Brian Gross knew he had his hands full when he took over the West York wrestling program in 2007.

Not only did he and his wife have three young daughters at home, but Gross also faced the task of turning around a Bulldogs program that didn't have a winning season in York-Adams League action in nearly a decade.

"We only had eight or nine kids wrestling varsity by the end of (my first) season," Gross said. "We really tried to get interest in our program to build it up and keep it up consistent."

To do that, Gross relied on the skills he learned as a wrestler in his days as a student-athlete at West York and later at York College. He also sought advice from longtime friend Bob Linker, the former Dover coach.

West York wrestler Noah Townsley, front, workouts with Garrett Stauffer during a recent practice at the school.
West York wrestler Noah Townsley, front, workouts with Garrett Stauffer during a recent practice at the school. (Bill Kalina)

"I talked with Linker a lot because he was still coaching at Dover at the time," Gross said. "Just picking his brain. Getting an idea of some drills. I did a lot of research of drills online. I still do to this day. I always want to be learning."

Gross, 43, also made it a priority to establish a good feeder system like most successful high school programs have. He did so by hiring Brad Brosius to run West York's junior high team. Brosius will be taking over as Dover's new head varsity coach this season.

"I wanted to get it back to where it was in the 1980s and 1990s," said Gross, a 1988 West York grad. "That was one of my goals, was to put the program back to where it was before."

Gross did just that last season, leading the Bulldogs to a 6-4 mark and fourth-place finish in York-Adams Division I. It marked the program's first winning season in league action since 1998-99, when West York won Division II with an 8-1 record.

Storylines: West York is now aiming for a second consecutive winning season in league action, something it hasn't accomplished in 16 years. Whether or not the Bulldogs can follow up on last season's success is one of many storylines to follow in the York-Adams League this winter.

Like every other Division I team, West York will have trouble challenging Spring Grove for the top spot. The Rockets have won or shared the Division I crown each of the last five seasons. Entering his 16th year as Spring Grove head coach, Tony Miller has another strong group. The Rockets return 13 of 14 starters from a team that went 10-0 in Division I a year ago and reached the quarterfinals of the team District 3-AAA Tournament. All 13 returners are upperclassmen, and eight of them were District 3-AAA qualifiers a year ago.

The league also boasts Chance Marsteller, the Kennard-Dale junior who will try to improve on his 85-0 high school mark and become a three-time champion in the District 3 and PIAA tournaments. He is expected to wrestle around 170 pounds this season.

Marsteller and South Western's Logan Feeser (106) are the two lone returners in Division I to have taken gold at districts last season. They're also two of just four returners in the division who achieved a top-three finish at the District 3-AAA tourney last year, joining Dallastown's Nick Shields (106) and Red Lion's Tyler Schell (170), who each earned bronze.

Meanwhile, Division II has seven returning grapplers who earned gold, silver or bronze at the District 3-AA tourney last season.

Now for a look at all the teams in the York-Adams League.

DIVISION I

CENTRAL YORK: Key returners: Sam Butler, Richard Blaine. Key losses: Tyler Whitecomb, Jon Altland.

Chris Yentzer, 29, is replacing the retired Fred DeLuca at Central after serving as DeLuca's assistant coach last season. Plagued by injuries last season, Central went just 3-7 in Division I, which was a step back from the 6-4 campaign the Panthers had in the 2010-2011 season.

Yentzer will have to find replacements for graduated wrestlers Paul Rodriguez (152), Whitecomb (160) and Altland (195). Each had a plus-.500 individual record last season, including Altland, who was the program's lone district qualifier. Although the Panthers bring back nine starters, just one is a senior and only four had winning individual records last season.

DALLASTOWN: Key re turners: Nick Shields, Rodney Sunday, Wes Hoover Key losses: Brooks Morrison, David Pelky.

Morrison worked his way onto the NCAA Division I Virginia Tech roster as a walk-on this season after qualifying for the District 3-AAA tourney and finishing with a 27-7 record at 170 pounds last season.

Despite Dallastown losing Morrison to graduation, the Wildcats bring back nine starters, including five district qualifiers, from a team that went 9-1 in Division I last season.

DOVER: Key returners: Calvin Anderson, Ross Drawbaugh, Logan Ambrose. Key losses: Nate Williams, Michael LoPresti.

