Is this the year York Catholic knocks Kennard-Dale out of the top spot?
The Rams have won seven straight division titles and four of the last five YAIAA titles. But for the first time in four years, Kennard-Dale won't have the nation's all-time leading goal scorer, Morgan Day, on the field. The Rams also lose four-year starters Lyndsey Duty and Brooke Davis. Kennard-Dale is known for reloading as opposed to rebuilding, but those are some big shoes to fill. Players such as Maddie Day, Morgan Bowings, Hannah Bracey, Clare Boone and Emmie Dressel will be expected to step up.
Meanwhile at York Catholic, the Irish return 10 of 12 starters from last season's 12-5 team that reached the district quarterfinals. The Irish are young at the midfield and goalie positions, but return all three attackers including Lindsey China, who was a first-team all star in 2015. Kennesaw State commit Maura Palandro leads a talented defensive unit that includes Kayleigh Pokrivka and Lisa Casagrande. All three were coaches' all-star selections last season.
Will it be enough? Kennard-Dale hasn't lost a regular season game to a YAIAA opponent since 2011. (The Rams lost to York Catholic in the 2014 YAIAA championship.) But with the Rams losing Day, Duty and Davis, the rest of the league sees an opportunity to knock the defending champs off the pedestal. At spring media day in early March, several of the league's coaches pointed at York Catholic and Susquehannock as potential heirs to the throne. Kennard-Dale hosts York Catholic April 26 during a stretch when the Rams play six of their final nine games on the road.
Is this the last year for one division?
The YAIAA will go from 12 teams to 14 next season with Delone Catholic and Dover inching closer to being varsity teams. Both will play an exhibition season in 2016, then play a full season in the YAIAA in 2017. They'll be the first teams to join the YAIAA since Eastern York in 2013.
Delone Catholic coach Neil Myers, who launched the program last spring, said at media day that he expects the league will divide back into two divisions when the Squires and Dover join the league.
“I like taking the new kids who haven’t touched a stick at all and helping them get into the sport and helping spread the sport throughout Delone so the program can keep going," Delone senior Cole Myers said at media day.
It's a sure sign of progress for the nation's fastest-growing high school sports. In Pennsylvania the number of boys' lacrosse participants has increased from 4,200 in 2008 to 6,200 in 2015. The girls' participant number has increased from 4,300 to 6,600 over that same time period.
"When I started in third grade, it was like an underground sport," York Catholic's Tanner Yanick said. "Now you have young kids playing all over and kids from our league going to play in college."
Can anyone challenge Northeastern?
To say Northeastern has dominated YAIAA boys' volleyball the past couple of seasons is an understatement. The Bobcats have won three straight state titles, and with a number of top players returning this season, they're gunning for their fourth.
Not only is another PIAA championship a realistic possibility for Northeastern, the Bobcats could potentially go undefeated for the second straight season after finishing 27-0 in 2015. With three of the state's top players in Reese Devilbiss, Jeff Reynolds and Matt Schaeffer, head coach Matt Wilson has plenty of talent at his disposal.
So can any teams locally hope to challenge Northeastern for a YAIAA title — or even take a win from the Bobcats? It will be a daunting task, but expect Central York, York Suburban and Spring Grove to be among the league's other top teams.
How will Central York perform in Todd Goodling's first year?
Central York has a long history of success in boys' volleyball, with six state titles and 22 district championships in its history. But the program is no longer under the direction of Brad Livingston, who captured two state championship in his 14 years as head coach.
The new head coach is Todd Goodling, who has spent the past 30 seasons as an assistant at Central. Having been around the program for so long, Goodling clearly understands Central's reputation and will keep its standards high. The Panthers won the District 3 Class AAA title last season.
While they lost a handful of top players to graduation, the Panthers still have plenty of talent, including returning starters Hayden Wagner and Carter Luckenbaugh.
BOYS' TRACK AND FIELD
Can Ravaughn Dillard repeat as a state champ?
It’s one impressive feat to win a state championship, but it’s an entirely different challenge to try to defend a state title amid the added pressure to perform.
That’s what Gettysburg's Ravaughn Dillard will try to do in the triple jump this spring. After placing fourth in last year’s District 3 championships as a sophomore, the Warrior came up big on the biggest stage, tying the school record with a leap of 47 feet, 11 inches to win the state title.
He also returns for his junior year as the defending YAIAA triple jump champion, and a seventh-place medalist in the long jump.
He won’t sneak up on anyone this season, so it will be intriguing to watch Dillard try to break the school’s triple jump record and defend his title.
GIRLS' TRACK AND FIELD
How many medals can Lynne Mooradian pick up in her curtain call?
Lynne Mooradian’s trophy case is getting awfully full. She won four gold medals at the YAIAA championships last spring, then added three District 3 medals and two PIAA medals.
So plenty of eyes will be on the South Western senior, who is committed to Army West Point, to see how many she can win in her final go-round.
Her best event is probably the 300 hurdles, where her rare combination of speed, athleticism and stamina make her tough to catch.
Can Central York repeat as league champ?
The Panthers were the class of York-Adams softball last season, capturing their fourth straight Division I title and winning the league tournament. But head coach Shane Walker has plenty of question marks to address in 2016 after losing seven starters from last season's team.
While stars Kayla Resh and Kelsey Wisner are among the talented players no longer on the roster, the Panthers still have the services of junior catcher Briannah Dobson, who hit .612 and drove in 25 runs last season. Central York also returns two players who received major playing time last season in pitcher Rachel Butler and offensive threat Lorna Colberg.
It won't be easy for Central York to go 20-3 again, but the program's history of success proves the team can't be taken lightly.
Can someone other than Dallastown or South Western win Division I?
For the last six years South Western and Dallastown have run the table in Division I tennis.
The Mustangs are winners of four titles (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015), and the Wildcats have two (2010, 2013) in that time period. Dallastown has also won eight titles dating to 2002.
Gavin Kenny is back for his junior season with the Mustangs after helping his squad earn a PIAA team tournament bid, as well as senior Ben Sentz who also played a major role in their Division I championship. Junior Tyler Lile returns for the Wildcats, but they lose GameTimePA.com Player of the Year John Schmitt, who went undefeated in league play and won the YAIAA Class AAA singles championship.
Can West York extend its winning tradition under a new coach?
West York has been the top of the list when it comes to YAIAA baseball, but the Bulldogs will be under the leadership of a new head coach when they start the season.
Scott Erickson takes the reins from Roger Czerwinski, who helped lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back YAIAA Division II titles in 2014 and 2015, and consecutive state championships in 2012 and 2013. Even with the coaching change, the bar remains high for the team.
“West York has had high expectations every year,” Erickson said. “You always set that goal as high as possible and then work from there. Every game we’re going to go out and play hard, and look to win every single game that we play.”
Matt Allibone, Christian Arnold, Zach Miller and Brandon Stoneburg contributed to this report.