COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Red Lion Lions football preview.
This is the 22nd installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season on Sept. 4.
Who: Red Lion Lions.
2014 record: 6-5 overall, 5-2 Division I.
Coach: Jesse Shay, third season.
Key returners: Dalton Grove, senior, quarterback; Kendrick Boyd-Gillespie, senior, wide receiver/safety; Nick Argento, junior, offensive/defensive tackle.
Notable losses: Antwan Jackson, running back/outside linebacker; Sam Lowe, center/defensive end; Nate Orji, defensive back.
2014 All-Stars: Jackson, running back/outside linebacker; Lowe, center/defensive end; Orji, defensive back; Boyd-Gillespie, wide receiver/safety; Argento, offensive/defensive tackle.
2015 schedule: Sept. 4, at Hershey (7 p.m.); Sept. 11, vs. Manheim Township (7 p.m.); Sept. 18, at West York (7 p.m.); Sept. 25, vs. York High (7 p.m.); Oct. 2, at Northeastern (7 p.m.); Oct. 9, vs. South Western (7 p.m.); Oct. 16, at New Oxford (7 p.m.); Oct. 23, vs. Central York (7 p.m.); Oct. 30, vs. Spring Grove (7 p.m.); Nov. 6, at Dallastown (7 p.m.).
Outlook: Shay certainly earned his Division I Co-Coach of the Year honor in 2014. In just his second season, he guided the Lions to a 6-5 overall record, a second-place finish in Division I and a berth in the District 3-AAAA playoffs. Of course, now he has to live up to last year's success and surpass the expectations he's set for himself.
Fortunately for him, he'll have his starting QB, Grove, and second-leading wide receiver, Boyd-Gillespie, returning for their senior seasons. Grove threw for 1,020 yards as a junior in 2014 and Boyd-Gillespie caught a team-high 21 passes for 242 yards. And who can forget when the tandem connected four times in the loss to West York? Despite the loss in that game, it was likely a sign of things to come from the duo and could be a scary connection for opposing defenses to try to stop this year.
Sadly, Shay will have to replace two key pieces from last year's team in Stone Hill and Nick Mankin, who died in June in a car accident. Both players, who would've been entering their senior years, would've been starters this fall. Hill was a two-year starting linebacker, earning York-Adams second-team honors in Division I last season, while Mankin started as a junior last year at right guard.
Coach speak: "We're ready to go. They put in long hours and hard work, really ever since Thanksgiving, and it's all been leading up to the day that we can put helmets and shoulder pads on again and start playing football." — Shay on his team's excitement entering the 2015 season.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com.