By JOHN WALK
The shiny new toy.
The pretty girl at the dance.
Call Gettysburg what you will. Either way, Gettysburg is the fresh face to the York-Adams League this school year. And these Warriors, not to be confused with those of Susquehannock, were the talk of the town Monday.
Well, really the talk inside a conference room of the York Newspaper Company offices, the site of York-Adams League Football Media Day.
After competing in the Mid-Penn Conference for 23 years, Gettysburg is the newest member of the York-Adams League this season, pumping the league to 23 teams and resulting in changes to the league’s schedule and three football divisions. Gettysburg is set to compete in Division II, as is Eastern York and York Suburban, both of whom are bumping up from Division III. New Oxford and Northeastern will move up from Division II to Division I.
Contender: So who, exactly, is this Gettysburg team located less than an hour’s drive west of York? Well, it’s one Eric Lam, the head coach of defending York-Adams League Division II champion Dover, envisions being a contender for the Division II title this season.
“West York is always there. Coach (Ron) Miller does a great job with them down there,” Lam said. “And I think Gettysburg coming in is definitely a team to look out for as No. 2. We’ll have to fight to earn our way. But I really think those two (West York and Gettysburg) are the class of the division right now.”
Gettysburg is coming off a 6-5 season a year ago that ended with a 43-8 loss to Cocalico in the first round of the District 3-AAA playoffs. The Warriors also finished second in the Mid-Penn Conference’s Colonial Division. And Coach Matt Heiser has been the man leading the charge.
Heiser: Following 10 seasons as the head coach at Boiling Springs, where he steered his teams to four appearances in the District 3-AA Tournament, Heiser took over Gettysburg in 2012 following a 2011 season in which the Warriors went 2-8. They improved to 3-7 in Heiser’s first season in 2012 before last year’s jump into the district playoffs, a place Gettysburg hadn’t been since 2010.
The Gettysburg football program, as a whole, has qualified for the district tournament in nine separate seasons, reaching the district title game three times (1993, 1994, 2007), but never winning it.
Heiser stayed mum Monday on his expectations for this season, but did note some comparisons coming from the Mid-Penn Conference to the York-Adams League.
“I think it’s gonna be faster,” he said. “Mid-Penn-wise I’m used to big, bruising offensive lineman. I see a lot of speed (in the York-Adams League). You still see a lot of size, too, but I think it’s gonna be a little bit faster.”
Gettysburg will return seven starters on defense and eight on offense. The latter unit will have every skill position player back but the quarterback.
Schedule: The Warriors also will play inside a refurbished home stadium this season, competing on top of a turf field that replaced grass. Outside of facing South Western every year in the season opener, Gettysburg hasn’t faced another York-Adams League opponent since Nov. 16, 2007, when the Warriors beat West York in the District 3-AAA quarterfinals, 33-28, on the way to reaching to the district title game.
Bulldogs’ coach Ron Miller still has painful memories of that loss.
“We played well, and at the time they were the No. 1 team in the state,” Miller recalled. “We sacked their quarterback 12 times and made a couple plays down the stretch. There are some calls I’m still not quite over. There’s not a whole lot we can change. It didn’t go the way it was supposed to. That’s all.”
So there’s potential that a little bit more than the Division II title could be on the line when West York travels to Gettysburg in the regular-season finale on Oct. 31.
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.