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Big plays lead York High past Spring Grove, 21-7

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports

While Friday night marked just the second varsity start at quarterback for Sam Stoner, it wasn’t the first game the York High sophomore ever played at Papermakers Stadium.

Stoner, the son of York High head coach Russ Stoner, grew up running around the facility while his father and coach was in charge of the Spring Grove program from 2011 to 2014.

No longer a little kid, Sam Stoner returned to the familiar field and led the Bearcats to a 21-7 victory over the Rockets in a game that had a special meaning to the Stoner family.

York High sophomore quarterback Sam Stoner, center, lines up in shotgun formation to call a play. Stoner threw his first varsity touchdown pass in York High's 21-7 win over Spring Grove.

“I played hide and seek throughout the stadium when I was younger during practice when I was the ball boy for him, so it’s pretty cool to come back here in my second varsity start and throw my first varsity touchdown,” Sam Stoner said. 

That special touchdown pass came on the Bearcats’ opening drive and set the tone for the contest. The sophomore tossed a 19-yard score to senior wide receiver Rashim Lee, whose 43-yard catch earlier in the drive set up the eventual touchdown.

He added another touchdown pass on the next drive, this one an 8-yard score by junior wide receiver Jaquez Simmons, who juked defenders and fought his way across the goal line.

While Stoner’s two-touchdown performance was impressive for his second start coming off an ankle injury that limited his playing time in Week 1, York High’s offense was able to lean on sophomore running back Jaheim White whenever it needed to.

The 5-foot, 9-inch running back — nicknamed Florida because of his frequent trips to the state — carried the ball 16 times for 120 yards and caught a two-point conversion pass from Stoner.

York High sophomore running back Jaheim White stiff arms a Spring Grove defender. White ran for 120 yards in the victory, scored a two-point conversion and threw a 68-yard touchdown pass

York High has a backfield filled with talented runners, including seniors Tyrell Whitt and Kelvin Matthews, both York-Adams League Division I all-stars a season ago, but Russ Stoner is confident the sophomore is the right choice for the position.

“We have a plethora of backs and we just think that Jaheim is the one right now that gives us the best chance to win, and he keeps proving it,” Russ Stoner said.

Although White’s 7.5 yards-per-carry were impressive, his biggest play of the game came when he threw the ball. 

On the first play of a Bearcats’ drive before halftime, White got the ball from Sam Stoner and then launched a 68-yard touchdown pass to Lee, who walked into the end zone untouched. Lee’s second score gave him a final stat line of three catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns and drew the praise of his coach after the game.

York High senior wide receiver Rashim Lee celebrates as he crosses the goal line on a 68-yard touchdown pass. Lee had two touchdowns in the Bearcats' 21-7 win.

“It’s great for him,” Russ Stoner said. “He’s a kid who has only been playing football for two years. He’s worked extremely hard … I’m happy for Rashim.”

The other sophomore left-handed quarterback on the field Friday didn’t fare as well as Sam Stoner did. Spring Grove quarterback Andrew Osmun finished the game with 25 passing yards on two completions, one touchdown — a 16-yard toss to senior wide receiver Jonah Warehime — and one interception.

The Rockets struggled to generate much offense early, but junior running back Zyree Brooks racked up 91 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Osmun had to leave the game on the Rockets’ final drive with an injury and was replaced by junior Gavin Smith. After a big toss to junior Chris Campbell put Spring Grove on the 5-yard line with a chance to cut the lead in half with under three minutes left, Smith’s pass was intercepted by York High senior Marcellus John to clinch the Bearcats’ win.

After the game, Spring Grove coach Kyle Sprenkle applauded his team’s toughness to stay in the game and hold York High scoreless in the second half.

“I’m extremely proud of our kids’ effort,” Sprenkle said. “We started a little bit slow, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Once we got settled in a little we started moving the football and having some success. But I’m still very proud of our team. A lot of people probably wouldn’t expect us to keep it as close as we did and still make a game out of it.”

