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Central York has extra motivation in state 6-A football semifinal vs. (Erie) McDowell

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • Cental York faces (Erie) McDowell in a PIAA Class 6-A football state semifinal on Saturday.
  • The game is set for 1 p.m. at Altoona.
  • McDowell beat Central York in the state 6-A basketball playoffs back in March.
McDowell quarterback Chris Juchno, right, runs with ball earlier this season. Juchno and the Trojans face Central York in the PIAA 6-A football semifinal on Saturday.
Central York's Beau Pribula, center, takes the ball to the basket while McDowell's Max Paris, left, and Jackson Hower defend during PIAA Class 6-A second-round boys' basketball action at Central Cambria High School in Edensburg, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. McDowell would win the game 68-61. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It may not be a traditional local rivalry, but Central York has some extra motivation to beat (Erie) McDowell.

In one of the final high school games played in the state before the COVID-19 shutdown in March, the Trojans knocked the Panthers out of the PIAA Class 6-A basketball playoffs.

Panthers junior quarterback Beau Pribula still remembers how the loss on the hardwood felt. He doesn't want a repeat on the gridiron when the same two schools face off at 1 p.m. Saturday in Altoona in a PIAA 6-A semifinal.

“I want to get McDowell back. We lost to them in the state Sweet 16 in basketball in March, so I still have that bitter taste in my mouth,” Pribula said after Central York’s state quarterfinal win at Delaware Valley last Saturday. “We gotta beat them on the football field now.”

Pribula and senior wide receivers Judah Tomb, Taylor Wright-Rawls and Kairyn Brown also played in that basketball game for Central. 

Unlike the hoops matchup between the teams, when McDowell standout and now Pitt forward William Jeffress was the best player on the court, Central York (9-0) has the star this time around in the Penn State-bound Pribula.

Like last week’s game against Delaware Valley, Central York needs to practice tackling running backs this week. The Trojans (6-0) use a pair of rushers with seniors Taha Ramahi and Justo Rivera.

In McDowell’s last game on Oct. 30, Rivera led the Trojans with 81 rushing yards while Ramahi scored a pair of touchdowns.

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Along with a pair of senior running backs, McDowell features an athletic quarterback in Chris Juchno. The senior is a two-sport star and has an offer to play football and baseball at NCAA Division II Mercyhurst University in Erie.

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Juchno completed 20 of 26 passes for 182 yards in his last game and connected with six different receivers. Juchno has a trio of receivers he likes to throw to, but senior Rashawn Tate could be the team’s playmaker.

The wide receiver/cornerback returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in the Trojans’ last game and will likely cover Tomb, Central's star wide receiver.

The Trojans haven't played a game in November because their past two playoff opponents forfeited because of COVID-19 cases.

McDowell would have played Erie in the District 10 6-A final. McDowell beat Erie earlier in the year, 36-12. Last week, District 7 6-A champion (Pittsburgh) Central Catholic was forced to forfeit, allowing McDowell to reach the semifinal against Central York without winning a postseason game.

In the four games the Trojans won on the field, they outscored their opponents, 129-35. None of McDowell’s opponents were able to score 14 points in a game, something Central York has done by halftime every week.

Central York tickets on sale online: Tickets for Saturday's game are on sale online.

Those interested should visit www.piaa.org. At the top of the page, click on Purchase Championship Tickets and then select the game. Fans can purchase two tickets at a time, multiple times, if needed. The needed code is CY2NR7.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.