FOOTBALL

YAIAA football Week 2 preview: Upstart teams look to stay hot in all-league matchup

Matt Allibone
York Daily Record

When it struggled while playing bigger schools in YAIAA Division I last season, the Dover football team tried to use the losses as a learning experience.

It didn't take long to use those lessons this season.

Despite dropping back down to YAIAA Division II, Dover kept three YAIAA Division I teams on the schedule ― including the first two weeks. The Eagles started the season with a 35-6 win over Northeastern, a team that beat Dover by a touchdown last season.

The Eagles next challenge comes this week. Dover hosts South Western in an all-YAIAA, non-division contest this Friday. The Mustangs are also 1-0 after a 35-3 win over Susquehannock last week.

"We saw tremendous growth last Friday," Dover coach Wayne Snelbaker said. "We scored first, and Northeastern went down and scored. Years past we would have been like, 'here we go again,' and we would have just kind of folded a little bit. But this team is obviously resilient."

Dover football players Josiah Heffelfinger (53) and Gavin Mullins (26) pose for a photo with head coach Wayne Snelbaker during YAIAA football media day on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, in York.

Dover split its matchups with South Western during its two years in YAIAA Division I, but lost by 19 to the Mustangs last season. However, the two programs find themselves in different positions this season ― though they were in the same boat not too long ago.

South Western broke through with a 6-4 playoff season last year but graduated a large senior class. Dover went just 1-9 but brought back a lot of starters and has higher expectations with the move back to Division II.

The Eagles want to get to where South Western was last season, but the Mustangs don't want to fall off. Dover hasn't made the playoffs 2013. South Western missed the postseason from 2016 to 2020 before breaking through last season.

"We're better as a team this year," Dover senior running back Gavin Mullins said. "We can compete against them. Just because we lost last year, this year is just different.

"We have more confidence and we're much more of a team all together. Everyone likes each other. We don't get mad at each other."

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Dover opened the season with a 35-6 win over Northeastern last Friday. Here, quarterback Aric Campbell celebrates a touchdown.

With Dover and South Western winning by nearly identical scores last week, it's hard to predict how Friday's game will shake out.

South Western threw for 107 yards and rushed for 257 while Dover passed for 177 and threw for 245. Mustangs first-year starting quarterback Max Wisensale rushed for 132 yards and passed for 76. Dover was even more balanced with junior QB Aric Campbell going 7-of-12 for 177 yards and two scores while Mullins finished with 166 total yards on 11 touches.

Both defenses caused havoc. South Western caused four sacks and two interceptions and Dover picked off three passes.

South Western quarterback Max Wisensale runs with the ball. South Western defeats Susquehannock 35-3 in football at South Western High School in Hanover, Friday, August 26, 2022.

Still, Dover knows it can't be too pleased with its fast start. The Eagles held on for a 29-28 win over West York to start last season and didn't win again.

"We've talked about that,' Mullins said. "A lot of guys were overly hyper (last year). We get it, but we have to calm down and not get our heads too big. If we go into the next game thinking we're going to easily beat this team, that's going to make us be too confident."

What we learned last week

York High needs to get 'up' sooner

York High's Jahiem White leads his teammates in a pre-game dance as the Bearcats get pumped up to play Woodland Hills in the Chambersburg Peach Bowl football showcase on Saturday, August 27, 2022.

The Bearcats are undeniably talented. They have potential playmakers at basically every level of the offense and defense.

But while a 28-24 Week 1 loss to Woodland Hills will be remembered ― rightfully ― for the Bearcats failing to get four yards in four tries for a final touchdown in the last minute, they didn't need to be in such a desperate situation. They trailed 28-8 at halftime partially because of the Wolverines impressive size and speed, but also because of their own mistakes.

York High didn't convert a third-and-1 on its first drive then let Woodland Hills running back Elijah Nesby run 69 yards for a touchdown because of a defensive breakdown. The Bearcats didn't recover the ensuing kickoff because of poor communication. A receiver dropped a key pass on the next drive.

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That led to a 21-0 deficit.

York High is inexperienced at receiver and some defensive positions, so its understandable the Bearcats had some opening-day growing pains. Star running back Jahiem White acknowledged the Bearcats weren't "up" at the beginning of the game.

If the Bearcats can start fast moving forward, they will be a tough out. They won't get much of a break this week against an excellent Hempfield team that beat Dallastown, 30-13, in Week 1.

