HEISER: York-Adams football teams don't have room for error in District 3 playoff chase

  • The District 3 football playoffs are set to begin on Oct. 30.
  • None of the six classes will have more than four district playoff berths this season.
  • Most of the local teams hoping to make the playoffs can't afford any stumbles the next two weeks.
  • The district power-ratings deadline is Oct. 26.
York High's Tyrell Whitt, front, celebrates a touchdown during football action against Red Lion at Horn Field in Red Lion, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. York High would win the game 34-30. Dawn J. Sagert photo

There doesn’t appear to be much wiggle room.

In fact, for some, perfection may be required.

That’s the situation that several York-Adams League football teams find themselves in as the truncated 2020 regular season draws to a conclusion. You either go undefeated or you’ll risk going uninvited when the District 3 playoff berths are handed out in late October.

Such is life during a season plagued by a pandemic.

The local teams have two more weekends to pile up the power ratings points that will determine the district representatives.

Here’s one piece of advice: Don’t lose. In some cases, however, even perfection may not be enough.

That’s because the number of district qualifiers this season have been drastically reduced. There will only be four teams in the district field in the 6-A, 5-A, 4-A and 3-A classes. The 2-A and 1-A classes will each feature just two-team district fields.

By comparison, in 2019, 6-A had eight qualifiers, 5-A had 14 qualifiers, 4-A had 10 qualifiers, 3-A had six qualifiers and 2-A had four qualifiers. Only 1-A, which also had two qualifiers in 2019, didn’t see a reduction.

Central York senior wide receiver Judah Tomb, right, runs through the Red Lion defense on his way to score a touchdown in the Panthers' 55-0 win.

Before, a valid argument could be made the district fields were bloated, with .500 teams (or worse) usually making the field.

That certainly won’t be the case this season.

Here’s a breakdown of where the York-Adams teams stand in in their respective district fields, with an Oct. 26 power-rating deadline looming:

Class 6-A: Central York and York High are each 4-0 and are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the latest 6-A power ratings, behind  state power Central Dauphin (3-0).

If the season ended today, the Panthers and the Bearcats would both make the four-team 6-A playoffs. They could even face off in districts.

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

The two teams are slated to square off in a regular-season game on Friday, Oct. 30. It would undoubtedly be the most anticipated game of the Y-A regular season, but it likely won’t occur as scheduled, at least not as a regular-season game. That’s because both will likely make the District 3 6-A playoffs, which just happen to start on Oct. 30.  

The fact that the Panthers and the Bearcats won’t meet before the district playoffs start is a good thing for their district hopes. It enhances both teams’ chances of finishing unbeaten and making districts.

It’s a bad thing, however, for York-Adams fans, who would love to see that match-up happen. Of course, a Central-York High showdown could still occur, either as a district game, or after both teams get eliminated from the playoffs.

Both Central and York High will be solidly favored to win their remaining two match-ups. Central faces Northeastern and Dallastown, while York High takes on South Western and Northeastern. None of those teams has a winning record.

Win out, and the Y-A League has an excellent chance of producing half of the four 6-A district qualifiers. Given the league’s historically poor record in the large-school football playoffs, that would likely draw some howls of protest from other big schools in the district that could get shut out.

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Dallastown is No. 7 in the current 6-A power ratings, but it would take it would take an unlikely series of events for the Wildcats to make districts.

Central Dauphin, ranked No. 2 in the state in 6-A by HSSN, is likely the considered the favorite in this class.

One note of interest. Harrisburg could be a factor in 6-A, if it can find three more opponents. Teams need a minimum of four games to qualify for districts, and Harrisburg, after a delayed start, sits at 1-0. If the Cougars can somehow find three games (and three wins) between now and Oct. 26, they could be a real factor come playoff time.

Class 5-A: In Class 5-A, there are only two Y-A teams that have a realistic chance to qualify for the four-team field: New Oxford (4-0) and Gettysburg (3-0).

The Warriors sit at No. 4 and the Colonials are at No. 7.

Unlike Central and York High, however, the Colonials and the Warriors will meet before the Oct. 26 power-ratings deadline. The Oct. 23 showdown between New Oxford and Gettysburg will effectively serve as a district elimination game, as well as the game that decides the Y-A Division II championship.

Even the New Oxford-Gettysburg winner, however, has no guarantee to make the district field, even with an unbeaten record. That’s especially true for New Oxford, which at No. 7, has a lot of teams to pass.

The top three teams in the current 5-A power ratings are Gov. Mifflin (3-0), Waynesboro (3-0) and Warwick (4-0). Warwick is ranked No. 2 in the state in 5-A by HSSN.

Class 4-A: It’s hard to envision that any Y-A teams will make the four-team 4-A district field. Only one team (West York) is currently in the top 10 of the power ratings.

The Bulldogs (2-0) are No. 7, having won two high-scoring affairs, and they have winnable games before the Oct. 26 deadline against Kennard-Dale and York Suburban, who are each 1-2. Still, it may be a stretch to see the Bulldogs go from 1-9 in 2019 to a district berth in 2020.

The current top four in 4-A are: Lampeter-Strasburg (4-0), Eastern Lebanon (4-0), Cocalico (3-1) and Bishop McDevitt (3-0). McDevitt is ranked No. 3 in the state in 4-A, according to HSSN, while L-S is No. 4.

Class 3-A: It’s a bit surprising, but a pair of 2-2 teams from the Y-A League (Littlestown and Bermudian Springs) have a shot at making the four-team 3-A district playoffs.

Littlestown is No. 5 and Bermudian is No. 6.

Both the Thunderbolts and the Eagles should be favored to win this weekend vs. Biglerville and York Tech, respectively. The Canners and the Spartans are both 1-3.

That could set up another district elimination game on Oct. 23 when Littlestown visits Bermudian. Even the winner of that game, however, has no guarantee of making the playoffs.

The top four teams in the 3-A class are Boiling Springs (3-0), Wyomissing (3-0), Middletown (1-1) and Annville-Cleona (2-2). HSSN ranks Wyomissing No. 2 in the state in 3-A.

Class 2-A: York Catholic (4-0) is No. 2 in the power ratings and would appear to have a good chance of making the two-team 2-A field.

The Fighting Irish are heavily favored to beat a 1-2 Hanover team this coming Friday, but on Oct. 23, the Irish will play host to unbeaten Delone (4-0) in a game to decide the Y-A D-III crown.

That game could also decide York Catholic’s playoff hopes. A loss to the Squires, and the Irish could get passed by No. 3 Newport (2-0) or No. 4 Columbia (3-1).

Camp Hill (2-0) is No. 1 in the 2-A power ratings.

Class 1-A: Delone looks like a lock to make the 1-A title game.

The Squires are No. 1 in the power ratings. The No. 3 team is Fairfield (1-3) and the No. 4 team is Halifax (0-2). It’s hard to imagine either team passing Delone, no matter how the Squires do the rest of the season. Delone is a big favorite at home on Friday vs. Fairfield.

Delone looks destined for a 1-A final against No. 2 Steel-High (3-0) and its bluechip wideout recruit, Mekhi Flowers.

Steel-High is ranked No. 3 in the state in 1-A in the HSSN rankings. Delone, however, did beat Steel-High in last year's district 2-A playoffs, 39-27.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. This story was updated to reflect changes in the power ratings.