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District 3 preview: York Catholic goes for title

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The past three years, York Catholic's season has ended in disappointment in the District 3 title game.

Now the Irish are hoping to flip the script.

On Saturday, York Catholic will play in its fourth straight district championship game against Newport at 6 p.m. at Boiling Springs High School. But instead of competing in Class 1A like the past three seasons, the Irish are now a 2A school.

Will that change things? The Irish won't be playing Camp Hill as they did the past two seasons. But Newport has been a 2A power the past couple years and enters Saturday's title game with a 9-1 record, just like York Catholic. The Irish finished ahead of the Buffaloes in the District 3 power rankings thanks to their opponents' superior winning percentage.

If Newport wants to become the second team to solve York Catholic this season, they'll have slow down the dynamic 1-2 punch of quarterback Dan Yokemick and running back Jakkar Kinard. The duo has helped the Irish win their nine games by an average of 22 points.

York Catholic is looking for its second District 3 title and first since 1982. Newport is looking for its first.


READ MORE: Eight York-Adams football teams make it to districts

READ MORE: Top moments from 2016 YAIAA football season

Friday's games

Central Dauphin East at Red Lion
Class 6A quarterfinals

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: Can the Lions keep the undefeated season going? They're the higher seed at No. 3, but the sixth-seeded Panthers are coming off an impressive win over Bishop McDevitt.
Panthers (6-4) must: Play strong on the defensive front. The Lions have rarely been challenged in the trenches this season. If the Panthers can slow down the Red Lion running game, they'll be off to a good start. 
Lions (10-0) must: Be prepared for a close game. Only Central York has challenged the Lions this season, but the Panthers are a tough team with playoff experience. Red Lion can't panic if the game remains tight late in the fourth quarter.

Watch: Offensive line powers Red Lion
Red Lion offensive line has anchored the Lions' first undefeated regular season since 1974.
Jim Seip,

Central York at Wilson
Class 6A quarterfinals

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: The Panthers will try to keep their surprise season going against a second-seeded Wilson team that has won five of its last six games by 20 points. 
Panthers (7-3) must: Be sharp on defense. Wilson has scored 40 or more points five times this season and topped 50 twice. 
Bulldogs (9-1) must: Be ready for Central York's fast-paced attack. The seventh-seeded Panthers have excelled in coach Josh Oswalt's system, with quarterback Cade Pribula and running back Noreaga Goff both putting up big numbers. Wilson will have to contain the Panthers, or just outscore them.

Watch: YAIAA Football Top Performers, Nov. 4
A pair of Fighting Irish and a pair of Panthers highlight week 10's YAIAA Football top performers.
Andrew Mease

Cocalico at Northeastern
Class 5A quarterfinals 

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: Winners of five in a row, the Bobcats can make it two straight years with a playoff win by beating Cocalico. The sixth-seeded Eagles have won their last two games by a combined score of 76-0. 
Eagles (7-3) must: Slow down the Northeastern rushing attack. The third-seeded Bobcats have a number of strong runners, primarily Anu Johnson and Chris Whack. 
Bobcats (8-2) must: Continue playing strong on defense. Northeastern has posted three straight shutouts and has given up 20 or more points only twice this season.

Lampeter-Strasburg at York Suburban
Class 4A quarterfinals

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: York Suburban is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak and now plays a team entering the playoffs on a two-game losing streak. 
Pioneers​ (6-4) must: Shape up their defense. The No. 5 Pioneers have given up at least 30 points the last five games, and fourth-seeded York Suburban is averaging over 35 points per game during its winning streak. 
Trojans (8-2) must: Keep their offense balanced. Quarterback Ben Igo has been playing at a high level lately, but the Trojans should still get the ball in the hands of running back Jadon Haynes.

Northern York at Shippensburg
Class 4A quarterfinals

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: The only team to beat Shippensburg this season? That would be Northern York, 17-16, on Oct. 21. Can the seventh-seeded Polar Bears beat the No. 2 team in District 3 Class 4A twice this season? 
Polar Bears​ (7-3) must: Win the turnover battle. Northern didn't turn the ball over the last time the two teams played while coming up with two key takeaways. 
Greyhounds (9-1) must: Put points on the board. Shippensburg outgained Northern 394-147 in the first matchup but still lost by a point.

Bermudian Springs vs. Wyomissing at Albright College
Class 3A semifinals 

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: The last time Bermudian Springs reached the district title game, Wyomissing beat the Eagles, 44-0, in 2012. Bermudian will try to get back this year by beating the second-seeded Spartans. 
Eagles​ (8-2) must: Get a push on the offensive line. If the third-seeded Eagles want to run the ball the way they typically do, they'll need to win the battle in the trenches. 
Spartans (7-3) must: Watch out for Quinton Nace. While the Eagles like to run the ball, their senior receiver has been a playmaker the last few games.

Littlestown at Middletown
Class 3A semifinals 

Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: Littlestown has been arguably the YAIAA's biggest surprise this season, but the fourth-seeded Bolts now face one of the two undefeated teams in District 3. 
Thunderbolts​ (8-2) must: Slow down Middletown's offense. The Bolts have made major strides on defense this season, but the top-seeded Blue Raiders have scored at least 42 points in four consecutive games. 
Blue Raiders (10-0) must: Force turnovers. Littlestown has a number of playmakers on offense but has had issues with ball security this season.