As the first day of fall practices winded down and defending YAIAA champion Central York worked on ball-handling drills, coach Frank Lenno quietly expressed a desire for a little more.
A state tournament win would be nice, he said. The Panthers got to the PIAA tourney for the first time in school history two years ago. They returned last year, but again fell in the first round. The furthest any league team got in the postseason was Gettysburg, which reached the second round.
Can a YAIAA team go deeper in the state tourney? Here is a look at how league teams stack up.
Preseason top 5
1. Central York
3. West York
5. Red Lion
Players to watch
IGOR GOMES, CENTRAL YORK, SR. >> The YAIAA Division I Player of the Year, voted by the coaches, Gomes also picked up GameTime- PA.com all-star honors, which recognizes the whole league. He scored 21 goals in his first season at Central after moving to the U.S. from Angola.
CONNOR GRIEST, BIGLERVILLE, JR. >> The midfielder was a second-team Division III all-star last season, but draws high praise from coach Jebb Nelson. His five goals ranked second on the Canners last season.
JOHNNY KING, BERMUDIAN SPRINGS, SR. >> Mostly a defender, King earned the coaches' vote as Division III's top player.
DARIAN MCCAULEY, WEST YORK, SR. >> The goalkeeper is back for another season anchoring the Bulldogs defense. A three-year starter, he was a first-team goalie selection by GameTimePA and Division II coaches.
EDDY RODRIGUEZ, WEST YORK, JR. >> A prominent player in the Bulldogs' lineup since he was a freshman, Rodriguez adds a clutch scoring punch. He received a Division II first-team all-star nod last season from the league coaches.
BOBBY WEIKERT, GETTYSBURG, SR. >> The Warriors defender will be a four-year contributor for coach Scott Hancock's squad. He received first-team honors from Division II coaches and GameTimePA.
ADAM YINGLING, GETTYSBURG, SR. >> A converted goalkeeper, Yingling has 27 goals in his last two seasons. Twenty of them came last year.
Division I breakdown
DEFENDING CHAMP >> Central York.
Along with Gomes, Lenno's group returns a slew of seniors in midfielder Mitchell Crane, forward Michael Tolley, forward Jared Hileman and defensive back Jared Wagner. In all, the Panthers (21-3-1, 12-0 last year) have eight returning starters in their quest for a third straight division and league tournament title.
ASCENDING >> New Oxford, Red Lion, Spring Grove.
New Oxford (7-8-1, 3-8-1) returns Division I all-star Marcos Garcia, but lost Adam Orndorff to graduation. Red Lion (8-6-3, 5-4-3) welcomes back seniors Noah and Ian Patmore, plus junior Ben Warner. Spring Grove (6-12-2, 6-5-1) brings back multi-sport standout Darin Gordon.
SHOES TO FILL >> Dallastown.
The Wildcats (17-4-1, 9-2-1) graduated Division I Player of the Year John Schmitt, along with Luke Nelson and Noah Brockway. The program has depth, but it lost more than its share of standout players to club teams. Recent graduates Bryce Cregan and Mac Curran — now playing Division I college soccer — opted that route, as did current seniors Christopher Brignall and Matthew Trepanier. They are committed to play college at Temple.
Elsewhere, Eric Shoemaker takes over at Northeastern (5-10-3, 2-9-1) for Bryan Stephens, who served a second stint as the Bobcats' boss. Northeastern brings back four starters from a five-win team, including midfielders Brandon Arentz and Hayden Seifert, plus senior forward Cameron Artman and defender Jonah Latshaw.
MATCHUP TO WATCH >> Red Lion at Central York, Sept. 15; Central York at Red Lion, Oct. 6.
Division II breakdown
DEFENDING CHAMP >> Susquehannock.
The Warriors (14-6, 11-1) emerged from a gauntlet that included three other contenders in Division II. Of those teams, Gettysburg entered with a lengthy winning streak in league games from the Mid Penn. That run reached 50 until Gettysburg visited Susquehannock in September.
ASCENDING >> Gettysburg, West York, Dover.
After Gettysburg (18-6, 10-2) reached the PIAA quarterfinals, coach Scott Hancock's squad returns all-stars Bobby Weikert and Adam Yingling among a group of seven returning starters. Three are back on defense, including Isaac Myers, Zach Shoemaker and Weikert. Matt Yingling also returns at forward.
Just as experienced is West York (13-6-1, 9-3). Not only does it have longtime goalkeeper Darian McCauley back for one more year, but so is the duo of juniors Kenton Meckley and Eddy Rodriguez.
The Eagles (3-14, 2-10) bring back nine starters, including Division II all-star center midfielder Robert Maze, who led Dover last season in assists. Senior Josh Bradley, also the football team's kicker, led the Eagles in goals.
SHOES TO FILL >> Susquehannock, York Suburban.
The division's player of the year and all-state selection, Alex Rebich, has graduated. Coach Brett Maxwell will have just three returning starters, but they include senior midfielder Luke Thomas — a two-year starter who missed games because of injury — along with defender Brady Gallegos and goalkeeper Aaron Bilbie. A junior, Bilbie started the last month of the season.
Suburban (10-8, 6-6) graduated all-star Andrei Kin up front, but return sophomore Carter Kowalewski.
MATCHUP TO WATCH >> West York at Gettysburg, Sept. 8; Gettysburg at West York, Sept. 29.
Division III breakdown
DEFENDING CHAMP >> Biglerville.
Undefeated in division play last year, the Canners (15-6, 12-0) graduated three first-team all-stars — Stevie Daron, Matt Cellucci and goalie Yovan Garcia. Senior Richy Mendez steps into the goalkeeper's spot, while midfielders Connor Griest and Carlos Esquivias could steal the show. Both were second-team all-stars in Division II. In all, seven starters are back.
ASCENDING >> Bermudian Springs.
Having the Division III Player of the Year back in defender Johnny King and second-team junior Samuel Johnson helps the Eagles (8-9, 7-5), who finished in a tie for second with Littlestown (10-9, 7-5).
SHOES TO FILL >> York Catholic, Hanover.
Who will replace York Catholic's all-star goalkeeper Luca Grippi? New coach Patrick McShane asked that question as practices began in August. He takes over a six-win squad that returns experience elsewhere, but the competition will be high for that spot in net.
While Division III all-star Jose Aguilar has graduated from Hanover, the Nighthawks (4-12, 2-10) will lean on a pair of sophomores: Diego Aguilar in goal and midfielder Jhoan Salamanca.
MATCHUP TO WATCH >> Bermudian Springs at Biglerville, Sept. 10; Biglerville at Bermudian, Sept. 24.