Hanover's Justin Barnes and Resean Williams discuss the team's offensive success this season. Matt Allibone
The Nighthawks have already scored more than 50 points twice this season
If you liked seeing lots of big plays and points scored, last year's Hanover squad was your kind of team.
The Nighthawks had one of the most explosive offenses in the YAIAA in 2015, averaging more than 33 points per game in the regular season while going 9-1. But with a number of key players lost to graduation and only four seniors coming back, it was fair to wonder if the Nighthawks could replicate that success this fall.
So far, not much has changed.
Three games into this season, Hanover is still lighting up the scoreboard. The Nighthawks are averaging 46 points per game and have topped 50 twice during their 2-1 start.
Granted, Hanover is just entering division play and hasn't faced its toughest competition yet. But the team's start on offense has head coach Bill Reichart feeling encouraged.
"We are so young which makes this such a rewarding experience coaching these guys this year," Reichart said. "Improvement can come in bunches. I had a lot of confidence coming into the season because we have the skill (players), and they're doing their job."
While Hanover's list of departures from last season include star quarterback Kyle Krout, leading rusher Jordan Laughman and receiver Colten Ehrhart, the Nighthawks did bring back some star power. Starting tight end Hunter Martz and big-play receiver Resean Williams are currently in the top 10 in the league in receiving yards. They have helped quarterback Cam Mumma throw seven touchdowns in three games.
In the run game, junior Justin Barnes and sophomore Logan Brown have filled the void left by Laughman. The two are both averaging over 7 yards per carry and have combined for 555 yards and eight touchdowns in three games.
"I thought this season would be hard on me, but Logan really stepped up and he helps me share the carries," Barnes said. "I think we all thought we were going to have to run way more this year, and I was expecting there to be high-scoring games."
Hanover earned a reputation the last few seasons as one of the few YAIAA Division III teams to make the passing game a major part of its offense. That hasn't completely changed this year, but the Nighthawks have also had success running the ball.
While Reichart said prior to the season that the team was still figuring out its offensive identity, he now thinks the team has found the right balance between its ground and aerial attacks.
"Ideally for us we'd like to be 50-50 (run to pass), certain games week-to-week depending on the matchup we're 40-60," Reichart said. "Historically over the years, York-Adams football — particularly Division III — running the ball is the key to success. I think maybe I have (other teams) re-thinking things because our offense has led the league the past two years and a lot of that is we throw the ball as much as anybody."
Moving forward, Reichart said the Nighthawks need to develop their offensive line and find ways to get the ball to Williams if they want to continue being successful. While the departure and emergence of its skill players has gotten most of the attention, Hanover also has broken in five new starters up front.
As for Williams, the senior has already run for three touchdowns in addition to catching three this season. Reichart will continue to look for creative ways to utilize him.
"(Williams) is such an electric player, that's the best word to describe him," Reichart said. "It's a game plan of how can we get the ball in his hands X number of times. That likely will mean he may be carrying the ball a lot more so that something electric can happen."
With a tough matchup against Bermudian Springs on Friday followed by a full slate of division games, Hanover doesn't have an easy road ahead. But after achieving historic success last season, the Nighthawks don't want to become an afterthought in Division III.
"We don't want to be known as pushovers anymore," Barnes said. "We just want to have a reputation now."