There are a total of 12 boys' lacrosse teams in the York-Adams League.
With that few teams, it normally doesn't bode well for much parity within a league. Typically, you'll have a few good teams, a few bad ones and then most will be somewhere in between.
That's typically what happens.
This year, however, the league has loads of parity, with more than half of the 12 teams currently with overall winning records. That's led to lots of entertaining match-ups so far this season. It also set ups an intriguing stretch run and league playoffs.
This is only the eighth year that lacrosse has been an official sport within the Y-A League, and, so far, this is shaping up to be the most successful season in the league's existence. Since the sport was introduced to the county as an official high school varsity sport, only one time (2010) has the league seen at least six teams finish above .500 overall. Right now, the league has seven teams with more overall wins than losses (York Catholic at 7-1, Central York at 7-2, Red Lion at 6-2, Dallastown at 6-2, York Suburban at 5-3, West York at 5-3 and Susquehannock at 4-2). Another team (Eastern York at 3-3) is at .500 and one other (Spring Grove at 4-5) is just a game under .500.
What it means: Those records show the continuing growth of the sport and league in York and Adams counties.
For decades, lacrosse has been a staple in Maryland, arguably one of the state's biggest sports, maybe only trailing football, basketball and baseball, but quickly making up ground. So, it was inevitable that the sport would eventually drift north into Pennsylvania, in particular, southern Pennsylvania. Two counties bordering Maryland make up the Y-A League.
We've seen it in the girls' game, where Kennard-Dale has built a local dynasty within the league, in part because so many of the girls either grew up playing the game in Maryland before it caught on in this area, or they've moved from Maryland to the county, as a more affordable option for their parents who may work in northern Maryland.
While the Rams have reigned supreme in the girls' game, we're not getting that on the boys' side. Sure, everyone likes a dynasty just to see how far it can go and how long it can last, but there's nothing wrong with a little balance throughout the league. The Y-A League has crowned a tournament champion every year since 2011. That's five chances for a league tournament champion, with four different schools earning the honor, with only Dallastown winning the championship twice.
If the Wildcats want a shot at league title No. 3 this year, they'll have some work to do. Dallastown is currently one of three teams tied for the fourth-and-final playoff berth, yet finds itself only a game out of first place. That sums up the competitive nature of this year's league.
Right now, Central and Red Lion are tied for first in the league standings at 5-1, followed York Catholic at 4-1. Suburban, Dallastown and Susquehannock stand at 4-2, followed West York (3-3), Eastern York (2-3), Spring Grove (2-4), New Oxford (1-5), South Western (1-5) and Kennard-Dale (0-6).
No dominant team: With no one dominant team, you get instances such as last week, when three one-loss teams overall — Red Lion, Central York and West York — all took the field on the same day and wound up losing. On Tuesday, the Lions fell to Eastern York, 16-11, the Wildcats handled the Bulldogs, 12-5, and the Panthers lost to York Suburban, 15-14.
That day paints a pretty clear picture of the muddled 2016 Y-A League boys' lacrosse standings. On any given night you can have one team knock off another, creating a whole wave of movement within the league. Lose one game and you can quickly go from being one of the top two or three teams in the league, to potentially being on the outside of the playoff picture.
So, the girls' side can have the annual dominance of Kennard-Dale, a team that seems destined to win its fifth league title in six seasons.
The boys, however, will continue to put themselves through the gauntlet every time they step on the field.
At the end of the year, whoever is left standing as the 2016 Y-A League boys' champion can truly say it is the best in a league full of equals.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org