And then there were three.
It's hardly a secret that the teams from the York-Adams League traditionally struggle come District 3 playoff time, especially in the big-school classes. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the majority of the nine playoff teams to be shown the door after the first round this year, either.
Granted, there were some factors working against most of the teams from the local league that qualified for the postseason. But, for the most part, it was still the same old same old. Out of the nine local teams in the playoffs, eight played in seven games on Friday night.
But, here's the deal — the league was guaranteed to have at least two teams make it to the second Friday of the postseason. York Catholic didn't have to worry about suiting up this past Friday because the Class A tournament doesn't begin until this week. Then, Biglerville and Hanover drew each other in the Class AA bracket, meaning that the winner of that game was moving on and would be the final Y-A League representative in that class.
So, where does that leave us?
Well, it means that outside of the guarantees the league was given, Y-A League teams went a disappointing 1-5 in all other games. The only other team to advance out of the league was No. 2 seed Northeastern in Class AAA after it thrashed Northern Lebanon, 48-12. And, I'll admit, I didn't see that coming, especially after picking against the Bobcats in favor of the Vikings, who entered 8-2. But the only two losses Northern Lebanon had were by way of forfeit after winning those games on the field. So, hats off to Northeastern for playing up to its seed.
Now, onto the rest of the league.
The bad: When you look at the seedings, the team expected to win did just that in the majority of games. Dallastown (No. 7 in Class AAAA) and the Nighthawks (No. 4 in Class AA) were the only upsets in the entire playoffs.
Obviously that means that the rest of the Y-A League teams were underdogs and should've been expected to lose.
Somewhere along the way, however, you expect upsets to happen in the playoffs. It's part of what makes sports so great. However, when your league is the one that has the upsets happening — and in a bad way — it continues to haunt the league and give it a not-so-good reputation, to put it nicely.
Close calls: And it's not even that the teams that did lose, didn't put in some strong showings. York Suburban, the ninth seed in Class AAA, just got worn down by Northern York's rushing attack and couldn't come up with timely plays in the fourth quarter, losing 30-16. In Class AAAA, 11th-seeded Red Lion was riding a four-game winning streak, but ran into the powerhouse that is Cumberland Valley. That's just a tough luck of the draw. And South Western, the 12th seed, nearly upset No. 5 Hempfield, losing 23-21. So, there were chances to be had for a couple more local teams to win. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be, as is the case most years for Y-A League teams come playoff time.
Changing the perception: At some point, the narrative is going to need to change for the teams in the local league. Could it be this year, with the Bobcats making a deep run through at least the Thanksgiving holiday? They certainly have what it takes. However, will that be enough to change the perception of the league in District 3? Maybe not.
Since West York won the Class AAA title in 2008, no other local big school has won a title. Only Delone Catholic has won a district title since then, coming in 2012 when it won the Class A title.
In order for the league's image to change, it'll need a few deep runs by multiple teams. Obviously, with graduation and perpetually changing rosters, it's hard for many teams to sustain a five-year period of excellence at the district level. But what needs to start happening is when one team needs to go into rebuilding mode, another must step up and fill its spot.
You see it time and time again with the other District 3 leagues.
Now, it's time for the Y-A League to get to that level. It'll take some time, but it needs to happen.
That's the only way the perception will change.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker