Tanner Klinefelter's first foray into varsity football was as erratic as it was unexpected.

When Klinefelter was cast into Red Lion's starting quarterback spot in Week 6 of last season, he was a fresh-faced sophomore without a varsity pass under his belt.

The results were predictably volatile. Klinefelter showed flashes of unmistakable talent (a 214-yard, 3-touchdown outing against Dover in his debut), but also telltale traces of inexperience (a four-interception performance at South Western).

"Last year coming in as a sophomore second half of the season, it was definitely tough," Klinefelter said Wednesday. "It was tough getting used to the speed."

Klinefelter held his own. He went 2-3 in his five starts.

More importantly, those introductory encounters set the stage for what has been a shimmering start to the 2010 season.

Through four games, Klinefelter has been wellspring of production for the Lions (3-1), who host New Oxford Friday at 7 p.m. He ranks second in the YAIAA in both passing yards (729) and passing touchdowns (7), and has thrown just one interception.

The game is clearer now for Klinefelter. Defenses are more easily decoded.

"I feel a lot more confident back there because of that half year of experience," the 6-foot-2 junior said.

In a sense, Klinefelter is representative of this Red Lion team, which is determined to blot out the injuries and frustrations that accompanied last fall's 4-6 season. In their last two games, the Lions have outscored opponents a combined 102-17.

Klinefelter has been the pace setter. He's thrown for at least 150 yards and a touchdown in each game this season, and his completion percentage (63.6) is tops in the league.

He's already surpassed most of the numbers he posted last fall. In five games following the dismissal of former quarterback Chad Kelly, Klinefelter threw for 583 yards, seven touchdowns and six picks.

"Particularly last year, under the circumstances, he did an admirable job," Red Lion coach Pat Conrad said. "He was still a sophomore.

"This year, that experience has paid off immensely. He doesn't try to force things, and he just kind of lets the flow of the game come to him rather than trying to dictate what's going."

Klinefelter has also profited from a talented corps of receivers, which includes seniors Branden Kessler (YAIAA-best 360 receiving yards) and Joe Baublitz.

Conrad said his team is still fine-tuning. The running game can get better, and the Lions can continue to cut down on mistakes. But already, Red Lion has inserted itself into the mix of contenders in YAIAA Division I.

Thanks in no small part to the quarterback.

"We feel pretty confident," Klinefelter said. "We feel like everything is going our way."

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Stat stuffer: As well as Klinefelter has done, he hasn't quite kept up with Littlestown's Austin Reynolds.

The Bolts' senior leads the YAIAA in passing yards (786) and passing touchdowns (13). He has only thrown one interception.

Reynolds is also second on the team in rushing yards with 353.

One more: With Friday's visit to South Western, West York will wrap up its taxing non-division schedule.

That stretch featured five games against five Class AAAA teams, all of whom are ranked in the Top 16 of District 3's latest quad-A power rankings.

West York (2-2) is trying to rebound from a 21-14 loss to Dallastown last week.

Rankings out: Speaking of Dallastown, the Wildcats (4-0) were one of the YAIAA teams well-represented in the district's power rankings.

Kevin Myers' squad was ranked No. 1 among Class AAAA teams, ahead of fellow unbeatens Central Dauphin, Daniel Boone and Wilson.

Meanwhile, Littlestown topped the Class AA rankings, edging out defending state champion Lancaster Catholic.

Holding its own: The YAIAA fared well against non-league competition this season. In 33 combined games versus non-YAIAA football teams, area squads went 18-15.

The YAIAA did especially well against Lancaster-Lebanon League schools, going a combined 7-2.

Local teams also went 10-10 against Mid-Penn competition, and 1-2 against Berks league teams.

John Clayton is a prep sports reporter for the Daily Record/Sunday News. Reach him at 771-2045 or jclayton@ydr.com.