York High's Division I title-deciding game against Central York Friday night ended the same way it started.
With York High players dancing.
The Bearcats, who swayed together in the tunnel and on the sideline prior to kickoff, celebrated their 54-14 victory and share of the D-I championship by dancing in elation all over Small Field.
“They talked so much smack,” said Dayjure Stewart, who totaled 309 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. “We had to punch ‘em in the mouth.”
It's the second-straight year York High has at least shared the title. The Bearcats (9-1. 6-1) won the crown outright last year, improving upon a 1-9 record in 2016.
“There are guys who play a lifetime and never get a chance to even play for a championship,” said York High head coach Russ Stoner. “Not even do they get a chance to play for another one, they won another one. To do it two times in a row, from where this program was just three years ago, is phenomenal.”
York High will share this year's title with Red Lion, which beat Dallastown 17-10 Friday night. The Lions defeated York High 21-20 earlier this season.
“We knew we can’t sleep on any team,” said Rob Rideout about bouncing back from the Red Lion loss. “We knew we had to come back harder. Even though we have to share it, we’re still going to enjoy it.”
Pribula leaves game with injury: While York High’s offense ran roughshod over Central’s defense — totaling 589 yards, 399 of which came on the ground — the turning point of the game involved Central’s offense.
Star quarterback Cade Pribula, who is the leading passer in York-Adams League history, was injured in the first quarter and did not return. Freshman Beau Pribula, Cade’s younger brother, replaced the University of Delaware commit. Central York head coach Josh Oswalt declined comment about the status of his quarterback.
“I’m cool with Cade,” Stewart said. “His brother was the next man up, but I feel bad for (Cade). I hope he comes back stronger next year.”
Central (8-2, 5-2) was also without starting running back Hunter Werner. The Panthers rushed for minus-3 yards on 22 carries in the loss. Oswalt also declined comment about the status of his running back.
“When you hold a team to (minus-3) yards rushing,” Stoner said, “you have a chance to win all of those.”
York High takes the lead: York High scored first at Small field on a 17-yard pass from Seth Bernstein to Anthony Jamison on fourth-and-7.
Cade Pribula left the game on the next drive, and Beau Pribula’s first pass was intercepted by Tino Conquest.
The Bearcats didn’t take any time to strike, as Bernstein, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 190 yards and accounted for three scores, threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Rideout, who totaled 118 yards from scrimmage, on the first play of the drive to put York High up 14-0.
“(Bernstein) is one of the leaders of the team,” Stoner said. “He’s have a great year for us, and I’m so proud of him. He’s thrown for over 1,000 yards … and 17 touchdowns. You can’t ask for more than that for a first-year starter at quarterback.”
Central, which will play on the road next week in the District 3 Class 6-A playoffs, answered late in the first quarter with the Panthers’ lone touchdown on offense. Beau Pribula, who played quarterback growing up but has been a wide receiver all season, connected with Saahir Cornelius for a 50-yard gain. The freshman signal caller then ran for a 20-yard touchdown to put the Panthers down one score.
York High responded with two second quarter touchdowns. The first was a 1-yard QB sneak by Bernstein, and the second score was a 12-yard run by Stewart, who ran for 280 yards on 28 totes.
Central struggles on offense: The Panthers’ offense couldn’t sustain drives after the first quarter touchdown. York High’s front seven was penetrating the backfield on rushing plays and beating linemen on passing plays with heavy blitzes. The Bearcats’ defense tallied five sacks for minus-39 yards.
“Our plan was to bring six or seven on every play,” Stoner said. “Beau did a nice job. Our kids prepared well, they played hard on every play and that’s what happens.”
Rideout, who plays cornerback, said the plan was to pressure the quarterback, whether or not Cade Pribula was taking the snaps.
“Either way, our defense was going to come with that,” he said. “We knew what they could do, but we trusted our (defensive backs).”
Oswalt said the takeaway for his players should be about dealing with “adversity.”
“Everything that could happen to give them an opportunity to do what they did to us tonight did happen,” said Oswalt. “At the end of the day, we have to understand that we have to look adversity in the face and still play football. I felt like we were fighting a lot of demons tonight. … I just felt like it was the world against us, and that’s OK. I’ve just got to prepare our guys. Our guys continued to fight. Our guys continued to grind, and that’s all I can ask of them.”
Bearcats dominate second half: Mason Myers injected some life into the Panthers with an 81-yard kickoff return touchdown to start the second half, but York High answered back with four touchdowns of its own — all of which came on the ground.
Rideout ran for one of the scores — a 2-yard charge for his second touchdown of the game — with the other three coming from Stewart, who showed once again why he’s garnering interest from NCAA Division I colleges.
Stewart trucked a Central defender on his way into the end zone on a 9-yard touchdown and scored later on a 7-yard sweep. Stewart then sealed the win in the fourth quarter — and initiated the running clock — with a 63-yard score that showcased his breakaway speed.
Stewart has ended the regular season leading the York-Adams League with 2,240 rushing yards and 32 total touchdowns, and he said he has his offensive line to thank.
“They worked hard all offseason,” he said. “They play a big role in me getting 2,000 yards, and I’m going to treat them at the end of the season.”
York High to host playoff game: With the victory, York High will host a District 3 Class 5-A playoff game next Friday at Small Field.
“I think one of the best things is we get to play here again,” Stoner said. “This is a tough place for opponents to come and play.”
The Bearcats lost 56-7 last season to Governor Mifflin. York High hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008.
“We’re more prepared, because we hadn’t been to the playoffs (before),” Rideout said. “Now that we’ve been there, I think we’re more ready now.”
Central York 7 0 7 0 — 14
York High 14 13 20 7 — 54
York High: Rob Rideout 48-yard pass from Bernstein (Brown kick), 3:00 (YH 14, CY 0)
Central: Beau Pribula 20-yard run (Nick Basile kick), 1:22 (YH 14, CY 7)
Central: Mason Myers 81-yard kickoff return (Basile kick), 11:57 (YH 27, CY 14)
York High: Stewart 63-yard run (Brown kick), 9:51 (YH 54, CY 14)
Total offense: 94 yards (97 passing, minus-3 rushing)
Sacks: 1 for 11 yards
Total offense: 589 yards (190 passing, 399 rushing)
Sacks: 5 for 39 yards
Cade Pribula: 1-2 passing, 8 yards; 1 carries, -2 yards
Beau Pribula: 3-10 passing, 89 yards, 2 INTs; 11 carries, -13 yards (sacked five times for -39 yards)
Saahir Cornelius: 4 receptions, 97 yards
Will Van-Dyke: 7 carries, 16 yards
Isaiah Sturgis: 1 carry, 1 yard
Ian McNaughton: 1 carry, -1 yard
Nick Basile: 0-1 passing
Mason Myers: 81-yard kickoff return TD
Darnell Johnson: INT
Team: 1 carry, -4 yards
Seth Bernstein: 8-11 passing, 190 yards, 2 TDs, INT; 10 carries, 47 yards (sacked once for -11 yards), TD
Dayjure Stewart: 28 carries, 280 yards, 4 TDs; 1 reception, 29 yards
Rob Rideout: 5 carries, 10 yards, TD; 3 receptions, 108 yards, TD
Anthony Jamison: 1 reception, 17 yards, TD; 1 carry, 4 yards, fumble
Tobee Stokes: 7 carries, 58 yards; 1 reception, 11 yards
Tino Conquest: 1 reception, 13 yards; INT
Scott Penn: 1 reception, 12 yards
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org