Franklin County football overview
Because it's the start of a new two-year cycle for scheduling, and because the Mid Penn Conference made some adjustments in its divisions, area football teams will be facing some new challenges this season.
Mifflin County has dropped from the Commonwealth Division to the Colonial, which means Chambersburg will not be seeing the Huskies, but the area's other four teams will. That will mean more traveling, in both directions. And West Perry is now also in the Colonial, which is another not-so-short trip for most.
PIAA also increased the classifications from four to six, so there will be two more state champions crowned this year. Unfortunately, the only county team to ever qualify for states (Scotland School, Class A champion in 1992) is no longer around.
Here are five things to look for this season:
Trojans under new direction
Mark Luther is the latest hire to try to turn the Chambersburg program around and compete with the big boys in the Commonwealth Division. He's got his work cut out for him.
The Trojans' only win in each of the past two years came against the aforementioned Mifflin County, so they will have to look elsewhere for Ws. County rivals Shippensburg and Greencastle-Antrim are still on the schedule, but Chambersburg 0-4 against them over the past two years. The Trojans also picked up non-league Red Lion and, in an MPC crossover game, Cedar Cliff.
Luther has been working with his team throughout the offseason, and there appears to be plenty of talent in the pipeline, so younger players may get a chance to make an impact this year.
Big experience void at Greencastle
With the number of players on a football roster, there is usually a lot of turnover each year. But that happened in the extreme in Greencastle, which had 27 players graduate last spring.
Coach Chuck Tinninis and his staff will be cranking up the teaching to get the next wave of Blue Devils ready to go. Now in his 29th season at the G-A helm, Tinninis has seen it all before.
The Blue Devils have some experience in the skill positions, but the lines - the specialty of Tinninis - will have to be completely reformed. Since that's the heart and soul of recent Greencastle success, that's where this season will be made.
Ship has core of top athletes
The Greyhounds lost some key players from last year's District 3 Class AAA playoff team, but more than a lot of the area's squads, there is a solid core of athletic and experienced players back.
Carter Van Scyoc expects to step in at quarterback and the top receiver is back in Cody Gustafson. Linemen Nick Kubala and Cameron Tinner have been through the wars before and will bring the experience and leadership.
With the exception of 2014, Shippensburg coach Eric Foust has put his team in the districts every season since 2009. That will be the goal again this year.
Numbers game at JB
The Rockets had only 28 players on its roster last fall, and by the end of the season, thanks to injuries, many of James Buchanan's players were forced to play out of position, or were thrust into roles they were not ready for.
That's a scenario coach Andy Stoner is hoping to avoid in 2016, but low numbers is a problem JB has been forced to deal with nearly every season. Until that problem is solved it will be hard for the Rockets to turn the program around.
On the good news front, however, lots of JB underclassmen gained experience last year and 11 who won letters are expected back this fall.
Can Indians continue their roll?
Until 2014, Waynesboro had not had a winning season in 22 years. But after last year's 6-4 mark, the Indians are now on a two-year winning streak.
'Boro has done it with a productive offense and a different culture. With Steve Myers heading into his second full year as the head coach and some key players returning, there's a decent chance the Indians could make it three in a row.
Villanova-bound linebacker Forrest Rhyne covers a lot of territory and is expected to be one of the county's top players, and Brady Riddell returns as the quarterback with a year's experience under his belt.