Power rankings: A surprise team sits No. 1
It's been a wild offseason.
Veteran coaches have stepped down or been forced out.
For the first time in more than a decade one program will start the season without a first-place District 3 trophy.
And despite all the changes, the historically strong programs still look to be powerhouses. Division I could be a three- or four-team race. Division II could be three- or four-team race. And Division III could once again be a two-team race.
The most intriguing news, however, is that a program that hasn't won a division title in almost 20 years could be the one team everyone is chasing.
If you thought the offseason was wild, buckle up for what could be a season to remember in the YAIAA. Here's our prediction at what teams will be the best in the York-Adams in 2016-17:
Honorable mention: Susquehannock (21-4 last season), York Suburban (19-8), West York (14-9).
5. Delone Catholic (19-8): Jill Novak is back after suffering a torn ACL in December. She was leading the Squirettes in scoring on the season when the 6-footer went down with a season-ending knee injury. The Squirettes also return 6-foot-3 Catie Apgar. Their presence will be a concern for every team Delone plays this season.
So why is Delone Catholic ranked only in the fifth spot? Well, the Squirettes lost their most experienced guards in Ally Shipley and Katie Laughman to graduation. Delone has always been able to develop talented guards, but that's not as easy when division rival York Catholic has an all-state guard waiting to expose any weaknesses in regular-season matchups.
4. York Catholic (21-7): The Irish had a great season, falling in the District 3 title game and advancing to the second round of the state tournament. The season marked an end of York Catholic's 10-year reign in District 3, but it was still a successful season.
Some might argue Delone Catholic looks to be deeper and have some serious post players, but the Irish have a very important player back in the mix. All-state guard Kate Bauhof is just a junior. Good guard play is sometimes the difference between a win and a last-second loss, and the Irish still have one of the best guards in the state.
3. Red Lion (24-5): The Lions, even after the departure of Don Dimoff and his 400-plus victories in 22 seasons at the helm, should be a contender. Everyone will point to the Lions' five seniors, including Amy Maciejewski. But the program could also look to several freshman and sophomores to play important roles this season.
As far as coaching is concerned, don't expect to see a dropoff. Veteran coach Bill Novak, who worked as an assistant at Red Lion after stepping down following a successful run with Northeastern, takes over. And don't be surprised if Red Lion is in the mix for the YAIAA Division I title. Even Red Lion rival Dallastown, coming off a five-win season, could challenge some of the top teams with an influx of young, talented players.
2. Central York (23-6): The Panthers are loaded. Granted, they only have one senior in their starting lineup, but the team that lost to Red Lion by one point in the league tournament title game returns almost all of its key players from a year ago.
1. New Oxford (15-9): This could be the year the title drought ends. No New Oxford team has managed to win a York-Adams division championship since the Colonials rattled off the last of their three consecutive Division II titles in 2000. What happened back then? The Colonials managed to win with a team led by Courtney Davidson, a player who would go on to set the career scoring mark and all kinds of records at the U.S. Naval Academy.
New Oxford might not have a future Division I hoops star on its roster, but it has something unique in its own right. The Colonials saw their win total dip from 19 wins to 15 last season, but they also played without a single senior. They also had a tough first-round draw in the District 3 tournament, losing to eventual District 3 tournament runner-up Governor Mifflin, 44-39, in the first round of the Class 4A tournament. Expect New Oxford to see an upswing in wins this season.
Led by Kaelyn Long, a Bucknell field hockey recruit, New Oxford could be the team to beat this year.