Scrimmages are winding down and school has started. Football season is here, which means it's time to assert who we think could be this season's top teams. GameTimePA.com reporters Steve Navaroli (@SteveNavaroli on Twitter) and Matt Goul (@MGoul) ranked their top 10 teams. The top two were unanimous choices with defending YAIAA Division I co-champion Spring Grove No. 1 and Dallastown No. 2.
We gauged last year's performances with what these teams return to determine these preseason rankings. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section. We would love to see your own Top 5 in the comments section below.
Even though the GameTimePA.com football preview section does not come out until Aug. 29, you can find team-by-team previews on the new GameTimePA iPad football preview app. It's a free application in the Apple iTunes Store.
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1. Spring Grove (8-4 last season): A unanimous No. 1, the Rockets look the part of a preseason favorite. They have a good-sized offensive line and a defensive line to match, including University of Maryland-bound David Shaw. Plus, most of their players concentrate on just one side of the ball. Russ Stoner's team improved by seven wins last season, and many of these seniors were the ones to experience that dreadful 1-9 season of 2011.
2. Dallastown (4-7): Like Spring Grove, the Wildcats were a clean sweep as our No. 2 team entering the season. By the end of this season, that could change. The Wildcats get the Rockets at home in Week 9. Their opening schedule is as challenging as anyone: Lancaster Catholic in Week 1, followed by West York at home and a trip to Penn Manor in Week 3. The No. 1 concern of coach Kevin Myers this summer was tackling. He estimated his defense averaged more than 20 missed tackles per game, which was why they snuck into the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs as the 16th and final seed instead of a better one.
3. Bermudian Springs (12-1): Injuries and eventual state champion Wyomissing were the only things to derail Jon DeFoe's Eagles last year. They were hit with a loss before this season began when senior Tristan Sponseller opted to skip his final year of football to concentrate on wrestling. Sponseller would have returned as a 1,000-yard fullback and 100-plus tackle linebacker. The cupboard still isn't empty at Bermudian Springs, a topic on this week's GameTimePA podcast. Junior Ryan Markle should become the featured back. Austin Hartzell is another linebacker with 100-tackle potential.
4. West York (13-1): Lose 24 seniors and go from there. That is the task ahead for Bulldogs coach Ron Miller, who also must usher in new offensive and defensive coordinators. West York still has talent, it's just talent that mostly has not seen the Friday night lights from midfield. Junior quarterback Ross Campbell will take over behind center, safety Justin Warfel is among the few returning players and running back Josiah Mincer is back from injury.
5. Littlestown (7-4): In Division III, all of the top teams bring in new quarterbacks. Littlestown lost Dustin Crouse to graduation but brings back a number of quality skill players to help senior Trevor Hildebrand adjust to full-time quarterback duties. Of those returning skill players, the small but potent Dustin DeGroft can change the game's pace at running back and set the tone defensively from the secondary.
6. Central York (8-4): A veteran defense should be music to coach Brad Livingston's ears. Speaking of Livingston, he is just five victories shy of 200 for his career.
7. Delone Catholic (9-4): The defending District 3 champions in Class A lost a three-year starting quarterback in Brett Smith, who guided the football, basketball and baseball teams to district crowns. They also go into the 2013 season without all-state linebacker Austin Noel, one of Smith's top targets. On the plus side the Squires' replacement at quarterback is junior Jake Wiles, son of coach Steve Wiles and a signal caller his teammates are confident will succeed. Wiles will have a dependable fullback behind him in senior Matt Giuffreda and an experienced line in front of him.
8. York Catholic (4-6): The Fighting Irish must replace one the YAIAA's top passers from last year, James Dougherty, leading rusher Matt Lehr and one of their leading receivers, Joseph Rost. Their other leading receiver, Qua'Shawn Grooms, is back for his junior year and expects to see an increased role. Leading tackler Doug Mills also is back.
9. South Western (6-5): The Mustangs rode a wave of momentum to make the District 3 tournament last year. Can it carry over into this season? South Western sports one of the area's top running backs in Dillon Thomas, who will go for a third straight 1,000-yard season.
10. New Oxford (4-6): The Ox takes the final spot in a close vote with William Penn and Dover. The Colonials return a majority of players on both sides of the ball and are poised for a considerable improvement in Division II, as is Dover.