Mark your calenders
One of the sports cliches you'll hear most often is: "It's a long season." And there are a lot of sports seasons that applies to. Major League Baseball, for one. The NBA and the NHL, as well.
But the "It's a long season" refrain doesn't apply to high school football. The regular season lasts 10 games -- from Sept. 4 to Nov. 6. That's two months. Every game takes on magnified significance, and the big games become even bigger.
With that in mind, I couldn't help but look ahead at this year's YAIAA slate and pinpoint some of the games to keep an eye on. Get out your calenders...
Sept. 4 -- Central York at West York
Last season: West York won, 28-3
What better way to open the season? These were the best two teams in the area last year, and that could be the case again this year. Both look to be the favorites in their divisions, and Central has the talent to make this season a special one, with players like Kyle Baublitz and Charles Anderson in the fold. West York, meanwhile, has the big-game experience, collected during last year's District 3 Class AAA title run. Which of those factors will give in? Will Central come out with extra motivation after last year's opening-night defeat to the Bulldogs (at home, no less)? We won't have to wait long to find out.
Sept. 25 -- William Penn at Red Lion
Last season: William Penn won, 48-19
This game should be a barometer for both teams. William Penn opens with some potentially tricky but winnable games (at Reading, at JP McCaskey and vs. Susquehannock). This should give a better sense as to how Tim Hibbs' team -- with 17 new starters -- fits into YAIAA Division I. For Red Lion, meanwhile, a convincing win here could announce the Lions' presence as Division I title contenders this year.
Oct. 17 -- West York at York Suburban
Last season: West York won, 47-13
A Saturday special in mid-October between the two favorites in Division II. West York has the pedigree, but Suburban returns most of its skill players from a team that went 4-2 in the Division last year. This one will tell us if the Trojans are indeed ready to challenge for a Division title, or reaffirm West York's perch among its piers.
Oct. 23 -- Bermudian Spring at Delone Catholic
Last season: Bermudian won, 22-0
These two teams tied for the Division III title last year along with Biglerville. The Eagles perhaps surprised Delone in this fixture a year ago, and you would bet the Squires will have that in mind this time around. Bermudian lost a lot of talent, but on paper the Eagles have the best chance to challenge Delone.
Oct. 23 -- South Western at Central York
Last season: Central won, 38-16
Don Seidenstricker's Mustangs seem to have a lot going for them this year. They return a lot of players on both sides of the ball. In the intangibles category, it's South Western's 50th season of football. And the Division I picture, with the possible exception of Central, looks a bit muddled. The Mustangs have a somewhat favorable Division I schedule leading into this contest (its two toughest games, Dallastown and Red Lion, are both at home). If South Western can emerge from those games in good shape, this could be quite a showdown.
Nov. 6 -- Red Lion at Dallastown
Last season: Red Lion won, 20-14
A classic rivalry game on the last week of the regular season between two teams that should be fairly close to each other in the standings. Need I say more?
Of course these aren't the only games to keep an eye on. Any others that I'm missing?