STROHECKER: Y-A League openers full of surprises

Patrick Strohecker
  • Central York rallied from 20-0 deficit to upset Northeastern.
  • York Catholic thrashed Delone Catholic, 42-7, on the road.
  • Fairfield extended the best start in program history to 4-0.

Before we talk about this past Friday night's games, let's first reexamine the preseason expectations of two York-Adams League Division I schools.

Central York pulled off the first big upset of the York-Adams League season on Friday night, knocking off Northeastern, 28-27, on the road. Amanda J. Cain photo

Northeastern was the talk of the Division I circuit all during the preseason and through the first three weeks of the 2016 season.

Central York, meanwhile, wasn’t supposed to “wow” anybody this year. Not when it was coming off a 3-7 season last year, starting a sophomore quarterback and learning a new system under a new head coach.

Yet, after one week of league play, the Panthers proved just how unpredictable and exciting high school football can be, especially when you get into league play. It’s the reason why so many people love going to their local high school on Friday nights to take in the prep action.

Upsets such as the one that Central pulled off against the Bobcats this past week epitomize all of that. The Panthers trailed 20-0 at halftime, on the road and against a loaded Northeastern squad. They battled their way back to actually take a one-point lead late in the game, but even then, it didn’t seem like they could finish the job. After all, the Bobcats were driving deep into Central territory, all but destined to spoil the fun and remain unbeaten.

One fumble, however, changed all of that, and here we are talking about how the Panthers are back. All of a sudden, the Division I race isn’t so clear-cut anymore.

That’s what high school football — and more specifically, league play — is all about.

Central grabbed all the headlines in the days since Friday, but it was hardly the only team that sent shock waves throughout the league.

The Panthers may have thrown their helmets fully into the conversation as a team to be reckoned with for the Division I title, but if you scoured the schedule closely, there was another game on Friday night that had potential division title implications already on the line.

York Catholic impresses: When York Catholic traveled to McSherrystown to take on Delone Catholic, it pitted two potential favorites for the Division III title in a Week 4 showdown. It should’ve provided all the drama you’d expect out of two heavyweights in the division, but only one team proved it could pack the punch.

After routing Delone Catholic 42-7 on Friday, York Catholic has moved into one of the two District 3 2-A playoff spots. Amanda J. Cain photo

The Fighting Irish showed resiliency after suffering their first defeat in Week 3 and went on the road and routed the Squires, 42-7.

When the season began, it looked like the Division III race would come down to the Week 8 showdown between York Catholic and Bermudian Springs. I’m not completely sure what this blowout loss says about Delone. When dealing with high school kids, bad games are going to happen. What I am positive about, however, is that the Fighting Irish are the real deal. Their only loss came against a strong Berks Catholic school, which is two classes larger than them. This was a statement win for York Catholic, proving that it may be the class of the division. If anybody else wants to win the title, it’ll go through the Irish.

Green Knights off to unprecedented start: Also making waves is the upstart Fairfield squad, which is off to a 4-0 start.

That might not sound like a big deal, considering it’s one of four teams in the league still unbeaten going into Week 5. However, a little bit of research after the Green Knights’ Week 3 win showed that that the 3-0 start was the best beginning in program history. Which means that the 4-0 start extended that feat even further. As long as the Knights keep winning, the record will only continue to grow.

Nobody thought much of Fairfield going into the year, so to see it have the success that it has had comes as a nice surprise. The question remains: What will the Knights do once they take on some of the bigger boys in the division, such as York Catholic and Bermudian Springs. Until they lose, however, they’ll continue to be a part of the conversation. Not to mention, Fairfield is currently the top-rated District 3 1-A school, so it has that going for it as well.

League play never ceases to provide us with great story lines every year, but rarely does it give us this type of start.

One can only hope that the surprises, and the excitement, continue over the final six weeks.

Patrick Strohecker covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can reached at