With 11 weeks left to the start of the high school football season, The Evening Sun's Countdown to Kickoff continues with a look at the Hanover Nighthawks. Brandon Stoneburg and Zach Miller will highlight one team from the Hanover-Adams area every Friday leading up to the start of the season.
Last year: 2-8, tied for seventh in Division III
Coach: Bill Reichart (second season)
Key players lost: WR Dylan Krieger (78 catches, 1,279 yards, 7 TDs), OL/LB Garrett Reichart, OL/LB Josh McClintock, WR/CB Jase Etzler.
Key players returning: QB Kyle Krout (144-291, 1,886 yards, 11 TDs, 9 INTs, 103.99 QB rating), RB/CB Jordan Laughman, WR/CB Nick Seymour, RB/LB Colten Ehrhart, WR/CB ReSean Williams.
Key stretch: Oct. 9-23 (vs. Fairfield, at Littlestown, vs. York Tech)
Not the most daunting slate of games, but that's what makes this stretch intriguing. Hear us out: Fairfield is supposed to take a step back this season and Hanover already gave them a game last year. Littlestown finished just one game better than Hanover last season, and York Tech was one of the Nighthawks' two wins in 2014. Those are three of Hanover's more-winnable games, back-to-back-to-back, and with two of three coming at home. Win one or two of those and all of a sudden the Nighthawks are close to making progress in the win column.
Circle this game on the schedule: Oct. 2 vs. York Catholic
Last season, the Nighthawks put up a pretty good fight in the second half against the Irish, who went on to be a District 3 runner-up, as Jordan Laughman ran for 157 yards and a touchdown.
The Irish could be taking a step back this season with the graduation of Hakeem Kinard, who the Nighthawks (and the rest of Div. III) will not miss. Kinard torched Hanover for 328 yards and five touchdowns combined on the ground and through the air. Hanover will obviously be trying to replace their own playmaker, Dylan Krieger, but this game could be even closer than last seasons and it precedes the key stretch mentioned above. And it's at home.
Storyline to follow: Speaking of...How exactly do you replace do-it-all receiver/playmaker Dylan Krieger?
The 6-foot-7 receiver was the go-to guy for quarterback Kyle Krout, accounting for 68 percent of the Nighthawks' receiving yards. Hanover even plugged Krieger in a sort-of "Wildcat" formation in the red zone to get him the ball even quicker. Every defense knew where the ball was going and, for the most part, they still couldn't slow him down. Krieger led the league in catches (33 more than the second-leading receiver) and receiving yards (272 ahead of the second-leading receiver). Krout led the league in passing yards and the team had the top passing offense in the YAIAA. Still, with all that, they managed just two wins, so what will happen now that Krieger's gone?
Krout will lean on a committee of wideouts to carry the load. Colten Ehrhart returns after recording 127 yards and two scores before being lost to an arm injury midway through the season. Nick Seymour and ReSean Williams each flashed potential at times and could see more passes thrown their way as well.
Side note: The defense, which finished at or near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistic, will have to be much better as well.
2015 ScheduleSept. 4: at James Buchanan
Sept. 11: at Kennard-Dale
Sept. 18: Eastern York
Sept. 25: at Bermudian Springs
Oct. 2: York Catholic
Oct. 9: Fairfield
Oct. 16: at Littlestown
Oct. 23: York Tech
Oct. 30: at Biglerville
Nov. 6: Delone Catholic
Countdown to kickoff scheduleJune 12: New Oxford
June 19: Hanover
June 26: Littlestown
July 3: Spring Grove
July 10: Biglerville
July 17: Fairfield
July 24: South Western
July 31: Delone Catholic
Aug. 7: Gettysburg
Aug. 14: Bermudian Springs
Aug. 21: Over/Unders
Aug. 28: Top returning units