10 questions entering the YAIAA football season
There's no shortage of questions heading into the 2016 YAIAA football season. Here are the ones we're talking about the most as the preseason heats up.
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1. Can Suburban repeat its success?
York Suburban is coming off a year that saw them have unprecedented success, but the Trojans will have some new faces in the starting lineup.
The biggest change will be the loss of quarterback Thomas Merkle and receiver Colin Mailman. The two had record-setting seasons as the Trojans won their first division title since 1982. The duo also helped Suburban offense finish with the second-most total yards in the YAIAA.
With the Trojans losing several important pieces from last season, will they be able to repeat as Division II champs?
READ MORE: York Suburban season preview
2. Can Mike Lippy get to 100 wins?
Mike Lippy has been knocking on the door of 100 wins for a couple years now.
The veteran coach of the Thunderbolts was just eight wins away from the milestone following a 12-win season in 2013. But after winning just five games combined the past two seasons, he remains three away, entering 2016 with a career record of 97-50.
Will this finally be the year? Littlestown does have numerous holes to fill, but it shouldn't be hard for the Bolts to win three games in Division III. Lippy has a very good chance to reach the mark.
READ MORE: Littlestown season preview
3. How does Central York fare with a new coach?
It will be strange to see someone other than Brad Livingston leading the Panthers. Livingston had been with the Central York football program for 46 years, the last 34 as the head coach, before school officials asked him to resign last November. The move was met with quite a bit of backlash from the community.
Livingston has now moved on to an assistant coaching position at Northern York, and Central York now begins life without him. Perhaps a change will be good for this program, which went 3-7 last season.
Josh Oswalt, a 29-year-old who coached for six years at Carlisle, is the man who will take over the reigns.
READ MORE: Central York season preview
4. Can Biglerville match last year's success?
The Canners were one of the best teams in the Hanover-Adams area last season, going 8-4 and winning a share of the Division III title. But achieving the same level of success will be tough in 2016.
Biglerville enters this fall short on experience at the skill positions after graduating last season's starting quarterback, running back and both starting receivers. Coach Alex Ramos has some returning players on the offensive and defensive lines, but not much else.
A second straight division title isn't out of question for the Canners, but they'll need some new faces to slide into bigger roles to achieve it.
READ MORE: Biglerville season preview
5. Can Northeastern win Division I?
Northeastern put together the best season in school history last year, going 8-2 and winning a district playoff game for the first time.
The only thing missing? A YAIAA Division I title. Other than a share of the Division II title in 2011, the Bobcats have never won a division crown.
With a starting quarterback coming back along with several players from the league's best defense, it seems that a perfect storm could be forming for Northeastern to contend for a division title. And this year, the Bobcats will host the two teams that finished ahead of them last year (Dallastown and South Western).
READ MORE: Northeastern season preview
6. Can William Penn start moving in the right direction?
William Penn hit rock bottom last season, going 0-10 and losing every game by double-digits.
This once-proud program hasn't won five games since 2010, and now searches for a spark to become competitive again.
Perhaps new coach Russ Stoner can be that spark. The former West York star takes over as the Bearcats' new head coach after a year away from the sport. He spent 16 years as an assistant to Brad Livingston at Central York, followed by four years coaching Spring Grove. He led the Rockets to the YAIAA Division I title in 2012 after going 1-9 his first year.
READ MORE: William Penn season preview
7. Will Bermudian Springs return to the top of Division III?
Last season was a different experience for Bermudian Springs, which went 5-5 after winning at least 10 games the previous four seasons. But after starting the season 0-4, the Eagles still came just one win away from splitting the Division III title.
The Eagles will have plenty of competition for the division title in 2016, but they appear to be in a better position now then they were a year ago. After only having one returning starter last season, Bermudian will have much more experience this fall.
It all starts at quarterback, where sophomore Chase Dull hopes to return after tearing his ACL last season. He'll be joined in the backfield by senior Ashton West, who ran for 965 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
READ MORE: Bermudian Springs season preview
8. How will York Catholic fare in Class 2A?
The Fighting Irish have been on the cusp of a district title for three years now, reaching the title game every season since 2013, only to lose every time.
If York Catholic wants to make it over the hump in 2016, it'll have to do it in a new classification. The Fighting Irish are now a 2A team after previously being in Class 1A.
How much of a difference will that make? Only two teams make the playoffs in the 2A bracket, but there are only seven teams competing for those spots. It wouldn't be surprising if York Catholic ends up playing Camp Hill (also now in 2A) for a district title for the third straight season.
And York Catholic seems to have the talent to once again make a run. Running back Jakkar Kinnard and quarterback Dan Yokemick give the Irish a quality duo to build around.
READ MORE: York Catholic season preview
9. Can Kennard-Dale string a few wins together?
The Rams struggled for most of the 2015 season, but managed to finish with a .500 record in the last four games
Like the rest of the division, Kennard-Dale has to fill the spots of players that graduated after last year. The Rams also start this season with a “new” head coach, Chris Grube, who was a co-head coach last season after Patrick Weider was let go in the middle of the season.
Grube brings a philosophy and mentality that helped the Rams win a few games in 2015, and perhaps that will help them win a couple more in 2016.
READ MORE: Kennard-Dale season preview
10. Will Eastern and Dover be in the title hunt?
The Golden Knights and Eagles found themselves in similar spots last year when injuries derailed their 2015 campaigns.
Dover started 4-2 through the first six weeks of the season, but four losses to end the year knocked them out of title contention. Eastern was an early season favorite, but won just once against a divisional opponent.
Now with Division II much more wide open this season, these two squads could very much be in the mix this season.