51-21 -- Final score from the 2016 District final, won by York Catholic. Despite the difficult pill to swallow for the Buffs, last year’s margin of victory should add fuel to the tank heading into Saturday’s rematch. The Irish, of course, can utilize that experience in a different way.
48 -- Total kicking points produced by York Catholic’s Tyler McGraw. Should the outcome hinge on a critical kick, McGraw might have the leg to get the job done. The senior is a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals. This year’s tilt figures to be a lot closer on the Bud Ecker scoreboard.
5 and 528 - Passes intercepted and rushing yards collected by York Catholic in the 2016 District 3 final. Yes, the Fighting Irish dug in hard against record-setting QB Noah Heinbaugh last season, plucking five passes from the night air and returning possession to its vaunted run game. Now, guys named Dan Yokemick and Jakkar Kinard have graduated, but the Irish won’t stray too far from its intended path in ’17. York Catholic can still advance the chains behind top runners Kyle Dormer and Andrew Snellbaker. And, for good measure, the Irish have picked off 20 passes as a team. That’s a big number.
0 -- Number of District 3 titles by Newport. That’s not meant to dismiss Todd Rotthermel’s crew. Quite the opposite, really. As the Buffaloes keep knocking, sooner or later the team that recently won three straight Tri-Valley League titles is going to break through. Newport, 2-6 all-time in district play, just found a spot in its first championship round a season ago, so the Buffs know what to expect.
6-1 and 255 -- Average height and weight for Newport linemen Derek Peachey and Walker Klinger. You guessed it, offensive leaders like QB Nick Grabiec and RB Ethan Rode can’t chew up yards and produce meaningful points without the boys up front. But Peachey (6-0, 270) and Klinger (6-2, 240), a pair of team captains, will be counted on to stuff the run and create some general chaos in York Catholic’s backfield. Newport can’t allow the Irish to dictate the early rules like they did a year ago. Grabiec has the mates -- WR Tevin Gonzalez and Beno Nunez are fierce competitors -- to produce points. Preventing them, however, is just as valuable.
PREDICTION: York Catholic 34, Newport 28