Looking ahead: Week 1 football matchups
The summer doldrums are upon us. The weather is oppressively hot. The high school sports world has gone into hibernation, with nothing but the occasional baseball game to keep us company. Fear not. Just 51 days stand between us and Sept. 2, opening night of the high school football season. (Not that I'm counting, or anything.) I was clicking around earlier today, checking out some of the games on tap for Week 1. (You can, too. EasternPAFootball.com has a great database with complete schedules for each YAIAA team.) I did a rundown of some of the best matchups after the jump because, well, why not. We all need something to look forward to during the next seven weeks. Enjoy. Central York at West York, 7 p.m. This has become the "it" game during the season's opening weekend, and it's little wonder why. These have been two of the area's most consistent programs recently. Throw in their proximity, two great fan bases and a built-in rivalry, and you have a recipe for an entertaining matchup. For the second straight year, West York must navigate a brutal first half schedule. The Bulldogs start their season off with games against five Class AAAA teams: Central York, Governor Mifflin, at Spring Grove, at Dallastown, South Western. As for Central? The Panthers get the unenviable assignment of a Week 2 visit to Cumberland Valley. Cumberland Valley at Red Lion, 7 p.m. These two teams can't escape each other. Red Lion was the darling of last season's District 3 Class AAAA tournament, advancing all the way to the title game as an eighth seed. Once there, the Lions ran into perennial powerhouse, Cumberland Valley. The result -- a 35-7 Eagles victory -- was not pretty. And Cumberland Valley doesn't look any weaker this season. Can Red Lion, which lost a handful of impact seniors including Maryland recruit Andrew Zeller, make this game more competitive? Dallastown at Warwick, 7 p.m. What to expect from the Wildcats this season? Yes, Dallastown lost the bulk of last season's record-setting squad, which rolled undefeated through the regular season. But Kevin Myers has built a solid program, able to restock its ranks from year to year. A step back is probably to be expected, but in no way do I think Dallastown will be a pushover in Division I. This game will give us a better idea where the Wildcats are at. Susquehannock at York Suburban, 7 p.m. Once again, Bill Kerr faces his old team. The Susquehannock coach will start off his sophomore campaign with the Warriors as he did the first -- with a game against Suburban, the school he led from 2007 to 2009. He'll be matched up against a former member of his Trojans staff, Brian Freed, who replaces Craig Zortman as Suburban's head coach. Both these teams are coming off rebuilding years. An opening night win could offer a big confidence boost. South Western at Gettysburg, 7 p.m. To me, these sort of regional rivalries are what the non-league schedule is all about. You have two established programs, and two teams who know each other well. South Western is almost always a threat in YAIAA Division I, and this year has the YAIAA's most explosive offensive player -- Temple commit Mike Felton. He figures to be a major threat both on the ground and as a passing option. Gettysburg, meanwhile, will have to replace its own dynamic ball carrier in graduated tailback D.J. Johnson. Central Dauphin East at Spring Grove, 7 p.m. Game 1 of the Russ Stoner era at Spring Grove gets an added twist. This matchup will also be the C.D. East debut of legendary coach George Chaump, who had spent the last eight seasons at Harrisburg. Stoner, the former Central York defensive coordinator, will bring loads of energy and intensity, but his Rockets will have to grow up fast. All 22 of Spring Grove's starters last season graduated. New Oxford at Delone Catholic, 7 p.m. Couple interesting things about this game. First, you have two Hanover-area teams who know each other well. Second, Delone figures by my estimation to be the preseason favorite in Division III (along with Bermudian Springs and perhaps Littlestown). Yes, several key players graduated. But Delone has some experience returning, and the numbers to offset many of those losses. Finally, you have to think this is an important rebound year for the Colonials, coming off last fall's uneven, 3-7 campaign. What about you all? What Week 1 game are you looking forward to the most?