“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.”
Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker.
The Susquehannock and Kennard-Dale football teams can only hope that ol’ Ziggy knew what he was talking about.
Both the Warriors and Rams have major opportunities on Friday night.
There’s little doubt that Susquehannock head coach Steve Wiles and Kennard-Dale head coach Chris Grube will do their absolute best to make sure their teams are properly prepared.
The success part of Ziglar’s equation, however, will be a little more difficult to achieve.
That’s because Susquehannock and K-D will each hit the road to take on the two teams generally regarded as the favorites for the York-Adams Division II football championship.
Susquehannock (3-1) travels to Gettysburg (3-1), while K-D (3-1) visits York Suburban (4-0).
Returning to southern York County with upset victories will be daunting tasks. If Susquehannock and K-D can achieve those challenging feats, however, both teams will stamp themselves as legitimate D-II title contenders and will solidify their chances of making the District 3 Class 4-A playoffs. They’ll also likely set off some major celebrations down near the Maryland border.
In the latest District 3 4-A power ratings, Suburban is No. 4, Gettysburg is No. 8, K-D is No. 10 and Susquehannock is No. 13. Only 10 teams will make the 4-A district playoffs, so every game is critical, especially for Gettysburg, K-D and Susquehannock.
Susquehannock, Gettysburg and Suburban opened D-II play last week with easy victories. K-D, meanwhile, will make its 2019 D-II debut on Friday. That means none of the four teams has yet tasted defeat in D-II play.
So, put mildly, there will be a lot on the line on Friday night.
Here are a few things to look for in each of the showdowns:
Susquehannock at Gettysburg: The York County Warriors could very easily have entered this game at 4-0. Only a third-week 17-14 stumble against a 1-3 York Catholic team has blemished Susquehannock’s record.
Susquehannock, however, rebounded nicely with a 35-13 beating of Dover last week. That gave both Warrior teams three double-digit wins on the season. Gettysburg’s only loss came to traditional District 3 power Bishop McDevitt, 28-9.
Gettysburg is the defending D-II champion and ran roughshod over division foes a season ago, winning each of its D-II games by at least 20 points. That included a 40-3 triumph at Susquehannock.
The gap between Gettysburg and the rest of the division, however, appears to have narrowed this season. The Adams County team doesn’t appear to be quite as explosive this season. That’s to be expected with the loss of Ammon Robinson, the 2018 D-II Offensive Player of the Year, who graduated after setting a school record with 1,534 yards rushing.
Still, Gettysburg is not without offensive weapons, most notably Charles Warren, who is averaging more than 10 yards per carry and nearly 19 yards per reception. He has more than 500 yards from scrimmage.
Susquehannock will counter with an offense featuring bruising 6-foot, 200-pound fullback Daniel Clapp, who has rushed for nearly 500 yards and is averaging more than 8 yards per carry.
It would not be surprising, however, if this turned into a defensive struggle. Susquehannock is No. 1 in the league in scoring defense at 9.3 points per game, while Gettysburg is No. 4 at 14.3 ppg.
Gettysburg is led by 6-3, 235-pound linebacker Austin Heiser, the reigning Y-A D-II Defensive Player of the Year and the son of Gettysburg head coach Matt Heiser. Senior linebacker Luke Ohmann powers Susquehannock’s stout defense.
Kennard-Dale at York Suburban: This game could be a more wide-open affair.
Andy Loucks' Suburban crew is No. 2 in the league in scoring at 39.5 ppg, while K-D is No. 3 at 39.0 ppg.
Both teams feature standout running backs. K-D’s Wyatt McCleary is No. 2 in the league in rushing with 720 yards and is averaging 10 yards per carry. Suburban’s Savion Harrison is No. 3 in league rushing with 678 yards and is averaging 9.8 yards per tote.
The star backs will offer different styles. McCleary is a 6-foot, 205-pound fullback, while Harrison is a 5-9, 170-pound speedster.
Suburban’s unbeaten start has been made even more impressive because the Trojans have been dealing with injuries and illnesses to standout linemen Garth Barclay (a Syracuse recruit) and Nasier Spellman. Both, however, played last week in a 42-7 win over Eastern York. That could be bad news for K-D. The 6-7 Barclay tips the scales at about 255 pounds, while Spellman is listed at 6-4, 280. The two form a formidable duo.
The two teams have played a pair of thrillers in recent years. In 2018, the Trojans won, 31-25, while K-D triumphed in 2017, 13-12.
The Rams, however, are searching for their first D-II win since 2017. K-D won four games overall in 2018 but went 0-6 in D-II action. K-D would like nothing better than to end its seven-game D-II losing streak with a win against an unbeaten Suburban side that is outscoring its foes by more than 26 points per game.
Formula for success: By 10 p.m. Friday night, we should know how Susquehannock and Kennard-Dale fared in their challenges.
Did they take advantage of their opportunities? Were they completely prepared? Did they meet with success?
Mr. Ziglar has provided them with the winning formula. The rest is up to the Warriors and the Rams.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.