Coach: Jesse Shay (10-11 in two seasons) // YAIAA Division I // District 3 // Class AAAA
Matt Goul / GameTimePA.com
The end of Red Lion's 2014 season supplied a glimpse of what coach Jesse Shay hoped his team can become.
In Week 10, the Lions faced YAIAA Division I champion Dallastown. A postseason appearance the following week brought District 3 Class AAAA power Governor Mifflin.
Both opponents handed Red Lion losses, a close regular-season finale and 49-7 district defeat.
"I think they're the best team in the district," Shay said of Governor Mifflin. "For us, we got to see what we aspire to be."
In all, the Lions played three AAAA playoff teams. They tried to slow games down to favor a defense that represented Shay, its defensive-minded head coach, but also exhibited a potential to score, as shown in the Lions' 44-27 loss to West York in which quarterback Dalton Grove found Kendrick Boyd-Gillespie for four touchdowns.
Both of them are back as seniors, as the Lions embark on what will be an emotional year while remembering Stone Hill and Nick Mankin, who died in June.
Quarterback >> Grove, a senior, started all 11 games last season and threw for 1,051 yards with 12 TDs and nine interceptions.
Running backs >> The Lions graduated their top two backs, Antwan Jackson (743 yards) and Kenny Holloway. Senior Alex Keough only rushed for 265 yards, but averaged 7.8 on only 34 carries. "He's tough and fast with good agility," Grove said. Senior Josh Donaldson and junior Dylan Gurreri also will compete here.
Receivers >> Outside of Boyd-Gillespie, who caught 19 passes for 265 yards and seven TDs, the Lions must find replacements for their next three leading receivers.
Offensive line >> Junior Nick Argento (6-2, 315), who has drawn interest but no formal offers from Division I schools, is moving from left tackle to right guard. Also returning is 6-3, 220-pound starting right tackle Stephen Tierney.
Defensive line >> Inside with Argento, whose footwork helped him earn coaches' all-league first team honors as a sophomore, is Tierney and senior Nate Law (6-0, 240). Pat Stafford, who had five sacks in 2014, was set to return on the edge before a season-ending lacrosse injury. Senior Kaison Mitchell, junior Ben Frey and senior Brooks Argento -- Nick's cousin -- should vie for time.
Linebackers >> Within the Lions' 4-3, they graduated two seniors in Jackson and Raquan Mitchell. Junior Pat Daugherty is the most seasoned player, but three new starters will be asked to take the reins.
Secondary >> Boyd-Gillespie garnered attention for hard hits from his strong safety spot last season. He had an interception and 62 tackles, which helped receive second-team all-league honors. Nate Orji and Derek Ross graduated from this unit, which will look to Keough, Dillon Hildebrand and Cole Snyder to fill roles.
Backup quarterback Sam Emig shared kicking and punting duties last season, but Shay expects him to take both over this fall. Senior James Jackson and junior Paul Jones have the most kick returning experience.
Save the date >> Nov. 6 at Dallastown for the annual rivalry game.
Bottom line >> This program has made steady improvements in Shay's first two seasons leading the Lions.
Date/Result // Opponent // Time/Score
W // @ Hershey // 40-20
L // Manheim Township // 15-22
W // @ West York // 35-14
*W // William Penn // 70-6
L // @ Northeastern // 13-14
L // South Western // 14-31
W // @ New Oxford // 61-21
W // Central York // 42-7
W // Spring Grove // 28-14
W // @ Dallastown // 26-0
District 3 Class AAAA
- First Round// L // Cumberland Valley // 21-48
Result // Opponent // Score
W // Hershey // 28-7
L // Manheim Township // 6-47
L // West York // 27-44
W // William Penn // 13-12
W // Northeastern // 21-14
L // South Western // 0-20
W // New Oxford // 21-7
W // Central York // 20-13
W // Spring Grove // 41-28
L // Dallastown // 15-20
District 3 Class AAAA
- First round // L // Governor Mifflin // 7-49