Coach: Eric Depew (24-21 in four seasons) // YAIAA Division III // District 3 // Class A
Colin Snyder / For GameTimePA.com
The past two seasons, the York Catholic football team has ended its season by playing in the District 3 Class A championship at Hersheypark Stadium.
An outstanding accomplishment to be sure, but the Fighting Irish would like to finally get past Hershey and into the PIAA state playoffs with a district championship trophy in hand.
"Our goals are the same," said York Catholic head coach Eric Depew. "We want to win the division. We want to make the playoffs. We want to win the first round and get to the championship. We want to win the championship."
The task at hand is made tougher this fall as quarterback/defensive back Hakeem Kinard departed for NCAA Division I St. Francis University. Kinard amassed 1,300-plus rushing yards and 1,500-plus passing yards last season. Wide receiver/linebacker Qua'shawn Grooms is now at Lock Haven University. Grooms was No. 4 in the league in receiving yards a season ago.
Depew still has seven starters back on both sides of the ball, including seniors Luke Brennan, Joe Bauhof, Ryan Ratchford, Sean Lamont and Joe Heldrich.
"To be honest, I expect us to be back (in the district championship game)," Depew said. "That is what is being built here. It's going to take (the players). It's going to take leadership. They have to stick together. But I expect us to be back. This senior group is a bunch of guys who have experienced it twice. I know they want to go out on a higher note. I'm excited about this group."
Quarterback >> YAIAA Division III Player of the Year Hakeem Kinard passed or ran for 28 TDs last year. Stepping into the void is junior Dan Yokemick, who played receiver and outside linebacker last season.
"He has played receiver for us since he was a freshman," Depew said. "He was at outside linebacker in the district championship game the last two years. He's a football guy. We are excited about him. He is a physical guy. Nice size. He's coming in with a nice line in front of him, much like Hakeem did his junior year, so the transition should be very good for him."
Running backs >> Jakkar Kinard returns for his junior season. His playing time was limited by seniors Jack Burnside and Greg Bennett last year, but he still managed more than 300 yards on the ground. Lamont saw playing time at fullback last year.
"(Jakkar Kinard) got some carries last year," Depew said. "He's bigger and maybe a little faster than (his brother) Hakeem. We are very excited about him."
Receivers >> Brennan returns this season, and Depew has hinted at splitting him out away from tight end. Bauhof made some big plays at wide receiver last season, including a 60-yard touchdown catch in last season's district semifinal win vs. Steel-High.
Offensive line >> Heldrich, Ratchford, junior Adam Bittner and sophomore Matt Knauer are the anchors of a line that helped the Irish average 184.6 rushing yards a game last season.
"I'm very excited about our offensive line," Depew said. "I think that will be our strength. It's going to be a good group for us."
Defensive line >> Another area Depew thinks will be a strength. All but one of the players he rotated in last season are back. Lamont was a linebacker last season, but Depew likes his agility and quickness up front, so he might see time here.
Linebackers >> Grooms is gone and Yokemick will not play here if he is the starting quarterback, so this is an area the team is looking to fill. Junior Ulysses Smith spent time here last season.
Secondary >> Jakkar Kinard saw time a year ago and offers the most experience. .
Jakkar Kinard supplied the lone kickoff return for a touchdown last year. The speedster will provide a threat in that role, while Brennan handles the kicks. Brennan converted 3-of-4 field goals last year.
Save the date >> Sept. 25 vs. Delone Catholic. Two of the four District 3 Class A playoff qualifiers from a season ago meet up in York Catholic's homecoming game. The Irish won, 29-27, last year at Delone Catholic on a 22-yard field goal by Brennan as time expired.
Bottom line >> If York Catholic can win the line of scrimmage battle on both sides of the ball, it will be another successful season. There seems like enough talent in the skill positions to help absorb the loss of Hakeem Kinard and Grooms. How quickly the newcomers to linebacker and the secondary get up to speed is key on defense, but it helps that the Irish do not have many pass-heavy teams on the schedule.
Date/Result // Opponent // Time/Score
L // Northeastern // 7-40
L // Susquehannock // 14-24
L // @ Berks Catholic // 7-40.
*W // Delone Catholic // 29-24
L // @ Hanover // 13-20
W // @ Littlestown // 35-14
W // Biglerville // 27-20
L // @ Bermudian Springs // 17-20
W // Fairfield // 59-14
W // @ York County Tech //56-8
District 3 Class A
- Semifinals // W // Steelton-Highspire // 21-14
- Championship // L // Camp Hill // 40-28
Result // Opponent // Score
L // Northeastern // 17-20
W // Susquehannock // 36-0
L // Berks Catholic // 17-51
W // Delone Catholic // 29-27
W // Hanover // 35-19
W // Littlestown // 56-18
W // Biglerville // 41-10
L // Bermudian Springs // 21-42
W // Fairfield // 42-19
W // York County Tech // 26-0
District 3 Class A
- Semifinals // W // Steelton-Highspire // 23-8
- Championship // L // Camp Hill // 49-63