COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Eastern York Golden Knights football preview
This is the 12th installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season on Sept. 4. Today, we're spotlighting the Eastern York Golden Knights.
Who: Eastern York Golden Knights.
2014 record: 7-4 overall, 3-3 Division II.
Coach: Dave Kemmick, second season.
Key returners: Keegan Corwell, junior, running back; Ryan Kalke, senior, defensive back; Wyatt Smith, junior, offensive/defensive line; Sawyer Richardson, senior, defensive back.
Notable losses: Lucas Barshinger, fullback, linebacker; David Livelsberger, running back; Garret Ishman offensive/defensive line; Damian McKinsey, defensive back, kicker; Dylen Bitoni, defensive line; David Cassel, linebacker; Jake Kessler, punter.
2014 All-Stars: Kalke, defensive back; Richardson, defensive back; Smith, offensive/defensive line; Corwell, running back; Barshinger, fullback, linebacker; Ishman offensive/defensive line; McKinsey, defensive back, kicker; Bitoni, defensive line; Cassel, linebacker; Kessler, punter.
2015 schedule: Sept. 4, vs. Columbia (7 p.m.); Sept. 11, vs. York Tech (7 p.m.); Sept. 18, at Hanover (7 p.m.); Sept. 25, vs. West York (7 p.m.); Oct. 2, at Dover (7 p.m.); Oct. 9, vs. Gettysburg (7 p.m.); Oct. 16, Homecoming vs. Susquehannock (7 p.m.); Oct. 23, at Kennard-Dale (7 p.m.); Oct. 30, at Pine Grove (7 p.m.); Nov. 6, at York Suburban (7 p.m.).
Outlook: In his first season as coach, Kemmick was able to end Eastern York's 24-year postseason drought.
If a return trip to the District 3-AAA playoffs is in order for the Golden Knights, they'll have to do so without a major part of their offense in 2014. Gone is all-star fullback Lucas Barshinger, as well as running back David Livelsberger. The pair helped Eastern post the sixth-best offense in York-Adams League in terms of yards gained (328.5 yards per game).
Of the team's 3,613 yards gained, 3,165 came on the ground. Livelsberger was the York-Adams League's ninth-leading rusher with 886 yards and Barshinger was seventh with 987. Barshinger scored 20 touchdowns.
Corwell hopes to fill the void left behind by those departures. Corwell showed sparks in limited action last season, racking up nearly seven yards per carry and scoring five touchdowns. Smith returns to help bolster the offensive line.
Barshinger was an all-star on the defensive side of the ball at the linebacker position. He was also the Golden Knights' leading tackler a year ago on a defense that ranked fifth in York-Adams League in terms of yards surrendered (260.5 yards per game). That defense was also tied for second best in the league with a plus-nine turnover ratio.
A strength of that defensive unit was its backfield. Eastern allowed only 110.6 yards per game in the air in 2014.
The schedule looks the same for the Knights, who open with five of their first seven games at home. Racking up the wins early will be crucial for playoff positioning. The regular season closes with three straight road contests.
Coach speak: "We have a lot of experienced kids coming back," Kemmick said. "We have a pretty positive outlook, looking to get back to the playoffs and win a game this year. I think our defense is going pretty good everywhere; and our position of strength on offense is probably our backfield."
— Reach Elijah Armold at email@example.com.