COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: New-look Wildcats looking to change culture and schemes this season

  • Dallastown is coming off a 5-5 season in 2018.
  • The Wildcats return five total starters this season.
  • Running back Nyzair Smith, who ran for 1,985 yards in 2018, graduated.
Ron Miller, Dallastown
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:

With a total of five starters returning in his second year, Ron Miller’s focus in the offseason was on turning younger, skilled players into a Dallastown team that is ready to compete against talented squads when the season begins. 

To do that, the Wildcats' head coach made some changes to his coaching staff and offseason workout schedule in an attempt to create a new identity for a program that features a number of new faces. 

“Working together, trying to get that culture changed a little bit,” Miller said. “We’ve been working real hard to just stay focused on what we’re doing.”

 One of the things the Wildcats are doing is attempting to replace their entire offensive line and Division I All-Star running back, Nyzair Smith, who ran for 1,985 yards last season. 

Dallastown's Nyzair Smith runs the ball in for a touchdown during football action against Northeastern at Dallastown Area High School in York Township, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Dallastown would win the game 41-25. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Replicating the success in the running game that Dallastown had in the past won’t be easy, but rising senior Juwan Johnson is ready to accept the challenge. The key for him this summer was to get better each day.

“Being able to come in every day and outwork myself the day before,” Johnson said. “It’s big shoes to fill, but I am doing everything I can to fill them in.”

Johnson added that the young offensive linemen have been pushing themselves harder in the weight room and on the practice field than he’s ever seen teammates work. 

In addition to new starters, the Wildcats have changed their defensive philosophy as well this season. Rising senior linebacker Malik Bowman said the team will use safeties in run defense and allow inside linebackers to blitz more. 

Miller said with so many new starters, the coaches are asking a lot from the players, but it will be worth it in the end. If the effort he requires from the players is there, the results will show on the field. 

“We are trying to put a lot of pressure on them and demand a lot,” Miller said. “We have to grow up pretty quickly. Hopefully if we turn the heat up on them now, when the lights go on in a couple weeks, they won’t have that panic. We know we’re going to go through growing pains and we know we’re going to have mistakes, but if we’re just playing hard, running to the ball on both sides, I think we’ll be OK.”

Following is a capsule preview of the 2019 Dallastown season.

Team: Dallastown Wildcats.

Coach: Ron Miller, second season.

2018 record: 5-5 overall, 4-3 York-Adams Division I.

Key losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Nyzair Smith, running back/linebacker; Raymond Christas, lineman; Lucas Skelley, lineman; Jamal Brandon, lineman; Matt Asobayire, lineman; Keenan Fullerton, kicker/punter.

Key returners (Division I All-Stars in bold): Malik Bowman, senior, linebacker; Mitchell Groh, junior, kicker/punter; Gabe Hall, senior, quarterback; Juwan Johnson, senior, running back/linebacker.

2019 schedule (Division I opponents in bold): Aug. 23 at Hempfield (7 p.m.); Aug. 30 vs. Manheim Township (7 p.m.); Sept. 6 vs. Hazelton (7 p.m.); Sept. 13 vs. South Western (7 p.m.); Sept. 20 at Northeastern (7 p.m.); Sept. 27 at York High (7 p.m.); Oct. 4 at New Oxford (7 p.m.); Oct. 11 vs. Spring Grove (7 p.m.); Oct. 18 vs. Central York (7 p.m.); Oct. 25 at Red Lion (7 p.m.)

Reach Rob Rose at