COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Dover Eagles football preview
This is the 13th installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season on Sept. 4.
Who: Dover Eagles.
2014 record: 5-5 overall, 4-2 Division II.
Coach: Wayne Snelbaker, first year.
Key returners: Durran Ledbetter, senior, running back/middle linebacker; Matt Farr, senior, center/defensive lineman; Derek Breneman, senior, linebacker; Tyler Blazosky, senior, quarterback.
Notable losses: Levi Murphy, tackle; Tyler Jacobson, offensive guard/defensive tackle; Tyrel Jones, running back; Shawn Orchard, defensive end; Malik Allen, defensive end; John Sterner, defensive back.
2014 All-Stars: Murphy, tackle; Jacobson, offensive guard/defensive tackle/punter; Jones, running back; Orchard, defensive end; Allen, defensive end; Sterner, defensive back; Ledbetter, running back/inside linebacker; Farr, center; Breneman, inside linebacker.
2015 schedule: Sept. 4, vs. Shippensburg (7 p.m.), Sept. 11, vs. Big Spring (7 p.m.); Sept. 18, at Red Land (7 p.m.); Sept. 25, at Gettysburg (7 p.m.); Oct. 2, vs. Eastern York (7 p.m.); Oct. 9, at Kennard-Dale (7 p.m.); Oct. 16, vs. Reading (7 p.m.); Oct. 23, at York Suburban (7 p.m.); Oct. 30, vs. West York (7 p.m.); Nov. 6, at Susquehannock (7 p.m.)
Outlook: Snelbaker is returning home. Twenty-five years after graduating from Dover, he's now the head coach at his alma mater and looking to get the program back to where it was in 2013. That year, first-year coach Eric Lam guided the Eagles to an 8-2 regular-season mark, a Division II title and a playoff victory. But, after a 5-5 year in 2014, Dover is looking to bounce back.
To do so, Snelbaker is going to need his players to adapt to a new system, going from the Wing-T to a spread formation. It should benefit some of his returning stars, including Ledbetter and Blazosky. Ledbetter ran for just under 700 yards and eight touchdowns last year as a junior.
Snelbaker will have a good chance to show off his version of Dover to the home fans with two straight home games to open the year. But, after that, back-to-back road contests will further test the Eagles, including a Week 3 match-up at Red Land, where Snelbaker is a teacher. Then, in Week 9, Snelbaker will get a taste of coaching in the Dover-vs.-West York rivalry from the other side, when his former team, the Bulldogs, visit the Eagles. Snelbaker was an assistant at West York.
It should be an improved year for Dover, and with West York losing some key pieces form last year's division-winning team, it could open the door for the Eagles to possibly edge their way back into the top spot.
Coach speak: "The transition is going pretty good. It was a little rough at the beginning with trying to get them to change their mentality and buy into what we were doing. Over the past couple months, things have changed and they're buying into what we're selling." — Snelbaker, on changing the mentality of his players under the new coaching staff.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.