We are exactly 50 days from the opening week of high school football (as of me writing this, that is). With that comes excitement from the athletes, to student bodies, to the communities and beyond. Expectations are at an all-time high for every team as these same athletes, student bodies and communities all see visions of state titles dancing in their head.
But enough of the rhetoric, let's take a dive into the 2015 high school football schedule in the YAIAA and District 3 and see if I can find just one matchup to watch per week as the season progresses.
Dallastown at Lancaster Catholic - Longtime District 3 AA power Lancaster Catholic has fallen in stature a bit the past few years as they’ve struggled in the larger L-L Section 1 and 2 while Dallastown has risen over the past few years, taking Division I last year with a 7-0 mark and a top 5 District 3 seed. This matchup, one of the most intriguing of the season between the YAIAA and LL League, is sure to entertain.
District 3: Cedar Cliff at Penn Manor - One year ago these two teams battled in Ireland ahead of Penn State’s game with Central Florida, now these two teams renew their budding rivalry back in the states.
YAIAA: William Penn at J.P. McCaskey - The War of the Roses battle is likely to be a shootout between these fierce rivals as in all but one of the prior five matchups the winning team scored 28 points or more.
District 3: Hamburg at Annville-Cleona - Who can forget the scene two years ago when a Hamburg athlete swung their helmet at an Annville-Cleona athlete. The Little Dutchmen exacted revenge last year with a 21-6 win.
YAIAA: Fairfield vs. whoever - Fairfield in prior years had played Carson Long in week 3, but Carson Long isn’t fielding a varsity team. The Green Knights thought they had a replacement in Perkiomen, but Perkiomen was double booked for that date leaving Fairfield in a jam. Who will the Green Knights find to play?
District 3: Bishop McDevitt at Cumberland Valley or Central Dauphin at Wilson - WOW. Two incredible marquee matchups between four District 3 powers. If you don’t have plans that Friday night make your way to Mechanicsburg or West Lawn as these two games are can’t miss.
YAIAA: York County Tech at Littlestown - 2014 was a disappointing year for Littlestown as the Bolts finished the season 3-7 with one of their losses coming at the hands of York County Tech. That victory for the Spartans was their lone victory of the campaign. With the Bolts exact revenge?
District 3: Cumberland Valley at Harrisburg - This Saturday afternoon clash in the state capitol Commonwealth Division opener for each team will be a real treat.
Gettysburg at Susquehannock - It may not be a close game on paper, but it’s always fun when you have a pair of teams with the same nickname in a matchup. I’ll go out on a limb on this one and say the Warriors will pick up the victory.
District 3: Milton Hershey at Camp Hill - Camp Hill won the District 3 Class A title last year while Milton Hershey made a shocking run in the tournament. Camp Hill looks to be a District 3 favorite again in A while Milton Hershey continues to lurk in AAA.
South Western at Red Lion - An intriguing matchup in Division I teams that each have a shot at contending for the crown as well as a District 3 AAAA playoff berth. Whoever wins this game will have a leg up in the Division I race.
Manheim Central at Lancaster Catholic - Always an exciting time when two rivals meet on the gridiron. These two teams used to meet on a regular basis in non-league matchups, but with Lancaster Catholic now in L-L Section 2, these games have added meaning.
YAIAA: York Suburban at West York - York Suburban will be looking for revenge against West York and new head coach Jeremy Jones. Jones spent two seasons at York Suburban as head coach after spending five seasons as an assistant under Ron Miller at West York.
District 3: Carlisle at Central Dauphin - Carlisle played very well down the stretch last year and are poised for a breakout season. Central Dauphin, on the other hand, returns a large core of last year’s District 3 AAAA runner-up including stud sophomore Micah Parsons who’s already received scholarship offers from Penn State, Michigan, N.C. State, Rutgers and Temple.