YAIAA Division I contenders look strong despite graduating superstars

Juelz Goff took advantage of big holes created by Central York's offensive line to run for nearly 170 yards on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Everyone knew Central York would need to change some things up following the graduation of quarterback Beau Pribula.

It was fair to wonder how Spring Grove would reload with 2,300-yard rusher Zyree Brooks ― and a large senior class ― now in college.

But both teams got off to strong starts in Week 1.

Central York beat typical Mid-Penn power Central Dauphin, 36-19, at home Saturday. New quarterback Nasir Still threw a long touchdown to Parker Hines and threw for a score. Rising star running back Juelz Goff rushed for 174 yards and three scores.

Spring Grove started the Will Thompson era with a 46-14 win over Waynesboro ― a team the Rockets beat twice last season. Star dual threat quarterback Andrew Osmun accounted for three touchdowns and receiver Nizeah Mummert racked up 185 receiving yards, but the Rockets also got 168 rushing yards from seven different players.

Spring Grove's Andrew Osmun prepares to run the ball into the end zone to score the Rockets' first points of the game during a non-league matchup against Waynesboro on Friday, August 26, 2022, in Jackson Township.

It's clear both teams ― which went a combined 21-3 last season ― are still good. But how good? That we still have to find out.

Spring Grove will face another team hoping to reload this year when it travels to Kennard-Dale Friday. The Rams are coming off a 10-2 season but were outclassed, 49-0, by state powerhouse Wyomissing last week. We'll learn a lot more about the Rams and Rockets this Friday.

And Central York will face another Mid-Penn power when it hosts former Panthers coach Josh Oswalt and Cumberland Valley Friday. The Eagles have treaded water the past few seasons (16-23 since 2018) but appear to be a contender this season. Cumberland Valley has an experienced lineup led by quarterback Isaac Sines and earned an impressive 31-27 comeback win over Manheim Township last week.

It won't be surprising if Cumberland Valley pushes Central York more than a rebuilding Central Dauphin team did.

Speaking of Manheim Township, the Blue Streaks will host a Dallastown team (0-1) that also expects to contend in YAIAA Division I this season but lost to Hempfield, 30-13, in Week 1. The Wildcats stunned the Streaks, 41-38, last season and will need another outstanding effort this Friday to avoiding falling to 0-2.

YAIAA Division III has plenty of room for improvement.

Interestingly, the only YAIAA Division III team to win Week 1 was Biglerville ― a team that didn't win a game last year.

The rest of the division went 0-for-7. Five of those games weren't close. York County Tech (22-20 to James Buchanan) and York Catholic (22-14 to Lancaster Catholic) played games that came down to the wire, but Tech gave up a lead after the game was suspended three days due to lightning, and York Catholic was favored to win.

It's inevitable for teams to struggle early in the season. But none of those teams have easy games this week, so improvements will have to happen quickly.

Game Ball of the Week: Garrett Coppersmith, Red Lion

The senior wide receiver caught six passes for 152 yards. Pretty impressive for a kid who was mostly a kicker last season, right? Well, Coppersmith also scored all of Red Lion's points in a 24-21 win over Ephrata.

He caught three touchdown passes from Chris Price (76 yards, 31 yards, 18 yards), booted the extra point all three times and nailed a 47-yard field goal.

Red Lion needed all 24 of those points to win the game.

Ready for some predictions?

Which teams do GameTimePA reporters think will win Week 2? Join the York Daily Record's Matt Allibone and Shelly Stallsmith for a Twitter Space Wednesday at 7 p.m. to hear their predictions for each game this week. Find the Twitter Space at Matt Allibone's Twitter account, @bad2theallibone.

Thursday, Sept. 1

Lancaster Catholic at Delone Catholic, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 2

Boiling Springs at Bermudian Springs, 7 p.m.

Camp Hill at York Catholic, 7 p.m.

Columbia at Hanover, 7 p.m.

Cumberland Valley at Central York, 7 p.m.

Dallastown at Manheim Township, 7 p.m.

Fairfield at Eastern York, 7 p.m.

Littlestown at Susquehannock, 7 p.m.

New Oxford at Gettysburg, 7 p.m.

Northeastern at Red Land, 7 p.m.

Red Lion at West York, 7 p.m.

South Western at Dover, 7 p.m.

Spring Grove at Kennard-Dale, 7 p.m.

Susquenita at Biglerville, 7 p.m.

York High at Hempfield, 7 p.m.

York Suburban at Donegal, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 3

Kutztown at York County Tech, 1 p.m.