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York High completes crazy comeback to beat Red Lion, improve to 4-0

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports

Usually, a beware-of-dog sign is a warning that someone is approaching a dangerous animal and it's time to run away.

York High sophomore running back Jaheim White is a danger to opposing defenses every time he touches the ball. So, it's only fitting that the Bearcats' back wears a backplate made by Battle that reads, "Danger, Beware of Dog." It reminds himself and opponents that the sophomore star is always in attack mode and when he's coming at them, it's too late to run.

York High sophomore running back Jaheim White warms up pregame wearing his backplate made by Battle that reads "Danger, Beware of Dog."

“I had to get that just to remind myself of me being a dog on the field,” White said. “I can’t be stopped.”

The Red Lion defense won't need a reminder of how dangerous White can be with the ball in his hands after Friday night. The sophomore running back racked up 297 yards and two touchdowns, including a 99-yard score, to lead York High to a wild 34-30 win over Red Lion.

Tale of two halves: Red Lion did a decent job of slowing down White, the leading rusher in the York-Adams League, in the first half while running its offense flawlessly. The second half was a much different story.

Red Lion's Luke Miller, left, tries to stop York High's Jaheim White as White runs the ball in for a touchdown during football action at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. York High would win the game 34-30. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Down 30-14 at halftime after senior quarterback Randy Fizer led the Lions down the field to score in the half's final seconds, York High was in trouble. The Bearcats couldn't find any answers for the Lions' offense and coach Russ Stoner wasn't sure how the young team would respond to its first real adversity of the season.

“We were terrible,” Stoner said. “We were ready to fold our tents. We had kids hanging their heads, we had kids yelling at each other. We had all those things that just equal a mess.”

York High gave up 30 points and more than 300 yards in the first half, which is enough for a whole game. Stoner and the coaching staff challenged the defense to show their character and fight back and the players responded.

York High vs Red Lion during football action at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. York High would win the game 34-30. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Senior Tyrell Whitt scored the second of his two touchdowns on the first drive after the half to get York High within one score of Red Lion. The Bearcats' defense completely shut down the Lions' offense after the break and let White and their offense get going.

A 99-yard TD run: White had and impressive 92 rushing yards in the first half, but outdid that with one carry in the fourth quarter.

After a punt by Fizer that was downed at the 1-yard line, York High needed someone to make a play. White got the ball in his own end zone, cut to the left and then took off down the Red Lion sideline on a 99-yard score.

“I saw the weak side and I was like, ‘I’m just going to take it and run,’” White said of his highlight reel touchdown. “Run as hard as I can. I gave up at the end a little bit, but I kept pushing myself to score.”

After the Bearcats' defense forced a fumble, it was time for White to close out the game on the ground. The sophomore carried York High to its first lead with four runs for 39 yards and a touchdown on a five-play drive.

Latest in a list of standout York High backs: Stoner said it's too early to start comparing White to former York High star running backs Khalid Dorsey and Dayjure Stewart, but he is impressed with the young back and likes the early results of the mentoring Stewart and Dorsey have given White via group text.

Red Lion's Aaron Lehr, left, tries to stop York High's Jaheim White as White runs the ball in for a touchdown during football action at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. York High would win the game 34-30. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“We knew he had that ability a year ago, he just wasn’t ready a year ago,” Stoner said. “He’s a lot stronger than what people think and he runs through people. At times he just makes you a very good football coach. God has touched him.”

Key interceptions: York High's defense finished off the victory with a pair of big interceptions. Senior Antoine Beard picked off Fizer after White's go-ahead score, but junior Jaquez Simmons came through with the clutch catch to seal the win.

After Fizer hit junior running back Jake Bradley with a 67-yard pass to give the Lions a final chance to steal the win, Simmons charged toward a ball lofted up by an under-pressure Fizer and intercepted the pass to complete the comeback.

Fizer and Bradley were dominant in the first half for Red Lion. The pair each had two rushing touchdowns before halftime and Fizer finished with more than 300 yards of total offense, but did almost all of his damage in the first half.

