COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Red Lion replaces 14 starters, including quarterback, after big year

  • Red Lion is coming off an 8-3 season in 2018.
  • The Lions graduated 14 total starters from last season.
  • Rising senior Nic Shultz will take over as starting quarterback this season.
Jesse Shay, Red Lion
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 14 starters on both sides of the ball having graduated, Red Lion coach Jesse Shay knew this offseason would be a learning process for his team. 

One of the bright spots for Shay in replacing so many key players was that the majority of the Lions taking over starting roles this year had past experience in the program.

“We’ve got a lot of brand new guys that are going to have to step up,” Shay said. “Luckily for us, a lot of the guys who are filling those roles are seniors themselves. We’re (replacing) them with guys that have been around, know the system and know what the expectations are.” 

One of those new guys is rising senior quarterback Nic Shultz. Replacing York-Adams Division I All-Star quarterback Zach Mentzer normally would be a cause for concern for Shay, but not with Red Lion’s current quarterback. 

Red Lion quarterback Nic Shultz launches a pass during a practice at the school Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. Red Lion won a share of the York-Adams Division I title last season. Bill Kalina photo

“In many cases it would, but we are very fortunate in that, for the last several years, we’ve had three or four kids in that quarterback room who are in succession,” Shay said. “The young man we’re handing the keys to this year, Nic Shultz, has been in that (quarterback room), so he knows the system.”

Shultz said he learned a lot in his time watching Mentzer play and that he is excited to prove that he’s more than the running quarterback people think he is this season.

“I’ve learned that there’s more to being a quarterback than just passing and running,” Shultz said. “I have to be able to read a defense, pick out certain things I know aren’t going to work and communicate with my offensive coordinator.” 

Although the Lions are replacing a number of starters, Shay said the expectations remain the same this year and the team has its sights set on even more success.

“The goals don’t ever change for us,” Shay said. “We want a division title, but then I am also glad to hear from our senior class that it’s not just (winning the division). We haven’t gotten over the hump of district playoffs yet, and I am pleased to hear that the seniors are taking ownership of the idea that, they’re the class that needs to move us on and get to that second round.”

Red Lion wideout Randy Fizer Jr. looks for another big season at his new favorite position

Following is a capsule preview of the 2019 Red Lion season.

Team: Red Lion Lions. 

Coach: Jesse Shay, seventh season.

2018 record: 8-3 overall, 6-1 York-Adams Division I.

Key losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Eli Workinger, linebacker/tight end; Zach Mentzer, quarterback; Ben Hornberger, wide receiver/defensive back; Justin Dillon, running back/linebacker; Cole Renfro, defensive end; Jason Nazarenus, wide receiver/defensive back; Tyler Ness, running back/defensive back.

Key returners (Division I All-Stars in bold): Randy Fizer, junior, wide receiver/safety; Jared Miller, senior, lineman; Kairen Gordon-Bey, junior, lineman; Bailey Royer, senior, wide receiver/defensive end; Kurt Keough, senior, linebacker/running back; Kobe Martin, senior, wide receiver/cornerback.

2019 schedule (Division I games in bold): Aug. 23: at J.P. McCaskey (7 p.m.); Aug. 30 at Waynesboro (7 p.m.); Sept. 6 vs. Chambersburg (7 p.m.); Sept. 13 vs. Central York (7 p.m.); Sept. 20 at South Western (7 p.m.); Sept. 27 vs. Northeastern (7 p.m.); Oct. 4 at York High (7 p.m.); Oct. 11 vs. New Oxford (7 p.m.); Oct. 18 at Spring Grove (7 p.m.); Oct. 25 vs. Dallastown (7 p.m.)

Reach Rob Rose at