York High hosts the Central York Panthers
When the final horn sounded on Friday night at Small Athletic Field, the York High players on the sideline rushed on to the field to celebrate with their teammates.
The Bearcats has just completed their worst-to-first title quest before a standing-room-only crowd by defeating Central York, 26-19.
York High, 1-9 a year ago, finished 9-1 in the regular season this year and earned its first York-Adams Division I title in 10 years. The Bearcats shared the crown this season with Dallastown, which defeated Red Lion, on Friday night, 40-27. Both York and Dallastown finished 6-1 in the division.
"It's sweet," said York's star running back Khalid Dorsey. "After this game last year, we took two days off, and then we were in the weight room. We said we wanted the championship next year."
Dorsey, who's being recruited by a number of NCAA Division I colleges, played a huge role all season for the Bearcats.
In the title-clinching game, the senior star rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown on a 40-yard run on which he broke two tackles. He also achieved an impressive individual goal by becoming the school's all-time leading rusher, surpassing Joe Montouth's career rushing yards total of 2,850 yards.
"That record goes back to a great runner," York High head coach Russ Stoner said. "For Dorsey to get it here at home in a division championship game, I can't be happier for him."
Dorsey will mark the milestone, but it won't be a lengthy celebration.
"It's going to be a one-day thing," he said. "I'll enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow, I'm going to stay humble and get back to work."
Dorsey and Nigel Williams were a potent one-two rushing punch against the Panthers.
Williams delivered 129 rushing yards and burst into the end zone from nine yards out after taking a shovel pass from quarterback Micah Anciso.
"Nigel Williams played his butt off, and we had guys on defense step up," Stoner said.
The Bearcats scored the game's first touchdown on Dorsey's run, but Central answered with two TDs as quarterback Cade Pribula connected with Tim Sturgis on passes of 44 and 70 yards.
The second score put the Panthers up 12-7, but the Bearcats answered with a 47-yard scoring drive to take the lead for good at 13-12. York pushed the lead to 26-12 with two more touchdowns before Pribula delivered his third TD strike.
Following Central's third touchdown with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Panthers tried the on-side kick. A York High player covered the ball in a scramble near the Central sideline, and the Bearcats were able to run out the clock.
In addition to the shovel pass, Anciso hooked up with Dajure Stewart on a touchdown pass and scored himself on a 1-yard run.
Pribula passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns for Central (two to Sturgis and one to Mark Santos).
The Bearcats, though, did the celebrating at the end after their unforgettable turnaround season.
"These kids worked their tails off since last season," Stoner said. "They just bought in 100 percent of what we were trying to do."
York High has clinched a berth in the District 3 Class 5-A playoffs. It appears like York will be at Gov. Mifflin in the first round.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org