HIGH-SCHOOL

From winning streaks to returning champs, here's your A-to-Z guide to YAIAA fall sports

A – After Beau Pribula

For the first time in seven seasons, Central York’s quarterback will not be named Pribula. Four years of Cade were followed by three years of Beau. Seven years that saw the Panthers win league and district titles and play in the program’s first state championship.

B – Breaking records

Seniors Carson Trone (South Western) and Austin Billet (Eastern York) are shooting for a little extra this season. Trone needs just over a dozen catches to break the school record for career receptions, and with a good year, the single-season receiving record is a possibility. Billet, who threw for 2,093 yards last season, needs 1,600 to break Eastern’s career passing mark. And Hanover’s Chase Roberts could challenge an even bigger mark. The four-year starter needs to pass for 1,664 yards to break 2019 Central York grad Cade Pribula’s York County record of 6,923. Roberts threw for 2,324 yards last season.

C – Coach Alexa Taylor

Former Red Lion and York College standout Alexa Taylor is the new Central York field hockey coach, filling the vacancy made with Lori Livingston’s retirement. The Panthers are coming off their most successful season in program history, with a league championship, third-place district finish, and PIAA semifinal appearance among their 21-6-1 record.

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The 2021-2022 Spring Grove girls' volleyball team won its first state title.

D – Defending champs Spring Grove

Spring Grove’s rich girls’ volleyball history added a chapter last season with its first state title. But most of the players from that team have graduated, leaving junior outside hitter McKenzie Boyer and senior middle hitter Mylie Ormond to lead their title defense.

E – Empty netters

There’s nothing better to a goalie than a clean slate, meaning the opposition didn’t score. The York-Adams league returns a pair of boys’ soccer goalies whose clean slates kept the pressure off their offenses. Junior Ty Pridgen led York Suburban to seven shutout victories and a pair of 0-0 ties as the Trojans finished second in Division II and won a district playoff game through penalty kicks. Eleven of Biglerville’s 20 victories came via shutouts by Rodrigo Beltran-Lua, leading the Canners to the Division III title.

Red Lion's Lexi Lakatosh won the YAIAA Class 3A girls' tennis title as a freshman in 2020 and finished third last season.

F – Freshman streak in girls tennis

The last two YAIAA girls’ tennis tournaments were won by freshmen – Red Lion’s Lexi Lakatosh in 2020 and New Oxford’s Anya Rosenbach last year. The tennis season kicked off on Aug. 22. We won’t know if the streak continues until the league tournament runs its course Oct. 7-9.

G – Gettysburg, gone

After eight years in the YAIAA, the Warriors have returned to the Mid-Penn Conference, where they competed from 1992 to 2014. Gettysburg had plenty of success in the York-Adams league, winning division titles in 13 sports. Why did Gettysburg make the change? Athletic director Casey Thurston said a more competitive wrestling schedule was one of the reasons. Even though it won or competed for recent District 3 wrestling titles, Gettysburg didn’t wrestle the top York-Adams teams in the regular season.

League golfers will have to travel to compete in the state tournaments this season, since the PIAA moved from Heritage Hills to Penn State's Blue and White courses.

H – Hello, Penn State

For the first time since 2002, YAIAA golfers won’t have home-course advantage when the PIAA championships roll around. Instead of playing at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York Township, golfers will be hitting the Penn State Blue and White courses to play for state titles. PIAA officials moved the championships to State College for the next four seasons.

I – Image

The PIAA is closing in on a Name, Image, Likeness policy for their high school athletes. Will that change anything for athletes in the YAIAA if they are able to be paid?

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Dallastown's Kenny Johnson was highly sought by Division I schools before deciding on Pitt.

J – Johnson, Kenny

It’s a fairly common name for a decidedly uncommon player. Dallastown senior Kenny Johnson is a name that will be repeated in the state for years to come. He has one more year as a Wildcat, and then the highly recruited wideout will travel across the state to play at Pitt. He turned down 15 Division I offers when he committed to the Panthers, including one that would have kept him in a blue and white uniform.

K – King Mike Lippy

Six football programs changed hands this season. There were five new coaches in 2018, just two years after there were six. Littlestown coach Mike Lippy watched it all. In fact, he has remained on the Thunderbolts’ sideline through at least one coaching change at every school in the league. Entering his 20th year at Littlestown, he has the longest active streak among YAIAA football coaches.

Dallastown runners cheer before the PIAA 3A race last season. Cross country returns seven of the top eight runners from last year’s PIAA runner-up team.

L – Locked and loaded

Last fall, Dallastown won division titles in girls’ tennis, golf, girls’ cross country, boys’ soccer and girls’ soccer. With the exception of boys’ soccer, which only returns senior Owen Peri from last year’s five all-stars and a player of the year, each of those division champs return enough talent that a repeat isn’t out of the question. Girls’ soccer has division player of the year Annabelle Wunderlich and a handful of all-stars. Taylor Hicks and Reed Kross are the top two finishers among the four starters returning to the District 3 champion golf team. Junior Namya Jindal and senior Catharine Lasher are among the top five players returning to the girls’ tennis team, which finished fourth in districts. Cross country returns seven of the top eight runners from last year’s PIAA runner-up squad, including three sophomores.

