HEISER: With division play looming, things really get interesting in York-Adams football

  • Division play starts for nearly all of the York-Adams League football teams on Friday night.
  • The marquee game on Friday night's schedule pits Red Lion at Central York.
  • York High has outscored its three foes this season, 160-30.
  • Delone Catholic has outscored its three foes this season, 163-26.

Now the fun really begins.

Nearly all of the 23 York-Adams League football teams will start division action Friday night against some very familiar foes.

Red Lion's Alex Cook, left, runs the ball vs. Waynesboro earlier this season. Red Lion travels to Central York on Friday night in the marquee game of the York-Adams League schedule. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Kennard-Dale, which will travel to Big Spring for a nonleague contest, is the lone exception.

The other 22 local programs will take their first steps on what they hope will be Y-A championship seasons.

All but a chosen few, however, will end the season disappointed.

Now that three weeks of nonleague action are in the books, here’s what we’ve learned so far — and what we can expect in the future — in each of the division races.

Division I: Before the season began, four teams were generally regarded as the major D-I contenders — York High, Central York, Dallastown and Red Lion.

Through three games, two teams seem to have separated themselves — York High and Central, with each sporting 3-0 records.

The Bearcats have been more dominant, at least on the scoreboard, outscoring the opposition by a whopping 160-30. Central, however, has faced a more formidable schedule, including wins over traditional District 3 powers Cumberland Valley and Hempfield.

Red Lion and Dallastown, however, certainly can’t be discounted just yet.

The Lions (2-1) were rolling until a 28-19 loss last Friday to an undefeated Chambersburg team that is ranked No. 1 in the District 3 Class 6-A power ratings. This Friday, Red Lion will have a chance to prove that last week’s loss was just a speed bump when it travels to Central for the marquee game on this Friday night’s Y-A schedule.

Dallastown, meanwhile, got off to a sluggish 0-2 start, including a close loss to Hempfield and a blowout loss to defending District 3 6-A champion Manheim Township. The Wildcats, however, seemed to right themselves last Friday with a rout of Penn Manor.

Maybe new head coach Ron Miller just needed some time to get better acquainted with his players. In any event, the division season provides Dallastown with a fresh start.

It’s hard to imagine this race not going down to the final week of the regular season, just as it did last season, when Dallastown and York High shared the title at 6-1, just a game clear of both Central and Red Lion.

West York's Ethan Sloat tries to break away from Central York's Keelan Stroman earlier this season. The Bulldogs are 0-3, but that record may be deceiving. Their three foes have a combined record of 9-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Division II: Entering the season, this looked like the most wide-open race in the Y-A League. There were no clear-cut favorites and all seven of the teams could legitimately harbor at least faint title hopes.

After three weeks, nothing much has changed. Six of the seven teams in the division are either 2-1 or 1-2. The single exception is West York. The Bulldogs are 0-3 — a record that may be deceiving, considering their three foes have a combined 9-0 mark.

West York has serious skill-position talent and could yet have a major say in the division championship race.

Before last Friday, it appeared that Gettysburg (1-2) had separated itself a bit from the D-II field, but then the Warriors stumbled to a surprising, and disappointing, 21-16 loss to Waynesboro.

The Bulldogs and Warriors face off Friday in Gettysburg. West York desperately needs to avoid an 0-4 start, and the Warriors desperately want to erase the bitter taste of last week’s upset loss.

It’s obviously a pivotal contest for both teams.

The other five teams in the division (Eastern York and Kennard-Dale each at 2-1, and Susquehannock, Dover and York Suburban each at 1-2) all have legitimate reasons for optimism, along with serious aspects of concern.

Trying to predict the winner of this division still appears to be a nearly impossible task. It’s truly up for grabs.

Susquehannock was a surprise division champ last season. Something similar could surely happen again this year.

York Catholic quarterback Wes Burns looks for yardage against Susquehannock on Friday night. Burns and the Fighting Irish are off to a 3-0 start. Dawn  J. Sagert photo

Division III: It’s hard to argue that the single most impressive team in this division thus far is Delone Catholic.

The Squires have been absolutely dominant, outscoring their three foes 163-26, including a statement 54-19 mercy-rule road victory vs. a Steel-High team that had been ranked among the top 10 teams in the state in Class 2-A by PennLive.com.

Now, PennLive.com has the Squires deservedly pegged as the No. 9 2-A outfit in the state.

That doesn’t mean, though, that the Squires can expect a cakewalk to the D-III crown.

Delone’s Adams County rivals, Littlestown (3-0) and Bermudian Springs (2-1), will certainly present formidable opposition, as will Delone’s parochial rival, York Catholic (3-0).

Burns helps York Catholic beat Susquehannnock

One big factor working against the Squires is that all three of its showdown games (Littlestown, Bermudian and York Catholic) will be on the road. Sweeping those three contests away from the friendly confines of McSherrystown will be a very tall order.

Two of the unbeaten D-III powers will square off Friday, when Littlestown travels to York Catholic. Those two teams shared the D-III crown in 2017, and the 2018 winner will certainly take a major step toward another possible championship.

Based on the nonleague results, Delone would have to be considered the D-III favorite at this point, but certainly not an overwhelming one.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.