In our annual YAIAA football preview tab — out today! — I wrote a column in which I asked what I felt were five of the biggest questions heading into the season. You can see that story here.
Now, I’m here to provide the answers.
Below is each of the five questions (in bold), with my responses after each. Don’t agree with me? Have your own burning question? Sound off in the comments section.
1. Which team emerges from Division III?
The bet here is that nobody makes unbeaten through the division schedule. Could we see a three-way tie like we did in 2008, when Delone Catholic, Biglerville and Bermudian Springs shared the championship? It’s certainly possible.
As far as early season favorites, I’ll give two: Bermudian Springs and York Suburban. Yes, the Eagles must replace their two top rushers from last season. But plenty of players return, and Berm has never had trouble producing prolific rushers.
As for the Trojans — their speed is going to be a nightmare for opposing teams. They’re a risky pick here because of potential depth concerns. But the talent here is too much to ignore.
2. Does Delone Catholic’s move down a classification make it the favorite for a District 3 Class A title?
Teams like defending champ Columbia and others won’t be pushovers, but I have no qualms sticking the “favorite” tag on Delone. The Squires lost a decent chunk of last year’s squad to graduation, but this program has shown an ability in recent years to reload and come back strong. And don’t underestimate the value of having a seasoned, proven quarterback like Brett Smith back in the fold.
If we’re getting really bold … how about a postseason rematch with the rival Fighting Irish? That would be something.
3. Can West York get back to Hershey?
I could definitely see Ron Miller’s squad rolling through the regular season and earning a coveted top seed (and homefield advantage) through the district playoffs. On paper, this team has pretty much everything — depth, size, speed, experience. Titles aren’t won on paper, of course, but the ingredients are there.
What happens once the playoffs start? Who knows. The Class AAA field is loaded with teams like Lancaster Catholic, Bishop McDevitt others. Which team survives the November gauntlet is anyone’s guess.
With a good draw and good health, though, I have West York playing well into November.
4. Will Northeastern repeat last year’s program-best campaign?
Last year’s influential senior class is gone. But Northeastern returns 19 seniors, and will start 10 seniors on each side of the ball. If nothing else, expect the Bobcats to be physical.
Another thing to consider: With the exception of West York, every other team in Division II has big question marks. If they can avoid injuries and any other issues, I’ll pick the Bobcats to go 4-1 in division play and at least equal last season’s win total.
5. Can another Class AAAA team from the area make a district playoff run?
When in doubt, I lean toward the team with the most size and depth. Dallastown would seem to be pretty well stocked in both areas, which is why I’m pretty high on them entering the year. If I had to pick one team from the area that could match up the physical, playoff-tested teams from the Mid-Penn, it’s probably the Wildcats.
Join John Clayton and Steve Navaroli at 7 p.m. on Thursday for a live chat to preview the start of the YAIAA football season.