HEISER: A look back at some special York County sports stories from 2017

Steve Heiser
York Dispatch

We've turned the page on another year.

Before we surge into 2018, however, we should take a few moments to reflect on the year that was.

Sometimes, you don’t realize how truly newsworthy a year was until you take the time to actually look back on it.

That was certainly the case here in York County during 2017.

There’s no denying that our little neck of the woods produced some truly big sports news over the last 12 months.

Sifting through a year's worth of newspapers produced 10 blackened fingers and the 10 truly special sports stories and/or themes.

Our athletes and coaches found success on the state, national and even international levels.

Here's a look back: 

Cole Johnson helped Central York win the PIAA Class 3-A boys' volleyball championship. Johnson has committed to play for UCLA next fall. YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO

1. Volleyball dominance: York County proved again that it’s the red-hot center of high school volleyball in Pennsylvania by sweeping both state titles. The Northeastern Bobcats won their fifth straight PIAA Class 2-A title, while Central York took the 3-A state championship. The two schools, separated by just six miles, have now combined for 15 state titles, eight for Northeastern and seven for Central. The Panthers’ star, Cole Johnson, is expected return this season for Central, but he's already verbally committed to perennial power UCLA in college.

York Revolution players celebrate after winning the Atlantic League championship. YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO

2. Revs win again: The York Revolution rebounded from a dreadful Atlantic League first half, when the team finished dead last, to surge to the second-half Freedom Division championship. The Revs then rode that momentum in the postseason, winning the Freedom Division Championship Series before sweeping the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League Championship Series. It was York’s third league title since 2011.

3. USA, USA, USA: Three York County women made some serious noise for U.S. national teams. Glen Rock’s Summer Britcher qualified for her second-straight Winter Olympics in the luge. She’ll compete in South Korea in February. She’ll try to improve on her 15th-place finish from 2014. West York’s Trinity Thomas excelled for the U.S. gymnastics team, finishing fourth in the all-around competition at the P&G Gymnastics National Championships. She was third on the balance beam and floor exercise. Finally, Central York grad Lauren Moyer earned a spot on the U.S. field hockey team which trains at nearby Spooky Nook in Lancaster County.

West York's Courtney Harnish won two gold medals at the PIAA Class 2-A state meet this past year. YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO

4. Making a splash: After swimming exclusively for her club team for two years, Courtney Harnish returned to her high school team at West York for her senior season. Not surprisingly, she was dominant, winning gold and breaking her own state record (from her freshman season) in the 200 freestyle in Class 2-A. She then won the 100 backstroke a day later. Erica Sarver, Harnish's teammate at West York, capped her diving career with a gold medal. In addition, 2017 marked the end of Rich Howley’s stellar coaching career at Dallastown, which included 50 York-Adams titles, 25 by the boys and 25 by the girls.

Eli Brooks completed a storied basketball career at Spring Grove in 2017. YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO

5. Hooping it up: The 2017-18 York-Adams basketball season was truly special. Spring Grove’s Eli Brooks finished arguably the most remarkable career in York County basketball history, rejuvenating the Rockets program and scoring more than 2,400 career points before taking his talents to the University of Michigan. Four local teams also won District 3 titles: the Northeastern and York Country Day boys and the Susquehannock and York Catholic girls. The Bobcats’ program, in particular, energized the entire northeastern York County community. Getting into their home games became the toughest ticket in the county.

Chance Marsteller

6. Terrific turnarounds: Chance Marsteller and the York High football teams both enjoyed tremendous rebound seasons. Marsteller, who won four state titles during a legendary wrestling stint at Kennard-Dale, seemingly saw his career crash and burn with some well-documented off-the-mat issues in college. This season, however, he’s gotten back on track at Lock Haven University, where he finished 2017 unbeaten, although he did finally lose on Tuesday, Jan. 2, at the Southern Scuffle. He's ranked No. 8 in the nation at 165 pounds by Intermat. Coach Russ Stoner’s Bearcats, meanwhile, went from a 1-9 regular season in 2016 to a 9-1 regular season in 2017.

7. Big efforts from Little Leaguers: The Northeastern 8-10 Little League team won Section 7, District 14 and state baseball championships before falling in the Eastern Regional in Cranston, Rhode Island. The team finished at 16-2. It was the best season in program history.

8. Falling just short: Four York County teams fell just short of winning PIAA titles, settling for second-place finishes. Dallastown lost in the Class 6-A baseball final, Kennard-Dale fell in the 2-A girls’ lacrosse championship, Central York took second in the 3-A golf competition and York Suburban was second in 2-A boys' cross country for the third year in a row after winning the title in 2014. The Wildcats' 1-0 loss to Pennsbury in the state final was particularly memorable and dramatic. The game was delayed 3½ hours by rain before Pennsbury won in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the seventh.

9. Northern York snub: The York-Adams League looked like it was finally going to get its long-coveted 24th member. Northern York appeared set to join the league, only to see the Northern school board surprisingly vote against the move from the Mid-Penn Conference, 5-4. A 24th member would make scheduling much easier for the league, and the Polar Bears appeared like the right fit, but it wasn’t meant to be.

York High grad Bruce Arians retired as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals after five mostly-successful seasons. AP FILE PHOTO

10. Aians departs, Edsall returns: Two of York County’s favorite sons made national coaching news this year. York High grad Bruce Arians, after five very successful years as the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, told his team on New Year’s Eve that he was retiring. Earlier in the year, Susquehannock grad Randy Edsall returned as the head coach at UConn. Edsall’s return to Storrs, however, wasn’t terribly smooth. His team went 3-9 and he was embroiled in a nepotism controversy over the hiring of his son as an assistant.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.