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2022 football preview: Susquehannock set to run new offensive scheme

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

The  majority of head coaching hires around the York-Adams League this offseason have been internal promotions.

Most of the first-year head coaches had spent at least several years within the program. That familiarity often speeds up the transition process, as most of the players have existing relationships with their new mentor.

It also adds a bit more optimism that those programs will not have to suffer through a rebuild.

Susquehannock's coach, Joe Sorice at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

That is the sense around the Susquehannock football program as first-year head coach Joe Sorice takes over a program that just missed qualifying for the District 3 Class 4-A playoffs a year ago.

Longtime head coach Steve Wiles resigned after last season ended. Sorice, a health and physical education teacher at Susquehannock High, had been a varsity assistant under Wiles for the past two seasons. He also coached two seasons on the junior high team before moving up to the varsity.

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“We got a new head coach, but we all like him,” Warriors senior running back Ben Oestrike said, adding, “We’ll have a completely new offense, so that’s a pretty big change.”

The Warriors were a Wing-T team a season ago. That type of offense tends to be dominating when a program has a ground-and-pound running game that chews clock and scores points.

It does not, however, lend itself well to quick-strike scores, which often are needed late in games when a team is trailing. Such was the case last year in close losses to New Oxford and York Suburban that cost the Warriors a chance at making the playoffs.

“We’re putting in more of a pro-style offense,” Sorice said. “And that now gives us a quick-strike capability, which kind of bit us last year when we weren’t capable of putting together a solid two-minute drive.”

Susquehannock's tigh and defensive end, Josh Franklin (82) at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

The move away from the Wing-T brought a smile to the face of Josh Franklin, a Division II all-star as a tight end a season ago. While Franklin opened  eyes as a receiver in the Wing-T last year, the move toward a more balanced attack figures to showcase the prowess that Franklin feels he can demonstrate  day-in, and day-out.

“We ran the Wing-T last year,” Franklin said with a grin. “And this year is just not the Wing-T.”

Franklin and Oestrike couldn’t help but laugh as both seniors figure to benefit from the shift in direction.

If the offense can put up points more often, that will just add to what Sorice is hoping is a very good defense.

Susquehannock's runningback, Ben Oestrike (20) at Media Day for the local high school football teams in York on August 2, 2022.

“We return seven starters,” Sorice said. “We did lose all of our starters in the secondary, but we’ll still have the same system and the same swarm mentality we had last year.”

By the time league play begins in mid-September, Sorice should have a good idea whether or not his squad is playoff-ready. The Warriors have nonleague road games at South Western and Manheim Central, a pair of playoff teams a season ago. They will also host a Bermudian Springs side that earned a playoff berth last year as well.

Following is a capsule look at the Warriors: 

Team: Susquehannock Warriors.

Coach: Joe Sorice, first season.

2021 record: 5-5 overall, 2-4 in York-Adams League Division II.

Key losses (Division II All-Stars in bold): Mason Kight (C), Hunter Sturgill (OL/DL), Ricky Ferguson (RB/DB), Tim Minacci (S), Dameon Carter (DB), Scott Denis (K), Zach Pecunes (ret).

Key returners (Division II All-Stars in bold): Josh Franklin (TE), Ben Oestrike (RB/LB), Josh Pecunes (QB), T.J. McKee (LB), John Johnson (OL/DL), Evan Washenko (OL), Owen McFadden (DL), Mike Fox (RB/ILB), Dawson Zorbaugh (FB/DT).

2022 schedule (Division II games in bold): Aug. 26 at South Western; Sept. 2 vs. Littlestown; Sept. 9 vs. Bermudian Springs; Sept. 16 at Manheim Central; Sept. 23 vs. Dover; Sept. 30 vs. New Oxford; Oct. 7 at York Suburban; Oct. 14 at Eastern York; Oct. 21 at West York; Oct. 28 vs. Kennard-Dale.

York Catholic and Susquehannock finish their weather suspended game Monday, September 10, 2018.  John A. Pavoncello photo