With three weeks left to the start of the high school football season, The Evening Sun’s Countdown to Kickoff continues with the last team preview: a look at the Bermudian Springs Eagles. Brandon Stoneburg and Zach Miller will set over/unders for each team’s win totals in next week’s edition.
Bermudian Springs Eagles
Bermudian Springs’ Phoenix Russell leaps over a Shippensburg defender while trying to deliver the ball further down field during a 2014 game. Shane Dunlap – GameTimePA
Last year: 11-1, won Division III
Coach: Jon Defoe (16th season)
Key players lost: ***Twenty starters lost*** QB/S Ryan Markle (1,109 passing yards, 10 TDs-6 INTs, 44 tackles, 9 INTs), RB/LB Colton Dull (1,467 yards, 8.2 yards per carry, 22 TDs), RB/LB Briton Shelton (1,199 yards, 7 yards per carry, 14 TDs, 237 rec. yards), RB/DB Phoenix Russell (228 rush yards, 180 rec. yards, 3 TDs), WR/DB Wyatt Gearhart (687 all-purpose yards, 4 TDs, 5 INTs), DL/OL Noah Hakes (65 tackles, 4 sacks), LB Michael Ogle (65 tackles), LB Cody Rowland (53 tackles, 9 sacks), K Connor Zahm (47.9 kickoff average, 55 PATs), DB Brennan Waltermyer (49 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 sack)
Key players returning: OL/DL Logan Luckenbaugh (73 tackles), RB Quinton King (160 rush yards, 8 yards per carry, 3 TDs), RB Ethan Frank (144 rush yards, 1 TD), OL/DL Dorian Steele (18 tackles), QB Tristan Hoke
Key stretch: Oct. 16-30 (at Delone Catholic, vs. York Catholic, at Littlestown)
The last month or so of the Eagles’ schedule is when things get interesting. Entering this point last season, Bermudian’s Red Swarm defense had given up just 27 points all year. Then they shut Delone Catholic out, 38-0, beat York Catholic, 42-21, and blanked Littlestown, 42-0. The Bolts are always a big rivalry game, and other than Biglerville, the Squires and Irish are expected to be the biggest competition for Bermudian’s division crown, which makes this stretch intriguing. With 20 starters gone, it’d would be a stretch to think the Eagles could outscore these three opponents, 122-21, again, and all three would love some revenge after getting embarrassed.
Fun fact: The Bermudian-Delone all-time series is even, 9-9, making this season’s battle a tiebreaker.
Circle this game on the schedule: Nov. 6 vs. Biglerville
It’s the best rivalry in Adams County, but it’s been fairly one-sided with Bermudian leading the all-time series, 29-12. The last few matchups have resulted in blowout wins for the Eagles, but Bermudian could be vulnerable. Why? Because they lost 20 starters while the Canners bring back nearly everyone from a district playoff team. If there’s a year when the Canners have the best chance to beat their backyard rivals, it’s this one. And with it being the season finale, there’s a solid possibility that the Division-III title is on the line.
Storyline to follow: Does Bermudian ever really rebuild?
Rebuilding isn’t really something that the Eagles do. Even in their “down” years under Jon DeFoe, the Eagles have still managed to pull out at least seven or eight wins. After losing 20 starters, can DeFoe and his staff work their magic again and reload without taking a step back? At YAIAA Media Day, DeFoe reiterated that his squad plans to defend their division title and reach the district playoffs. “Our expectations haven’t changed,” he said. “Our goal is to defend our division title. Will we look a little different as a team? Yeah, we probably won’t be as explosive, but for us, it comes back to playing good defense first and foremost. We still have the same expectations, we just might get there in a different way.”
The good news for DeFoe and Co. is that the first six weeks of the schedule is fairly light, which should give the 20 new starters plenty of time to adapt before they enter the stretch run.
Bermudian Springs’ Briton Shelton keeps Shippensburg defenders at bay while running the ball during a 2014 game. Shane Dunlap – GameTimePA
Sept. 4: New Oxford
Sept. 11: at Boiling Springs
Sept. 18: at Shippensburg
Sept. 25: Hanover
Oct. 2: at Fairfield
Oct. 9: York Tech
Oct. 16: at Delone Catholic
Oct. 23: York Catholic
Oct. 30: at Littlestown
Nov. 6: Biglerville
Countdown to kickoff schedule
June 12: New Oxford
June 19: Hanover
June 26: Littlestown
July 3: Spring Grove
July 10: Biglerville
July 17: Fairfield
July 24: South Western
July 31: Delone Catholic
Aug. 7: Gettysburg
Aug. 14: Bermudian Springs
Aug. 21: Over/Unders
Aug. 28: Top returning units