During York-Adams League Football Media Day last week, I asked about a dozen players the same question.
What is your favorite drill in practice?
"The victory drill," Central York tight end Robert Romey answered.
"Inside run," Littlestown inside linebacker Dustin Duvall said.
"Pursuit drill," West York center and defensive lineman Logan Stover said.
The answers varied. But each drill involved hitting or tackling in some form, reiterating the favorite aspect of the sport for just about every football player. Even Red Lion lineman Greg Thibault couldn't name a specific drill, instead going with anything involving "hitting."
So there will probably be an extra bit of excitement in the air this Monday for some football teams. It is Year Two for a PIAA rule to give football players three days of "heat acclimatization" practice in shoulder pads and helmets before players could also throw on leg pads and go at it in contact drills. Teams had the options of holding their heat acclimatization practices starting last Wednesday, while others are starting Monday.
So some players will likely have some added bruises, aches and pains by the end of the day. Well, everybody except for quarterbacks, who may don red jerseys, serving as stop signs telling teammates to not touch them, in an effort to keep the most important skill-position player on the field upright and healthy for the upcoming season.
Division I: It's this very position — the quarterback — that serves as one of the main factors as to why the York-Adams League Division I title is up for grabs this season.
"Ultimately in high school football it goes back to your quarterback and if you have a quarterback who comes back you have a chance to win a lot of football games," Spring Grove coach Russ Stoner said at media day last week.
A quick look at Division I reveals only two of the eight teams — York High and Northeastern — are returning starting quarterbacks. And the signal caller for the Bearcats, James Way, earned Division I Player of the Year honors last season after combining for 2,648 yards passing and running to go along with eight touchdowns.
"So they're the two we gotta say, in my opinion, are the front-runners," Stoner said.
Including the quarterbacks, York High (14) and Northeastern (17) also return several starters on both sides of the ball. Oh, and York High added 78-year-old assistant George Chaump to the coaching staff. Chaump has more than 50 years of coaching experience in college (Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State, Marshall and Navy) and high school (Central Dauphin, Harrisburg, Central Dauphin East). Chaump is the Bearcats' new offensive coordinator.
However, York High and Northeastern went a combined 5-15 last season. So it's hard to say the Bearcats and Bobcats are going to do anything until they prove it on the field, especially considering Northeastern is bumping up from Division II to Division I this year.
Still, those two teams should have a good shot at the division title, considering what other top programs lost to graduation. Central York, the defending division champion, brings back only five starters on offense and three on defense. Dallastown coach Kevin Myers said he has about six to seven starters returning on both sides of the ball from last year's Division I runner-up squad. But the Wildcats graduated running back Robert Catchings (1,452 yards rushing last season), wide receivers Malik Lewis (834 yards receiving) and Drew Romesberg (216 yards receiving) and quarterback Andrew Henry (1,408 yards passing).
Along with York High and Northeastern, Spring Grove and South Western are teams to watch out for this year. The Rockets (2-3 division, 6-5 overall last season) have seven starters returning on both offense and defense. South Western (3-7 overall last year) lost four its seven games last season by a touchdown or less with a roster decimated by injuries. And nearly every Division I coach feels the Mustangs, who bring back half their starters, will be dangerous.
So while teams like West York and Gettysburg are expected to compete for the Division II title and Littlestown, Bermudian Springs and York Catholic will battle it out in Division III, the race in Division I should be wide open.
"I think everyone is sort of in the same boat," Myers said. "No one seems to have a stacked team."
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ryan Vandersloot contributed to this report.