Red Lion wins second-half battle against Chambersburg, 26-21, behind a pair of 80-yard touchdowns. ROB ROSE, @robrosesports
If you’re a York-Adams Division I football fan, there’s reason to be encouraged.
The first three weeks of nonleague action offered actual hope that the local big-school programs might finally be closing the gap, at least slightly, on the other big-school teams in District 3.
The eight Y-A D-I teams combined for a 15-9 nonleague record in 2019. That’s the best nonleague mark for the D-I teams over the last six years, when the current league alignment was adopted.
Even more impressively, none of the D-I teams went winless this season. That's a first over the last half-dozen seasons.
It’s no secret that the big-school football programs in Y-A D-I don’t get a lot of respect from the other corners of District 3.
That’s to be expected. After all, a Y-A team has never won a championship in the largest classification offered in the district playoffs.
The likelihood of a Y-A D-I team winning a Class 6-A or 5-A crown in 2019 still appears relatively remote. History is very much against the local programs.
The 2019 nonleague results, however, indicate that the Y-A D-I teams are improving.
Northeastern and Red Lion emerged from their nonleague games with 3-0 marks, while Central York, Spring Grove and New Oxford are 2-1. York High, Dallastown and South Western are 1-2.
Notably, those records came against schedules packed with other regional big schools. Fourteen of the 24 D-I foes in the preseason were 6-A programs, while six were 5-A teams. Three more were 4-A teams, while one was a 3-A school.
So, the Y-A D-I teams, for the most part, weren’t playing a bunch of cupcakes.
Facts to consider: Here are some other D-I facts to consider as we head into the first Friday of league action:
►Central York could, quite easily, also be 3-0. The Panthers outplayed Cumberland Valley in the second week of the season, only to see five turnovers ruin their chances for a second straight victory over the traditional District 3 power. As highly touted sophomore quarterback Beau Pribula gets more experience, the Panthers should become even more dangerous.
►The teams that have resided in bottom half of the D-I standings recently look stronger. Spring Grove, at 2-1, has already exceeded its win total from a year ago, while South Western, at 1-2, has matched its 2018 win total. New Oxford is 2-1 after winning just three games in 2018. Those three teams went 5-4 in nonleague games this year, compared with 2-7 a year ago.
►Don’t let York High’s 1-2 mark fool you. The Bearcats are still definitely talented and still definitely in the running for a third straight D-I crown. The Bearcats’ two losses came to 3-0 Cedar Crest by three points and to state-ranked 6-A power Pittsburgh Central Catholic.
►The unbeaten duo of Red Lion and Northeastern look stacked at the skill positions. The Red Lion combination of quarterback Nic Shultz to wideout Randy Fizer looks lethal, while Northeastern’s trio of quarterback Zech Sanderson, running back Manny Capo and wideout Jordan Lagana has helped the Bobcats average more than 33 points per game. Northeastern is ranked No. 1 in the latest District 3 5-A power ratings. Red Lion is No. 3 in the 6-A ratings.
►An inexperienced Dallastown team can’t be overlooked. The Wildcats struggled in their first two games, getting outscored 82-10 by a pair of 6-A schools, including a 56-7 pounding to a 3-0 Manheim Township squad that is ranked No. 1 in the district 6-A power ratings. Ron Miller’s bunch, however, rebounded nicely from that ugly loss with a 23-20 win vs. 6-A Penn Manor last week.
D-I overview: Put all those facts together, and you have a division that appears to be improved from top to bottom and should offer pivotal games nearly every Friday.
It starts this Friday night when Central York takes on Red Lion in an early-season showdown that should attract a monster crowd to Horn Field.
At this point, there doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut D-I favorite. That should make for an entertaining race with plenty of surprises over the next seven weeks.
When the D-I race ends on Friday, Oct. 25, we can start to focus on the district playoffs. We’ll find out then just how much the D-I teams have really improved compared to the other regional programs.
Until then, sit back and enjoy the Friday night fun.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.