York Catholic back in familiar territory — playing for District 3 football championship
- York Catholic will play for the District 3 Class 2-A football title on Friday night.
- The Fighting Irish (6-1) will play host to Camp Hill (2-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
- The Irish will be pursuing their third District 3 2-A crown in the past five seasons.
Unless you're a fan of the York Catholic football team, you may be unaware of the program's sustained success over the last 10 years.
Because the larger schools in the York-Adams League typically attract much of the attention, the Fighting Irish have often flown under the radar.
Still, the Irish have been, arguably, the most consistently successful program in the league over the last 10 years.
Friday night, York Catholic will compete in a District 3 championship game for the seventh time in the past eight years.
The Irish have won only two titles (2-A crowns in 2016 and 2018) during that span, but coach Eric DePew’s squad is likely favored to add a third when it hosts Friday night’s 2-A title game against Camp Hill at 7 p.m.
“This is our eighth time in the postseason, and seventh time in the district championship game, in the last 10 years,” DePew said. “We’ve had six (Y-A) players of the year and have won 72 football games. That really shows you the kind of young men that we have in our program over the last decade.”
Maturing sophomore QB: While the Irish (6-1) may not have a player-of-the-year winner this time around, DePew does expect his sophomore quarterback, Levan McFadden, to be a contender in both his junior and senior seasons.
McFadden compiled solid numbers this season as both a runner and passer. He had 36 rushes for 168 yards and five touchdowns while converting 36 of 81 pass attempts for 723 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Levan played a little bit for us last year,” DePew said. “And you can see the growth and maturity and confidence already. He’s pretty good right now, but he’s going to be something special. You can just see it.”
Senior trio: The Irish may have just three seniors — running back D.K. Wyche, receiver Brennan Witman and lineman Michael McBrairty — but they all play huge roles in the team’s success.
The 6-foot, 2-inch, 225-pound McBrairty anchors the line that opens holes for McFadden and Wyche, while also giving McFadden time to find receivers such as Witman.
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Wyche and Witman have taken full advantage of the line's good work. The 6-foot, 200-pound Wyche has tallied 888 yards on 129 rushing attempts while finding the end zone 11 times. The 6-2, 190-pound Witman has 15 catches for 408 yards and seven touchdowns.
“D.K., Brennan and Michael, for only having three seniors, I’d say they are a pretty darn good group,” DePew said. “They have a lot of maturity and the respect of the team.”
Hoping to learn from Delone loss: Maturity is something that DePew is hoping to see a little more of from his youthful squad. Lack of big-game experience could also be a concern. Those were issues when the Irish fell to rival Delone Catholic, 28-10, two weeks ago.
“Hopefully we’ve matured a little bit as we head into this stage — the district championship stage — and come out and play at another level,” DePew said. “I really felt confident that heading into that Delone game that we ready, but they exploited our youth a little bit.”
The 6-foot, 167-pound McFadden, who DePew refers to as a grown man among boys, is hopeful that he and his teammates learned a valuable lessen from that setback against the Squires for the Y-A D-III title.
“We’re feeling great,” he said. “At the beginning of the year we really didn’t know if we would get here. We were coming off a bit of down season at 5-5 and we weren’t really sure how this season would turn out.
"And then two weeks ago we felt confident, but we didn’t really play well. We knew that (Delone) was a team that we could beat, but we didn’t come out ready to play. Now we know that we have to be ready and really come out and play tough against Camp Hill.”
Lions have excelled vs. Irish: The Lions (2-2) are a program that traditionally has had York Catholic’s number in District 3 title games. Camp Hill is 3-0 all-time against the Irish, including back-to-back wins in the 1-A district title game in 2014 and 2015.
This year’s squad, however, may not be at the same level as their predecessors. The Lions are coming off a pair of losses to District 3 1-A champion Steel-High (36-26) and District 3 3-A semifinalist Boiling Springs (35-0).
One bright spot for Camp Hill is signal-caller Daniel Shuster, whose brother, Michael, keyed Camp Hill to titles in 2014 and 2015. The senior has thrown for more than 1,000 yards this season and 11 TDs in just four games.
“I’m not going to guarantee a win, but I really think our guys are now ready for this stage,” DePew said. “I think we’ll win the ballgame.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.