Russ Stoner and the York High team spent more time talking after the game than most teams do after winning a game. The Bearcats’ coach said that while the victory, and 2-0 start, are positives, this squad believes it has a higher level to reach on the field. As a team, the Bearcats didn't think they played well enough on Friday.

If the Bearcats want to contend for a D-I title, they know it will take even more work on the practice field. With a pair of sophomores leading a talented young group, Russ Stoner, like any football coach, is excited to hear his players want to be better.

“Our kids are happy that they won, but they are not happy (with) how they played tonight,” Russ Stoner said. “That’s a great thing for the head football coach to know that your kids aren’t satisfied.”

OTHER FRIDAY FOOTBALL

Kennard-Dale 34, York Suburban 20: At Fawn Grove, the Rams made a grand debut on their new home turf field, handing defending D-II champion Suburban its first divisional loss since 2018.

The game featured an inspiring appearance by former K-D standout Patrick Maloney, who suffered a serious head injury in a game last fall. He carried the American flag onto the field.

It was the season opener for the Rams, who scored on its first time on offense (by Darius Bailey) and defense (Steven Lukes) to take control. Lukes had a 72-yard interception return for a TD. K-D had a bye last week.

Red Lion 43, South Western 21: At Red Lion, the home team rebounded from a season-opening loss to a powerhouse Central York team.

The Lions scored 29 second-half points to pull away. A goal-line stand right before the half helped spark the Lions, which led 14-7 at the break.

The Red Lion offense was paced by a 99-yard second-half TD pass from Randy Fizer to Jeffery Nyamekye.

Dallastown 30, Northeastern 27: At Dallastown, the Wildcats got their season off to a victorious start.

The Wildcats scheduled opener vs. South Western was not played last week because South Western didn't complete the required number of practices.

Dallastown led 30-13 with 10 minutes left in the game and survived a late rally by Northeastern.

Central York 51, Dover 0: At Dover, the Panthers juggernaut continued to roll.

The Panthers improved to 2-0, outscoring its two foes by a 106-0 margin.

York Catholic 21, Biglerville 6: At Biglerville, the Fighting Irish improved to 2-0 behind a defense that allowed an 80-yard TD run by Kalen Sharrah early, but then shut down the Canners the rest of the way.

DK Wyche rushed for 140 yards on 25 carries for the Irish. York Catholic's Brennan Witman had three receptions for 69 yards, including a 41-yard TD. Witman also returned a kickoff 89 yards for a TD.

Delone Catholic 27, Littlestown 7: At Littlestown, in a battle of Adams County rivals and perennial D-III contenders, the Squires (2-0) grabbed the win behind a defense that limited Littlestown to 6 yards rushing.

Tate Neiderer led Delone's 234-yard rushing attack with 93 yards on 15 carries. Delone QB Coltyn Keller was 3 for 3 passing for 31 yards and also rushed for 56 yards on eight carries. Justin Emeigh was 3 for 3 on extra points and 2 for 2 on field-goal attempts for Delone.

Gettysburg 36, Susquehannock 10: At Glen Rock, the Adams County Warriors rolled past the York County Warriors behind a rushing attack that piled up 320 yards.

Jeremiah Scott's 95 yards on 18 carries paced Gettysburg. Scott had two TD runs.

Gettysburg improved to 2-0.

Bermudian Springs 45, Fairfield 7: At York Springs, the Eagles moved to 2-0 behind a 287-yard rushing attack.

Ricky Pacana had 12 carries for 90 yards to lead Bermudian.

Fairfield jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the Eagles responded with 45 unanswered points.

New Oxford 35, Eastern York 14: At Wrightsville, the Colonials improved to 2-0 in their first season in D-II.

Eastern dropped to 0-2 on the season.

The game was tied in the first half at 7-7 before New Oxford took control.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.