This is the fifth installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season.
Team: Delone Catholic Squires.
Coach: Corey Zortman, third season.
2016 record: 7-3 overall, 4-3 York Adams League Division III.
Key losses (2016 all-stars in bold): Brian Shermeyer, Bryce Perkins, Zach Hart, Wade Niederer, Brandon Hall, Trey Reese, Derek Smith, Brady Repasky.
Key returners (2016 all-stars in bold): Zack Schussler, Ryan Hart, Seth Leonard, Cody Pfaff.
2017 schedule (Division III games in bold): Sept. 1, vs. Trinity (7 p.m.); Sept. 8, at Columbia (7 p.m.); Sept. 15, vs. New Oxford (7 p.m.); Sept. 22, at York Catholic; Sept. 29, vs. Littlestown (7 p.m.); Oct. 6, at Biglerville (7 p.m.); Oct. 13, vs. Bermudian Springs (7 p.m.); Oct. 20, at Fairfield (7 p.m.); Oct. 27, vs. York Tech (7 p.m.); Nov. 3, at Hanover (7 p.m.).
Outlook: It will be a season of discovery for coach Corey Zortman and the Squires after losing more than 20 players to graduation. Only two seniors with significant playing time return, Zach Schussler and Ryan Hart.
One of the groups hit hardest by the turnover is the offensive line. Zortman says Delone will need to replace four of the five starters up front this year.
However, despite the team’s youth, Zortman sees a chance for a number of players to prove themselves and really set the team up for success.
“When you’re young like that and lack that game experience, you see how quickly they develop,” Zortman said. “And this year’s perceived weakness will be next year’s strength.”
Zortman says that despite the lack of seasoned players, contributions from the team will be balanced throughout the classes.
The coach also pointed to the defensive side of the ball as a point of strength for the Squires in 2017. Zortman said he was impressed by the play of his linebackers and defensive backs during the summer 7-on-7 period.
Another reason Zortman doesn’t seem intensely bothered by the lack of experience is the fact that he knows his team isn’t alone in that regard.
“I’m optimistic that we can put together a quality season,” Zortman said. “Especially being that pretty much every team has turned over some good senior classes.”
Quotable: “Defensively, I think we can be a strong team, we have guys that can run to the football. If we can figure out our interior, if we can bolster that down, the guys we put in behind them are all capable of getting to the football.” — Corey Zortman.