YAIAA: Central York at Red Lion - Division I, like most years figures to be a tight, competitive division with both Central York and Red Lion figuring to play a role in the division title. This game, at an important point of the season figures to play a significant role in determining who will come out on top.
Manheim Central at Cocalico - Is there a week during the L-L Section 2 slate that doesn’t feature a marquee matchup? Despite the Barons previously being on the list with a game against rival Lancaster Catholic, nothing, absolutely nothing, will top the drama that is provided when the Barons take on the Eagles. I fully expect this contest to live up to the hype once again.
YAIAA: Bermudian Springs at Littlestown - Who can remember the epic war between these two teams just two years ago? These two teams have combined for the last five division III titles and if the Bolts and Eagles have something to say about it, they will make that six straight this season.
Penn Manor at Wilson - If Wilson were to have their incredibly impressive L-L Section 1 dominance ended, Penn Manor would be the team to do it. In 2013 and 2014, the Comets pushed the Bulldogs to the brink and nearly ended Wilson’s reign atop the section, but could not get the job done. Does Wilson’s run of dominance end this year?
YAIAA: South Western at Spring Grove: This game certainly won’t disappoint. Both schools return experienced players and playoff positioning could hang in the balance.
District 3: Wyomissing at Berks Catholic - This Saturday showdown in Reading is unlikely to disappoint. Wyomissing won District 3 class AA titles in 2012 and 2014, including the PIAA title in 2012 while Berks Catholic took the title in 2013. Last year, the Saints knocked off the Spartans in the regular season, but it was the Spartans who got the last laugh, winning 35-21 in the District 3 Class AA title game. Who’s going to get the leg up going into the AA postseason this year?
Follow all of that? Whew.
Over the past week I've also raised the question on twitter and have gotten a variety of responses. Here were some of the best:
Jordan Zirkle (@ZirkleJordan) is looking forward to Northeastern’s season but specifically “week one, York Catholic”.
@empire_steel is looking forward to the L-L slate but specifically, "Hempfield or McCaskey, but any football is better than no football."
@brandontasker33 is very excited for, "Any Spring Grove game. I expect big things."
This same question was also posed to fellow GameTimePA writers and editors and here were some of their picks:
Zach Miller (@ZachMiller_ES) writes: "I'm excited for Delone Catholic vs. Union City (Tenn.) in week three. Union City is a two-time defending Class A champ in Tennessee and has a 27-game winning streak going. It will be interesting to see how the Squires do against a top team from another state."
Matt Goul (@mgoul) writes: I’m really looking forward to West York-Dover this year. It's been a blowout the last few seasons, one going to the Bulldogs a year ago and before that the Eagles. Former West York assistant Wayne Snelbaker is now running that Dover program, which has some interesting parts back. The same can be said for West York, which now will be guided by Jeremy Jones. This one should again dictate the Division II champ.
Andy Mease (@ameaseYDR) writes: Yeah, this is my look ahead, but I am looking forward to the annual Cedar Bowl between Lebanon and Cedar Crest. As a Lebanon alum and proud Cedar, it’s the one game every year, whether near or far that I am always excited for. Plus, it opens the season.
Lyzz Jones (@LyzzJones) writes: Week 1, Kennard-Dale at Waynesboro, 7 p.m.
The Indians came to Fawn Grove for last year’s opener, eager to erase a disappointing 0-10 season in 2013. They left that night with a 53-7 victory after a total of four players were ejected from the game. Waynesboro has a new coach for 2015 in Steve Myers, and K-D will certainly enter the game with a chip on its shoulder. Will the Rams exact some revenge?
Brandon Stoneburg (@B_Stoneburg) writes: Biglerville at Bermudian is always a big one and it should have a little extra this season. Berm could be taking a slight step back after losing so many seniors and the Canners should be one of the top two teams in our area. It’s the season finale and we’re predicting that the D-III crown could come down to that game. If there’s any season for Biglerville to beat their big brothers, it’s this season.