HEISER: It's been season full of surprises in York-Adams League football
- York High is 8-1 this season after going 1-9 last season.
- Susquehannock has a chance to win its first division title since the 2006 season.
- Dallastown's Nyzair Smith has 1,642 yards rushing in 2017. He had just 12 varsity carries in 2016.
- Red Lion's Zach Throne has more than 1,000 yards rushing and passing. Last year, he was a wideout.
The York-Adams League football regular season will end this weekend with three monster match-ups on Friday night that will determine division championships.
In Division I, the winners of the Red Lion-at-Dallastown and Central York-at-York High games will share the division crown.
In Division II, the winner of the Dover-at-Susquehannock contest will claim the outright division title.
It’s a sensational way to end an already-fascinating two months of local football action.
Getting to this point has provided area fans with plenty of surprising story lines to follow.
Here are four 2017 developments that almost no one could’ve seen coming when the season kicked off in late August.
Resurrection of York High program: The Bearcats have a long and proud football tradition.
Recent years, however, have not been kind to the program, and that’s an understatement. In the two seasons leading up to 2017, the Bearcats went 1-19.
While most expected York High would be more competitive this season, few would’ve predicted that the team would enter the final week of the regular season at 8-1 overall and 5-1 in D-I with an opportunity to earn a share of the division crown. York High hasn’t won a D-I title since 2007.
In fact, the only folks who believed such a stunning turnaround was possible were probably head coach Russ Stoner and his staff, the Bearcats’ players and a few die-hard York High fans.
There’s little doubt that lightning-fast running back Khalid Dorsey (1,550 rushing yards, 9.8 yards per carry) is the engine that makes the high-powered York High offense run. The Bearcats, however, are a balanced and dangerous group across the board that features a number of young, talented players. This is a York High program that now seems destined for sustained success.
Win or lose on Friday night, York High’s magical season will almost certainly continue in the District 3 Class 5-A playoffs. York is No. 5 in the latest District 3 5-A power ratings, and the top eight teams will earn berths. It will be the Bearcats’ first district appearance since 2010.
Susquehannock emerges as D-II power: Like York High, the Susquehannock football program has struggled of late.
In fact, since the Chaz Powell era, from 2004 to 2006, the Warriors have enjoyed just one winning season. Powell, for those who don’t remember, was a do-everything athlete who helped Susquehannock go 28-5 during his tenure with the Warriors, including two District 3 3-A appearances. Powell later played for Penn State.
Entering 2017, no one expected much from the Warriors. They suffered some significant graduation losses and looked to again be a middle-of-the-pack outfit in D-II.
Well, Steve Wiles’ team has exceeded all expectations. They’re 7-2 overall and 5-0 in the division. With a win over Dover on Friday, the Warriors will capture their first D-II championship since 2006.
Win or lose Friday, a District 3 4-A playoff berth also appears likely for Susquehannock, which is sixth in the most recent power ratings. The Warriors haven’t made districts since 2006.
Nyzair Smith becomes a star: In 2016, Nyzair Smith was mostly a junior varsity running back as a sophomore at Dallastown.
His name was relatively unknown on the York County football scene. He had just a dozen varsity carries in 2016. Now, almost every local football fan knows Smith’s name.
The 5-foot, 7-inch, 165-pound junior has been an almost-unstoppable force for the Wildcats (7-2 overall, 5-1 in D-I), rushing for 1,642 yards this season and averaging an astounding 11.8 yards per rush.
He leads the league in rushing and last week broke Chris Moore’s school single-season rushing record of 1,599 yards. He shattered the record in style, racking up 367 yards on 31 carries last Friday in a pivotal 49-32 triumph over Central York that allowed the Wildcats to remain in the D-I title race.
Smith should add to his record this Friday vs. rival Red Lion, and a win in that game will likely earn Dallastown a District 3 6-A playoff berth. The Wildcats are rated sixth in the power ratings, and the top eight make the playoffs.
And here’s a scary thought. Smith still has another year with the Wildcats to add to his pinball numbers.
Throne reigns at QB for Lions: Like Smith, Zach Throne entered the 2017 season as a first-year starter at a skill position for Red Lion.
Like Smith, he’s become an instant star.
A year ago, Throne played wideout while Sam Emig starred at quarterback for a Lions team that went unbeaten in the regular season.
This year, as a senior, Throne got his one-and-only chance to play QB at Red Lion, and he’s certainly made the most of it. In fact, his numbers almost defy belief.
Throne is fourth in the league in rushing with 1,125 yards, averaging 8.9 yards per carry. But Throne is not just a running back disguised as a QB. He’s also an accomplished passer. In fact, he leads the league with a 186.6 passing rating (for QBs with at least 60 attempts). He’s completed 75 of 113 passes for 1,067 yards with 14 touchdown passes and zero (yes, zero) interceptions.
Throne has helped Red Lion compile an 8-1 overall record and a 5-1 mark in D-I. The Lions sit third in the District 3 6-A power ratings and should make the district field even if they lose Friday vs. Dallastown.
More surprises to come? The team performances of York High and Susquehannock, and the individual efforts of Smith and Throne, have helped to make 2017 a special and surprising season in York-Adams football.
But the season is not over — not by a long shot. Friday should be one of the most entertaining and exciting nights in recent league history, and the district playoffs loom after that.
There’s no telling what surprises might yet be in store for York County high school football fans.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. Statistics for this story were provided by Dispatch sports correspondent Ryan Vandersloot.