Despite heavy graduation losses, Central York football team reloads rather than rebuilds
- Central York is 11-0 this season and ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 6-A.
- The Panthers achieved that success despite suffering some heavy graduation losses.
- The Panthers returned just three offensive starters from the 2020 team that reached the state final.
Central York is the top seed in the District 3 Class 6-A playoffs and ranked No. 1 in the state.
Much of that success is because of the talents of one player — quarterback Beau Pribula.
The Penn State recruit was voted the state 6-A Player of the Year in 2020 after he led the Panthers to the PIAA championship game as a junior — a season where he accounted for 48 total touchdowns and had 2,700 total yards.
Despite the loss of a slew of starters to graduation, including six players who earned spots on NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision programs, the unbeaten Panthers (11-0) have maintained the same level of success in 2021, despite bringing back only three starters on offense: Pribula, wide receiver Parker Hines and lineman Danny Pham.
Pribula is on pace to better his statistics from a year ago, largely because of the performance of the players filling in for the guys who left. While the praise usually goes to the quarterback, Pribula and Central York head coach Gerry Yonchiuk have been impressed by how the skill-position players have stepped in and stepped up this year, helping the team succeed again.
“These guys, I couldn’t be any more proud of them,” Pribula said earlier this season. “The way they respond and how young they are, it’s amazing and I’m so glad they have my back. I know they’re going to put 100% on the line every time and that’s why I love these guys so much.”
New wideouts step up: At the wide receiver and defensive back positions, TreyShawn Smith and I'meire Manigault have stepped in for Judah Tomb (now at Saint Francis) and Taylor Wright-Rawls (now at Bryant). Manigault is a York-Adams League Division I first-team all-star wide receiver and returner in 2021, replacing the big-play ability of Tomb on offense and special teams last season.
Smith, meanwhile, is a first team all-star cornerback and second-team wide receiver.
Manigault (727 yards), Smith (661 yards) and Hines (558 yards) have combined for nearly 2,000 receiving yards.
In addition, along with safety James Jackson, the Panthers impressed Yonchiuk when they held Manheim Township wide receiver and Penn State recruit Anthony Ivey without a catch last week in a District 3 6-A quarterfinal.
Standout linebacker hurt: Linebacker Carter Glassmyer, meanwhile, claimed Y-A D-I Defensive Player of the Year after a dominant regular season, but will miss the playoffs due to an injury.
Defensive end/tight end Trenton Dunnick has moved to linebacker to fill in for Glassmyer, who replaced Jack Smith (now at Sacred Heart). Dunnick was a first-team all-star defensive end and honorable-mention tight end in spots left by Kyle Fontes (now at Bucknell).
The running back spot has been a near even split between Y-A D-I all-stars Juelz Goff and Ajani Walker. The pair are separated by only two carries and 12 rushing yards and have combined for 992 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. They've combined to replace Isaiah Sturgis, now at Saint Francis.
Maintaining the standard: The 2020 senior class was one that those around the program had long predicted would have a special season, but Yonchiuk believes the 2021 group has put in even more effort to maintain the standard set last year.
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“I think these guys were even harder working because they know maybe their skill set was not (as high) across the board, maybe as experienced or as talented as last year, but because of that they just worked so darn hard at it,” Yonchiuk said. “They don't want the season to end.”
While Pribula receives much of the praise for the Panthers’ success, Yonchiuk said for the team to replicate its postseason run from last season it will need to be a total team effort.
They have already replicated the all-star honors their predecessors posted in 2020, but their growth since last season has really impressed Yonchiuk and set the standard for future Panthers teams.
“I'm really proud of our guys,” Yonchiuk said. “It's like a parent, you see your child grow up and some of the things that make you so proud of whatever they do. You see their growth, you see the improvement, you see the confidence, and it's something that I'm very proud of because I know that they're getting it done.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.