COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: York Catholic Fighting Irish
- York Catholic has been to three straight District 3 championship games.
- The Fighting Irish were 6-6 overall in 2015 and 5-2 in York-Adams Division III.
- Running back Jakkar Kinard and quarterback Daniel Yokemick return for the Irish.
This is the fifth installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season on Friday, Sept. 2.
Who: York Catholic Fighting Irish.
2015 record: 6-6 overall, 5-2 York-Adams Division III.
Coach: Eric Depew, sixth season.
Key returners (Division III All-Stars in bold):Daniel Yokemick, senior, quarterback/defensive back; Jakkar Kinard, senior, running back/defensive back; Matt Knauer, junior, offensive line/defensive line; Liam Landis, junior, offensive line/defensive line; Jake Hamilton, senior, fullback/linebacker; Adam Bittner, senior, offensive line/defensive line; Ryan Sewell, senior, tight-end/linebacker; Mike McKim, senior, offensive line/defensive line; Riley Brennan, junior, wide receiver/linebacker.
Notable losses (Division III All-Stars in bold): Andrew Polson, running back/defensive back; Luke Brennan, tight-end/linebacker; Joe Bauhof, wide receiver/defensive back; Brandon Creisher, wide receiver/linebacker; Joe Heldrich, offensive line/defensive line; Ryan Ratchford, offensive line/defensive line; Sean Lamont, fullback/linebacker; Nick Castellanos, offensive line/defensive line; Steven Ream, tight-end/defensive line.
2016 schedule (Division III games in bold): Sept. 2 at York Suburban (7 p.m.); Sept. 9 at Susquehannock (7 p.m.); Sept. 16 vs. Berks Catholic (7 p.m.); Sept. 23 at Delone Catholic (7 p.m.); Sept. 30 vs. Hanover (7 p.m.); Oct. 7 vs. Littlestown (7 p.m.); Oct. 14 at Biglerville (7 p.m.); Oct. 21 vs. Bermudian Springs (7 p.m.); Oct. 28 at Fairfield (7 p.m.); Nov. 4 vs. York Tech (7 p.m.)
Outlook: No other York-Adams team can say that they have been to three consecutive District 3 championship games, like the Irish can. But getting there is only half of the story. While getting there is a nice accomplishment, York Catholic is starting to feel a little like the Buffalo Bills — they’ve dropped all three championship games. Those setbacks, however, have only fueled the desire of coach Eric Depew’s team to get better. And if the Irish can do just that, there’s no reason they couldn’t become the first Irish team to capture a District 3 title since 1982.
While some holes do need to be filled in the starting lineup, the biggest weapons on both sides of the ball return this year. Quarterback Dan Yokemick, who threw for 1,344 yards and 14 touchdowns, and running back Jakkar Kinard, who rushed for 1,315 yards a season ago, are looking to end their York Catholic careers on high notes.
Getting back to the district title game won’t be easy. After competing at the District 3-A level the previous three seasons, the Irish are now at the AA level. With only seven AA schools in District 3, only the top two teams in the power rankings make the playoffs at the end of the year. That makes winning non-league tilts against York Suburban (Week 1) and Berks Catholic (Week 3) very important if the Irish hope to make it back to the title contest.
Coach speak: “Our goals are to win the division and get into that district championship game. And we’re not afraid to talk about it. The kids know that (these are our goals). And I think the kids are hungry. To get there three years in a row is a great accomplishment, but to come up short three times … we want to get over that hump.” — Depew.