STROHECKER: Qualifying for district football is York High's toughest challenge left
- With three games remaining, York High sits at 6-1 overall.
- The Bearcats are ranked sixth in the latest District 3 5-A power ratings, with the top-eight teams making the playoffs.
- York faces South Western, New Oxford and Central York to close out the year.
- York High hasn't made the district playoffs since 2010.
There's no arguing the point.
What the York High football team has accomplished this season is a tremendous success.
A team that was winless just two seasons ago and managed just one win in 2016, already has six of them through seven weeks in 2017.
In a season that's seen a handful of teams around the York-Adams League make surprise improvements, the Bearcats are the most surprising of the group. Not only is York High winning games, but the swagger is back for the long-suffering program.
Following games, the team will run over and celebrate with its fans and band, while a new tradition has been born with head coach Russ Stoner dancing with his team in the locker room following a win.
After years of pure misery, and being nothing more than a doormat in Division I, the Bearcats are finally relevant again. And they're having fun.
At 6-1 overall and 3-1 in Division I play, at least claiming a share of the division crown certainly isn't out of the question. Unfortunately, with York's lone loss coming to undefeated Red Lion, it'll need some help from its rivals to pull level with the Lions.
However, these final three weeks are about nailing down a district playoff berth, a place the Bearcats haven't been since 2010. It might be the most difficult challenge remaining for York High.
There's no question the Bearcats are a talented team. You don't get to 6-1 by being a flawed team with fluke victories.
Impressive win over Northeastern: York's latest win, a 55-6 road thumping of Northeastern, proved that. The Bearcats scored in all three facets of the game — offense, defense and special teams — while also showcasing its host of playmakers.
Running back Khalid Dorsey is the star that everyone knows about, but, for all but one 66-yard touchdown run, he was mostly held in check. However, juniors Rob Rideout and Dayjure Stewart put their stamps on the game, with both players recording interceptions they returned for touchdowns. Stewart also reeled off a 75-yard punt return TD and Rideout hauled in a 37-yard touchdown catch.
Quarterback Micah Anciso didn't have to be anything more than a game manager, but he also found the end zone once on a quarterback keeper, while the versatile Seth Bernstein scored as well.
The talent is there, but now it must be there in a time of the season when York High isn't used to playing important games.
Stoner said after the latest win that he wanted his guys to play in meaningful games. It was a two-fold statement. He meant he wanted his team to be in games late when the fourth quarters matter. He also meant he wanted his team's games, overall, to hold great significance.
Three games left in regular season: With three games to play, Stoner will get his wish. Now, more than ever, the Bearcats need to show up. Making the District 3 Class 5-A tournament won't be easy and, as one of the top Division I teams, York will surely receive the very best from its three remaining opponents.
The Bearcats' remaining league opponents are South Western at home in Week 8, New Oxford on the road in Week 9 and home to Central York to close out the year. Realistically, the only game of those three that poses any real threat to York High will be the finale against a strong Panthers side.
If everything goes as planned, the Bearcats, at worst, should finish the year at 8-2, which will be plenty good to make districts. At the moment, they sit sixth in the District 3 5-A power ratings with the top-eight teams making it.
Unfamiliar territory: However, this is unfamiliar territory for the players on the team, so these final few weeks will bring about pressure they've never experienced before. There are now great expectations surrounding York High, so now it must respond appropriately.
Postseason football should be returning to York City and that's exciting stuff for the players, fans and everyone in the community.
But, in order to make it a reality, the Bearcats will need to perform at a level worthy of securing a berth. Failing to do so will essentially waste the great 2017 York High has had up to this point.
These final three weeks are what Stoner wanted for his players.
Now, it's time for them to deliver.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org