Shay encourages Lions: While he was upset to have lost what he called "one hell of a high school football game," Red Lion coach Jesse Shay said his team will take something away from this brutal loss after the initial pain fades away.

“Don’t take your foot off the gas,” Shay said. “Good teams come back and that’s a good team over there. They weren’t a team that was going to go ahead and just roll over and I think that’s a lesson that unfortunately it took this to learn it, but I promise you we will learn it as a team and a program.”

Red Lion's Jake Bradley celebrates a touchdown during football action against York High at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. York High would win the game 34-30. Dawn J. Sagert photo

When the final whistle blew, Stoner was in disbelief that his team had pulled off the win. With a young team led by an emerging star in White in the backfield, Stoner expects the Bearcats to build off this win and remember it if they find themselves in the same spot later this season.

“They should never ever think they can’t come back,” Stoner said. “They should never ever think, ‘Oh my gosh we’re down by 20 points we can’t do it.’”  

OTHER HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

West York 40, Eastern York 39: At Wrightsville, the Bulldogs doubled their win total from a year ago with another wild victory.

West York, coming off a 1-9 season, is now 2-0. Eastern fell to 0-4. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 42-35 triumph over Susquehannock.

In a high-scoring affair vs. the Knights, West York led 13-7 after one quarter and 20-19 at halftime. West York led 32-26 heading in the final period before holding off Eastern.

South Western 31, Northeastern 28: At Hanover, Charles Gaither rushed for 176 yards on 23 carries for the Mustangs, scoring three touchdowns.

South Western kicked a late field to win its first game of the season, improving to 1-2. Northeastern fell to 0-4. The Mustangs led 21-7 at halftime, before Northeastern used a 14-0 third-quarter surge to tie the game heading into the final period.

Gettysburg 21, Kennard-Dale 19: At Fawn Grove, the Warriors led 21-0 at halftime and then held on for the D-II victory.

The Rams lost despite holding a 314-221 edge in total yards. Gettysburg improved to 3-0, while K-D fell to 1-2. Dylan Jones kicked two field goals for K-D.

Delone Catholic 35, Bermudian Springs 14: At York Springs, the Squires continued their dominant run through D-III with the road victory to improve to 4-0.

The Squires have won each of their four games by at least 20 points. Tate Neiderer again led Delone with 121 yards on 22 carries with four touchdowns. He's rushed for at least 120 yards in three of Delone's four games. Bermudian fell to 2-2.

Biglerville 39, York Tech 12: At Biglerville, Josh Fulton pounded his way to 114 yards on 18 carries to lead Biglerville to its first win.

Fulton scored three touchdowns. Both teams are now 1-3. Zach Driver had 94 yards on 10 carries for Tech.

New Oxford 38, York Suburban 6: At Suburban, the Colonials continued to enjoy their move down to D-II with another victory to improve to 4-0 on the season.

The defending D-II champion Trojans fell to 1-2. New Oxford has won each of its D-II games by at least 16 points. New Oxford's next game will likely present a tougher challenge when the Colonials play host to Gettysburg (3-0) on Oct. 23 in a game that may decide the D-II crown. New Oxford has a bye next week.

Central York 47, Spring Grove 0: At Central, the Panthers continued to run roughshod over their D-I opponents.

The Panthers improved to 4-0 with their fourth consecutive mercy-rule triumph. Central has yet to give up a touchdown this season. Beau Pribula threw three touchdown passes for Central, which has outscored its four foes, 209-3.

York Catholic 59, Fairfield 10: At Fairfield, the unbeaten Fighting Irish rolled to a dominating road victory.

Catholic improved to 4-0, while Fairfield dropped to 1-3. York Catholic plays host to Hanover on Oct. 16 before a looming showdown at YC vs. parochial rival Delone Catholic on Oct. 23.

Littlestown 42, Hanover 14: At Hanover on Saturday night, Littlestown evened its record at 2-2 with the D-III triumph.

Hanover fell to 1-3. Littlestown used a 21-point second-quarter outburst to put the game out of reach.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.