York Catholic never shows any quit

York Catholic's flurry of points to close out District 3-A title game indicative of team's inability to lie down throughout the entire season.

Patrick Strohecker

Five minutes at the end of a football season will rarely tell you much.

It's a mere fraction of time in the grand scheme or, in this instance, a 12-game journey.

In the case of the York Catholic football team, however, the final five minutes of Friday's District 3-A championship game against Camp Hill showed the entire character of the Fighting Irish.

They trailed the Lions 40-7. There wasn't a person in Hersheypark Stadium who thought the outcome of the game was in doubt. Players, coaches and parents from both sides knew that Camp Hill was well on its way to hoisting its second consecutive Class 3-A championship, while York Catholic was on its way to a third straight title game defeat.

But, as long as there was still time on the clock, the Fighting Irish did just that — fight.

Andrew Polson — a backup running back for York Catholic — scored from a yard out to make it 40-14 with 5 minutes, 29 seconds left in the game. Then, Jakkar Kinard deservingly found the end zone on his final carry of the season, sprinting 21 yards to make it 40-21 with just more than a minute left to play. Lastly, following a successful onside kick, it was another backup, Sean Lamont, who capped off the scoring by running one in from 9 yards out to bring the game to its final score, 40-28, with just 17 seconds left on the clock.

The three successive scores by the Fighting Irish didn't impact the game's final outcome. One could even argue that the Lions were already celebrating their impending victory and were mentally checked out of the game. In reality, all York Catholic's 21-0 scoring run did was make the game look closer on the scoreboard than it actually was.

It took the Fighting Irish 1 1/2 quarters to even pick up a first down, coming on an 81-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Daniel Yokemick to Luke Brennan. By the time that play occurred, Camp Hill already built a 26-0 lead.

Truth be told, the game was decided by the end of the first quarter when it was evident that the Lions were far and away the better team on the day — and perhaps over the entire season. But, even then, there was still 36 minutes to play, so for the sake of York Catholic and everyone in attendance, why not play out the game's entirety?

Those final five minutes were a microcosm of the Fighting Irish's entire season — never lying down until the final second ticked off the clock. It was indicative of the game and representative of the team's entire season.

York Catholic began the year 1-4, a far cry from the success the team had in 2014 when it went 8-4. But, until the Fighting Irish were mathematically eliminated from qualifying for the four-team Class A tournament, there was still hope and reason for them to keep competing and turn around their season.

So, they did that, going 4-1 over their final five games, qualifying for the playoffs as the No. 3 seed and booking a trip to Steel-High for the semifinals. There, York Catholic fell behind 14-0 to the Rollers by halftime, seemingly down to its final half of football on the season.

Except that it wasn't.

The Fighting Irish scored 21 unanswered points in the final 24 minutes of the game, shocking the home Steel-High faithful and booking their third consecutive trip to the Class A title game and the seventh in program history.

Sure the championship game didn't go the way the team from York County would've liked. It was a sixth straight loss for the program as a whole in the District 3-A title game and left the senior class 0-3 in their trips to Hershey for the game. A trophy will be about the only thing missing when you look back 10 years from now and dissect the legacy of York Catholic's 2016 senior class.

But, they didn't quit, because your time as a high school athlete, arguably the best years of any high school kid's life, is far too short.

"We never, ever quit," Brennan said after the game, tears still flowing from his eyes. "We will never, ever quit. A lot of games, we'll just start too slow to make (a deficit) back up and the clock will quit on us."

York Catholic's Jakkar Kinard, right, led the York-Adams League in rushing in 2015 and will be a big factor in helping the Fighting Irish contend for a Division III title this year. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

That was the case on Friday and for the 2015 season.

The Fighting Irish ran out of time and saw their season come to an end, finishing 6-6.

But, at least they'll carry with them the fact that, even in the wake of defeat, they played it out to the final buzzer.

And there's a lot to be said for that.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com