LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Editor's note: Stay tuned for our Division II and III previews, which will be published Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

OVERVIEW

Hard to peg down a favorite here. The refrain for each team goes something like this: Plenty of talent, but also plenty of holes that need to be plugged.

Going down the list ... South Western, the defending champion, seems to occupy a similar position as last season; lurking below the radar. But can the Mustangs replace a player as influential as Mike Felton without skipping a beat? ... Dallastown is deep and big, but it needs new players to step up and assume starring roles. ... Central York probably has the most speed of any team here, but the Panthers need to jell quickly along the offensive line and on a defense that returns three starters. ... Red Lion is sort of the wild card, rather inexperienced but stocked with some intriguing skill players. ... William Penn and Spring Grove both need to make big strides from last season in order to compete for a title.

POLE POSITION

When in doubt, I typically lean toward the team that has the most depth and size along the lines. Dallastown would seem pretty well set in both those areas, and junior Andrew Henry should improve in his second season at quarterback. But this team needs a go-to skill guy: Who's going to step up?

Meanwhile, it's hard not to be mesmerized by the speed Central York brings back on offense. Corey Hartz should slide seamlessly into the quarterback role, and Marquis Fells is an electric talent on both sides of the. This team's success, however, will be determined by how quickly its offensive and defensive lines get up to speed.

As mentioned earlier, South Western and Red Lion are certainly hovering in the mix, as well.

BREAKOUT PLAYER

Listening to Pat Conrad at YAIAA Media Day, it was clear the Red Lion coach didn't want to put too much pressure on his new quarterback, Blake Cahill. But it was also clear that Conrad and the Lions coaching staff are extremely excited about the 6-foot-6 junior's potential. Cahill has already received some Division I inquiries despite not having started a high school game, and he's had two years to learn behind a highly successful signal caller in Tanner Klinefelter. Still wait and see here, especially with a brand new offensive line, but Cahill's progress could be fun to watch.

Others candidates: Dallastown running backs Keith Matthews and Rob Catchings could form a formidable duo. ... Linebacker Drew Romesberg started as a sophomore for the Wildcats, and is the team's leading returning tackler. ... He already has a Division I scholarship, but it will be interesting to see how Central York uses cornerback Andrews Dadeboe (a Buffalo commit) on offense this season. Wide receiver Darian Hampton is another breakout candidate for the Panthers.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Some good candidates. South Western's Dillon Thomas returns after cracking 1,000 rushing yards his sophomore season. Tavon Parker had an impressive first season at quarterback for William Penn after not playing football for several years. But I'll go with Central York's Marquis Fells. The 5-foot-7, 145-pound linebacker led the Panthers last year with 120 tackles, and barely scratched the surface of his potential on offense. Fells nearly topped 1,000 yards in total offense, including a team-best 738 rushing yards. I expect that total to trend upward this season. (Shameless plug: He'll be one of the three players on the cover of our 64-page football preview, which comes out Thursday.)

BIGGEST GAME

Week 8: Central York at Dallastown, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.

The guess here is that whichever team wins this ones gets at least a share of a division title.  Last year, Central York crushed the Wildcats in this fixture, 42-0. I'm thinking that will be on the Dallastown players' minds as they get ready for this one. Potentially interesting juxtaposition here, with the Panthers' exceptional speed versus what should be a fairly big and physical Wildcats team.

Of course, a lot can change in the first seven weeks of a season.

STAT PACK -- TOP RETURNERS

Quarterbacks

Tavon Parker, Sr., William Penn -- 85-for-156 (.545), 1,240 yards, 7 TDs, 8 INTs

Andrew Henry, Jr., Dallastown -- 93-for-182 (.511), 1,027 yards, 4 TDs, 10 INTs

Seth Hildebrand, Jr, Spring Grove -- 46-for-107 (.429), 530 yards, 7 TDs, 10 INTs

Matthew Runge, Sr., Spring Grove -- 11-for-31 (.355), 344 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Corey Hartz, Sr., Central York -- 2-for-5 (.400), 104 yards, 1 TD

Running backs

Dillon Thomas, Jr., South Western -- 146 carries, 1,058 yards, 7.25 avg., 15 TDs

Jason Milton, Sr., Red Lion -- 137 carries, 1,005 yards, 7.34 avg., 10 TDs

Marquis Fells, Sr., Central York -- 99 carries, 738 yards, 7.46 avg., 5 TDs

Kelvin Nieves, Sr., William Penn -- 95 carries, 504 yards, 5.31 avg, 6 TDs

Jeffrey Delaughter, Jr. Spring Grove -- 132 carries, 429 yards, 3.33 avg., 3 TDs

Wide receivers

Derek Wilson, Sr., William Penn -- 34 catches, 627 yards, 18.44 avg., 4 TDs

Austin Nee, Sr., Spring Grove -- 14 catches, 337 yards, 24.07 avg., 3 TDs

Logan Hagerman, Jr., Spring Grove -- 22 catches, 314 yards, 14.27 avg., 5 TDs

Mitch Baublitz, Sr., Red Lion -- 23 catches, 261 yards, 11.35 avg., 0 TDs

Marquis Fells, Sr., Central York -- 20 catches, 249 yards, 12.45 avg., 4 TDs

PAST 10 DIVISION CHAMPIONS

2011: South Western

2010: Dallastown

2009: South Western, Central York

2008: Central York

2007: William Penn

2006: South Western

2005: Central York

2004: South Western

2003: Red Lion

2002: New Oxford, Spring Grove

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

MORE FROM The Varsity Beat

Zach Miller, zmiller@GameTimePA.com | 8:31 PM Jul 19, 2016
, GameTimePA.com | 11:16 PM May 28, 2016
, GameTimePA.com | 11:14 PM May 28, 2016
Read or Share this story: http://www.gametimepa.com/story/high-school/blogs/the-varsity-beat/2012/08/28/preseason-football-breakdown-yaiaa-division-i/75281816/