By Brandon Stoneburg and Zach Miller
With 20 days left to the start of the 2015 high school football season, here are 20 things we're looking forward to this year:
- Rivalries: Spring Grove vs. South Western. Bermudian Springs vs. Biglerville. Delone Catholic vs. Littlestown. Those are the matchups that get the students fired up and we can't help but get excited about them too. The teams don’t like each other and the fan bases don’t like each other. There’s trash talk on social media prior to the game and after every whistle.
- Berm’s new turf field: Bermudian’s long-awaited debut for its new, turf football field will finally arrive Sept. 4 vs. New Oxford. The field is emblazoned with an Eagle that stretches from 40 to 40 in the center of the field and two bright red end zones.
- Coaching debuts: Three new coaches from the Hanover-Adams area (Corey Zortman, Kyle Sprenkle, Jason Warner) will be making their debuts on Sept. 4. All three would like to get their first wins out of the way early.
- Coaching milestones: Last year we saw former Squires coach Steve Wiles mobbed by his players after reaching the 100-win plateau in an October win vs. Biglerville. This season, we have a chance to see Littlestown’s Mike Lippy pick up career win No. 100 if the Bolts can win five games.
- New looks: We always look forward to seeing what fresh look each team brings. The only major change this season will be in Spring Grove, where the Rockets trade in the plain blue helmets with stripes on the top for a new stripeless helmet with Rockets spelled out in script red lettering.
- New Oxford’s first win: When the Colonials take the field on Opening Day, it will have been 1 year, 10 months, and 17 days since their last victory. If and when that first win comes, it’ll be a huge relief to New Oxford. The Colonials have gone through a winless season and a coaching change in the past year.
- The new-look Eagles: The defending Div. III champs will field an entirely new starting lineup, aside from Logan Luckenbaugh. It’ll be fun to see how some of those guys do now that last year’s senior-heavy class is gone.
- The Corral: One of the most-storied and exciting places to watch a game, South Western’s Corral is stadium that once donned a banner that read, “We’re the reason you’re afraid of the dark.” It’s a must-visit during football season. The Mustangs give their home crowd plenty to cheer about. They’re 21-11 there in the last six seasons.
- Out of state competitions: Our teams beat up on each other every week, so it’ll be exciting to see them square off with some out-of-state talent. Can Delone hang with two-time Tennessee state champ Union City? Can Fairfield cross the Mason-Dixon Line and come away with a victory against Maryland’s Silver Oak Academy?
- Arms race: The Hanover-Adams area boasts three of the top quarterbacks in the league in Kyle Krout, Brock Geiman and Brian Shermeyer. Krout led the league in passing yards last season and thrives in Hanover’s pass-happy offense. Geiman threw 14 touchdown passes and Shermeyer, who thrived in limited time last season, will have a chance to air it out more, according to head coach Corey Zortman. Can one of those guys top the league’s passing charts?
- Gettysburg’s revenge: The Warriors’ impressive inaugural YAIAA campaign ended in heartbreak when they were upset at home by Milton Hershey in the first round of districts. Will the bad taste from that loss fuel another postseason run?
- Dorsey in the open field: Good luck to any linebacker or defensive back trying to run Tavian Dorsey down in the open field.
- Expectations: Can Biglerville and South Western live up to the billing as division favorites? Both rabid fan bases have high hopes that their squads can make some noise this season. Both have the talent necessary to play deep into November.
- Can Littlestown rebound? The Bolts are not used to seeing their team struggle. Before last season’s 3-7 finish, Littlestown hadn’t seen a losing season in nearly a decade. It’s fun to see the Bolts fan based fired up, so can Mike Lippy right the ship and prove last season was a fluke?
- What unheralded RB makes a splash? Those players who fly under the radar during all of the preseason hype, but make a name for themselves starting in week one. For instance, who saw Shay Feulmer’s big season coming in his first year as a running back or Drew Hartlaub’s sensational sophomore season at South Western? Who will it be this season? Maybe Quinton King and Ashton West at Bermudian? Or L.J. Chisholm at Spring Grove? What about Hanover’s Jordan Laughman?
- Bands and student sections: It’s always entertaining to see which schools show up with the best student sections. Be loud and be creative. Bands are fun too and there are some good ones in the area. What would the game atmosphere be like without those guys and girls?
- Playoff races: The last three or four weeks of the season are tense. With so much on the line, which playoff bubble teams crumble and which teams step up? Last season, Delone Catholic realistically needed to win out down the stretch to make the playoffs. Those implications made each of their games that much more important and entertaining.
- Jon DeFoe vs. Mike Lippy: As the two elder statesmen of Division III, these two coaches always bring their best when their teams square off. What tricks will they unveil in this years matchup?
- Quarterback debuts: Tyler Wilt (Gettysburg), Darian Mort (Fairfield) and Tristan Hoke (Bermudian) will all be starting the season as the No. 1 guy for the first time. How will they fare?
- The battle for the Division III title: In the past decade, only three teams (Delone, Bermudian, Littlestown) have won the division. Could Biglerville or York Catholic finally sneak into that top spot and dethrone the Eagles?
Bonus: Opening Night: Smell the concession stand food, soak in the evening sun, and hear the band belt out the fight song for the first time. Listen as the warm-up music blares from stadium speakers, pads clash on the field and the home team is introduced to a raucous crowd for the first time. Football is back.