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Harrisburg Runs Wild In Win Over Central York

Written by: on Saturday, November 18th, 2023. Follow Sean McBryan on Twitter.


Harrisburg’s football tradition is a powerhouse that spans generations.

Sophomore lineman Kevin Brown, whose father played for the Cougars and West Virginia, and junior quarterback Shawn Lee Jr., whose father played for the Cougars and Penn State, continued that tradition Saturday afternoon in a 28-21 victory over Central York in District 3 Class 6A semifinal at Severance Field.

“I didn’t play football until I was 14 and was fooling around with other sports like cycling and tennis,” Brown said. “I loved football my whole life, but my dad didn’t want me to play peewee because the poor technique can get ingrained in your head and you aren’t fully developed. I always watched my dad’s highlight tapes though.”

Brown, at 6-5, 250 pounds, will be following in his father’s Division 1 footsteps with offers already from Boston College, Kent State, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, Temple, UNLV, and West Virginia.

Lee Jr. scored on an 80-yard run on the first play of the game then two more in the third quarter as Brown dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball and the No. 2 Cougars (11-1) moved on to face No. 1 Manheim Township in the district final for the second season in a row.

“On the first play?” Brown said of Lee Jr.’s opening touchdown run. “I was like, ‘Yeah!’ I’m going to take a seat on the bench and get ready for defense.”

Brown plays both offensive tackle and defensive end, while Lee Jr. plays quarterback, cornerback, and punter.

“It’s a mentality thing,” Brown said of playing both sides of the ball. “Our weight-room coach is all about mentality. He shows us these videos and stuff about turning it up, flipping a switch, and having a never-ending battery. We have so many players that play both ways.”

The Cougars defeated Manheim Township 44-6 in the championship last year and are looking for their third consecutive district championship, but fell 38-6 to the Blue Streaks in Week 3 this season.

“We’ll have extreme focus when we get to practice [in preparation for Manheim Township],” Brown said. “I’m hoping we all hold each other accountable. No slip-ups. Mistakes can happen [like in Week 3] but we just have to get up and try again.”

It’s the second season in a row the Cougars have knocked the Panthers (11-1) out of the district playoffs after beating them 44-7 in the semifinals last year.

Lee Jr., who has offers from NC State, Kent State, and Iowa State, dashed 80 yards for the first score of the game just 13 seconds in.

The Panthers returned the ensuing kickoff down to Harrisburg’s 13 before settling for a 24-yard field goal.

Malachi Ramnath then scored on a 33-yard TD reception from Brooklyn Nace and Pitt commit Juelz Goff ran in the 2-point conversion to give Central York an 11-7 lead with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Cougars responded by getting their running game busy behind their big offensive line.

“We have one of the best lines in the state,” Brown said. “We all work together as brothers, call out the Mikes, and get the job done.”

Nehemiah Ewell scored on a 2-yard plunge and Lee Jr. ran in the two-point conversion to make it 15-11 with 4:59 left in the second quarter, a score that held at the break.

Lee Jr. scored on runs of 5 and 47 yards in the third quarter as Harrisburg built a 28-11 lead.

“We turned up in the second half,” Brown said. “Some of the blitzes they were showing in the first half were confusing us and we addressed it at halftime.”

Central York gave itself a chance in the fourth after Goff scored on a 10-yard run with 2:55 left, the Panthers recovered an onside kick, and Matthew Parker knocked in a 30-yard field goal with 1:04 left, but Harrisburg recovered the next onside kick and ran out the clock.

Harrisburg has five district championships tied for ninth all-time with Middletown behind Manheim Central (18), Bishop McDevitt and Steel-High (16), Cumberland Valley (13), Wyomissing (12), Camp Hill (11), Delone Catholic (8), Wilson (7), and Lancaster Catholic (6).

Final 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Central York 11 0 0 10 21
Harrisburg 7 8 13 0 28

Scoring Summary:

First quarter:
H: Shawn Lee Jr. 80-yard run (Gideon Fasayna kick) 11:47
CY: Matthew Parker 24-yard field goal 9:26
CY: Joel Polanco 33-yard pass from Brooklyn Nace (Juelz Goff run) :56

Second quarter:
H: Nehemiah Ewell 4-yard run (Shawn Lee Jr. run)

Third quarter:
H: Shawn Lee Jr. 9-yard run (Gideon Fasayna kick) 7:31
H: Shawn Lee Jr. 47-yard run (kick failed) 3:27

Fourth quarter:
CY: Goff 10-yard run (Matthew Parker kick)  2:55
CY: Matthew Parker 25-yard field goal 1:04

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