By Zach Miller and Brandon Stoneburg
With eight weeks left to the start of the high school football season, The Evening Sun’s Countdown to Kickoff continues with a look at the Biglerville Canners. Brandon Stoneburg and Zach Miller will continue highlighting one team from the Hanover-Adams area every Friday leading up to the start of the season.
Last year: 5-6, tied for fourth in Division III
Coach: Alex Ramos (6th season)
Key players lost: RB Sam Laird (432 rush yards, 5 TDs), LB Nate Mentzer (61 tackles, 3 sacks), K/P Jorden Trostel (38.2 punt average, 21 extra points, 4 field goals)
Key players returning: QB/LB Ben Hurda (681 pass yards, 4 TDs, 8 INTs, 73 tackles), RB/DB Scott Cooper (526 rush yards, 5 rush TDs, 280 receiving yards, 4 rec TDs, 3 INTs), RB/LB Colton Sentz (422 rush yards, 3 TDs, 62 tackles), RB TJ Weaver (265 rush yards, 1 TD), WR/DB Dayne Showers (586 all-purpose yards, 28.8 kickoff return average, 3 INTs), WR Gage McAuliffe (362 all-purpose yards)
Key stretch: Sept. 25-Oct. 9 (Fairfield, at York Tech, Delone Catholic)
The first three weeks of divisional play gives the Canners an opportunity to earn some revenge and make a statement that they're the team to beat in Division III. Biglerville lost to Fairfield by one point last season, and lost to Delone Catholic by 12 points two weeks later when a few controversial calls by the referees left the Canners feeling slighted. Both of those losses came on the road, but the Canners now have an opportunity to get revenge on their home field. And if Biglerville really is a contender to win the division like many think they are, three wins in this stretch will make it clear.
Circle this game on the schedule: Nov. 6 at Bermudian Springs
Who else? There's a good chance that the Division III title could hinge on the outcome of this game, and the Canners will have their handful trying to defeat the defending division champions on the road. Throw in the traditional bad blood between these two teams, and this rivalry game should be a fun one on the last Friday of the season.
Storyline to follow: Can the Canners dethrone Bermudian?
It's hard to pinpoint what the Canners' strength was last season. As a team, they were in the bottom half of the league in passing, pass defense and rush defense. They forced five more turnovers than they gave up, which was a positive, but they didn't have a skill player in the top 15 of any statistical category in the league. Simply put, they weren't a flashy bunch.
So why could they knock Bermudian off the pedestal?
Well, Biglerville was the most improved team in the division last year after making the jump from 1-9 to 5-6 and a district playoff appearance. The logical thought is that they'll improve again after bringing back almost the entire team. The Canners you see on the field Sept. 4 will be a group that has played together for years. They were young two years ago. They learned they could win last year. Now, they're hungry, and they want Bermudian.
And a quick poll of coaches around the division shows that the Canners are the favorites to compete with the Eagles at the top of Division III.
They also have a favorable schedule. They'll get six home games this season after playing six on the road last year. Their non-division schedule isn't exactly tough, and their only real road test won't come until the season finale at Bermudian.
Some teams have a two- or three-headed monster in the backfield. Head coach Alex Ramos has a bit more than that at Biglerville. The Canners had five tailbacks run for at least 180 yards and four of those guys are coming up, including Scott Cooper, who racked up 884 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns before going down in week 8 with a season-ending ankle injury. He could be one of the top all-around players in the division.
Ramos also gets four of his top five receivers back and his starting quarterback. A few miles away, Bermudian will be replacing all of those positions.
If there's a year when the Canners could make a run for the division crown, it's this season. Stay tuned.
2015 ScheduleSept. 4: Annville-Cleona
Sept. 11: Waynesboro
Sept. 18: at New Oxford
Sept. 25: Fairfield
Oct. 2: at York Tech
Oct. 9: Delone Catholic
Oct. 16: at York Catholic
Oct. 23: Littlestown
Oct. 30: Hanover
Nov. 6: at Bermudian Springs
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