Thursday night football notebook: Central York, West York, William Penn
We're less than 24 hours away from the start of high school football season. By this time tomorrow night, the first week of YAIAA football will be complete, and yours truly will be scrambling around trying to make deadline.
As you count down the final hours until kickoff, here are a few final notes to ponder. They include some insight of West York's newest offensive weapon, and the bond between a quarterback and offensive tackle at William Penn.
Central's defense reloads
Central York has become known for its ultra-aggressive defense. But that unit will have a bit of different look Friday night against West York.
Gone is four-year starting linebacker Kyle Baublitz (now at Penn State), along with stalwarts like defensive end Charles Anderson and safety James Culp.
Some new faces will have to step into big roles for the Panthers, something head coach Brad Livingston sounds just fine with.
"Right now, we're feeling pretty good about ourselves on the defensive side of the ball," Livingston said. "We played a lot of kids and last year. I know (defensive coordinator Russ Stoner) had a corps of 20-22 kids that got playing time.
"Bottom line is, we're feeling pretty good about things. We feel that that group is going to play real well."
No unit will look more different than the Panthers' linebackers. With Baublitz having moved on to Penn State, Central will rely on juniors Jonah Plymire and Saladin Dickson and senior Chris Englar (No. 35 pictured above) to fill in.
"The last two years, Kyle was more of an 'OK, see what you got going on in front of you player.' ... He was a sort of safety net,'" Livingston said. "We're kind of back to doing the things we did three or four years ago."
Livingston said Central's defense will maintain its blitz-heavy style. And with a first-time starter at quarterback, West York can expect to see even more pressure.
"We know what to expect," Bulldogs coach Ron Miller said. "They're going to come after us. They always do. With Kaden back there, they're definitely coming after us."
New weapon for the Bulldogs
For the second straight year, West York must replace a prolific tailback. This time it's Corey Harris, who ran for 1,468 yards and 28 touchdowns last year.
Miller has said the Bulldogs will likely lean on a group of backs to get the job done. One back who could make a contribution is senior Leland Tate.
You might remember Tate as the West York track star, who won a YAIAA championship this spring in the 300-meter hurdles. After not playing football the last two years, Tate decided to come out for the Bulldogs this fall.
Listed at 5-foot-11, 164 pounds, Tate might not be an every down back. But count on Miller to find ways to use him.
"He just needs to get into it," Miller said. "No one has popped him in any of the scrimmages, but I'm very excited to get him into the open. Once we get him into the open field, I think he's going to open some eyes very quickly."
Blind side buddies
The success or failure of William Penn's offense this year will rest largely on the unproven right arm of Dontae Davis (right). The senior, brother of former Bearcats QB Jordan Davis, did not play football last year, and has spent the majority of this preseason trying to get comfortable with his new role.
Earlier this preseason, Davis came to William Penn coach Shawn Heinold with a request. He asked Heinold if he would consider moving senior Laquan Autry, Davis' friend, from right tackle to left tackle, where he could protect Davis' blind side.
"In his mind, he felt that because it's his boy, that his level of trust in the pocket would go up," Heinold said. "I said 'Hey, you're the one out there, not me.'"
Heinold made the switch, and hopes it will help solidify a Bearcats line that returns two starters (Autry and John Mora) from last year. William Penn hosts Reading at 7 p.m. Friday.
The YAIAA's leading junior rusher last year might not have grabbed a lot of headlines. Red Lion's Jeremy Knaub was far more efficient than he was flashy. But he still piled up some hefty numbers, including 984 rushing yards, eight touchdowns and a 5.7 yards per carry average.
Expect those numbers to go up. This year, Knaub will be running behind what figures to be the biggest offensive line in the YAIAA.
Here are some of this season's other returning offensive leaders (with last year's stats):
Sean Doherty, Sr., Littlestown -- 179 carries, 868 yards, 4.8 ypc,
Aaron Greene, Sr., Northeastern -- 166 carries, 834 yards, 5.0 ypc, 10 TDs
Nick Full, Sr., York Catholic -- 119 carries, 611 yards, 5.1 ypc, 11 TDs
Neal Grudi, Sr., Spring Grove -- 62-146 (.425), 1,267 yards, 10 TDs, 15 INTs
Brandon Baker, Jr., Central York -- 79-155 (.510), 1,135 yards, 10 TDs, 9 INTs
Adam Sentz, Sr., York Catholic -- 103-197 (.523), 1,144 yards, 11 TDs, 6 INTs
Gary Laucks, Sr., York Catholic -- 56 catches, 668 yards, 11.9 ypc, 9 TDs
Ben Reigart, Sr., Spring Grove -- 20 catches, 450 yards, 22.5 ypc, 3 TDs
Ben Kline, Sr., Dallastown -- 29 catches, 432 yards, 14.9 ypc, 4 TDs