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COVID-19 issues force a central Pa. school to forfeit a District 3 football title game

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
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A central Pennsylvania team that was regarded as a legitimate state title contender has seen its football season come to a premature close.

Warwick, because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in the school district, has pulled out of the District 3 Class 5-A playoffs. The Warriors (8-0) were scheduled to play Gov. Mifflin (9-0) in a highly-anticipated district title game on Friday night in Shillington, Berks County. That game will not be played. Gov. Mifflin has received a forfeit victory over Warwick, has been declared the district 5-A champion and will advance to the PIAA state semifinals.

It was set to be Warwick’s first-ever appearance in a district final.

Warwick, located in Lancaster County, is coming off a 14-12 victory over New Oxford of the York-Adams League in the district 5-A semifinals on Saturday night. That game was originally scheduled to be played Friday night, but the game was pushed back a day because of COVID issues at Warwick last week that led to the high school going to virtual-only learning on Wednesday through Friday. That meant Warwick couldn’t practice or participate in extracurricular activities on those days.

"With our school moving to virtual for the entire week due to COVID cases, we felt it was the most appropriate course of action," Warwick athletic director Ryan Landis said in a news release issued on Monday. "With the number of active cases at our high school growing to 14, we felt the decision to go virtual and stop all in-season and out-of-season extra-curricular activities was our safest course of action for our students and beyond our community."

Warwick was ranked No. 2 in the state in 5-A according to one recent poll. It also boasts the most highly recruited player in Pennsylvania in Nolan Rucci, a towering offensive lineman who has committed to Wisconsin.

The team claimed the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two title under longtime coach Bob Locker, who picked up his 100th career win earlier this season. Warwick also has a Cincinnati recruit in Caleb Schmitz and 5,000-yard passer in Joey McCracken. The Miller twins (Colton and Thatcher) are also considered blue-chip recruits.

Warwick is the second team to forfeit a District 3 game this season because of COVID-19 issues. Harrisburg forfeited a district 6-A semifinal to York High.

Warwick's girls’ soccer team also had to drop out of the district playoffs last week because of positive coronavirus tests in the school district.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.