Red Lion ready to put losing season behind them: 2022 football preview

Dante Green
York Dispatch

Losing isn't something head coach Jesse Shay and the Red Lion program are used to. 

This a program that went a combined 39-15 with two division titles and five straight playoff appearances from 2014 to 2018. Shay has an all-time 56-36 record in his time at Red Lion. 

They've only had two losing seasons in the head coach's time there: his first season in 2013, when they were 4-6, and last season, when they went an abysmal 2-8.

Players said they are eager to prove that last year won’t be repeated. 

“Our goals include making a comeback from last year. It hurt us all mentally, but that’s not what the Red Lion program is about. We are going to come back and have a winning season,” said wide receiver Luke Miller. 

More:Northeastern waiting to see what changes new coach brings: 2022 football preview

More:West York girl's soccer poised to make another run: 2022 fall sports preview

More:Suburban coach bringing more stability in year 2: 2022 football preview

Miller will need to step up on the team's offenses with the loss of several key receivers. 

Red Lion will need to improve defensively after giving up 39 points per game last season, which was the second-worst in Division I. But offensively is where the team needs the most improvement. They averaged only 16.5 points per game and scored over 30 points only twice. They also struggled in the division, going 2-5 against the other teams. 

Shay knows he has tough competition in York High and Central York, calling York High's Jaheim White the best running back he’s ever seen.

The Lions aren’t sure who will be the starting quarterback and will hold a competition between sophomore Mason Hollinshead and juniors Chris Price and Damien Cedrone. They’ve had a different player at the position each of the past six years. 

"A good thing about last year was our younger players being able to have significant roles,” said Shay. 

The team returns a significant number of starters on both the defensive and offensive lines. Shay said they hope to be able to push teams around up front and will have to depend on a certain amount of young players. They have only 10 seniors after graduating seven seniors last year. 

Shay said he is confident about the schemes and players.

“We will be competitive. We have a really good team and our schemes work. We aren’t going to drastically change. We have to do better at what we have been doing,” Shay said. 

The Lions will run an RPO offense focused on using athletic players at the quarterback position and tons of play action, Shay said. They will run the same 4-3 defense they have for years.

Their biggest loss is wide receiver Jeff Nyamekye, who had over 1,000 yards receiving and led the team in touchdowns with nine. He accepted a scholarship to Division I FCS Wagner.

Senior Spencer Law is a key piece for the offensive line and defensive line. 

“We are looking forward to seeing the whole team succeed and all the players grow within it,” Law said.

Here's a capsule of the team:

  • Team: Red Lion Lions
  • Coach: Jesse Shay, 10th season
  • 2021 record: 2-8 overall, 2-5 in York-Adams League Division I
  • Key losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Jeff Nyamekye (WR/DB), Reid Anderson (RB/DB), Chase Evans (RB), Ryley Knaub (QB)
  • Key returns (Division I All-Stars in bold): Damian Stafford (DE/LB), Spencer Law (T/DT), Ethan Nelson (G/DT), Danny Kozack (C/DL), Isaac Earnest (LB), Luke Miller (S/WR), D.J. Dennis (FB/DE); Garrett Coppersmith (WR/DE/K) R
  • Newcomers to watch: LaDainian Strasbaugh (RB), Kyle Deisley (RB/LB),Jayden Zielinski (WR/DB), David Clippinger (LB), Mason Hollingshead (QB/DB) Chris Price (QB/DB), Damien Cedrone (QB/OLB).
  • Schedule (Division I games in bold)Aug. 26 vs Ephrata; Sept. 2 at West York; Sept. 9 at Reading; Sept. 16 at Elizabethtown; Sept. 23 at York High; Sept. 30 vs South Western; Oct. 7 at Spring Grove; Oct. 14 at Central York; Oct. 21 vs Northeastern; Oct. 28 vs Dallastown.