Just a year ago, Hanover and Biglerville went from also-rans to co-Division III champs in one year. Delone Catholic enters 2016 believing it can do the same.
Despite going 4-6 last season, the Squires are confident this fall and it's not difficult to see why. Delone graduated just six players from last season's team and returns eight starters on both sides of the ball.
"Biglerville and Hanover both had mirror seasons, where they were junior-driven the year before and were able to bring a strong group of seniors and had really good seasons," Delone head coach Corey Zortman said. "We feel we can do the same, but we're going to have to work for it."
Now going into his second season as head coach, Zortman said he has a better understanding of his team's strengths and weaknesses. His players also feel more comfortable than they did a year ago.
"I think it helps, we're more familiar with how things are going to be run," senior offensive and defensive tackle Bryce Perkins said. "Last year might have been a little bit of a feeling-out process but this year we're ready to go."
Matt Allibone and Teddy Feinberg talk about the upcoming season of YAIAA Division III football.
Quarterback: Delone brings back senior and three-year starter Brian Shermeyer, who threw for 741 yards and five touchdowns in Delone's run-heavy, wing-T system last season.
"I feel he's the catalyst for the team, when he goes the rest of the team goes," Zortman said.
Running back: The biggest hole the Squires need to fill is at running back, where 1,000-yard speedster Tavian Dorsey graduated. Zortman said the Squires will be fine with a committee approach led by Zach Hart, Ryan Hart and Sean Sneeringer. Logan Panzer and Alec Maitland will also compete for playing time.
Last season at fullback, Zach Hart ran for 534 yards and seven touchdowns.
Receivers: The Squires don't typically rely on the pass, but they have a slew of experienced receivers in senior Larry Leffler and juniors Ryan Malinowski and Cody Pfaff. Seniors Brady Repasky and Noah Katz will split time at tight end.
Offensive line: The line will arguably be Delone's greatest strength. Senior tackles Perkins and Wade Neiderer bookend a strong unit that also includes returning starting center Derek Smith.
Defensive line: Perkins and Neiderer will start at tackle and Smith is expected to start at one end. The other end spot is up for competition.
Linebackers: Zach Hart will be a returning starter in the middle. Katz and junior Zach Schussler will get the first shots to start on the outside.
Secondary: A number of players will compete for playing time at cornerback, including Malinowski, Maitland, Pfaff and senior Ogechi Oparanozie. Shermeyer is expected to start at safety.
Zortman is expecting big things from soccer player Brandon Hall in his second year with the team. Shermeyer will handle punting duties.
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Save the date
Delone hosts Hanover Nov. 4 in one of the league's fiercest rivalries. The Squires will be extremely motivated after last year's 45-20 loss to the Nighthawks.
The Squires are very experienced and strong up front. They should contend for the Division III title.
In the huddle
Head coach: Corey Zortman (4-6 in one season) (OC)
Assistant coaches: Dave Staub (DC), Barry Zortman, Colby Zortman, Steve McMaster, Michael Kale, Brian Arentz, Mark Leonard
Enrollment: 356 total (179 male)
Sept. 2 — Delone Catholic at Trinity, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — Columbia at Delone Catholic, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — Delone Catholic at New Oxford, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — York Catholic at Delone Catholic, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — Delone Catholic at Littlestown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* — Biglerville at Delone Catholic, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — Delone Catholic at Bermudian Springs, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — Fairfield at Delone Catholic, 7 p.m.
Oct. 29 — Delone Catholic at York County Tech, 1 p.m.
Nov. 4 — Hanover at Delone Catholic, 7 p.m.
L // Trinity // 28-42
W // @ Columbia // 39-16
L // Union City (TN) // 0-56
L // @ York Catholic // 24-29
W // Littlestown // 26-7
L // @ Biglerville // 6-21
L// Bermudian Springs // 17-20
W // @ Fairfield // 51-28
W // York County Tech // 49-28
L // @ Hanover // 20-45