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YAIAA preseason football power rankings

Dover stormed through the YAIAA Division II schedule last fall to claim a championship and earn a spot in the District 3 Class AAA playoffs. With most of the playmakers back from that run, the Eagles enter the 2014 high school football season as the top-ranked team in the YAIAA preseason football power rankings.

Without further ado, here is how we gauge the league's top teams entering this season:

1. Dover (9-3 in 2013) -- Last time the Eagles took the field on a Friday night, their season ended in the second round of districts at Conrad Weiser. The Division II champion Eagles return a wealth of sizable linemen up front to help pave the way for a stable of running backs in their wing-T offense. Fullback Isaiah Green rushed for more than 1,000 yards while speedsters Jake McLean and Dorran Ledbetter provided the lightning to Green's thunder. Defensively, Green leads a strong linebacking core and could spark a unit that was hurt more by graduation.

2. Bermudian Springs (10-2) -- Yes, it's 2014 and the top two rated teams still run the wing-T. Like Dover, Bermudian Springs welcomes back 1,000-yard fullback Colton Dull. Like the Eagles of Division II, these Eagles also have two other big playmakers in senior running back Briton Shelton and Ryan Markle. This year, though, Markle will take snaps from under center. Traditionally, coach Jon DeFoe's squads have been even tougher on the defensive side of the ball.

3. Red Lion (4-6) -- Our first pick for biggest turnaround, the Lions already had one last season when Jesse Shay took over a 1-9 squad for his first season. With an experienced defense and complementary running game, this squad suits the former Bishop McDevitt defensive coordinator.

4. West York (4-6) -- Speaking of turnarounds, the Bulldogs under went one in the second half of last season. Coach Ron Miller's squad started 0-5 before finding its bearings in the YAIAA Division II schedule. That squad had lost 20-plus seniors from a district final run in 2012. No such problem this year.

5. Dallastown (10-3) -- If the Wildcats have one thing, it's an intimidating front. Dallastown returns all-league linemen Justin Tindull and Tray Noye, plus the giant of the group in 6-foot-5, 355-pound Zaire Willis. A defensive leader returns in All-YAIAA safety Addison Quinones, but Dallastown will need replacements at linebacker after graduating gems in Drew Romesberg and Jonah Mays. Many of the offensive skill positions will have new faces, too.

6. Central York (8-3) -- The Panthers were the class of YAIAA Division I last fall, running through the league unblemished. A new cast emerges in Manchester Township. There shouldn't be a mystery entering this Week 1 about who's playing quarterback. The job is Nik Strine's ... unless coach Brad Livingston plans for more surprises.

7. York Catholic (8-4) -- Fresh off a District 3 Class A title game appearance, the Fighting Irish want to get back to that game. First comes a tough opener against Class AAA Northeastern.

8. Littlestown (12-1) -- Last year's Division III champs graduated 17 players after making the district-AA final. Teams will key on Lucas Reynolds, the Thunderbolts' talented running back and safety-turned-linebacker.

9. Spring Grove (6-5) -- Two-year starter Nick Erickson tries his hand at quarterback, and the junior will have plenty of weapons to ease that transition. A slew of backs will take turns in effort to replace YAIAA-leading rusher Jeff Delaughter, while league-leading receiver Logan Hall returns. Defensively, all-league linebacker Zack Stauffer and defensive back Ian Slaven should anchor that side of the ball.

10. South Western (3-7) -- If healthy. Those two words echo when recalling South Western's 2013 season. On the flip side, last year's injuries created opportunities and experience for this season's squad. The Mustangs could be a fun team to watch with quarterback Brock Geiman and receiver Noah Staub, both juniors.

Rankings are debated between reporters Matt Goul and Steve Navaroli.

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