2022 football preview: Hanover anticipating 'explosive' offense
The word around the Hanover Nighthawks football program heading into the 2022 season is simply this – explosive.
Taking their lumps the past two years under coach Will Rider, the ‘Hawks are looking to at least flip their record around this season after a 3-7 mark a season ago.
So what is the cause of that optimism?
A large part is due to the return of Chase Roberts for his senior season. A York-Adams League Division III first-team all-star a season ago, Roberts threw for over 2,300 yards and 23 touchdowns.
The only knock against the Nighthawk senior, who has already garnered collegiate looks from schools such as Misercordia and Wagner, is that he had to throw the ball nearly 300 times a season ago.
In a perfect world, that number would be significantly less, and the third-year coach hopes to inject a healthier dose of the ground game this fall.
“I think that part of the problems we had with our defense last year came from our inability to run the football,” Rider said. “We allowed the opponent’s offense to be on the field far too long.”
Roberts, who believes the offense will have a different look from the pass-happy one of last year, minced no words about his expectations for himself and his teammates this year.
He’s thinking big and, wait for it … explosive.
“I’m going to go out there and do what I do best,” Roberts said. “I feel that I’m going to play in an offense that is really explosive, and with these two guys (receiver Joey Wilkinson and running back Jayden Stanfield) coming back, there’s no reason our offense shouldn’t be the best in the league. We should put up the most points in the league, average the most yards, and that’s just how it should be. We are really going to be explosive offensively.”
Rider didn’t come right out and agree with his veteran QB, but he didn’t disagree, either.
“As a head coach, I don’t want to give out too much ammunition to all the other teams,” Rider said. “But, this team, with this group of kids, are fully capable of being an extremely dynamic offense.”
The Nighthawks are looking to get out of the gate with a bang. After travelling to Annville-Cleona in the opener, the ‘Hawks will host Columbia and Pequea Valley before Division III play begins.
Annville-Cleona, which has a new head coach this season, and Pequea Valley struggled last year, posting 3-6 and 1-8 records, respectively, in Class 3-A.
Columbia, however, finished 8-1 before falling to Upper Dauphin in the District 3 2-A quarterfinals.
Following is a capsule look at the Nighthawks:
► Team: Hanover Nighthawks.
► Coach: Will Rider, third season.
► 2021 record: 3-7 overall, 2-5 in York-Adams League Division III.
► Key losses (Division III All-Stars in bold): Mitchell Brown (RB/DB), Breydon Perry (WR), Bryan Karst (WR/DB), Henry Garcia (OL/DL), Brady Noel (OL/DL), Roger Walker Jr. (WR/DB).
► Key returners (Division III All-Stars in bold): Chase Roberts (QB), Joey Wilkinson (WR/DB), Jayden Stanfield (RB/DE).
► 2022 schedule (Division III games in bold): Aug. 26 at Annville-Cleona; Sept. 2 vs. Columbia; Sept. 9 vs. Pequea Valley; Sept. 17 at Littlestown; Sept. 23 vs. Fairfield; Sept. 30 at Bermudian Springs; Oct. 7 at York Catholic; Oct. 14 vs. Biglerville; Oct. 21 at Delone Catholic; Oct. 29 vs. York Tech.