After spending the last five years coaching West York's junior high program, Brad Brosius enters his first year as head coach for the Eagles. He replaces Brandon Fuhrman, who led the Eagles to a 6-4 Division I record last year in his first season as Dover's head coach. It marked the most league wins for the program since 1990-1991 (6-1).

The Eagles return nine starters, including district qualifiers Anderson (120), Drawbaugh (126) and Ambrose (145).

KENNARD-DALE: Key returners: Chance Marsteller, Pat Scarborough. Key losses: William DelGrande.

Marsteller won't be alone in helping the Rams improve on their 1-9 mark in Division I last season. Fellow junior Pat Scarborough also returns after qualifying for districts at 135 pounds and finishing with a 30-7 individual record last season.

NEW OXFORD: Key re turners: Slade Storm, Joel Zepp. Key losses: Cory Bixler, Brody Honeycut.

A small roster and injuries led to the Colonials going just 3-7 in Division I last winter, marking the least amount of league wins for the program since 2007-08 (3-5).

Entering his 21st year as the New Oxford coach, Dave Conaway is confident he'll be able to fill all 14 weight classes and improve on last year's mark. He'll bring back eight starters, including district qualifiers Storm (120) and Zepp (132).

NORTHEASTERN: Key returners: Jeb Payne, Levi Eisenhart. Key losses: Austin Wilhide, Derrick Turner.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Muraco a year ago, Northeastern went 4-6 in Division I, marking the least amount of league wins since 2005-06, when the Bobcats competed in Division II.

Although Muraco brings back 10 of 14 starters from that group, he lost two district qualifiers to graduation. Payne will lead the way for the Bobcats after qualifying for districts at 152 pounds a year ago.

RED LION: Key return ers: Austin Halloway, Tyler Schell. Key losses: Brooks Arnold, Korey Eberly.

Chris Schell is the Lions' third head coach in as many years. Brad Keeney, who replaced longtime Red Lion coach Biff Walizer, resigned in the offseason after guiding the Lions to a 4-6 record in Division I last year, marking the program's first losing record in league action since 2000-01 (3-5).

Red Lion lost a pair of talented grapplers to graduation in district qualifiers Arnold (220) and Eberly (182). But the Lions return nine starters, including district qualifiers Halloway (145) and Tyler Schell (170), who is Coach Schell's son.

SOUTH WESTERN: Key returners: Logan Feeser, Cole Sterrett, Devon Ackerman. Key losses: Jerome Beers.

Beers (195) is gone to graduation after reaching the district semifinal round last year. But second-year coach Brad Zeigler will bring back nine starters, including four district qualifiers, from a team that went 8-2 in Division I last season. Feeser will lead a group of seven seniors returning to the starting lineup.

SPRING GROVE: Key returners: Zack Clingan, Derek Carlisle, Mason Bentzel. Key losses: Levi Luckabaugh.

The Rockets might have their strongest roster since their record-breaking 2009-10 season, when they finished as the District 3-AAA runner-up in the team championships and went on to its first state team tournament and a 20-2 record. Spring Grove brings back 13 of 14 starters, including eight district qualifiers.

SUSQUEHANNOCK: Key returners: Zach Holloway. Key losses: Tommy Ferraracci.

Holloway (120) will lead a group of five returning starters after he compiled an 18-9 mark last season and finished one win shy of qualifying for districts. The Warriors will try to improve from their 1-9 record in Division I last season.

WEST YORK: Key re turners: Noah Townsley, Kyle Narber, Jacob Gemmill. Key losses: Ryan Randolph.

The Bulldogs are looking to qualify for the district team tournament for the first time since 1994. They'll do so with eight returning starters, including three district qualifiers in Townsley (113), Narber (182) and Gemmill (220).

DIVISION II

BERMUDIAN SPRINGS: Key returners: Tristan Sponseller, Austin Jackson, Brock Linebaugh. Key losses: Brad Farley, Tyler Fitzkee

The Eagles will be the favorite again in Division II despite losing five talented grapplers to graduation, including District 3-AA champion Farley (120).

Entering his 36th year at the helm of the program, Coach Dave McCollum will aim for the program's fourth consecutive undefeated season in league action. He'll do so with nine returning starters, eight of whom were District 3-AA qualifiers last season.

The most accomplished of that bunch are Jackson, Sponseller and Linebaugh. Last season, Sponseller was the 170-pound District 3-AA champ, while Jackson (132) took second and Linebaugh (195) took third.

