Dover's Shane Adcock, left, is stretched by Mike LoPresti during a preseason practice. Close to 20 seniors return for the Eagles, making them a solid contender in Division II. 'If those kids decide to do something special, there is nobody that is going to stop them,' head coach Bill Miller said. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Paul Kuehnel)
The Eagles broke a two-year, 1-19 slump last season by going 6-5 and earning a District 3 Class AAA playoff berth. And with a solid contingent returning from that squad, Dover enters the new campaign with some lofty expectations.
Eagles coach Bill Miller said it is key how the players will handle themselves as a solid contender in Division II of the YAIAA.
"We try our best to create the tone that we haven't won anything yet," he said. "Hopefully, the kids buy into the fact that it took a lot of hard work and a lot of effort to get to where we were last year. It is going to take even more to get beyond that."
Miller's squad has both size and experience up front, as well as in the returning skill positions. This includes quarterback Connor Snyder, who shared snaps with Dan Mikos last season but is the guy this year.
"I feel like I have more responsibility. I am going to have to step up and be more of a leader," said Snyder, who also was one of Dover's leading tacklers from the defensive backfield in 2010.
With plenty of threats on offense, one area the Eagles look to improve is defense, which allowed 319 points last season.
Filling the void: Gone are Josh Firestone, who was a strong blocking tight end, plus solid linemen Jeremiah Middleton and Brandon Lutz.
Plus, 2010 leading rusher Tanner Link, who ran 160 times for 1,332 yards -- an 8.5 per-carry average -- and 18 touchdowns is back for his senior season. So is Jared Shipley and his 533 yards (6 per-carry average) with three scores.
Varsity letters: In addition to those mentioned above, linemen Josh Reichert, Chad Gotwalt and Zeb Carbaugh are back, as is tackling machine Mike LoPresti, who also had 29 carries as a fullback last season.
The Eagles' stable is full coming into the new campaign, and the coaching staff stressed team unity in the offseason.
"That many kids can galvanize a team," Miller said. "We have a lot of kids coming back to the program. If those kids decide to do something special, there is nobody that is going to stop them."
But the coach heeds this warning.
"As much potential as you may have, and as much of an advantage you may have on paper, you still have to do the work on the field," Miller said.
"I guarantee there is not a single person on that schedule that is going to say, 'We forfeit." They are going to show up and play. It's just that simple."
New face in the crowd: Sophomore tailback Logan Ambrose has caught the coaches' eyes. Miller said Ambrose will be a solid backup for Link.
Mark your calendar: This is an easy one. Not only are Dover and West York rivals, but many would pick the winner of this Oct. 14 clash to be the frontrunner in Division II.
Who is one player on your team you would not want to face? Michael LoPresti. He is a real hard hitter.
What practice drill do you hate the most? Probably Catch Freddy. You line up in 10-yard gaps. It is 10x10. You have two offensive players, a running back and a defensive player. The defensive player has to catch the running back as many times as you can in 30 seconds while the other two offensive players drill you with their shields.
Which NFL player would you compare yourself with? Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins. I play the same position.
What is your favorite pregame music? A little bit of rock and roll, maybe some rap.
Do you have a nickname? How did you get it? Coach calls me Fat Boy. A couple coaches a couple years ago called me Beach Umbrella, because they said I was so big I blocked out the sun.
What is your favorite move on the field? Pull lead. I get to run a lot faster at the other team and just hit them.
What is the best thing about playing football? Hitting people!
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