HEISER: Predicting how the York-Adams League divisional races may shake out in 2019
- The York-Adams League high school football season gets started on Friday night.
- The game-time temperature in supposed be in the 70-degree range with light winds.
- York High and Red Lion shared the York-Adams Division I title in 2018.
- Gettysburg captured the 2018 Division II title, while York Catholic won D-III.
Occasionally, things have a way of working out.
That just may be the case on Friday night, when the high school football season gets started during the waning moments of the dog days of summer.
By all rights, Week Zero games on Aug. 23 should be played under sultry conditions, with high temperatures, high humidity and high amounts of perspiration.
Not exactly football weather.
Fortunately, after surviving a couple weeks of practice in just such oppressive conditions, our local gridiron heroes will likely catch a break on Friday night.
At least that’s what the local weather forecasters are saying.
When the opening kickoff is made at 7 p.m. Friday, the experts say the temperature should hover around 70 degrees with light winds and only a slight chance of rain.
Perfect conditions for players, bands, cheerleaders and fans alike, at least for games played in late August.
Of course, that’s just a prediction. As we all know, predictions are like wisdom teeth — most everyone has them, but they serve no useful purpose and they can ultimately cause you severe pain.
You would think that might scare off reasonable folks from making predictions, but that’s almost never the case. Making predictions seem hard-wired into our DNA, and I’m not one to argue with DNA.
And no one’s ever accused me of being reasonable.
So, with that mind, here is one man’s opinion about what to expect during the 2019 York-Adams League football season. Unlike the weather forecasters, these predictions are looking months, not days, into the future.
I tried this last year and went 0 for 3 in guessing the division winners. That’s not an enviable track record.
Please keep that in mind when you want to mercilessly berate the author in November when these forecasts prove to be laughably wrong.
Here we go:
Division I: It’s hard to argue against Russ Stoner and his York High Bearcats ruling Division I again this season.
The Bearcats have enjoyed a resurgence since Stoner’s arrival and have shared the D-I crown in 2018 (with Red Lion) and in 2017 (with Dallastown).
Yes, York High (11-2 last year) will seriously miss a pair of all-state performers in 3,000-yard rusher Dayjure Stewart and two-way standout Robb Rideout.
Still, there appears to be plenty of talent returning in the Bearcats’ pipeline, buoyed by leadership from 18 seniors, including new quarterback Tobee Stokes. In addition, junior running back Tyrell Whitt boasts the ability to become the next great Bearcats tailback.
Red Lion, meanwhile, must replace 14 starters from last year’s 8-3 team, but Jesse Shay’s squads have won at least eight games in each of the last three years and can never be counted out. Standout junior wideout Randy Fizer Jr. should be a constant threat on offense.
Central York (8-3 in 2018) is another traditional D-I power that can’t be overlooked. The Panthers lost the leading passer in Y-A League history (Cade Pribula, now at Delaware), but his brother Beau will take over, and the hype machine is already building about his talents. Entering just his sophomore season, Beau has never started a high school game but already has an NCAA Division I scholarship offer from Temple. He'll also have a standout wideout to throw to in Taylor Wright-Rawls.
Dallastown enters its second season under head coach Ron Miller, who was hugely successful in his prior stint at West York. The Wildcats were a mildly disappointing 5-5 last season and return just five starters this season. Miller is hoping to change the culture and improve the record in his second year.
Northeastern and New Oxford may be the teams most likely to soar up the D-I standings.
Northeastern was 5-6 in 2018, but the Bobcats have lots of returning talent at the skill positions in quarterback Zech Sanderson, running back Manny Capo and wideout Jordan Lagana. With some solid line play, the Bobcats could contend.
New Oxford, meanwhile, may have the best quarterback in the league in Brayden Long, who is drawing NCAA Division I interest. Talented wideout Abdul Janneh figures to be his top target. The Colonials were 3-7 in 2018, a three-game improvement over a winless 2017. Another three-game improvement is possible this season.
South Western and Spring Grove also figure to be improved in 2019 after posting 1-9 marks in 2018. A senior-laden South Western squad hopes to recapture a little magic from the program’s glory days. The Rockets, meanwhile boast a talented sophomore class coming off an unbeaten freshman campaign. That could make the Rockets a real threat in 2020 and 2021.
