Coach: Greg Bowman (first season) // Mid Penn Colonial Division // District 3 // Class AAA
Brett Keener / For GameTimePA.com
It wasn't all that long ago that Northern York was one of the Mid Penn Conference's models of football consistency.
Victories, division titles and District 3 appearances all came regularly to the Polar Bear program. But the competitive landscape of the Colonial Division has changed in recent years, creating some tough times for Northern.
Getting Northern back to the upper tier is now a task for Greg Bowman, the Polar Bears' third head coach in four seasons and a former assistant at Lower Dauphin, Spring Grove and Central York. He's found a ready welcome from folks around Dillsburg, but he remains aware that success is determined on the field.
"I don't think that getting people excited has been difficult at all," Bowman said. "They are excited, they are hungry. It's more a matter of doing what I think needs to be done in order to get where we want to be and to keep people excited."
Quarterback >> The Polar Bears return a pair of experienced signal callers in junior Curtis Robison and senior Justin Markle. Both saw plenty of varsity time last season and should do so again depending on the formation and situation.
Running backs >> Burly senior Bobby Shelly returns after earning a second-team all-star nod in the Colonial Division, and he'll be the fullback when the Polar Bears go with an option look and a tailback at other times. Senior Mike Kearney, a former wideout, provides a change-of-pace option.
Receivers >> The Polar Bears have a big group to choose from: Kearney, Andrew Swaisgood, Dylan Baxter and Jake Cromer are among those in the mix. Jared Sutch will be the primary tight end.
Offensive line >> There is some experience here, starting with returnees in center Trevor Morris and guards Kyle Gass and Cale Walker. Austin Miller also saw some varsity time last season. Bowman calls this the Polar Bears' "most veteran group."
Defensive line >> Northern hopes to develop an eight-man line rotation to keep legs fresh. Walker returns at defensive tackle after being a Colonial Division all-star on offense last year. Senior Noah Smith could be a difference-maker if he continues to develop.
Linebackers >> Leading tackler Devin Reed returns at middle linebacker. Austin Wenger and Jordan Eutzy also could be in the mix, while Shelly and Robison will man the outside spots.
Secondary >> Swaisgood, a senior and a Colonial all-star last season, provides a solid anchor at one of the corners. Mike Kearney will handle the other corner. Cromer is the safety, with Markle seeing some time there as well.
Special teams >> Kicker Aidan Alves returns. He and Markle are capable of punting, while Swaisgood returns as the primary kick returner.
Save the date >> Key division games against Shippensburg and Greencastle loom in Weeks 7 and 8, but you won't find anyone at Northern looking past the Week 3 clash with Mechanicsburg. No current Polar Bear has been part of a win against the Wildcats.
Bottom line >> The Polar Bears have plenty of returnees, strong roster numbers, and a rejuvenated outlook. If that can get Northern over the hump in close games -- the Bears' weakness in recent years -- it can once again be a division contender.
Date/Result // Opponent // Time/Score
W // @ Susquehannock // 38-14
L // @ Middletown // 16-19
W // Mechanicsburg // 42-13
*W // James Buchanan // 51-0
W // @ Waynesboro // 13-7
W // @ Big Spring // 17-10
W // Shippensburg // 24-19
W // @ Greencastle-Antrim // 38-14
L // @ Lower Dauphin // 7-38
L // East Pennsboro // 7-28
District 3 Class AAA
- First round // W // York Suburban // 30-16
- Quarterfinals // L // Bishop McDevitt // 49-21
Result // Opponent // Score
W // Susquehannock // 48-28
L // Middlestown // 9-18
L // Mechanicsburg // 0-35
W // James Buchanan // 21-7
L // Waynesboro // 25-40
W // Big Spring // 28-7
L // Shippensburg // 7-10
L // Greencastle-Antrim // 9-27
L // Lower Dauphin // 0-60