Now this is when the fun really begins.
We've worked our way through the first three weeks of the 2015 high school football schedule, which means from here on out, every game means just a little bit more. The first three games for each team were non-league, only having an impact on a team's District 3 playoff hopes.
Now, with the York-Adams League slate set to commence on Friday night, that changes. The chase for division titles can begin.
The first three weeks were supposed to give us some clarity about who the division favorites would be. I said supposed to because that was hardly the case.
All the non-league slate did was make picking favorites in each of the three Y-A divisions a muddled mess. Before the year began, my predictions were as follows: South Western in Division I, Dover in Division II and Biglerville in Division III. I think it's safe to say that after the opening few weeks, each division could have about three or four other candidates sprinkled into that mix.
To begin, yes, I still do think that all three of those teams still have a legit shot to take home division crowns. The Mustangs shocked a lot of people by knocking off Carlisle on Friday night and improving to 2-1. The Eagles begin division play at 1-2, but very easily could be 2-1 if a one-point loss to Big Spring in Week 2 went their way. And then there are the Canners, who also enter Y-A play at 1-2, but finally broke through with their first win on Friday. That takes some of the sting out of their first two losses, which came by a combined four points.
So yes, all three of those teams still have shown signs of being division champions by the conclusion of Week 10. But, they're hardly the only ones.
Division I: To start, if you think overwhelming preseason favorite South Western is going to have a seven-game victory lap in Division I, you're strongly mistaken. Standing in its way are a few strong teams. Northeastern and Dallastown both went through their non-league schedules unscathed, a testament to their potential.
And then there's Red Lion, which has alternated wins and losses, with more of the former than the latter. The Lions are on the up swing under Head Coach Jesse Shay, so that makes three prime programs that could potentially upend the Mustangs. And don't ever count out Central York under longtime coach Brad Livingston, or Spring Grove and New Oxford, which have both shown tons of promise under first-year head coaches Kyle Sprenkle and Jason Warner.
Division II: While Dover's Week 3 blowout loss to Red Land wasn't the prettiest display, it still packs a lot of punch on its roster and has one of the best in-game coaches in Wayne Snelbaker. However, Eastern York is the only Division II team sitting with an above-.500 mark after three weeks at 2-1.
After that, the league is packed tightly together with a herd of 1-2 squads, but with a ton of potential for big things. York Suburban and Susquehannock are both in that pack under new head coaches Andy Loucks and Steve Wiles. And so is Gettysburg, a program that finished second in Division II last year. Lastly, despite its 0-3 mark, you'd be foolish to count out West York after a disappointing non-league schedule.
Division III: Biglerville finally broke through in Week 3 after two tough losses to begin the year. But, the Canners' 1-2 start is hardly the biggest surprise within the division. No, the biggest shock could possibly go to Hanover, which is 3-0 and is lighting up the scoreboard and stat columns with a high-flying offense.
Or, you could go in the other direction and look at defending Division III champion Bermudian Springs, which is 0-3 and searching for answers. Still, never count out a Jon DeFoe-coached club once league play begins.
Lastly, is Delone Catholic, a program rich in District 3 success, but which sits at 1-2. The Squires' 56-0 loss to Tennessee powerhouse Union City on Friday night didn't mean much outside of their second loss. However, it could prove to be a huge learning experience for Delone.
If you're left scratching your head trying to pinpoint a favorite in each division as we prepare for league play, don't worry, you're not alone. We've been left with more clouded questions than clear-cut answers.
But, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
All it means is that the next seven weeks should bring us some pretty exciting football.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker