Until told otherwise, Central York will prepare for football season of great expectations
- The Central York football team is coming off a 9-1 regular season in 2019.
- The Panthers are the defending York-Adams League Division I champions.
- A number of Panthers are getting college offers, led by quarterback Beau Pribula.
By the time this article is posted it could already be obsolete.
That’s how fast the news surrounding the status of fall sports across the nation changes.
College football will likely feature conference-only contests, if any games are played at all in 2020. Throughout the country, multiple states have delayed or suspended high school fall sports, including several bordering Pennsylvania.
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Meanwhile, here in Pennsylvania, the fall sports seasons are set to begin in August, and until they hear otherwise from Gov. Tom Wolf or the PIAA, Central York football coach Gerry Yonchiuk and his team are focused on an upcoming season of great expectations.
“I tell our guys, ‘Until we’re told different, keep pushing on and going forward,’” Yonchiuk said. “If the state shuts us down, they shut us down. We’re just planning like we’re going to have (a season) at this point without fans. If you worry about it, you’re just going to drive yourself crazy.”
Highly-recruited junior quarterback Beau Pribula agreed with his coach and said he tries to block out the constant stream of canceled events and seasons while preparing for the start of the campaign next month.
The defending York-Adams Division I champions are trying to learn a new playbook ahead of Yonchiuk’s first season in charge through Zoom meetings and Hudl videos, but for Pribula, nothing compares to being on the field with his teammates again, albeit in a socially-distanced fashion.
“To finally get out and practice again is really good,” said Pribula, who led the Panthers to a 9-1 regular season in 2019. “To be around the guys is just good for everybody’s mental health, to see each other again and get the ball thrown around.”
Catching on quick: Yonchiuk and Pribula both said that it is really important for the team to get on the field together, even in a limited capacity because of the restrictions, to help adjust to the Panthers’ new coach.
Central York’s offensive identity won’t completely change under Yonchiuk, but the inability to practice for months wasn’t the way Yonchiuk imagined his first offseason would go. Despite the limited amount of time they have been together on the field, the Panthers' coach is excited about what the team has accomplished.
“They’re picking it up really quickly,” Yonchiuk said. “I’m really impressed with how smart they are. That’s a credit to (former Central York coach) Josh Oswalt (now at Cumberland Valley) because they know what they’re doing in a passing offense.”
Pribula said that the players are aware of schools in central Pennsylvania that have had players test positive for COVID-19 and it’s something they have talked about. As a result, they don’t want to take any risks that would jeopardize the team’s chances of playing this highly anticipated season.
“I think we’re doing a great job of staying socially distanced and doing the right stuff,” Pribula said. “As long as we do that, we’re going to be fine.”
Loaded senior class: In addition to the desire to play the sport they love, like so many athletes across the country, the Panthers are eager for a fall sports season to happen because of the team’s talent.
Outside of the 6-foot, 2-inch Pribula, who holds 13 NCAA Division I offers, Central York features a number of seniors who have received interest from college programs. Offensive tackle Joshua Gaffney, tight end Kyle Fontes and wide receivers Judah Tomb and Taylor Wright-Rawls all have received offers to play NCAA football.
Central York also returns junior running back Imeire Manigault, a York-Adams League Division I first team all-star last season with 670 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
As of now, the season is scheduled to start in August, and until they hear otherwise, the Panthers will continue to prepare for what promises to be a big season.
“I think for a long time we really pointed this year out because we knew (for) a lot of our talented guys this is their senior year,” Pribula said. “We’ve been so excited for so long we really want this season to happen and I think it will.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.