In each of Andy Loucks’ first two seasons as head football coach at York Suburban, the Trojans won the York-Adams Division II title.
Last season, however, the Trojans went 2-8 and finished tied for last in the division. After two games this season, it looked like Suburban was heading down a similar path.
The Trojans’ lost a close game in their season opener to York Catholic, but the one that stands out was a 62-0 loss to Delone Catholic.
Loucks said the loss to a standout Delone team was a turning point for his young team. The Trojans have since rolled off three straight wins and have already exceeded their overall and division win totals from last year.
“The Delone game was a wake-up call for some of these guys to show that varsity football is a lot different than JV and junior high football,” Loucks said. “Sometimes when you have young teams, they need a wake-up call, and I think that’s what that was for us.”
A large part of the 0-2 start — which the Trojans have endured in each of Loucks’ four seasons — is the difficult nondivision schedule they play. York Catholic and Delone Catholic are both undefeated this season.
“It wasn’t like we played two cupcakes the first two weeks,” Loucks said.
“It’s nothing new to us,” said running back Savion Harrison. “We’ve always known we can turn it around after 0-2.”
Harrison said he prefers to play tough competition rather than try to get easy wins early in the season.
“It makes us better,” Harrison said. “When you go against the other teams who haven’t seen any good competition, they look down at us and they underestimate us. It gives us an advantage.”
Burn the tape: After the loss to Delone, Loucks’ message to his team was, basically, burn the tape.
“We just trashed it, flushed it and moved on,” Loucks said. “… We’ve been better focused, better effort and better intensity, and that’s led to better play.”
In the two weeks after the Delone loss, Suburban defeated East Pennsboro 48-20 and Eastern York 49-7. Last week, it looked as if the Trojans would lose to Kennard-Dale, when the Rams led 25-6 at halftime.
Suburban outscored K-D 25-0 in the second half to win the game 31-25 and improve to 2-0 in D-II play.
“The first half was a lot of turnovers and mental mistakes,” Loucks said. “For them to get themselves refocused at halftime shows the maturity that we were hoping to see. If we didn’t go through a lot of the stuff we went through last year and had not played the tougher competition, we wouldn’t have come back to win that game.”
The strength of the team so far has been the rushing attack, which ranks third in the Y-A League in yards per attempt. The Trojans have totaled 1,251 yards on 176 carries for 7.1 yards per carry. Suburban was a pass-heavy offense in Loucks’ first few seasons, but he said he doesn’t force a system on his players.
“We believe in molding our system to fit our personnel,” he said. “Our system on offense and on defense is very flexible. It’s designed that way to maximize our talent.”
Harrison excels: Harrison is the third-leading rusher in the Y-A League, totaling 745 yards on 86 carries, averaging 8.7 yards per rush.
“He’s a hard-working kid,” Loucks said. “He’s going to show up and play to the best of his abilities. He’s not a big kid, but he plays like he’s a lot bigger.”
With D-II having no clear favorite, Loucks knows his team has a shot to win the crown — or lose the rest of its games.
“You do have some really good teams in Division II,” Loucks said. “It will be a challenging season the rest of the way.”
Harrison said the team realizes it can’t take any games off.
“It doesn’t matter who the team is,” Harrison said. “You have to play your best, because one loss can ruin your season.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.