Central York beats York High, wins District 3 6-A and York-Adams League Division I titles
As players, coaches and family members huddled together after the game to celebrate, a group of 20 Central York Panthers gathered for a separate team photo.
These young men grew up playing Yorktown Patriots football together and got pretty good at winning games. The crew’s talent was obvious as early as second grade and had Panthers’ fans anticipating championships when they reached high school.
Friday night, those dreams came true when Central York (8-0) captured the District 3 Class 6-A title and won York-Adams League Division I with a 48-21 victory over York High (7-1).
Central now advances to the PIAA Class 6-A state quarterfinals at Delaware Valley at 1 p.m. Saturday. District 2 champion Delaware Valley is 6-1 and coming off 35-14 playoff win over Altoona in Danville. Altoona fell to 4-4. The Panthers will face a three-hour-plus bus ride for the quarterfinal.
“For the majority of us, since we were little kids, we dreamed of doing this,” Central York junior quarterback Beau Pribula said. “We knew we were a talented group coming up. To finally do it, I think we shocked a lot of people.”
New coach deflects praise: The Panthers’ star quarterback believes they surprised so many across the state because the win is the first for a York-Adams team in the district’s highest classification. Central York had the talent, but a coaching change may have given the team the necessary edge to add to the program’s trophy case.
Central York coach Gerry Yonchiuk came to a league he had never coached in or played in previously and earned the eternal praise and appreciation of the school’s community because of their postseason success in his first season.
“When you have a great talent base like we have here, you want to take them and elevate them, and that was my goal,” Yonchiuk said. “I feel proud of the process. It’s not a me thing, it’s a we thing. Everybody was part of this. Everyone from our starters to the guys who have played scout team. Everybody gave everything they had, and I’m just so proud of them.”
Pribula shines again: All of the Panthers’ players may have done their part, but one in particular is the key to this and every Central York win.
Pribula, a Penn State football recruit, added another elite performance to his young career. The junior was 14 for 19 passing for 224 yards and three touchdowns, with another 42 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
He opened the game with a 72-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Judah Tomb and added a pair of touchdown tosses to sophomore wide receiver Parker Hines.
Pribula also played multiple snaps on defense at safety, and while up by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, continued to charge headfirst into a tough Bearcats’ defense on running plays, without a thought of checking out of the game with the victory in hand.
“We’re going to do what has to be done to win,” Pribula said. “That’s my mindset and I really don’t care honestly. I just gotta do what has to be done to win the game. Anything that I have to do (to win), I’ll do it.”
Bearcats put up a fight: York High’s offense struggled on its first drive, and it may have cost the Bearcats a chance to keep the game closer. Central jumped out a quick two-touchdown lead.
After they were forced to punt on their first drive, the Bearcats countered the Panthers’ early burst with a pair of big-play scores to cut the deficit to 21-14.
Sophomore quarterback Sam Stoner threw a 50-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Rashim Lee and a 34-yard TD to junior wide receiver Jaquez Simmons.
York High found a way to get to Pribula in the second quarter and forced the Panthers’ offense to do something completely foreign to them — punt the ball. The Bearcats found a way to stifle the league’s best offense but couldn’t capitalize with any points to tie the game.
Pribula then got the ball back with one timeout and just more than a minute left before halftime and led his team down the field and into the end zone.
York High sophomore star running back Jaheim White added a second-half score, but it wasn’t enough to threaten Central York’s lead. The Panthers were able to slow down the top running back in the county. White finished with 109 hard-earned rushing yards and a touchdown on 28 carries after he averaged more than 200 yards per game this season.
“That team was very good,” Yonchiuk said. “We were never off the hook until we wore them down at the very end. They kept swinging.”
Central's run game also shines: In addition to Pribula’s big game, Central York got solid production from a pair of running backs. Senior Isaiah Sturgis had 79 yards on 13 carries with a first-half touchdown and junior Raquel Dewitt needed only two carries to score a pair of touchdowns to close out the victory.
Like those Patriots teams years ago, the Panthers are winners again. There may not have been many people who thought this program had the talent to claim the district’s most high-profile title, but Central York’s star did and, for this season at least, that’s enough.
“I know it seems unbelievable, but this is where I saw myself and I saw us throughout the entire year,” Pribula said. “When 2020 started, it was a goal to win a district championship. To have it come true, it’s amazing. All glory goes to God really.”
— Reach Rob Rose at email@example.com.