COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: York Catholic Fighting Irish football preview

Countdown to kickoff

This is the seventh installment of our daily, preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season on Sept. 4. Today, we're spotlighting the York Catholic Fighting Irish.

Who: York Catholic Fighting Irish.

2014 record: 8-4 overall, 6-1 Division III.

Coach: Eric Depew, fifth season.

Key returners: Luke Brennan, senior, tight end, linebacker, kicker; Joe Bauhof, senior, wide receiver, defensive back; Joe Heldrich, senior, offensive/defensive line; Sean Lamont, senior, fullback, defensive line; Ryan Ratchford, senior, offensive/defensive line; Adam Bittner, junior, offensive/defensive line; Jakkar Kinard, junior, running back, defensive back; Ulysses Smith, running back, linebacker; Dan Yokemick, junior, quarterback, linebacker; Matt Knauer, sophomore, offensive/defensive line.

Notable losses: Hakeem Kinard, quarterback, defensive back; Qua'Shawn Grooms, wide receiver, linebacker; Greg Bennett, running back, defensive back; Jack Burnside, running back, defensive back; Scott Bartkowiak, wide receiver, linebacker; Michael Sterling, offensive/defensive line.

2014 All-Stars: Hakeem Kinard, quarterback; Qua'Shawn Grooms, wide receiver, linebacker; Luke Brennan, kicker, tight end, tackle, punter; Greg Bennett, running back, cornerback; Jack Burnside, running back; Joe Bauhof, wide receiver; Michael Sterling, tackle; Ryan Ratchford, guard; Dan Yokemick, linebacker; Jakkar Kinard, defensive specialist, Joe Heldrich, center, defensive end; Scott Bartkowiak, linebacker.

2015 schedule: Sept. 4, vs. Northeastern (7 p.m.); Sept. 11, vs. Susquehannock (7 p.m.); Sept. 18, at Berks Catholic (7 p.m.); Sept. 25, Homecoming vs. Delone Catholic (7 p.m.); Oct. 2, at Hanover (7 p.m.); Oct. 9, at Littlestown (7 p.m.); Oct. 16, vs. Biglerville; Oct. 23, at Bermudian Springs (7 p.m.); Oct. 30, vs. Fairfield (7 p.m.); Nov. 7, at York County Tech (2 p.m.).

Outlook: If York Catholic is to make a run at the Division III title, it will have to do so without 2014's Player of the Year — quarterback Hakeem Kinard.

Kinard did it all last season, leading the league in rushing yards (1,544) and passing yards (1,935).

Also gone is one of Kinard's top targets from a season ago, receiver Qua'Shawn Grooms.

Grooms was fourth in the York-Adams League in terms of yardage, catching 37 passes for 683 yards.

The transition to a new starting quarterback will be aided by the return of all-star tight end Luke Brennan and all-star receiver Joe Bauhof.

"Our strong points are going to be on the lines. I'm excited to see how Dan Yokemick, the front runner for the quarterback position, fills Hakeem's shoes," Brennan said at York-Adams media day. "Could be a really exciting season coming up. We're looking to make it back to Hershey."

A wealth of depth could help the Irish make their push for another trip to the District 3-A title game. Depew reports having seven starters returning on each side of the ball. Depew also noted the lines as areas of strength this season for the Irish. Senior all-stars Joe Heldrich (center) and Ryan Ratchford (guard) return to lead the play up front.

The 2015 slate for the Irish is the same as a season ago — one that saw York Catholic's only league loss coming at the hands of division champion Bermudian Springs.

Coach speak: "We're going to be strong up front on both sides of the ball, we return a lot of experienced players," Depew said. "This could be a very exciting year for us."

— Reach Elijah Armold at