YAIAA football: Games to watch in 2014
It's the final Friday in July. Come the final Friday in August, it will be the first week of high school football in Pennsylvania. With that in mind, let's take a look at one captivating game for each week in the 2014 season.
WEEK 1: Friday, Aug. 29
York Catholic at Northeastern: You could go many ways to open the season. There's the traditional West York at Central York game and Dallastown's first game with artificial turf. However, the Fighting Irish and Bobcats have gotten together for entertaining games the last two years. Each team owns a close victory, but York Catholic needed a long defensive return to break past the Bobcats in 2013. Admittedly, dual threat quarterbacks (Hakeem Kinard at York Catholic and Marcus Josey at Northeastern) add to this game's appeal.
Also watch: West York at Central York, Dover at Shippensburg
WEEK 2: Friday, Sept. 5
Dallastown at West York: Back on natural grass for both team of these teams, who two years ago played an entertaining contest at West York (17-15, Bulldogs). Although Dallastown won decidedly last year (35-0, Wildcats), chances are this game could play out closer to two years ago. West York will be more experienced, and Dallastown will blend experience on the line and parts of its defense.
Also watch: New Oxford at Gettysburg, Columbia at Delone Catholic
WEEK 3: Friday, Sept. 12
Berks Catholic at York Catholic: The Saints come to town as defending District 3 champions after last year handing Littlestown a lopsided Class AA title game loss. This game has the potential for fireworks with York Catholic's capable offense. The question marks in this game, and by extension the Irish season, will be defense, depth and line play.
Also watch: Shippensburg at Bermudian Springs, Littlestown at Lancaster Catholic
WEEK 4: Friday, Sept. 19
Gettysburg at Dover: The Warriors' first YAIAA league game comes against the defending Division II champions. Both of these teams were District 3 playoff teams in Class AAA, so it could be a good test for both. Both sides also will have new quarterbacks, who should be settled by this point. If it's Tyler Blazosky for Dover, he will have the luxury of some strong linemen, a proven backfield and plenty of standout defenders around him.
Also watch: Red Lion at William Penn, Dallastown at Spring Grove
WEEK 5: Friday, Sept. 26
Delone Catholic at Littlestown: The Squires expect to be players in the District 3 Class A playoff picture, and a win against the AA finalists could go a long way. This game should have some YAIAA Division III implications, as well.
Also watch: William Penn at Dallastown, Dover at Eastern York
WEEK 6: Friday, Oct. 3
Spring Grove at William Penn: Two years ago, this matchup proved to be a crossroad for these teams. William Penn entered a Division I title contender, and Spring Grove left in firm position to win a championship it shared with Central York. Now junior kicker Andrew Luckenbaugh converted a career-high, 47-yard field goal for Spring Grove and James Way was just getting used to the quarterback spot as a sophomore for the Bearcats. An impressive fourth quarter last year for William Penn shocked the Rockets.
Also watch: Pius X at West York, Littlestown at York Catholic
WEEK 7: Friday, Oct. 10
West York at York Suburban: One mention guaranteed to be in the preview capsules this week is Ron Miller taking his Bulldogs to Suburban to face former offensive coordinator Jeremy Jones and the Trojans. Suburban is up in Division II to make this matchup possible. West York's seniors were sophomores when Jones last coached them, so they remember him. The Trojans will be motivated to show their coach made a great move.
Also watch: Central York at Spring Grove, Delone Catholic at Bermudian Springs
WEEK 8: Friday, Oct. 17
Bermudian Springs at York Catholic: These teams had a close, entertaining first quarter last year in York Springs, before the host Eagles seized control. Between the two, they have eight returning first-team All-YAIAA Division III players (twice counting York Catholic's Hakeem Kinard and Bermudian lineman Noah Hakes as two-way standouts).
Also watch: Red Lion at Central York, Fairfield at Delone Catholic
WEEK 9: Friday, Oct. 24
Dover at West York: Here's a week full of marquee matchups. It might not get any better than this rivalry of bordering towns. Last year's game lost a little luster being played on a Monday night because the previous Friday's games were postponed from inclement weather. Dover ran wild, and away with a 44-13 win. If West York bounces back from last year's 4-6 season -- and it ended by winning four of five -- tensions could be at an all-time high for this one. Fans might need to camp out while school is still in session that day.
Also watch: Littlestown at Bermudian Springs, Red Lion at Spring Grove
WEEK 10: Friday, Oct. 31
Dallastown at Red Lion: Just like the Dover-West York rivalry, these two could be in store for a meaningful showdown. It's still summertime, so there is no sure thing, but league coaches expect Red Lion to make a considerable improvement from last year's 4-6 record. Dallastown has the momentum of a Class AAAA district semifinal run and plenty of girth up front to keep the Wildcats a contender.
Also, going to call it now on a hunch. Northeastern at New Oxford will be a crazy game. I also apologize in advance for any stories you read Saturday morning Nov. 1 that try to play off Halloween. Hopefully such shenanigans will be edited out. If I ever write anything like that, please feel free to tar and feather this scribe.
Also watch: Bermudian Springs at Biglerville, York Suburban at Eastern York
(Note: A number of teams play at the same site as last year. Realignment is the cause of this.)