Week 4 marks the beginning of league play around much of District 3, including the York-Adams League.
This past Friday night, Sept. 22, almost every Y-A team began its quest to try and claim a division crown (except for Susquehannock, which will do so in Week 5).
This is the part of the schedule that nearly every coach considers his team's most important. These are the games against your peers — your rivals. They are the teams that will be compared against each other for the rest of the regular season. Until Week 4, all comparisons were based on non-league action.
Week 4 division play told us a few things about certain teams in each division. Most notably, it showed us which teams will likely seriously contend for division crowns and which ones are still a year or two away.
Division I: There were two marquee games in Division I in Week 4, featuring York High at Red Lion and Northeastern at Central York.
The Bearcats-Lions game at Horn Field had all sorts of intrigue, mainly because it was a showdown of two undefeated teams after non-league play finished. York High was the darling of the first three weeks of the season, using its swagger and athleticism to defeat Reading, J.P. McCaskey and Cedar Cliff. The three wins on the young season tripled the amount of wins the program had over the previous two seasons combined, so there was plenty of reason for optimism.
However, Red Lion had a point to prove. After its forfeit win over Chambersburg in Week 3, it too was still unbeaten. After going 10-0 in the 2016 regular season, the Lions entered Friday's game having won 17 straight regular-season games.
The Lions defeated the Bearcats, 31-14, and ran their regular-season winning streak to 18 games. Red Lion also proved that, as reigning Division I champ, until someone comes along and ends its streak, it's still the class of Division I. As for York High, while one loss won't derail what is already a successful season, it showed that there's still some work left to be done to get into the upper echelon of the division.
The game between the Panthers and Bobcats pitted a 1-2 Central team against a 3-0 Northeastern side. Based on the records alone, the Bobcats appeared to be the favorites on paper, but the Panthers played one of the toughest non-league schedules in the area. That tough slate prepared them well for Division I play. Not to mention, Central was a trendy pick to win Division I in the preseason. This was a chance for Central to make a division statement.
The Panthers did just that, rolling, 36-7, showing that they'll likely be right there at the end of the season, contending for a Division I title. As for Northeastern, this was only the start of a gauntlet of games to kick off division play. The Bobcats still have Red Lion, Dallastown and York High awaiting them the next three weeks, so, for a young team, they're only just starting a brutal stretch of contests that will reveal a lot about them.
The other marquee name in the division is Dallastown, which improved to 3-1 with a thrashing of Spring Grove, 52-13. It was the third consecutive win for the Wildcats, but until they play one of the other top teams in Division I, most folks will likely reserve judgement on their potential. After next week's game at York High, we will know a lot more about the 2017 Wildcats.
Division II: Three teams stood out from this division after Week 4 — Dover, Eastern York and Kennard-Dale.
The Eagles could realistically win Division II and got things rolling in the right direction with a 47-29 win over Gettysburg. Dover is back to 2-2 after losing its first two games and, as one of the more experienced teams in the division, should do well in a division that doesn't appear to have a dominant program.
The Eagles' Week 5 game at home against the Golden Knights could provide some answers for both teams. Eastern is also now back to .500 after defeating West York, 27-18. The final wasn't convincing, but the Golden Knights were always in control. What makes Eastern interesting in Division II is that, last year, it competed well against like-talented teams in the division, going 4-2 in division play and tying for second. The Knights are already a win ahead of where they were at this point last year, so keep an eye on them, especially going into a crucial Week 5 contest.
Then, there's the Rams. Yes, those Rams. Don't look now, but K-D is 3-1 on the season and in first place in Division II as the only team with a winning record after defeating two-time defending Division II champ York Suburban, 13-12. The Rams, like York High, are a nice feel-good story early and could continue to win with a favorable Week 5 meeting against winless West York. With few high-quality teams in Division II, K-D could hang around and contend and, if nothing else, finish at .500 or better.
Division III: Here's the thing about Division III, after one week of league play, there are three favorites.
Two of them are Littlestown and Bermudian Springs, which are 4-0 and 3-1, respectively. Usually in that mix is York Catholic. However, after what took place Friday, maybe that third team isn't the Fighting Irish.
Instead, Delone Catholic looks like a true contender. The Squires remained undefeated by beating York Catholic on the road, 21-7. The win snapped a four-game losing streak against their Catholic school rivals. The Squires also did something that no Division III team could do last year, which is beat the Irish in division play.
Despite graduating significant pieces from last year's team, Delone looks legit. A showdown with the Thunderbolts in Week 5, which features two 4-0 programs, will tell us a lot about both.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org