York Catholic football future is still bright
HERSHEY — The second straight District 3 Class A title game between Camp Hill and York Catholic might have gotten ugly early, but one positive shined through for both sides: These squads will be among the best again in 2016.
The two teams graduate just 16 seniors combined (11 for York Catholic, five for Camp Hill). And while it might be too early to look ahead to the 2016 season, it was hard not to notice how many playmakers on both sides were sophomores and juniors.
For York Catholic, a trio of juniors led the way. Dan Yokemick, who threw for more than 1,000 yards in his first season at quarterback, hauled in two interceptions on defense Friday. Jake Hamilton added an interception and a sack. And Jakkar Kinard, who led the YAIAA in rushing yards during the regular season (1,121), ran for 115 yards and a touchdown. All three key players will return next season.
“I definitely think we’ll be back,” Kinard said of a potential return to Hershey. “Time will tell, but we want it. We definitely want it.”
On Camp Hill’s side, junior running back Bill Williams, who followed his six-touchdown performance from the 2014 title game with five scores on Friday, will be back as a senior next year. And the Lions’ highly touted, 6-foot-7 sophomore tight end Zack Kuntz, who made five catches Friday, will be a junior when the 2016 season kicks off.
The Lions will lose their starting quarterback Michael Shuster, and the Irish lose receiving duo Luke Brennan and Joe Bauhof, but both teams' rosters will still be stacked with returning talent. The Irish bring back the majority of their offensive and defensive lines, York Catholic head coach Eric Depew said, and two linebackers on defense. Kinard and Yokemick make up the Irish secondary, so the defense — which forced 18 turnovers in the regular season — could be much improved with another year under its belt. So there's plenty of reason for optimism on the Irish sideline.
“It’s always in the back of your mind,” York Catholic head coach Eric Depew said of looking forward. “We come into this one trying to get this one done, but we know we have a lot of guys returning, so that’s a big upside for us.”
Considering the two teams behind them — Millersburg and Steelton-Highspire — will both have considerable pieces to replace, the idea of a third-straight Camp Hill-York Catholic title game seems like a legitimate possibility. Both will compete in Class AA next season after thee PIAA expands its football playoffs to six classes.
“There’s no reason we won’t be back in this game next year,” Depew said. “We’ll definitely be a lot better.”
Video: Pregame tailgating
The Fighting Irish faithful set up a tailgate before Friday's District 3 Class A football championship game. Lyzz Jones
Video: First-half highlights
Camp Hill held a 33-7 lead at halftime of Friday's District 3 Class A game. Lyzz Jones