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Suburban believes it can defend D-II football title

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
505-5403/@yaiaascores
  • York Suburban finished 6-0 in York-Adams Division II a season ago.
  • The Trojans ended up with an overall record of 8-3.
  • Suburban lineman Gavin Barclay already has a scholarship offer from Lehigh.

While it doesn’t seem like there’s one favorite this preseason to capture the York-Adams League Division II football title, defending champion York Suburban doesn't plan to give up the title easily.

Sure, the Trojans lost the most dynamic quarterback in the division in D-II Player of the Year Thomas Merkle, who threw for more than 2,500 yards to go with 26 touchdowns as a senior.

Gone too are leading rusher Dajour Henderson (630 yards) and leading receiver Collin Mailman (67 catches, 1,263 yards).

While those vacancies are significant, Suburban coach Andy Loucks has confidence that this year’s senior class can ably fill them. That’s why Loucks and his squad believe that the Division II crown still goes through them.

“We lost a lot, but we do have a lot of kids coming back,” said Loucks, who led the team to an 8-3 overall record last season, including a 6-0 mark in Division II. “Many of them were either starters last year or they played a tremendous amount of football. Sure there’s going to be a transition and there will be times where we will see them not make the same type of plays that the older kids would have. But I feel like we’ll be OK.”

One of the biggest reasons that Loucks can feel at ease is that quarterback Ben Igo is no newcomer to the position. In fact, Igo played and started throughout the different levels at Suburban until Merkle surpassed him two years ago. So many of this year’s seniors have a sense of comfort with Igo behind center.

“I’m really confident in Ben,” said senior offensive lineman Gavin Barclay. “I played in front of Thomas the past two years, but before that, grades seven through nine, it was Ben. And I know it’s going to be a little different playing with Ben, but I’m confident that he has the ability and capability to get it done.”

Like Igo, there are other players who figure to play prominent roles for the Trojans this year. Receiver Collin Deardorff caught 17 passes for 135 yards as a junior. And Teague Hoffman returns to the backfield after rushing for 358 yards and catching 13 passes for 148 yards last year.

“We do have good football players,” Loucks said. “We do have talent coming back, but they haven’t been in the headlines because of Thomas and Collin and Dajour and all those guys had been the ones that everybody was looking at.”

Barclay a big asset: One of the biggest assets for the Trojans this year is the presence of Barclay. Listed at 6-feet, 6-inches and 280 pounds, Barclay was named one of the top 105 seniors heading into the season by the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association. He was selected last year by the York-Adams League coaches as a first-team D-II all-star at offensive tackle.

“He’s been offered a scholarship by Lehigh,” Loucks said. “He’s done the camp thing. And I’m sure there’s a couple (Football Championship Subdivision) schools that are going to make him offers sometime soon. And some bigger schools, like Vanderbilt and Penn State, he’s still kind of an unknown. He doesn’t have all those big fancy stars behind his name. So they are going to wait and see his first three games and see how he does.”

Having Barclay on the line automatically adds a nice size element to the Suburban line. But he’s far from alone. Junior Sam Hont is listed at 275 pounds, while Ralph Casper checks in at 215 pounds.

BLOG: Two York County linemen rated among state's best

“We’ve been working out all summer,” Barclay said of the team's linemen. “Most of us have been playing together since seventh grade. I would say that we’re all a pretty close-knit group of guys and I know that we’re all ready to get going.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.