This is Part 6 in our continuing blog series, which looks at 12 players to watch during the upcoming YAIAA football season. A reminder, there is one major change from last year's list: In an effort to profile a wider range of teams, I'm only picking one player from each school for the list.

Previous players

RB Alex Cooley, Eastern York

RB/OLB Marquis Fells, Central York

QB James Dougherty, York Catholic

C/DT Brody Kern, West YorkQB Dustin Crouse, Littlestown

RB Dillon Thomas

South Western, Jr.

2011 stats: 146 att., 1,058 yards, 7.25 avg., 15 TDs

Thomas remained a relatively little-known commodity through the first half of last season. It wasn't that the then-sophomore wasn't producing in the backfield -- it's just that his role in the Mustangs' Wing-T offense was often obscured by the breakneck speed and big-play ability of senior standout, Mike Felton.

Then came Week 8 -- a critical visit to Red Lion's Horn Field.

In that game, Thomas exploded for 201 rushing yards on 27 carries and scored all three of the Mustangs' touchdowns during an emotional, 21-14 victory. It was one of the more memorable individual performances I saw last year -- a coming-of-age performance that helped propel South Western to an eventual Division I title. Before that night, Thomas hadn't rushed for more than 82 yards in a single game. In his final five games (including the Red Lion win), Thomas rushed for 649 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

With Felton graduated, Thomas figures to be the focal point of South Western's offense under new head coach Damian Poalucci.

Other Mustangs to watch: Linebacker Chad Kolper had a team-high six sacks as a junior, to go along with 51 tackles. (UPDATE: Kolper now attends Manchester Valley High School in Maryland) ... Rising senior Mike Duffy tied for a team-best with three interceptions last season, and also saw some reps at quarterback. ... Jerome Robinson flashed some promise as a junior last year at both receiver and defensive back.


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