EDITORIAL: Despite season-ending loss, York High enjoys triumphant football season

York Dispatch
  • York High went 9-1 during the 2017 football regular season.
  • That followed a 1-9 regular season in 2016.
  • The Bearcats' turnaround season ended Friday with a District 3 loss to Gov. Mifflin.

It wasn’t the way the York High Bearcats wanted the season to end.

After the most stunning one-season turnaround in the history of York-Adams League football, the Bearcats certainly didn’t want to go out with a 56-7 loss to Gov. Mifflin in the first round of the District 3 Class 5-A playoffs on Friday night, Nov. 10.

Still, that’s exactly what happened.

One disappointing loss, however, can’t detract from what the Bearcats accomplished this season — not just for themselves and the school district, but for the entire City of York.

It’s hard to believe that less than 16 months ago, the Bearcats embarked on one of the most trying seasons in the school’s long and successful football history.

In 2016, York High would finish at just 1-9. Hard as it may be to believe, that was an improvement over the prior season, when the Bearcats went 0-10.

The one-win season, however, was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the problems weathered by the York High football team a season ago.

It started when the 2016 home opener was marred by a Friday night shooting in the Small Field parking lot. After that, the school opted for day games on Saturdays in an effort to provide greater security.

The York High football team had lots of reasons to celebrate in 2017.

In addition, first-year York High head coach Russ Stoner was threatened by one of his former players at Central York.

And, worst of all, one of the Bearcats’ players, Eugene Hillian IV, was murdered in the middle of the season.

When the season ended, the Bearcats could’ve been forgiven for wanting to put football firmly in their rear-view mirror — at least for a little while.

Instead, almost immediately after the 2016 season ended, the York High players began pestering Stoner about organizing weight-room and gym workouts.

The enthusiasm was palpable, and it paid unexpectedly large dividends when the 2017 season rolled around.

Yes, most everyone expected York High to be improved in 2017, but what the Bearcats achieved this season bordered on the unbelievable, finishing 9-1 in the regular season and earning a share of the York-Adams Division I championship.

After dramatic turnaround, York High returns to District 3 football playoffs

Going from 1-9 to 9-1 is almost unheard of, yet that’s exactly what the Bearcats did.

Even better, the York High players, coaches and fans had great fun doing it. Stoner and his staff became known for joining the players in post-game celebration dances, and the fans ate it up.

With each passing win, Bearcat fever seemed to grip more and more city residents. By the end of the season, it was a full-fledged outbreak.

A city that often feels like everybody’s favorite target in York County had a unifying success story to truly celebrate and rally around.

Finally, however, the fun, and the wins, came to an end.

Gov. Mifflin, unfortunately, made sure of that.

That setback, while certainly dismaying, was anything but disheartening.

You don’t go from 1-9 to 9-1 without shirt-popping heart.

The 2017 season will go down in York High football lore as one the school’s greatest seasons, but it may be just the beginning for Stoner and company.

The Bearcats will suffer some serious graduation losses, but they also should return a bevy of talented players. An even better season is possible in 2018.

No matter what takes place over the next year, however, nothing can take away from a 2017 season that will live long in the memories of folks throughout the City of York, and beyond.