Coach: Andy Loucks (first season) // YAIAA Division II // District 3 // Class AAA
Steve Navaroli / GameTimePA.com
While it's true that York Suburban returns key players at the skill positions, first-year coach Andy Loucks is adamant that his team is much more than a dynamic quarterback-receiver combination.
Loucks, who held the head job at Kennard-Dale for four seasons, makes his return to the school where he was formerly an assistant coach with players that started on the offensive and defensive lines last season as well. The Trojans have experience nearly everywhere on the field.
"The senior class is so big, and they played so much the first two years, they are all prepared," he said. "I am the third coach in four years, but for them it's not as stressful."
Quarterback >> Thomas Merkle is entering his third season as the Trojans quarterback, coming off a junior campaign in which he completed 60 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns.
"This year it's all about trying to lead the offense and put us in good positions to win. We have all around a great receiving core. We have good chemistry and are always on same page," said Merkle, who was among the YAIAA passing leaders last year.
Running backs >> Dajour Henderson averaged 8.3 yards per carry in 47 attempts and figures to get his share of carries as Loucks wants the team to be more balanced. A consistent running game will make this offense even more dangerous.
Receivers >> Having a guy that topped 1,000 receiving yards back in the mix is huge, and Suburban has that in speedy Collin
Mailman, who had 43 catches with eight touchdowns.
Offensive line >> There's experience with Derek Lehman (6-1, 215) in the middle, flanked by fellow seniors David Kline (6-0, 220) and Adrian Sanchez (5-11, 305).
Defensive line >> Juniors Ralph Casper Jr. (6-1, 220) and Gavin Barcley (6-5, 265) are two of the returning linemen set to help Suburban improve on the 30.4 points allowed per game during the 2014 season. Kline's pass rushing will help as well.
"You have to make sure your scheme is flexible enough to adapt to your talent. That's the first thing you have to do," Loucks said of his defense.
Linebackers >> Leading tackler Shane Robinson, who made 85 stops a season ago, returns as does fellow senior Justice Gettle, who had 47 stops.
Secondary >> At only 5-7, Dustin Knaub is a force in the backfield. The senior made 64 tackles, with two interceptions and a forced fumble. Few receivers will run past Mailman on the outside.
Although he missed the only field goal attempt last season, senior Jonas Atkinson was a solid 21-of-23 in point after touchdowns. Henderson, Mailman and Teague Hoffman will likely share return duties.
Save the date >> It won't take long for the Trojans to see what they need to do this season. The Sept. 4 season opener against a very good Red Land team will provide quite the test right out of the gate.
Bottom line >> With so many players back, including a three-year starting QB, in what could be a wide open Division II, can this be the year York Suburban rises to the top? Loucks and Co. think so. One thing is certain, the Trojans will be an entertaining team to watch.
Date/Result // Opponent // Time/Score
L // @ Red Land // 7-17
L // @ Northeastern // 24-31
W // Spring Grove // 29-22
W // @ Kennard-Dale // 24-12
*W // Ephrata // 38-6
W // Susquehannock // 47-14
W // @ West York // 23-22
W // Dover // 55-27
W // @ Gettysburg // 45-14
W // Eastern York // 30-7
District 3 Class AAA
- First Round // L // Northern York // 16-30
Result // Opponent // Score
L // Red Land // 0-25
L // Northeastern // 0-44
L // Spring Grove // 20-56
W // Kennard-Dale // 35-0
W // Ephrata // 49-0
W // Susquehannock // 37-7
L // West York // 7-58
W // Dover // 36-21
L // Gettysburg // 14-51
L // Eastern York // 7-42