingly, caught the attention of NCAA Division I college recruiters.
"Temple, they're highly interested," Nixon-Alark said. "I'm also looking at Towson and Delaware."
Playing football in college is a future goal for Nixon-Alark, a star sprinter (100 and 200 dashes) for the Trojans in the spring.
He and his teammates, though, have a more immediate goal: improving on last year's 6-4 record and making a serious run at the York-Adams Division III title.
""We're a lot faster as a team this year than we were last year," Nixon-Alark said. "I trust everyone on our team, and we want to win our league."
York Catholic: A long-time rival of the Trojans also has the same idea.
York Catholic, which returns 20 letterwinners from a team that finished 4-7 overall, wants to be part of the race, too.
"We've been playing together since the seventh grade," Fighting Irish wide receiver/defensive back Aaron O'Brien said. "We've been doing a lot of lifting and running to stay in shape. I think we can have a really good season and make some noise."
Running back Matt Lehr and quarterback James Dougherty, who are back this year, made some serious noise on offense last year.
Lehr recorded his Second-straight 1,000 rushing yards season when he racked up 1,132 yards (6.1 average). Dougherty, meanwhile, torched pass defenses for 2,094 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Tyler Markle, an offensive and defensive lineman, will be one of the guys opening holes for Lehr and protecting Dougherty.
"Last year, on the line, we had one senior who saw varsity time," Markle said. "But we had a lot of young guys who got varsity time."
Markle is one of 14 seniors, including O'Brien, Dougherty and Lehr, who will suit up for the Fighting Irish.
"Senior season, give it your all, make some memories because you'll never get this chance again," Markle said.
Defenses must im prove: While both York Suburban and York Catholic feature offensive firepower, both teams need to improve defensively if they hope to break the Delone Catholic-Littlestown-Bermudian Springs stranglehold on division championships.
York Suburban allowed 210.6 rushing yards a game last year, and York Catholic yielded 296.7.
"It's always been Bermudian, Littlestown and Delone, with York Catholic in the middle (since the three-division format was introduced in 2004)," Fighting Irish head coach Eric Depew said. "It's time for us to take the next step. I'm really excited about this year."
Depew and his York Suburban counterpart, Brian Freed, had their transition years (from assistant coach to head coach) and are preparing for their second seasons as a head coach.
"The kids and I have had a year to get used to each other, and they know what I expect," Freed said. "We have some guys on this team who can fly, and we're going to try and utilize it on both sides of the ball."
York Suburban and York Catholic, which have clashed 46 times, will meet in the final game of the regular season on Nov. 2 at York Suburban.
Bragging rights, of course, will be at stake in the public-parochial rivalry. The Trojans and Fighting Irish are also hoping that the game will impact the division title race.
-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin email@example.com.