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York-Adams League excited for showcase in District 3 title game

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • York High will visit Central York in the District 3 6-A football final at 7 Friday night.
  • Both teams will enter at 7-0. The winner will also claim the York-Adams Division I crown.
  • Friday's winner will also advance to the PIAA Class 6-A state quarterfinals.
  • A York-Adams team has never won a district 6-A title -- until this year.
Central York's Taylor Wright-Rawls, center, carries the ball while Central Dauphin's Paul Clark, left, and Tyrell English defend during District 3, Class 6A semifinal action at George Ebersole Stadium in Harrisburg, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Central York would win the game 42-15. Dawn J. Sagert photo

For decades, York County football teams have grown weary of hearing about how the big-school programs from the York-Adams League couldn't compete with the top squads from across the state.

The criticism, while it was annoying, was also valid.

York Suburban was undefeated in 2019 before losing in the first round of District 3 Class 5-A playoffs. Central York and York High dominated York-Adams Division I play last year before they each suffered rough losses in the first round of District 3 6-A play.

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The issue was not just a recent problem, either. In fact, since the 6-A division started in 2016, York-Adams teams had gone 0-7 in that classification — until this year.

Finally, in nearly four decades of playoff football, no Y-A team had ever won a football championship in the largest classification offered by the district — again, until this year.

So, it’s fitting that in 2020 — a year of unprecedented events — two York County teams will meet in the District 3 6-A final for the first time ever on Friday night when Central York (7-0) plays host to York High (7-0) in a historic showdown for the district and Y-A Division I titles. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The winner will also earn a PIAA 6-A state quarterfinal berth.

“It is a tip of the cap to both of our programs that we’re sitting where we’re sitting,” York High coach Russ Stoner said. “The Mid-Penn and the Lancaster-Lebanon (leagues) are who they are. I’m not trying to create enemies by saying this, but I feel like every league has two or three great teams, every league has two or three teams that can play competitively and two or three teams that maybe aren’t so good.

"I think that (in) Y-A League D-I right now, you got York High and Central York that are pretty good football programs, so I’m thrilled for Central, I’m thrilled for us, I’m thrilled for our league and I’m thrilled for our county because I think we get beat up a lot.”

York High head coach Russ Stoner has guided the Bearcats to a 7-0 record this season.

Y-A League executive director Chuck Abbott shared the same pride for the league as Stoner. Abbott said when the season began, the goal was just to conduct a successful season during a pandemic, and with that complete, having two of its premier programs playing for a pair of championships is a sweet prize at the end of the journey.

“I think it just goes to show you the level of competition each team has been able to (face), week in and week out,” Abbott said. “With the circumstances we have been dealt, we’re awfully proud of both teams that were able to get into the finals. You got the league title on the line (and) you got the district title on the line.

"I’m sure both schools are going to play hard and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Opening some eyes: It might be Central York coach Gerry Yonchiuk’s first season in the league, but that doesn’t mean the Panthers’ leader has been free of questions about when the Central program will reach the next level and compete for a district title.

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Those questions were answered last Friday when his Panthers dominated a much-heralded Central Dauphin team that had been been ranked No. 2 in the state in 6-A.

Central York Head Coach Gerry Yonchiuk addresses the team following a 42-15 victory over Central Dauphin in District 3, Class 6A semifinal action at George Ebersole Stadium in Harrisburg, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

With multiple years spent as a coach in the Mid-Penn and L-L leagues, Yonchiuk knows what type of talent it takes to compete with the state’s top teams and believes Friday’s game is a perfect chance to highlight the skills that the Panthers and Bearcats possess and will open the eyes of football fans from across the state.

“To have a home district playoff game, that’s just tremendous,” Yonchiuk said. “For the winning team to come out of York County is just exciting for the league. They’re undefeated. We’re undefeated. There will be electricity in the air, and to have some bodies in the stands, it will feel like an exciting high school football game.”

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The game will have fans, but the Central stadium will be limited to 25%  capacity. Tickets are already sold out.

Lots of media attention: For the many folks who can't get in, the game will be televised on GetTV ABC 27.3, which is channel 245 for Comcast customers. Sports Shooting Stars also plans to livestream the game. Additionally, the game will broadcast on the radio by WOYK 98.9 FM. and WOYK 1350 AM.

Red Lion's Reid Anderson, front left, and Luke Miller, back left, team up to force York High's Jaheim White into the sideline during football action at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. York High would win the game 34-30. Dawn J. Sagert photo

While his team may not have won a postseason game yet on the field in the 6-A classification — York High got a forfeit win over Harrisburg in the district 6-A semifinals because of COVID-19 issues within the Cougars program — Stoner is not new to playoff games. He has spent more than two decades as a coach in the Y-A League, including 16 as an assistant at Central York. While he and other teams in the county have heard that they can’t compete with the state’s best, on Friday those critics will have nothing to talk about.

“People can say whatever they want to say. All I know is two York County teams are playing for the (District 3) 6-A championship on Friday night, and we’re guaranteed a gold and a silver,” Stoner said.

— Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.