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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Eastern York Golden Knights

ELIJAH ARMOLD
505-5406/@YDSports
  • Jeff Mesich enters his first season as the head coach of the Eastern York Golden Knights.
  • Mesich most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Northeastern High School.
  • Eastern looks to improve on a 4-6 record during a 2015 season that saw it post a 1-5 division mark.

This is the 10th installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season on Friday, Sept. 2.  

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Team: Eastern York Golden Knights.

Coach: Jeff Mesich, first year.

2015 record: 4-6 overall, 1-5 York-Adams Division II.

Key losses (2015 All-Stars in bold): Conner Barshinger, defensive end; Sawyer Richardson, defensive back; Ryan Kalke, quarterback and defensive back.

Key returners (2015 All-Stars in bold): Wyatt Smith, senior, offensive/defensive line; Logan Kline, junior, halfback and free safety; Jahshim Snyder, junior, outside linebacker; Seth Bernstein, sophomore, tight end; Kevin Royce, senior, offensive tackle; Jimmy Kurnick, senior, defensive back. Sam Pollock, senior, inside linebacker. Keegan Corwell, senior, fullback and inside linebacker.

2016 schedule (Division II games in bold): Sept. 2, at Lampeter-Strasburg (7 p.m.); Sept. 10, at York County Tech (1 p.m.); Sept. 16, vs. Littlestown (7 p.m.); Sept. 23, at West York (7 p.m.); Sept. 30, vs. Dover (7 p.m.); Oct. 7, at Gettysburg (7 p.m.); Oct. 14, at Susquehannock (7 p.m.); Oct. 21, vs. Kennard-Dale (7 p.m.); Oct. 28, vs. Central (Martinsburg) (7 p.m.); Nov. 4, vs. York Suburban (7 p.m.).

Outlook: Meisch comes to the Golden Knights after having previously served as the defensive coordinator at Northeastern.

Mesich replaces Dave Kemmick, whose tenure at Eastern was short (two years) but did produce the team’s first District 3 playoff appearance in 24 years during the 2014 season.

A number of all-stars from 2015 return to the Golden Knights squad. All-star lineman Wyatt Smith, a first-team selection as both an offensive guard and a defensive tackle, is a leader on that list.

Also among that group is junior running back Logan Kline. Kline saw lots of time when those in front went down with injuries. He went on to amass the 11th-most yards in the league at 659. He also helped the Golden Knights stake their claim as one of only five league teams to go over 2,000 yards on the ground.

The Knights will look to again have one of the top defenses in the York-Adams League. Last season, Eastern’s defense forced 28 turnovers, while giving up the ball only 16 times to produce the league’s best turnover margin at plus-12.

The Knights were also third-best in the league in terms of yards allowed at 2,338. Only Red Lion (2,320) and Northeastern (1,913) allowed fewer yards last year.

Returning all-stars Jahshim Snyder, Jimmy Kurnick and Sam Pollock look to bolster that group.

One schedule note of interest is the usual contest with cross-river rival Columbia is not on the Golden Knights schedule in 2016. Eastern York has the benefit of three consecutive home games to close the season.

Quotable: “There’s a lot of experience defensively. Obviously, they’re a team that’s been known to be pretty successful defensively, pretty stout. Coming over here, after being the defensive coordinator at Northeastern, defense is very important to me. I’ve been very happy with what I have seen.” — Mesich

Reach Elijah Armold at earmold@yorkdispatch.com