For at least a few years now, there's been one constant around the York-Adams League each preseason — the race for the Division II football title was expected to be up for grabs.
While all three divisions have shown parity over the last few seasons, Division II might be the only one where you could honestly say you had no clue about which team would finish on top.
In Division I, you always knew that Red Lion and Dallastown would finish near the top of the standings. Then, minus one down year in 2015 by Central York, and with the emergence of Northeastern under head coach Jon Scepanski, those two teams joined the Lions and Wildcats in the top tier of D-I teams.
In Division III, York Catholic and Bermudian Springs have been models of consistency, while Delone Catholic and, for the most part, Littlestown, are normally in the conversation.
But, in Division II, it really has been a crap shoot.
Sure, you can argue York Suburban can be mentioned in the same breath as Red Lion, Dallastown, York Catholic and Bermudian Springs because the Trojans have won back-to-back Division II titles. However, entering each of those seasons, nobody outside of Suburban really knew what the Trojans would be. Slow starts culminated in hot finishes and two division crowns.
The rest of the division in those two seasons was a toss up, with teams finishing all over the place in the division standings.
It was the same song going into 2017, with every coach speaking about having realistic opportunities to win the division. If there was ever a division with unknown expectations, Division II was it. A team wouldn't necessarily have to be great to win the division.
Muddled mess early on: Through the first half of the season, it looked like this year was going to play out like the last few. By Week 4, only an upstart Kennard-Dale team was above .500 at 3-1. By Week 5, Dover and Suquehannock joined that mix.
Now, after Week 6, we might finally have some clarity about which teams are the real contenders for a division title, and it's not as many as you might think.
Both the Eagles and Warriors (Susquehannock, not Gettysburg) remain unbeaten in division play, with Dover holding a slim half-game lead over Susky because the Warriors have only played two division contests to the Eagles' three.
West York, which has also only played two division games, is the only team with one division loss at 1-1, but is also just 1-5 overall. Everyone else in the division might be out of contention already with at least two division defeats.
If you were to try and tab a favorite in the division during the preseason not named York Suburban, Dover may have been it. The Eagles were one of the more experienced teams in the division, with many of their starters having more than a year of varsity experience.
Separating from the pack: So far, it's shown. Dover, after dropping its first two games, has rattled off four consecutive wins, including division wins over Gettysburg, Eastern York and Kennard-Dale. The victories over the Golden Knights and Warriors served as wins against two teams that tied for second in Division II in 2016 with 4-2 division records, while the win over the Rams came on the road against a team trying to prove it is no longer an afterthought in the division.
Meanwhile, Susquehannock entered the year having lost a number of players to graduation. After alternating wins and losses through the first four weeks, the Warriors have since won their first two Division II contests to keep pace with the Eagles.
Dover and Susquehannock have separated themselves from the rest of a muddled pack in Division II with four weeks to go in the regular season.
It's hard to see any of the two-loss teams realistically having a shot to win the division crown, so it might just be a two-team race down the stretch.
So, when do the Eagles and Warriors face each other in 2017? Week 10 at Susquehannock.
A Week 10 game that could be for the division title.
That should be fun.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com