COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: South Western hopes senior-laden team will lead to turnaround

  • The South Western football program is coming off a 1-9 season in 2018.
  • The Mustangs hope a senior-laden 2019 team will produce a turnaround.
  • South Western has a number of returning starters, but will need to find a new QB.
Chris Heilman, Southwestern
Football Media Day, Thursday August 1, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Editor's note: This is one in a continuing series of team previews for the 2019 York-Adams League football season:

The South Western football program has an illustrious history of success.

In recent years, however, the Mustangs have struggled to keep up with the top teams in York-Adams Division I.

Injuries have had a lot to do with that.

“With the injuries that we’ve had, we’ve had to ask some juniors and even sophomores and freshmen to try to step in the play for us,” third-year South Western head coach Chris Heilman said. “And we took our bumps and we took our bruises, but those kids are better for it.”

Those injuries did indeed give younger players such as Austin Fuhrman, Tyler Higdon and Cody Reusing the time and experience that Heilman hopes will pay dividends in 2019.

“I know that the entire team is unhappy about what happened last year,” Heilman said of the team’s 1-9 mark. “These guys are winners, they fight, they work hard and they do everything that you ask them to do. And they’re the ones that are going to change it.”

Fuhrman, Higdon, Aaron Fry and Charles Gaither figure to get a majority of the touches from the running back position this season. Reusing, Eric Fraim and Corey Lee (tight end) also return to anchor the offensive and defensive lines.

“I’m excited to the see the improvement and the leadership that I feel is going to happen with this group this year,” Heilman said. “And I know that historically at South Western, whenever we’ve had our best seasons, we’ve traditionally had senior-laden teams like we have this year.”

Finding a replacement for quarterback Derek Huff, who graduated, is one of the biggest question marks for the squad. Heilman mentioned Shilo Bivins and Barry Chamberlain as the primary options at the QB position.

Following is a capsule preview of the 2019 South Western season.

Team: South Western Mustangs.

Coach: Chris Heilman, third season.

2018 record: 1-9 overall, 1-6 York-Adams Division I.

Key losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Dalton Stacho, offensive/defensive lineman; Nick Boone, running back; Derek Huff, quarterback; Garrett Wilson, linebacker; Connor Wilson, linebacker; Logan Schuman, wide receiver/defensive back; Josh Tippin, offensive/defensive lineman

Key returners (Division I All-Stars in bold): Austin Fuhrman, senior, running back/linebacker; Tyler Higdon, senior, running back/defensive back; Aaron Fry, senior, running back/defensive back; Cody Reusing, senior, offensive/defensive lineman; Corey Lee, senior, tight end/defensive lineman; Eric Fraim, senior, offensive/defensive lineman, Charles Gaither, junior, running back/defensive back.

2019 schedule (Division I games in bold): Aug. 23 at Gettysburg; Aug. 30 vs. Chambersburg; Sept. 6 vs. Carlisle; Sept. 13 at Dallastown; Sept. 20 vs. Red Lion; Sept. 27 at Central York; Oct. 4 at Northeastern; Oct. 11 vs. York High; Oct. 18 at New Oxford; Oct. 25 vs. Spring Grove.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at