Here’ the best guess about how D-I shakes out in 2019: 1. York High. 2. Central York. 3. Red Lion. 4. Northeastern. 5. Dallastown. 6. New Oxford. 7. South Western. 8. Spring Grove.
Division II: Gettysburg (8-3 in 2018) wasn’t even threatened en route to winning the D-II crown in 2018, winning each of its six divisional games by at least 20 points.
This year, it doesn’t figure to be that easy for the Warriors. The division, as a whole, looks to be improved.
Gettysburg still looks strong, however, led by the return of standout quarterback Zach Ketterman and Austin Heiser, who was the D-II Defensive Player of the Year and is the son of Gettysburg head coach Matt Heiser. The Warriors must replace star running back Ammon Robinson, who was the 2018 D-II Offensive Player of the Year.
West York (5-6 in 2018) was second in D-II a season ago, ending the regular season on a five-game winning streak. With the return of D-II all-star quarterback Corey Wise, the Bulldogs hope to maintain that momentum under new head coach Ivan Quinones.
After a 5-5 campaign in 2018, Dover also hopes the return of a starting quarterback (Justin Johnson) will help the Eagles contend. Dover coach Wayne Snelbaker is also hoping a new offseason workout regimen will pay dividends.
The D-II team that seems primed to make the biggest turnaround is York Suburban, which was 4-6 in 2018. The Trojans, however, lost three of those games by single digits. They boast a ton of returning talent, led by standout lineman Garth Barclay, who has already committed to Syracuse, and running back Savion Harrison, who is the league’s leading returning rusher.
Susquehannock is also looking to make a move up the standings after going 4-6 in 2018. The Warriors have a strong returning core, including several all-star performers from 2018, but they must find a new quarterback.
Eastern York (3-7 in 2018) will return a stellar quarterback (Trevor Seitz), who threw for 2,800 yards and 38 touchdowns last season. The Golden Knights’ QB, however, lost his top two receivers. Eastern must also find a way to improve a defense that allowed 37 points per game.
Kennard-Dale finished 4-7 in 2018 but was winless in D-II. Senior two-way standouts Wyatt McCleary and Patrick Maloney are hoping to lead the Rams to an improved D-II finish.
Here’s how the D-II standings might look at season’s end: 1. Gettysburg. 2. York Suburban. 3. West York. 4. Dover. 5. Susquehannock. 6. Kennard-Dale. 7. Eastern York.
Division III: For several years now, D-III has been separated into the haves (York Catholic, Delone Catholic, Bermudian Springs and Littlestown) and the have-nots (Biglerville, Hanover, Fairfield and York Tech).
That’s unlikely to change in 2019. The tough part is predicting which “have” wins the division this season.
York Catholic is the three-time defending D-III champion and is coming off a stellar 12-1 season, including a District 3 Class 2-A title. The Fighting Irish, however, graduated a senior class that was packed with talent. Under Eric DePew, however, the Irish have typically reloaded quite well, and this year figures to be no different. York Catholic has appeared in six straight district finals.
Delone Catholic was 10-2 in 2018, with both losses coming vs. the Irish. Delone lost several all-star standouts from that team but does return a number of key contributors. A challenging nonleague schedule will give Delone a quick idea of where it stands.
Littlestown lost 15 senior starters from last year’s 7-4 club, while Bermudian (9-4 in 2018) lost six D-III all-stars. Still, both programs are led by veteran coaches (Mike Lippy at Littlestown and Jon DeFoe at Bermudian) who always seem to find a way to make their teams competitive.
Of the four D-III teams looking to crack the division’s upper echelon, Biglerville appears best positioned to move up. The Canners boast a strong returning contingent from last year’s 2-8 club, including two-year starting QB Cage Althoff.
Hanover was 3-7 in 2018 but is facing a severe numbers issue in 2019. Players and coaches were forced to try to recruit players to fill out the roster. Numbers and depth are also a perennial issue for Fairfield, which is coming off a 2-8 season.
York Tech finished 0-11 in 2018, but new coach Matt Glennon is putting a focus on little things he hopes will eventually produce big results.
This may be the toughest division to call, but here goes: 1. York Catholic. 2. Delone Catholic. 3. Bermudian Springs. 4. Littlestown. 5. Biglerville. 6. York Tech. 7. Hanover. 8. Fairfield.
Now the guffaws can begin — and York High, Gettysburg and York Catholic should be very afraid.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.