Coach: Jon Scepanski (6-14 in two seasons) // YAIAA Division I // District 3 // Class AAA
Brett Keener / For GameTimePA.com
You would have been hard pressed to find anyone envious of Northeastern's position at this time last year.
The Bobcats opened the 2014 season after being shuffled into Division I as part of the YAIAA's offseason realignment, a move that made them the smallest fish in the league's big-school pond. And they were taking on that upgraded schedule a year after posting a 1-9 mark.
Then a funny thing happened: Despite a number of injuries, Northeastern went a surprising 5-5 under second-year head coach Jon Scepanski. Now the Bobcats bring back a veteran group boasting experience at every level of the offense and defense, a scenario that has Northeastern drawing a lot less sympathy and a lot more curiosity as a new season opens.
"With the kids we have back -- their experience, their skill level, their commitment -- we want to be a very competitive football team this year," Scepanski said. "We're definitely looking forward to it."
Quarterback >> The Bobcats have options here, all of them good: Junior Blake Einsig is a returning starter who put up solid numbers last year (865 yards, 10 touchdowns, 56 percent passing), while fellow junior and incoming transfer Shannon Valenti also gained starting experience a season ago at Central York. Junior Jonathan Butler saw action in six games last year.
Running backs >> Northeastern returns its top three running backs in senior Kody Reeser (coaches' second-team Division I all-star), junior Chris Whack, and sophomore Fred Mulbah. The versatile trio combined for nearly 1,600 yards on the ground last season.
Receivers >> Two Bobcats hauled in double-digit catches last season, and both return: seniors David Ankey (coaches' second-team Division I all-star) and Jordan Zirkle. They combined for 37 grabs and 642 yards a year ago.
Offensive line >> Three -- possibly four -- returning starters will power the Bobcats' spread wing-T offense. Junior Blaine Yinger, junior John Wadkins, and senior Adam Kipp are all back, while senior Tate Lau has an uncertain return date as he recovers from a broken leg suffered in an offseason accident.
Defensive line >> Yinger, Kipp and senior Fernando Flores form the nucleus of the D-line; Lau's return would be a boost, as the senior and defensive end recorded four sacks last season.
Linebackers >> The Bobcats return leading tackler Gary Gobernik at one linebacker spot. He'll be joined by Reeser, junior Mason Kling, and sometimes Flores, who acts as a hybrid end-linebacker.
Secondary >> Junior Michael Cooper will lock down one corner spot, with sophomore Taemar Willis (two interceptions as a freshman) manning the other corner. The safeties will be from among a group that includes Mulbah, Whack, John Maher, and Zach Williams.
Cooper will be among the kick returners, as will Willis. Soccer players Brandon Arentz and Cameron Artman will handle kicking duties to replace the graduated Chase Sasala.
Save the date >> Northeastern opens the season with interesting games against York Catholic and York Suburban, and then the measure of the Bobcats will be taken on Sept. 25 when Central York pays a visit to Manchester for the teams' Division I opener.
Bottom line >> The Bobcats have the ability to make some noise in their second season in the big-school division. They'll need to avoid some early trap games, but the potential is there for Northeastern to be playing some meaningful football in the season's final weeks.
Date/Result // Opponent // Time/Score
W // @ York Catholic // 40-7
W // York Suburban // 31-24
W // Susquehannock // 30-21
W // @ Central York // 42-0
W // Red Lion // 14-13
L // @ Dallastown // 12-15
*W // William Penn // 35-8
W // @ Spring Grove // 30-0
L // @ South Western // 7-24
W // New Oxford // 45-7
District 3 Class AAA
- First Round // W // Northern Lebanon // 12-48
- Quarterfinals// L // Susquehann Twp. // 42-14
Result // Opponent // Score
W // York Catholic // 20-17
W // York Suburban // 44-0
W // Susquehannock // 31-10
L // Central York // 17-44
L // Red Lion // 14-21
L // Dallastown // 0-35
L // William Penn // 17-20
W // Spring Grove // 27-10
L // South Western // 7-16
W // New Oxford // 28-13