Quick hits from 2012 YAIAA football media day
Another YAIAA media day is in the books.
On Thursday morning, representatives from all 22 York-Adams league football teams converged on the York Expo Center for the annual season kick-off event. We'll have plenty of coverage from this morning's festivities later, including a full story and videos. For now, here's some quick notes and stream of conscious thoughts to chew on...
-- Media day is always a time for optimism, but that sentiment seems especially justified for West York. The Bulldogs are a perennial contender -- they've won at least a share of each of the last five Division II titles -- and this year's team appears loaded. When I asked West York coach Ron Miller if this was his most experienced team, he didn't hesitate. "By far," he said.
"The other day we were doing some drills and stuff," Miller said." I looked out and we had 11 seniors on the field. I’ve never had that.
"The most I’ve ever had is 16 seniors. We’re at 24 right now. Of the 24, a bunch -- in the 20s -- are going to play substantial minutes."
Those players should be able to draw on last season's playoff run, too, when the Bulldogs advanced to the District 3 Class AAA semifinals. (West York lost that game to Lampeter-Strasburg, 24-13.)
"Last year at the beginning of the year, we didn’t really know who was going to play here or play there," said senior Brandon Kinneman, who will take over as West York's quarterback. "Knowing what you’re doing when there’s 10,000 people in the stands and you need a stop or you need a first down. That’s probably going to be the biggest thing. We’ve already experience the pressure of the moment."
-- Does Delone Catholic dropping down a classification immediately make the Squires the favorite for a District 3 Class A title? I'll have to admit, that was my first thought when the new PIAA classification numbers came out. (The full list of football teams is here.)
One other team dropping down a class: Spring Grove, which now becomes District 3's largest triple-A school.
-- For you uniform geeks out there, lots of new duds were on display this year. My personal favorite: Red Lion's new helmets. Central York, which unveils a new helmet every season, went even more progressive. The helmet has an orange rim near the facemask, which then fades to black on the rest of the shell. Unique, to say the least.
-- This quote from Dallastown running back/linebacker Keith Matthews stood out, about the Wildcats' leadership and chemistry compared to last season: "The whole team just feels together. It feels like another team. It feels like the 2010 season when we went undefeated."
Both Matthews and fellow senior Taylor Grove said last year's Dallastown team took a while to mesh, something that showed in the team's sluggish start (the Wildcats finished 4-7). But this year Dallastown looks primed to bounce back. It has depth all over the field, an up-and-coming quarterback (Andrew Henry) and some size and experience along the offensive and defensive lines.
-- Speaking of Dallastown, how's this for an opening night game: The Wildcats travel across the Susquehanna River to take on defending PIAA Class AA champions Lancaster Catholic. When Warwick decided not to renew Dallastown on its schedule, the Wildcats were left with an open slot. Only two offers came in, from Harrisburg and Lancaster Catholic. Dallastown chose the latter. (The Crusaders will bump up to Class AAA this season.)
-- My takeaway from talking to folks today: Dallastown and Central York seem to be the on-paper favorites in Division I, with Red Lion and South Western also lurking.
-- The picture is no clearer in Division III, where it seems like any one of four or five teams have a chance to win the title. Delone Catholic, Littlestown and Bermudian Springs have been the powers recently. But York Suburban, York Catholic and Biglerville all return a lot of weapons on offense. No one team appears to be a runaway favorite.
-- New South Western coach Damian Poalucci seems to be settling in well to the Mustangs' head job. It's little wonder why -- Poalucci has spent 15 years on South Western's staff, and still teaches and shares an office with longtime Mustangs coach Don Seidenstricker, who retired after last season.
Poalucci, whose background is as a quarterbacks coach, said the team plans to open up South Western's traditional Wing-T a bit. "We focused on the passing game in the offseason, some different concepts and some different formations," he said. "And the kids picked up on it well. "
Poalucci said senior Mike Duffy and junior Tyler Sterner will likely share time at quarterback this season.
-- Speaking of the YAIAA's new coaches, one of the four present Thursday was a familiar face for area fans. Mike Ketterman, who spent nine combined years as a head coach at Dallastown and York County Tech, took over Hanover's top job this offseason. The Nighthawks finished 1-9 last season.
"It’s been very good," Ketterman said of the transition. "We had a pretty consistent turnout this summer for workouts. Our numbers are down, however we’ll work with the numbers that we have. Our goal is to be well-conditioned and stay healthy, like everybody else."
Because of those numbers (in the low 30s, Ketterman said) the Nighthawks won't play a JV schedule this season. But many of the freshman who earned major snaps for Hanover last season also will figure prominently into this year's group.
Finally, some recruiting notes:
-- Nothing new on Central York's pair of senior standouts, Andrews Dadeboe and Marquis Fells. Dadeboe, a cornerback, holds offers from Toledo and Buffalo. Fells, a running back and linebacker, has received interest from Temple and is also being looked at by some other Division I-FCS schools. Livingston mentioned Delaware and Georgetown as teams of note. "They've just got to get over his size," Livingston said of Fells, who is (perhaps generously) listed at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds.
-- York Suburban receiver/running back Jaime Nixon-Alark has been looked at by Temple, among others. He recently ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at one of Temple's camps.
-- Kennard-Dale coach Andy Loucks said "30 or 40" Division I or Division I-FCS schools have inquired about senior Dan Hare since the end of last season. Hare, who likely projects as a safety at the college level, was an all-state pick last season by the Pennsylvania Football News and has made the rounds to several camps and combines in the offseason. "With a lot of (colleges), seeing him play this year is a big thing," Loucks said. "He’s still kind of a new prospect. Even though he got all-state last year, people still don’t know as much about him."