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Recruiting process helps new Central York football coach Gerry Yonchiuk bond with players

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • Gerry Yonchiuk is the new Central York High football head coach.
  • Yonchiuk is trying to bond with players while helping their college recruiting.
  • Yonchiuk believes at least five Panthers from the 2021 class will play in college.

The bonds built between coaches and their players are vital to a team's success.

Normally, a new head football coach would earn the players' trust in offseason meetings and workouts, but these times are anything but normal.

Central York's Judah Tomb runs a York High kick-off back for a Panthers' touchdown, Friday October 25, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

For new Central York High head coach Gerry Yonchiuk, the best way he has found to create relationships with his players, while also learning more about them, is through college recruiting. 

A number of the Panthers received college interest during Josh Oswalt’s time with the program, but Yonchiuk has set out to ensure the players gain even more interest during a unique time in recruiting.

“I think it’s building the trust and relationship between me and the players,” Yonchiuk said. “I think they realize that even though I’m new to them, I really do care about them and I don’t want the ball to be dropped at all. What this allows me to do is the opportunity to get to them a little bit better.” 

Interest growing: Yonchiuk said one of his first objectives was to get out the information that college recruiters need about the Panthers who have a passion to play at the next level. That combination of Hudl highlight videos, academic records and contact information has gone out to a number of schools and the feedback has been exciting for Yonchiuk.

Sophomore quarterback Beau Pribula doesn’t need help being promoted. A number of Power Five programs, including Penn State, are after him. Yonchiuk, however, is still working to find him more opportunities. Yonchiuk reached out to the Nebraska quarterback coach, who he has known for years, about Pribula. Not long after that, the sophomore had a scholarship offer from the Cornhuskers. 

While Pribula’s potential and pedigree will open more doors than a coach’s phone calls and emails ever could, Yonchiuk said the attention on the Panthers’ quarterback has already benefited his teammates. 

While talking to a Nebraska coach about Pribula, Yonchiuk said the conversation shifted to junior wide receiver Judah Tomb, one of the sophomore signal caller’s top targets, who has visited West Virginia, Temple and Syracuse. 

“He said, ‘Who’s No. 4?’” Yonchiuk said. “So, we went in a different direction and got to talk about Judah and I think that happens a lot. Any time you have a national recruit, that’s only going to help all those guys and I think they really feed off each other.”

In addition to Tomb, Yonchiuk said big seasons are in store for a pair of other Panther pass catchers. Junior wide receiver Taylor Wright-Rawls and junior tight end Kyle Fontes are exciting prospects in Yonchiuk’s eyes. Wright-Rawls had 10 touchdowns in 2018, was a York-Adam League Division I first-team all-star last season and has visited Temple and Villanova. 

Central York's Taylor Wright-Rawls catches the ball for a 50 plus yard gain on Red Lion in the Panthers' first play of their first possession,  Friday, September 13, 2019
John A. Pavoncello photo

Fontes was a Y-A D-I second-team all-star in 2019 and has visited Princeton, Harvard, Villanova and Monmouth.

“I’m just trying to promote these guys as much as I can and then let the college recruiters look at their skill sets and open up opportunities for them,” Yonchiuk said. “I have had some real pleasant return messages from the college recruiters about these guys, so I’m really happy about that.” 

Gaffney earns offers: One player who has already seen success during this recruiting period is junior offensive tackle Josh Gaffney. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound lineman received a pair of NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision offers from Robert Morris and Monmouth recently after a Y-A D-I first-team all-star campaign. 

Yonchiuk said other schools have shown interest in Gaffney and he expects more NCAA Division I offers to roll in for Gaffney in the future. 

Along with the four offensive standouts, Yonchiuk said junior linebacker Jack Smith is another player he envisions landing a spot on a college roster. Smith was a Y-A D-I second-team all-star last season.

The Panthers’ coach added that, as he gets to know the players more and plans for the season, it’s too early to tell, but he believes at least one more player from the 2021 class will receive college interest. 

With the players confined to their homes and looking for ways to stay motivated and positive during a tough time, Yonchiuk hopes the recruiting process can help. While the Panthers and Yonchiuk learn more about each other, one thing is clear — Central York will generate a lot of interest next season. The Panthers’ new coach is hopeful this challenging situation can result in some positive events in the players’ lives.

“I want them to stay hungry,” Yonchiuk said. “Being recruited by colleges, that doesn’t happen very often in your lifetime and I’m hoping that gives them some hope, especially during this uncertain time that we’re in, and gives them a reason to look forward to the season and to their future.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.