Two months ago, Central York football coach Josh Oswalt got the opportunity that coaches live for.
After his team lost at Cumberland Valley, Oswalt used the pain the Panthers felt from that defeat to grab their attention and find out what kind of group the 2019 Central outfit could become.
“There’s always that moment or moments in a season that are coachable moments that you hope you can drive into these young men, and ours just happened to be a loss in week two where we turned the ball over a ton and lost by one,” Oswalt said. “So, the message has been, ‘You played pretty poorly and you lost by one to a district playoff team. So, how do you want to be remembered?’”
Central York (9-1) responded to the challenge by winning its final eight games of the season, highlighted by securing the York-Adams League Division I title against York High (7-3), 35-14, on Friday to close the regular season.
A slow start: Both teams entered the game undefeated in division play and the first half looked like a showdown between the division’s top two teams.
Trailing 7-0, the Bearcats put their first points on the scoreboard with just more than a minute before halftime on a 4-yard touchdown run by junior running back Kelvin Matthews.
The Panthers quickly responded when their stellar sophomore quarterback showed why colleges offered him a scholarship before he threw his first touchdown pass.
Beau Pribula took the Panthers’ offense down the field in a minute and then finished off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room.
Two big plays: Riding the momentum from the late first-half touchdown, Central York took control of the game on the first play of the second half and didn’t look back.
Junior wide receiver Judah Tomb received a bouncing kickoff and sprinted 75 yards past the Bearcats’ special teams unit and into the end zone.
On the next possession for the Panthers, another standout sophomore sealed the victory with a big play. Running back Imeire Manigault took the handoff from Pribula, made a cut to his left and couldn't be caught by the York High defense on a 72-yard score.
Pribula added another rushing touchdown later from 20 yards out to extend the Panthers’ streak of scoring at least 30 points to eight games. The sophomore finished the game with 77 rushing yards and three touchdowns to go with 48 passing yards and an interception.
York High’s offense was led by Matthews, who had 136 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Freshman running back Jaheim White added a late touchdown on an 8-yard strike from senior quarterback Tobee Stokes.
Senior send off: Pribula was happy that the Panthers were able to get the victory on their home field on senior night.
“I am so proud of this team and the senior class,” Pribula said. “It means a lot because a lot of these guys grew up (on teams that didn’t win) and for us to change that, it’s great.”
Oswalt added that the 10 seniors on this year’s team stayed with the program through rough times when a lot of players quit.
“These 10 stuck with it and and now they’re cashing in on a county championship that they deserve, and I am super proud of them,” Oswalt said.
While Central York was excited and proud to win the Y-A Division I title, Oswalt’s first division championship, the Panthers have their sights set on making an impact in the postseason.
“Our goals at the beginning of the season (were) not just county titles,” Oswalt said. “We’re not disrespecting our league, but our goals are loftier than that. So it’s easy for us to redirect. I told them, ‘Enjoy this (win). When you come back in tomorrow at 8 a.m., it’s business.’”
Central finished fifth in the final District 3 Class 6-A power ratings. They're expected to travel to fourth-seeded Harrisburg (7-3) next weekend in a first-round contest. The official pairings are set to be released Monday.
Central York 0 14 14 7 - 35
York High 0 7 0 7 - 14
CY - 53-yard TD run by Beau Pribula
YH - 4-yard TD run by Kelvin Matthews
CY - 4-yard TD run by Beau Pribula
CY - 75-yard kick return TD by Judah Tomb
CY - 72-yard TD run by Imeire Manigault
CY - 20-yard TD run by Beau Pribula
YH - Tobee Stokes 8-yard TD pass to Jaheim White
Reach Rob Rose at email@example.com.