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Central York faces Delaware Valley team that wants to impose its will on line of scrimmage

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • Central York faces Delaware Valley in a state 6-A football quarterfinal on Saturday.
  • Delaware Valley enters at 6-1 and is the District 2 6-A champion.
  • Running back Jason Henderson is the focal point of the Delaware Valley offense.
The Delaware Valley High School football team poses for a photo after winning the District 2 6-A title in October. The Warriors will host Central York in the PIAA Class 6-A playoffs on Saturday

Who are the Delaware Valley Warriors? 

That’s a question many Central York football fans may be asking themselves this week ahead of the teams’ state playoff quarterfinal at 1 p.m. Saturday at Delaware Valley.

With 165 miles between the schools, there are no common opponents or recent history to draw from, so here’s some information on the Warriors to help Panthers’ fans sound smart around their friends.

While Central York (8-0) continues to ride the momentum of the program’s first District 3 Class 6-A title, Delaware Valley (6-1) has come to expect nothing less than a district trophy. The  Lackawanna Conference Division I champion Warriors have won the District 2 (Scranton area) 6-A championship in each of the five seasons the class has existed.

The Warriors have reached the PIAA 6-A first round in each of the past three seasons and lost to State College each time by an average margin of 25 points.

Central York beats York High, wins District 3 6-A and York-Adams League Division I titles

Central York coach Gerry Yonchiuk compared Delaware Valley to district opponent Central Dauphin, a team that Central York defeated, 42-15, in the District 3 6-A semifinals.

Delaware Valley's attack is based on the offense’s desire to dominate the line of scrimmage and impose its will from the opening kickoff.

One of the reasons the Warriors are able to win up front is offensive lineman MIke Gecik. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 270-pound senior is headed to play football at Albany, the same NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision school that Central York senior lineman Josh Gaffney plans to attend.

The other factor in the Warriors’ rushing attack is the guy with the ball. Running back/linebacker Jason Henderson is the focal point of Delaware Valley’s offense, and he showed why in the Warriors' first-round 35-14 state win over Altoona. That Altoona team had defeated Delaware Valley nemesis State College, 22-21, a couple weeks earlier.

In that game, the Old Dominion recruit racked up nearly 300 total yards and scored four touchdowns and a two-point conversion and made 15 tackles to lead his team to the victory.

Henderson also held offers from Syracuse and Temple, among others schools, and has recorded more than 800 total yards and 12 offensive touchdowns this season.

Although the Warriors are likely to lean on Henderson and their rushing attack, their quarterback is capable of making plays, too. Senior Aiden Oliver stands at 6 feet, 2 inches and is a three-sport athlete. 

Oliver has completed 50% of his passes for 1,009 yards with 11 touchdown passes and three interceptions in six games. He added another touchdown on the ground. Oliver’s top target, besides Henderson, is wide receiver Mark Callanan. The senior captain led the Warriors in catches (22) and receiving yards (336) and caught a pair of touchdown passes.

Delaware Valley hasn’t lost since its first game vs. a perennially strong La Salle College High School program on Oct. 2. The Warriors’ lone defeat was by four points (27-23) and it has been a month since they played a game they won by less than three touchdowns.

For the second straight week, Central York will face an offense heavily reliant on its running back. The Panthers were able to slow down York High sophomore standout Jaheim White last week to win the district title and will need to have similar success this week to beat a team that has dominated District 2 year after year.

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The winner of Saturday's Central York-Delaware Valley game will advance to the state semifinals the following weekend against the winner of the state quarterfinal between District 7 champion (Pittsburgh) Central Catholic (6-2) and District 10 champion (Erie) McDowell (6-0).

— Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.