York High's playoff run a 'knock on the door' to becoming household name in District 3

  • York High's loss to Cocalico last Saturday ended a historic season for the Bearcats.
  • Head coach Russ Stoner hopes this season was the start of better things to come for the Bearcats.
  • York High fans got a preview of the future in the loss to Cocalico.

York High’s 2018 football season was a historic one.

The Bearcats claimed at least a share of the York-Adams League Division I crown in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1987-1988.  

They made the District 3 playoffs for a second straight season and played in a district semifinal for the first time since 1988.

The Bearcats also won two district playoff games for the first time in school history.

“The future is bright at York High,” head coach Russ Stoner said.

Stoner gets advice from mentor: A few weeks ago, one of Stoner’s mentors, Parrish Petry, gave him some advice as the Bearcats prepared for their playoff run.

Petry, Stoner’s basketball coach at West York and the current head coach at Penn State York, told Stoner that great programs aren’t built in one season.

“You know Russ, sometimes you have to knock on the door first,” Stoner recalled Petry saying to him. “Your kids have to understand what it means to play deep in the playoffs.”

“We knocked on the door today,” Stoner said after York High’s 61-35 semifinal loss to Cocalico on Saturday.

Stoner is hoping that "knock" continues to get louder in the coming seasons and that York High will become a perennial district power.

Loss to Cocalico a learning experience: The Bearcats were tied with the Eagles at 21 late in the first half. Cocalico then ripped off five straight touchdowns to take a 55-21 lead.

After the game, Stoner was proud of his team’s effort in the fourth quarter, when the Bearcats outscored Cocalico 14-6.

One play specifically that was representative of the game was a 56-yard score by Cocalico’s Garrett Longenecker.

Longenecker broke free after breaking a tackle and had an open path to the end zone, but cornerback Tino Conquest ran from the other side of the field to catch up with the running back and tackled him into the end zone.

“I love our kids. The one thing I thought we did really well is we competed,” Stoner said. “We didn’t’ stop playing. That’s a character builder.”

Cocalico runs over York High in D-3 5-A semis

A look at the future: Unlike most of the season, Stoner employed a two-quarterback system on Saturday, with starter Seth Bernstein taking the majority of the snaps and backup Tobee Stokes taking a few.

Stokes, a junior, completed both of his pass attempts for 100 yards and a touchdown to Anthony Jamison. One of his passes was a deep ball that he threw while rolling out opposite to his throwing-arm side.

“He played great,” Stoner said. “What we were really trying to do was get him on the edge and get him to run, but he wanted to throw. He’s an athlete, and he can throw the ball. We have a freshman named Treyshawn Smith who can also play quarterback. Tobee, if he’s not the QB, you might see that kind of switching in and out kind of things.”

While the Bearcats will lose a great senior class, Stoner said players such as running backs Tyrell Whitt, Marcellus John and the entire offensive line are all returning.

“We have a 6-0 200-pound tailback in (Whitt) that people don’t know about, and we have Marcellus John, who is going to be in the backfield as well,” Stoner said. “And we return our whole offensive line. We’re going to stay in the weight room, get bigger, faster, stronger and stay good academically and see what happens.”

Stoner thanks senior class: At the end of the game, Stoner used a timeout to pull running back Dayjure Stewart, who earned applause from the fans and hugs from his coaches after eclipsing 3,000 rushing yards on the season.

“It’s something I’ll never experience again,” Stewart said. “The love of the city to come out and support us and showing their gratitude means a lot to me.”

Stoner also pulled Rob Rideout and Conquest a few plays later. The senior class is Stoner’s first that he coached for the majority of their high school careers as a head coach. They started as sophomores on a 1-9 team, finishing their careers with a 9-2 record in 2017 and an 11-2 record in 2018.

“We’re going to miss the Dayjure Stewarts, the Rob Rideouts, the Kahleel Allens and those types of kids and all of our seniors,” Stoner said. “They’re the ones who started the process here in 2016.”

Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at jmeyer@yorkdispatch.com.