M – Myers, Alaina

This New Oxford senior spent part of her summer in Atlanta. Not preparing for the upcoming girls’ soccer season but instead getting a jumpstart on a possible career. She was the only girl on any team among the medalists in the SkillsUSA welding fabrication championships. Myers and her two New Oxford teammates won the national championship, where “contestants had to construct something based on prints provided to them by the competition committee. It demonstrated their knowledge and skills in multiple welding and cutting processes,” according to the category description.

N – New football coaches

There are six YAIAA schools with different coaches from last year leading their football programs. The last time the league saw this much turnover was in 2016. There were also five new coaches in 2018. Dallastown’s Levi Murphy, Susquehannock’s Joe Sorice, Northeastern’s Kirby Brubaker and York Catholic’s Brad Hayek are all first-time head coaches. Spring Grove’s Will Thompson has been a head coach in Maryland, while Eastern York’s Bud Kyle comes across the Susquehanna River from Columbia.

Susquehannock's Matthew O'Brien has one last shot at district and state cross country gold.

O – O’Brien, Matthew

Susquehannock senior Matthew O’Brien will have the opportunity to achieve some impressive accomplishments in cross country. The league’s top runner took third in District 3 and fourth in the state in Class 2A last fall. But his time at states (16:08.1) would have earned a PIAA title in 2020. Can he take the top spot this fall?

P – Panther Pride

The Central York girls’ soccer team has won five consecutive YAIAA titles dating back to 2016. And in 2020, when the tournament wasn’t played due to COVID condensing the season, the Panthers still won Division I. But extending their streak won’t be easy this season. Central York has just three seniors on this year’s team. The Panthers also have new co-head coaches with assistants Brayden Hamilton and Maxine Herman taking over for Nate Trimmer, who stepped down after two seasons. But the Panthers have reloaded and gone through a coaching change during their streak before. Don’t count them out.

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Q – Questions for the fall

What team has the best chance to win a state title? After limited success in Classes 5A and 6A in recent years, can the league’s big schools keep winning in the football postseason? What stadium serves up the best grub?

R – Reigning runners from Dallastown

Dallastown’s colors might be blue and white, but the girls’ cross country team is going to have other squads seeing green. It’s hard to not envy a team that returns seven of the top eight runners from last year’s PIAA runner-up squad. Six of the returning runners were among the top 25 finishers in last year’s league meet. Victoria Rodriguez (second), Natalie Good (eighth) and Alexis Federline (14th) are only sophomores. Kailey Granger and Allison Hartman are the only seniors in that group.

Biglerville football players Seth Lady (2) and Colby Fulton (14) pose for a photo with head coach Brett Smyers during YAIAA football media day on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, in York.

S – Serving others

Members of Biglerville’s football team have volunteered their time and energy to support those in need through the Upper Adams Food Pantry and events sponsored by the Upper Adams United Methodist Church. Coach Brett Smyers said his players have “helped as servers for the ‘Live Alone’ Christmas dinner and helped raise money for the food bank during our Iron Canner lifting competition.”

T – Turf debate

Most high schools that have turf fields make them available to all of the fall sports played on fields. Except for some field hockey teams. Spring Grove field hockey coach Julia Baer said that used to be her team. But for the first time, all of the Rockets’ home games will be played in the stadium. “We have a lot of young coaches at Spring Grove, and we spent 2 1/2 hours figuring out the turf schedule,” she said. If it’s possible for one school, it’s possible for all of them.

Susquehannock's Lilly Wojcik is the reigning YAIAA Division II player of the year.

U – USA field hockey

Susquehannock junior Lilly Wojcik is the second York Countian to make a USA team this year. She was named to the Under-16 team earlier this year, joining Central York grad Lauren Moyer in representing the red, white and blue. Moyer has earned 101 caps on the national team since 2017.

V – Victory, finally?

A number of teams went through their fall seasons without a win. Here’s hoping West York and Biglerville football; Fairfield golf; and Hanover and York High girls’ soccer get back in the win column this fall.

Several league and school records are within the grasp of York High's Jahiem White.

W – White, Jahiem

York High’s Jahiem White is clearly one of the best running backs to come through York County. And the West Virginia commit could set some records this season to prove he’s at the top of the list. He needs 298 rushing yards to break Dayjure Stewart’s York High career mark of 4,138 and 2,175 yards to break Alex Cooley’s YAIAA career record of 6,015. He finished with 2,128 last year so that’s not out of the question. Don’t be surprised if he challenges Stewart’s single-season league record of 3,045.

X – Xs and Os

After two years of COVID brought limited workouts and plenty of uncertainty, fall coaches said they were glad to get back to the nitty gritty of refining their teams. They spent the summer holding voluntary workouts to build team chemistry and teach the basics to those who needed them, instead of trying to jam all of that into the first few days of official practices.

Y – York Catholic change

Brad Hayek has been on the Irish football staff since 2005, as freshman coach, varsity assistant and, eventually, defensive coordinator. This year he has a new title … head coach. He was named to the position in June, when Eric Depew left for the same position at Red Land. Hayek, a Dover graduate, had a hand in the program’s most successful decade, when the team went 83-40, winning four YAIAA Division III titles and three District 3 Class 2A crowns, including one last year.

Be kind to our officials. There aren't that many to go around.

Z – Zebras

The high school officials’ shortage is a real thing. Games have been moved and administrators are hoping for clear weather and no emergencies because the league has a bare-bones officiating crew. Fans, coaches and players can do their part by remaining respectful to the folks in stripes.