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From the choppy start to the short-handed finish, misery seemed to follow York's football team from whistle-to-whistle last season.
A program that qualified for the playoffs in seven of the previous eight years suddenly found itself dealing with the shock of an 0-9 record in 2012. Watching all nine opponents reach the postseason wasn't quite the way coach Steve Nye drew up his first season with the Dukes.
"I was hired late and we didn't really have a full off-season," said Nye, who guided Brother Rice to 10 straight playoff seasons leading up to his hiring at York. "It was a tough year. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong."
The pain became most glaring on defense, where the Dukes surrendered at least 40 points in five games. The bulk of the starting defense returns, however, eager for the chance to redeem itself.
York is switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 system as the Dukes try to take advantage of their four returning linebackers — Mike Kosanovich, Ryan Saco, Emmett McCoy and Joe Helton. Two linemen and two defensive backs also return.
"Last year there were games where we couldn't even line up right," Nye said. "This year we've made the adjustments and they know the techniques. They collectively said, 'This can't happen again.' There's a lot more accountability within the team."
York also is changing its offensive look away from the pass-heavy system of the last few years. The Dukes will be more able to run the ball with the return of linemen Frank Voris and Jim Pukala. They'll turn to more double tight end sets with Liam Gaughan, Kyle Preuss and McCoy.
Running back by committee appears to be the plan with Ted Harrold, a starting cornerback, and Morgan Alexander getting carries. Nye's moving Dominic Ravenna from the defensive line to fullback to bring an even more physical presence to the offense.
Charlie Rose takes over at quarterback. He played some last season, but in a different system. Instead of seeking explosion plays, Rose and the Dukes will rely on a short passing attack intent on moving the chains.
"There's more of a comfort level this season," Nye said. "We've definitely improved, it's just a matter of how much."
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