Coach: Brad Livingston (208-146-4 in 33 seasons) // YAIAA Division I // District 3 // Class AAAA
Matt Goul / GameTimePA.com
Central York has six district playoffs appearances in the last eight years, but one of those misses came in 2014. To get back to the postseason, the Panthers will rely on experience at quarterback and the heart of its defense.
Nik Strine missed the first three games last season while recouping from his second torn ACL. He still topped 1,000 yards passing.
"Originally, I wasn't supposed to play for the season," said Strine, who flew to Florida for surgery from Dr. James Andrews in March 2014, "but he eventually moved up the time."
Strine is one of a few seniors who began earning playing time as sophomores on coach Brad Livingston's 2013 YAIAA Division I championship squad. Defensively, Elzir Stroman moves from the edge to an inside linebacker spot.
Quarterback >> The biggest difference for Central this season is a healthy Strine (6-foot-1, 180 pounds), but the Panthers don't have as much depth. Junior Shannon Valenti, who started the first three games last year as a sophomore, transferred to Northeastern.
Running backs >> With the graduation of leading rusher Terrance Carter (835 yards, 11 touchdowns) and fullback Pearson Hinkle (nine TDs), the Panthers will lean on brothers Shyheim and Noreaga Goff. Shyheim, a senior, also tore his ACL twice and missed last season. Noreaga, a junior, averaged 4.2 yards in limited action.
Receivers >> The top four receivers from last season are gone, and the leader was Carter (24 catches) out of the backfield. Senior Brandon Falkenstein (6-1, 170), Corbin Chevaux (6-1, 171) and tight ends Shawn Johnston and junior Ben Ward are among potential targets. Strine has had a rapport with his fellow seniors since middle school.
Offensive line >> A three-year starter, Zane Santos (6-0, 245) is back at guard. Left tackle Josh Ferguson (6-2, 195, sr.) is another returning starter, while Lonnie Blount (6-2, 235, sr.) was in the rotation. Right tackle and center will see new starters.
Defensive line >> Seniors Nnaemeka Afunugo (6-2, 210) and Brennden Jenkins (6-3, 265) possess the most experience in this unit. Santos also will be in the rotation.
Linebackers >> Stroman's move to an inside spot is a natural progression.
"He's one of the stronger kids that we have," Livingston said. "He's thick, muscular and very athletic. He's got the kind of build that you want inside."
Livingston added that possible tinkering with the Panthers' defensive fronts factored into moving Stroman from the edge, where last year he had a team-high five interceptions and 75 tackles, which was second to Isaiah Dickson.
As for Dickson, a standout wrestler who is a senior this fall, his availability is uncertain. Junior David Miller (6-1, 173) and Dover transfer Gordon Kelley (6-1, 178) are expected to compete for spots.
Secondary >> Jeremiah Dadeboe was instrumental last season as a linebacker and defensive back, but he is now at the University at Buffalo with older brother Andrews Dadeboe. Junior Sakai Barton, who played more at the end of last season and had an interception, will be a contributor with returning starter Rodney Johnson at corner. Barton might move to safety.
Carter Luckenbaugh, a soccer player, handled kicks and will now punt, too, taking over for the graduated Dadeboe. On kick returns, Noreaga Goff and Johnson have experience.
Save the date >> Oct. 2 (at South Western) and 23 (at Red Lion) could bring an added degree of difficulty. Last season, the Panthers played the teams at home, splitting the games by 20-13 scores. They beat South Western in overtime by that margin, then lost to Red Lion. This year, both matchups will be road games, and both teams return more experienced groups.
Bottom line >> Livingston does not deny his disappointment in last season's 5-5 record. Those two games mentioned above could ultimately dictate whether Central improves.
Date/Result // Opponent // Time/Score
W // @ West York // 31-28
L // @ Cumberland Valley // 6-48
L // Hempfield // 14-42
L // Northeastern // 42-0
L // @ South Western // 14-35
*W // New Oxford // 38-19
L // Spring Grove // 14-24
L // @ Red Lion // 7-42
L // Dallastown // 14-33
W // @ William Penn // 42-0
Result // Opponent // Score
L // West York // 20-41
L // Cumberland Valley // 17-28
L // Hempfield // 7-22
W // Northeastern // 44-17
W // South Western // 20-13 (OT)
W // New Oxford // 41-22
W // Spring Grove // 38-21
L // Red Lion // 13-20
L // Dallastown // 21-47
W // William Penn // 42-21