They arrived wearing jerseys and khaki pants, each sporting the sort of unabashed optimism that a new season can supply.
Once again, representatives from all 22 of the YAIAA's football teams descended on the York Expo Center on Thursday morning for the league's media day. The annual event marked the unofficial start of another gridiron season.
It was a chance for players to discuss the promise and possibility of the months to come.
It also offered an introduction of sorts for another group of first-year coaches.
This year the league welcomed four such newcomers: South Western's Damian Poalucci, New Oxford's Jason Thurston, Hanover's Mike Ketterman and Fairfield's Darwin Seiler.
Poalucci replaces longtime Mustangs coach Don Seidenstricker, who retired last winter after 26 years as South Western's head coach.
"Knock on wood, it's been easy," Poalucci said of the transition.
There's good reason for that. Poalucci has been a coach in South Western's program for the last 15 seasons, coming to the school after he graduated from East Stroudsberg. In addition, the Mustangs coaching staff has remained almost completely intact from last season, when South Western finished 9-3 and won the YAIAA Division I title.
Poalucci also knows he can use Seidenstricker as a sounding board. The two teach alongside each other and share an office.
"I have no issue going to him and asking questions," Poalucci said. "I respect his knowledge. I respect everything he's done."
For Ketterman, the day was more of a re-introduction. He already boasts nine years of head coaching experience in the area - seven at Dallastown and two at York County Tech. At Hanover, he takes over an underclassmen-heavy team coming off a 1-9 season.
"The kids have begun to buy into our philosophy," Ketterman said. "Our foundation is there. Most of our kids got varsity experience last year as freshmen. They don't have to make that transition from freshman to varsity. They've already been there."
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Aiming for Hershey: High expectations are status quo for the West York football team. The Bulldogs have won at least a share of five straight Division II championships and have been a fixture in the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.
This year, however, those lofty goals seem especially justified. West York's roster will feature 24 seniors this season - by far the most Ron Miller has had in his seven seasons as Bulldogs head coach.
"The other day we were doing some drills," Miller said. "I looked out, and we had 11 seniors on the field. I've never had that."
The vast majority of those seniors played at least some role in last season's run to the District 3 Class AAA semifinals.
Knowing that, it's no surprise West York's goal this season is to go one step further.
"The district championship is always our goal, every single year, no matter what," said four-year starter Brody Kern, who committed to Delaware last Sunday.
Hoping for another special season: When Northeastern coach Brendan Brown said he expects the Bobcats offense to look different this season, any changes will be "by design."
But the changes aren't as simple as replacing leading 2011 offensive players like quarterback Nick Small, running back Tyrone Belgrave and wide receiver Coty Hilbert. Perhaps Brown's biggest concern is the graduation of all-league punter Eric Steadman (also a receiver) and kicker David Deamer.
"(Without Steadman and Deamer) our offense needs to be better than it was last year," said Brown, who also coaches the Bobcats special teams.
Although graduation hit the defending Division II tri-champs hard, Northeastern still returns 19 seniors. One of them is Zach Moyer, who led the Bobcats with 420 receiving yards a season ago. Moyer figures to get more touches in a variety of ways this season.
"Every practice is great because I know the ball is coming my way," Moyer said.
Biglerville hopes to find finishing touch: Last season, Biglerville was tied with both Delone Catholic and Bermudian Springs when the fourth quarter of each game began. Biglerville also led Littlestown with four minutes remaining in that game. But all three of those contests resulted in losses.
While the Canners finished 5-5, an 8-2 record wasn't that far from a reality.
"We have to look at those games as experience," third-year coach Alex Ramos said. "Hopefully we can learn from it."
After graduating only five seniors from a season ago, Ramos will put an experienced team on the field, including 2011 leading rusher Oakley Fissel, fellow running back Jordan Wenk and quarterback Tanner Cool.
In all, 12 seniors will suit up for the Canners this season.
"We have grown up together and played together for a long time," senior tight end/defensive end Jake Heiland said.
More of the same: Bermudian Springs coach Jon Defoe said it best Thursday when he uttered, "We are not one to impress with our playbook."
The coach even laughed when he said his team runs only six or so plays.
Of course, considering Bermudian's success with its ground game, why would it consider changing anything?
Last season the Eagles had two backs - Tyler Fitzkee and Adam Berryman - rush for more than 1,600 yards. In three of its last four seasons, Bermudian has had two rushers top the 1,000-yard plateau.
When asked if that trend will continue in 2012, Defoe pointed across the table to senior running back Zach Stroup.
Overlooked in the mix is senior quarterback Michael Moore, who has an 11-1 record as a starter.
"That don't bother me at all," Moore said of the lack of attention. "If we get a 'W' at the end of the night, I don't care how we got it."
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