BIGLERVILLE: Key re turners: Jasper Hankey, Tyler Lieberum, Trevor Stover. Key losses: Dan May, Trevor Hernandez, Laike Gardner.

With a 7-1 mark in league action a year ago, the Canners are looking to knock off Bermudian Springs in Division II for the first time since the 2008-2009 season after finishing second behind the Eagles the last three years. And much like Bermudian Springs, the Canners bring back a loaded roster despite losing some very solid wrestlers.

Gone to graduation is Gardner, last year's 132-pound District 3-AA champ, and district qualifiers May (113) and Hernandez (126). Eight of Biglerville's 10 returning starters were District 3-AA qualifiers a year ago, including district champ Stover (heavyweight), who took sixth at the state tournament and finished with a 42-5 record.

DELONE CATHOLIC: Key returners: Joseph Post, Matt Lentz. Key losses: Tyler Kime.

First-year head coach Frank Sneeringer takes over after running Delone's junior high program the last four seasons. He'll have eight returning starters but just two seniors in the lineup. The Squires will be led by Post (170) and Lentz (182), who each finished a win shy of qualifying for districts last season.

EASTERN YORK: Key returners: Alex Cooley, Camden Stoops. Key losses: Donald Minnier, Buck Kauffman.

In his seventh year at the helm of the program, Coach Dan Garner said this might be a bit of transition year for the Knights after notching six wins in Division II each of the last three seasons.

Eastern lost five seniors to graduation, including District 3-AA qualifiers Donald Minnier (138) and Buck Kauffman (220). Plus, Garner said returning district qualifiers Toby Barnhart (132) and Dillon Mackley (160) will be out until mid-January for disciplinary reasons. That leaves returning district qualifiers Cooley (182) and Stoops (195) to pace the Knights. Cooley placed third in districts and fifth in states a year ago.

Eastern will also have to deal with moving up to Class AAA in the district and state tournaments this year.

FAIRFIELD: Key return ers: Clay Kocsis, Nick Mort. Key losses: Zachary Harris.

Fairfield has notched back-to-back 3-5 seasons after compiling just one win in all of the six seasons before that. The Green Knights bring back eight starters, four of whom were district qualifiers a year ago. Leading the way is Kocsis (152) and Mort (160). Last season, Kocsis took third at districts and finished eighth at states, while Mort took fifth at districts.

HANOVER: Key return ers: Ian Brown, Tyler Shafer. Key losses: Derek Wolford, Zack Martin.

Following a pair of average seasons in 2009-2010 (4-6) and 2010-2011 (4-4), Hanover bounced back in 2011-2012 with a 5-3 mark for a fourth-place finish in Division II under the guidance of new head coach David Cataldo. The Nighthawks will miss Derek Wolford, who graduated after finishing as the 195-pound runner-up at the district and state tournaments. Cataldo will have eight returning starters, led by Brown, last year's 126-pound District 3-AA runner-up. He is one of four returning district qualifiers.

LITTLESTOWN: Key re turners: Jordan Matthews. Key losses: Tyler Green, Alec Warner.

The Thunderbolts are looking to get back on track from a 2-6 record in Division II a year ago, which marked the program's least amount of league wins in a season. They'll have to replace district qualifiers Green (152) and Warner (170), who are gone to graduation. The Bolts' returning group of six starters is led by Matthews (120), who was a district qualifier as a freshman last season.

YORK SUBURBAN: Key returners: Andrew Toman, Chaim Smith. Key losses: John Salcedo, Nick Lucchesi.

Coach Matt Snyder appears to be continuing to build for the future this season. Of nine returning starters, just three are seniors. The Trojans were dealt big losses with the graduation of upper-weights Salcedo (220) and Lucchesi (heavyweight). Lucchesi was Suburban's lone district qualifier a year ago while Salcedo went 28-9 and finished one win shy of qualifying for districts.

YORK TECH: Key re turners: Gary Hake. Key losses: Nilven Ramos-Torres.

The Spartans went just 1-7 in Division II last year, but finished 6-14 overall, one win shy of the program single-season record. Second-year coach Mike Diliberti is confident his squad can improve on both fronts this season. York Tech brings back eight starters, including four seniors. The most accomplished of the bunch is Hake (132), who ended last year one win shy of qualifying for the district tournament.

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.