York Suburban looks to replicate 2015 football success

Patrick Strohecker
  • After starting 0-2, York Suburban has won three straight games to get back above .500.
  • Last year's Suburban team also started 0-2 before rattling off eight straight wins to win Division II title.
  • The Trojans will face 1-4 Susquehannock on the road this Friday.

If the York Suburban football players feel like they've been over this ground before, it's probably because they have.

York Suburban Ben Salazar (10) gets tangled with teammate Savion Harrison (7) after making a catch during practice earlier this season. The Trojans have won six straight games and finally moved into a playoff spot in the District 3 4-A power ratings. Amanda J. Cain photo

Senior lineman Gavin Barclay can sense the déjá vu.

A year ago, the Trojans opened their 2015 season with back-to-back losses, only to rattle off eight straight wins en route to the York-Adams League Division II title and a spot in the District 3 3-A playoffs.

So far this season, Suburban has mirrored that 2015 campaign, opening the year with two straight home losses to York Catholic and Northeastern, only to win three straight games since then.

"Déjá vu clearly, because it's a replica of last year," the 6-foot, 6-inch, 300-pound Barclay said. "Last year, we had a great team. Clearly, that's not our team this year. There's different team aspects that we have to figure out, but I think we're on our way to doing that."

New challenges: Barclay is right, this isn't last year's team.

That one was blessed with a record-setting quarterback in Thomas Merkle and, arguably, the best receiving corps in the league. All of those players graduated, leaving numerous holes to fill and even more questions to answer.

Head coach Andy Loucks was adamant back in August during Y-A League media day that if there would be a drop-off, it wouldn't be much.

Yet, when the Trojans took to the field in Week 1, they were downed by the Fighting Irish and their persistent running game, and then lost again again the following week against a talented Northeastern club. In 2015, Suburban opened with a Week 1 loss to Red Land and then a Week 2 defeat to Northeastern. However, according to Loucks, not all 0-2 starts are created equal.

"Those kids were learning our system and we were learning what they could do," said Loucks, who was entering his first season with the program in 2015. "With these guys, we know what they can do and they know the system, it was just a matter of repetitions and getting comfortable in their roles that they have this year."

Early start to year: Loucks also thinks that the early start to the school year had something to do with his team's sluggish beginning.

Suburban began classes on Aug. 18, just three days after the first official day of practice opened. Most other schools in the area didn't begin until shortly before Labor Day. Those teams had more time to focus solely on football practice before school came into play.

So, with that hurdle to overcome, it took time for the football team to play catch-up.

Familiar opponents: What worked in Suburban's favor last season to help it reel off eight straight wins was playing familiar Division II foes. This year's team is hoping that bodes well for 2016.

York Suburban quarterback Ben Igo throws a pass during practice Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Amanda J. Cain photo

Knowing the opposition and its tendencies helps to streamline preparation. However, that works the other way for the opponents, too. They know Suburban very well, too.

In addition, while winning non-league games is great to bolster a team's District 3 power rating, most teams begin each season with the goal of winning the division title. That's certainly the case for the Trojans, who, after playing their fourth-and-final non-league opponent last week in Northern Lebanon, can now put everything they have into division play.

"Now we know, this is all divisional play and we know how important each and every game is," senior quarterback Ben Igo said. "We're just going out and trying to execute."

Lately, Suburban has been executing quite well. It's the only Division II team with a positive point differential at plus 27, while Igo is the third-leading passer in the league with 684 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception.

With three straight wins already under their belt to get back above .500 at 3-2, the Trojans will travel to Glen Rock on Friday night to face Susquehannock, a team struggling at just 1-4. So a fourth straight win certainly could be in the cards.

Last year's Suburban team managed to turn an 0-2 start into a division title team.

Now, the 2016 Trojans are hoping to replicate the same feat.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com