One York-Adams team earns preseason state football ranking, plus other Pennsylvania notes

STEVE HEISER
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Gerry Yonchiuk's Central York Panthers are ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 6-A by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has released its state preseason football rankings.
  • Central York is ranked No. 4 in Class 6-A.
  • The Panthers are the only York-Adams team to earn a preseason state ranking.

One York-Adams League football team has earned a preseason state ranking from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Not surprisingly, it’s the same team that ended last season in a state championship contest.

The Central York Panthers are ranked No. 4 in Class 6-A after finishing 10-1 in 2020 and winning York-Adams League Division I and District 3 6-A crowns. The Panthers’ only loss came in the PIAA 6-A title game, 62-13, to St. Joseph’s Prep of Philadelphia, which begins this season ranked No. 1 in 6-A.

Prep has won six PIAA titles since 2013 but did lose many top players from last year's team. Star quarterback Kyle McCord and receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. are both at Ohio State, while linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. is at Clemson.

Central York, meanwhile, returns standout quarterback Beau Pribula, who has committed to Penn State. Like Prep, head coach Gerry Yonchiuk's Panthers suffered some serious graduation losses.

With York-Adams football looming, here's a one-stop site with information on all 23 teams

The other top-ranked teams, according to Mike White and the Post-Gazette, are Gov. Mifflin in 5-A, (Harrisburg) Bishop McDevitt in 4-A, Central Valley in 3-A, Southern Columbia in 2-A and Steel-High in 1-A. Mifflin, McDevitt and Steel-High are all from District 3. Central Valley, Southern Columbia and Steel-High are defending state champions.

The Post-Gazette ranked the top-five teams in each PIAA classification.

Class 5-A: In 5-A, Mifflin opens its 2021 season at 7 p.m. Friday at York High in one of the most anticipated openers in the state.

The Bearcats are coming off a 7-1 season, with the only loss coming to Central York in the District 3 6-A championship. Mifflin won the District 3 5-A crown in 2020 and advanced to the state 5-A semifinals, finishing 8-1.

Both Mifflin and York High feature standout running backs. Mifflin’s Nicholas Singleton has committed to Penn State. York High’s Jahiem White has Football Bowl Subdivision offers from Bowling Green and Old Dominion. Both backs rushed for more than 1,300 yards during 2020’s shortened season.

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Pine-Richland, the defending 5-A champ, is not ranked in the top five. The school fired head coach Eric Kasperowicz in the offseason in a controversial move, after allegations of bullying and hazing in the program.

Class 4-A: In 4-A, McDevitt finished 6-0 last season, but did not make the District 3 playoffs because of the District 3 playoff system. But there should be no quirk to keep the Crusaders from going far this season, with 10 starters return on both sides of the ball.

One of those starters is Marquese Williams, who is ranked the No. 9 junior running back in the country by Rivals. He was bothered by an injury most of last year but ran for more than 1,100 yards two years ago as a freshman. McDevitt also has two receivers (Kamil Foster and Mario Easterly) who have Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers. A key, though, will be quarterback, where freshman Stone Saunders will be the starter. But Saunders already has a Michigan offer.

Two-time defending 4-A champ Thomas Jefferson is ranked No. 2 in 4-A.

Class 3-A: In 3-A, Central Valley forced the mercy rule on 11 of 12 teams last year on its way to a PIAA title.

Central Valley likely won't be as strong this season, but the Warriors still have plenty of talent and start the season No. 1.

Wyomissing, from District 3, is ranked No. 4 in 3-A. Wyomissing lost six all-state players from a team that lost to Central Valley in the PIAA title game.

Class 2-A: In 2-A, Southern Columbia is ranked No. 1.

What else is new?

The Tigers have won four consecutive PIAA 2-A titles, five in six years and 11 overall under Jim Roth, the winningest coach in Pennsylvania history.

They have a 60-game winning streak and need only seven wins to break Clairton's state record streak of 66.

Gavin Garcia returns for his senior season after rushing for 1,921 yards in 12 games and being named Pennsylvania's 2-A Player of the Year. Sophomore Garrett Garcia (Gavin's brother) also returns, but he is not a running back. He was the team's leading tackler last year. Derek Berlitz was all-state at defensive end.

Class 1-A: In 1-A, receiver-defensive back Mekhi Flowers helped Steel-High to the PIAA title last year and was selected the state's 1-A Player of the Year.

Flowers, who has committed to Penn State, is a senior, but he no longer plays for Steel-High. He transferred to Central Dauphin East.

But Steel-High is primed for another run at a state title. A number of other starters return, including quarterback Alex Erby, who completed 158 of 259 for 2,489 yards last year as a freshman. Linebacker Jaeion Perry is another outstanding sophomore who made all-state last year as a freshman.

Old Forge lost to Steel-High, 39-36, on the final play of the game in last year's PIAA quarterfinals, and Old Forge starts the season at No. 2.

Here are the Post-Gazette preseason state rankings:

CLASS 6-A

1. St. Joseph's 6-0

2. Central Catholic 6-2

3. LaSalle College 6-1

4. Central York 10-1

5. Archbishop Wood 3-4

CLASS 5-A

1. Governor Mifflin 8-1

2. Imhotep Charter 4-0

3. Gateway 10-1

4. Cathedral Prep 7-3

5. Upper Dublin 6-2

CLASS 4-A

1. Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg) 6-0

2. Thomas Jefferson 10-1

3. Belle Vernon 6-2

4. Jersey Shore 10-1

5. Aliquippa 9-1

CLASS 3-A

1. Central Valley 12-0

2. North Schuylkill 8-0

3. Neumann-Goretti 3-1

4. Wyomissing 10-1

5. Scranton Prep 4-1

CLASS 2-A

1. Southern Columbia 12-0

2. Farrell 5-3

3. South Williamsport 5-2

4. Richland 8-2

5. Sto-Rox 8-2

CLASS 1-A

1. Steelton-Highspire 10-0

2. Old Forge 5-1

3. Bishop Guilfoyle 7-3

4. Clairton 8-1

5. Muncy 7-2

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. Information for this story was provided through Mike White of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Tribune News Service. Reach Mike White at mwhite@post-gazette.com.