Looking forward to this fall
With about a month left in summer break for most schools, let's look ahead to the bright sides of going back this fall. Below is a top 10, considering as many sports as possible, for the fall season:
10. An intriguing beginning and end in girls' volleyball? At first glance, looking at who's back and who's graduated, Delone Catholic vs. Susquehannock presents an interesting matchup if and when they would play. The Warriors, who've developed a strong tradition, bring back Leah Deter. Defending league and District 3 champ Delone Catholic, on the heels of a run to the state finals, will have Cambria Wierman again in its lineup with a strong core. (Although, YAIAA Division III Player of the Year Allie Mondorff has graduated.) These two teams are guaranteed one meeting: An Aug. 22 scrimmage. But for them and whoever proves to be the YAIAA's best, the league tournament concludes Thursday, Oct. 24.
9. Can Katie Wagner defend her YAIAA girls' tennis title? We'll find out by Monday, Oct. 7, when the league singles tournament concludes at South Western. The Class AA -- or Division II -- pool should be tough with returning all-stars Carlee Brumgard of Biglerville, York Catholic's Maddie Kepner and West York's Olivia Purtell.
8. There are a lot of sophomores back, particularly in Division II of girls' cross country. Likely to lead that pack is York Suburban's Olivia Gettle, who finished second to Central York's graduated Kelsey Ibarra last year in the league. Besides Gettle, Susquehannock and Kennard-Dale also have their own super sophomores in Rachel Banchiere and Caitlin Salomon. An early season meet on Thursday, Sept. 5 should tell much, as Suburban, Kennard-Dale and Delone Catholic visit West York. Kennard-Dale also returns last year's third-place finisher at the league championship in Kayla White. And Delone has last year's No. 6 runner in the YAIAA, Andrea Resciniti, along with District 3 champ Kate Mowrey.
7. Fairfield's scoring machine, Lexy Junker, with a breakaway chance vs. York Catholic goalie Hannah Laslo: Their teams will meet twice, Thursday, Sept. 5 at York Catholic and Thursday, Sept. 26 at Fairfield, which could decide the Division III girls' soccer title.
6. Of course after those games, how clear is Dover's path to repeat?
The Eagles were a surprise girls' soccer champion in the YAIAA after finishing third in Division II. It's been somewhat of a trend after Susquehannock advanced to the YAIAA title game the previous spring when it also finished third in Division II. Dover won last fall's league tournament with a young team and returns two of its top players, Maxine Herman and Brooke May. This year's YAIAA tournament will run Oct. 15, 17 and 19.
5. A talented crop of golfers will tee off: The YAIAA will see all three of its division's golfers of the year return this year with Dallastown's Brandon Greenplate, West York's Joel Rinehart and Fairfield's Isaiah Logue. Of course, Logue went on to win a PIAA Class AA title and, more recently, won the YCAGA championship. All three should be at Briarwood in time for districts on Friday, Oct. 4.
4. The Central York-West York Week 1 football opener is always an event. This year's will be quite telling. From the Panthers' side, their defense looks good on paper. However, a new quarterback will be behind center and some of that speed had graduated -- Marquis Fells, in particular. Although even when Fells was on the roster, Brad Livingston didn't hesitate to point out Jay Stone was the fastest on the team. Stone, of course, is back. On the West York side, the Bulldogs will play host for this Friday, Aug. 30 game., and they graduated enough seniors to make this offseason a tough one for coach Ron Miller. West York's entire starting line from last season's District 3 Class AAA finalist run is gone. Like Central, the quarterback will be new. Many skill players will be new, which adds to the suspense for this one.
3. Mark it down, the best installment of the Dallastown-Red Lion rivalry this year will come in field hockey. The amount of talent back for these two field hockey teams -- and considering how their rivalry played out last year -- any fan of these two schools should mark the calendar for Tuesday, Sept. 3 (at Dallastown) and Tuesday, Sept. 24 (at Red Lion). The Wildcats beat the Lions in last year's league tournament title game that needed two overtimes and a shootout. That Dallastown victory also ended Red Lion's reign as champion through the first two years of the tournament. The cast returning from last year's game includes goalie Niki Bream on the Dallastown side and teammate Ashley Chioda, while Red Lion's Division I player of the year Ali Posey and Morgan Kuehne also are back.
2. Monday, Nov. 18 is the start of basketball practices: OK this is not a fall sport, but it does take place during the fall, and I have a mild hoops obsession.
OK, back to what will count at that time.
1. Spring Grove could be considered a heavy favorite to win the YAIAA Division I football title, but Dallastown stands out as the No. 1 contender to dethrone the upstart champs. The Wildcats get the Rockets at home in Week 9, just before their rivalry week with Red Lion. Division I, as a whole, should be improved this fall. Take South Western's late-season run to make the District 3 playoffs as momentum for the Mustangs in 2013. William Penn and Red Lion finished toward the bottom of the standings last year but bring back their quarterbacks in a game that is increasingly dependent on the passing game. But an early look points to this Friday, Oct. 25 clash in Dallastown as one that could be a classic.