Central York lost some top talent but has plenty returning: 2022 football preview
It's never an easy task to replace a star quarterback. But Central York third-year head coach Gerry Yonchiuk said the 2022 season will be business as usual for his Panthers squad.
Quarterback Beau Pribula may have graduated and moved on to Penn State, but the team is still confident in the players it has.
"We lost Beau, but we are a really experienced team," Yonchiuk said. "Returning talent as a group is a lot stronger than last year. We only returned three starters on offense last season and two on defense. This season it’s different. We have a lot more guys coming back and new talent."
The reigning York-Adams League Division I champs dominated their opponents in 2021 on their way to an 11-0 start. But Central York lost at home to Wilson, 14-11, in the District 3 Class 6A semifinals back in November. A game-tying 32-yard field goal was wide left in the final seconds.
The Panthers also haven't lost a regular-season game since the start of 2019 and haven't lost to a York-Adams League opponent since 2018. They've dominated Division I and have a shot at winning a fourth straight division title.
But for the first time in seven years, they have uncertainty at the most important position in the sport. Senior quarterback Nasir Still will do his best to fill the shoes left behind by Pribula. It won't be easy to replace the 2,575 yards with 33 touchdowns and six interceptions that Pribula put up, and he also ran for 417 yards on 76 attempts (5.5 yards per rush) with eight touchdowns.
Yonchiuk said Still waited his turn and is extremely athletic.
"He can spin it and run it," Yonchiuk said. "We will utilize his feet and his arm."
Besides their gunslinger, the Panthers also lost perhaps their best defensive player in linebacker Carter Glassmeyer. He was a Division I first-team all-star and Player of the Year in the conference.
Central York is confident that its key returners on defense will push this team to the elite level that allowed the Panthers to go undefeated in the last regular season. The team only gave up 13 points a game in 2021.
Linebacker Domenic Grove; cornerbacks Carter Vaughn and Saxton Suchanic; and safety Nigier Dewitt, the Panthers' leading tackler, are all expected to have big seasons for Central York on the defensive side of the ball.
Running back Juelz Goff may be the most important player offensively after rushing for 507 yards on just 87 carries as a sophomore last season. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior has an offer from Old Dominion and is hoping to attract the attention of more Division I schools.
Yonchiuk said the team will run out of a two-back set, which will differ from the offense last year, and the Panthers will be more run-oriented but have a balanced attack.
In the two-back set, RPOs and play-action are usually vital weapons used to keep the defense guessing. Yonchiuk said Goff is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. Central York may decide to use the back similarly to the way York High uses star running back Jaheim White.
Senior back Ajani Walker had 496 yards on 88 carries but is still recovering from offseason surgery for an injury, and the team said they hope to have him back at some point this season. Once he returns, he will be another threat in the backfield. Dewitt will play back in the meantime.
Senior Parker Hines, one of the better receivers in the state, also returns. The 6-foot Hines had 36 catches for 619 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
Hines said he "plans to leave it all out there" in his senior year.
The team has to replace I'meire Manigault (829 yards, nine touchdowns) and Treyshawn Smith (764 yards, 11 touchdowns) but said their current wide receiver group (other than Hines) contains no player shorter than 6-2 and plenty of speed.
Thaddeus Shaw has clocked in with 4.4 speed in the 40.
All five starters return on the offensive line, including center Danny Pham, a Division I FCS recruit. Yonchiuk said he’s never had five returning starters as a coach and knows such a chance doesn't come often.
Pham said he wants to prove doubters wrong.
“A lot of people are doubting us because we lost Beau, but we know the talent of the team and what we are capable of,” Pham said.
Here's a capsule look at the team:
Team: Central York Panthers
Head coach: Gerry Yonchiuk , third season
2021 record: 11-1 overall, 7-0 in York-Adams League Division I.
Key losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Beau Pribula (QB), Carter Glassmyer (MLB), Trenton Dunnick (TE/DE), I'meire Manigault (WR), Treyshawn Smith (WR/CB), Brandon Watson (LB), Kyaire Fulp (CB), James Jackson (S), Zane Collington (LB), Zach Gaffney (OL)
Key returnees (Division I All-Stars in bold): Elijah Inners (OT), Collin Glassmyer (G/LB), Matthew Parker (K), Scott Munck (G), Parker Hines (WR/S), Danny Pham (C/DT), Juelz Goff (RB), Dayton Bagwell (LB), Nigier Dewitt (S)
Players to watch: Thaddeus Shaw (WR), Ethan Carlos (WR/FS), Joe Alu (TE), Kyle Groman (LB), Tyler Fry (LB), Ray Belle (DE)
2022 schedule (Division I games in bold): Saturday vs. Central Dauphin; Sept. 2, vs. Cumberland Valley; Sept. 9 at Hempfield; Sept. 16 at Spring Grove; Sept. 23 vs. South Western; Sept. 30 at Dallastown; Oct. 7 at Northeastern; Oct. 14 vs. Red Lion; Oct. 21 vs. Reading; Oct. 28 at York High