STROHECKER: Once again, there's no clear-cut favorite in York-Adams Division II football
- For the second season in a row, Division II looks to be a toss up with no clear favorite.
- York Suburban has won the last two Division II titles, going 6-0 both years.
- Dover returns nine starters on both offense and defense, one of the most experienced teams in the division.
There have been two consistent trends within York-Adams League Division II football in each of the past two seasons.
First, it seemed as though the division was completely up for grabs in the preseason, with each coach pointing at a different team as the favorite.
Second, when the regular season ultimately ended after Week 10, those up-in-the-air predictions have been undone by York Suburban winning the division.
The Trojans, in their first two seasons under Andy Loucks, haven't started the best, but have finished strong. They've gone 8-2 in both 2015 and 2016, which includes a pair of 0-2 starts, followed by eight-game winning streaks to close out the regular season.
So, yes, that means that Suburban hasn't lost a game in division play during that time, leading to two consecutive division crowns.
Still, even if the Trojans enter this season as the team to beat, it may not be because they're the most talented, at least to start the season. Suburban could wind up being the most talented, but after graduating a significant number of key players for a second consecutive year, it'll take time to see how this new crop adapts to new roles. The Trojans are the team to beat solely because they're the two-time defending division champions and until someone unseats them, they'll be at the top of the totem pole.
So, it'll be up to the rest of the division to topple the kings, but who that may be is the biggest question.
Starting with Suburban, after losing both Division II Offensive Player of the Year Ben Igo and Defensive Player of the Year Teague Hoffman to graduation, among many others, Loucks will again have to work his magic with his roster. Seniors Pete Groncki and Willie Batty will play big roles on both sides of the ball.
Last season, Gettysburg and Eastern York were the only other two Division II teams to finish above .500 in the division, each going 4-2. The Warriors actually had a chance to share the division title with Suburban last year, but lost in the head-to-head showdown late in the season to squander that chance.
The Golden Knights also could've grabbed a share of the title with the Trojans, but dropped a Week 10 showdown between the two sides to settle into a tie for second. Eastern went 4-6 overall, but feasted on a down year in the division. Any potential for the Knights to take a step forward in the second year under head coach Jeff Mesich may have gone out the window with the transfer of Seth and Trey Bernstein to York High. Seth was the starting quarterback for Eastern last season as a sophomore, while Trey was the starting center as a freshman. The Bearcats' gain is a big loss for Eastern.
True contender: If there's a true contender to dethrone Suburban at the top of the standings, it's Dover.
The Eagles have, arguably, the most experienced group coming back in the division, at least among the teams expected to be in a position to make some noise. Dover returns nine starters on both sides of the ball from a team that battled to a 4-6 mark last season and 3-3 in the division. The Eagles did graduate six all-stars from the 2016 roster, but also bring back five. Derek Arevalo and Brandon Lawyer combined to rush for more than 1,000 yards last year, giving the offense the potential to put up some serious points this year. Dover and the Trojans meet in Week 8 this season, with that game having all the makings of being for the division title, which was also the case two years ago.
The other three teams in the division — Susquehannock, West York and Kennard-Dale — don't quite seem to have the fire power to make a move to first this year. The Warriors went 3-7 last season and lost a lot from that team, including quarterback Chase Summers and running back Jack Allred.
The Bulldogs will be young again in the third season under Jeremy Jones and are more than likely a year away from truly contending. If last year's 2-8 season had any silver lining to it, it came in the shape of Corey Wise. As a freshman, Wise led the team in passing yards with more than 700. Entering as the definitive starter, Wise should continue to improve and give West York fans a sign of hope for 2018 and 2019.
Lastly, there's the Rams. After going 0-10 in the first year under Chris Grube, K-D returns most of that team. In the world of constant change in high school sports, any time you can have very little turnover from one season to the next, you need to make the most of it. The Rams should be better, which means a win or two could be in the cards for them.
Predicted order of finish: Dover, York Suburban, Eastern York, West York, Gettysburg, Kennard-Dale, Susquehannock
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org