Red Lion looking like a contender in Division I
In my weekly notes column Wednesday, I took a look at the development of Red Lion quarterback Tanner Klinefelter. After being thrown into the lineup last year unexpectedly, the 6-foot-2 junior has looked far more comfortable this year in leading the Lions to a 3-1 start. Klinefelter certainly deserves some credit for Red Lion's start, but he's far from from the only one. In the beginning of the season, Red Lion was sort of a mystery team in Division I. We knew they had talent. We knew they had lots of players returning. But could they put it all together? Would they be able to avoid the same injuries and mistake and frustrations that contributed to last year's 4-6 finish? The answer, so far, has been yes. Take away an opening night loss to Cumberland Valley (the defending Class AAAA district champs), and Red Lion has looked every bit like a Division I contender. After squeaking past Manheim Township in overtime, the Lions trampled Carlisle and Kennard-Dale by a combined score of 102-17. And with a game against a struggling New Oxford (1-3) up next, the Lions have every chance to be 4-1 heading into the start of division play next week. I chatted a bit with Klinefelter and Red Lion coach Pat Conrad this week. For a few quotes from both of them, click the jump. Red Lion junior QB Tanner KlinefelterOn his team's play so far: We feel pretty confident. We feel like everything is going our way. On what the team, and he, learned from last year: It helped us grow as a team, and we're not making the same mistakes. Definitely last year coming in as a sophomore second half of the season, it was definitely tough. It was tough getting used to the speed. On what he specifically improved on in the offseason: I'd just have to say probably my passing, making better reads than what I did last year. That time last year gave me a lot of confidence. On his receiving corps: Branden Kessler is a big kid, 6-4. Hes a real good weapon to throw to. A lot of corners aren't as big as him, so that helps. And Joe Baublitz, he's probably the best route runner I've ever seen. On the upcoming start of Division I play: We're real excited about league play coming up soon. But at the same time we're just trying to take it one week at a time. Red Lion coach Pat ConradOn whether this team has exceeded his expectations so far: It's about what we expected. We're right where we wanted to be. We haven't even reached our full potential yet. There are things we have to do things better. On his team's overtime win against Manheim Township: We've beaten them the two previous years, so our record against them is good. ... We were making plays and doing things that we felt we could do (against them). It's just that we shot ourselves in the foot at critical times. I'm anxious to see how they do this week against Warwick (eds note: A team Dallastown beat), just to compare scores and stuff. I think that win just gave us confidence. On what gave him confidence coming into the year: Just the dynamics of the kids. They're confident what they can do. The way they rebounded from all the distractions we had (last year), the way they finished. They're very competitive. On Klinefelter's play: Tanner has done a phenomenal job. Particularly last year, under the circumstances, he did an admirable job. But he was still a sophomore. This year, that experience has paid off immensely. He doesn't try to force things, and he just kind of lets the flow of the game come to him rather than trying to dictate what's going. I'm certainly pleased with his production. He's got quite a few good receivers to throw to, too. He's kind of a quiet leader, but he's very competitive. He understands from a quarterback position what he has to do to put us in that position (to win). He's grown. On the running game so far: We have a group of kids, we're still trying to find the right mix, so to speak. And also with the offensive line, that's something we're working on. We're having some success, but it's not where we want it to be yet.