It was a banner season for Warwick’s football team.
The Warriors sailed to an 8-0 start, captured the outright Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 2 championship and secured a victory in the District 3 Class 5A semifinals before Warwick — unfortunately — had to forfeit the D3 title game because of a coronavirus outbreak in the school district.
Still, the Warriors were a powerhouse, featuring a five-pack of uber talented seniors who have been honored with Pennsylvania Football Writers Class 5A All-State nods:
Gunslinger quarterback Joey McCracken, touchdown-machine running back Colton Miller, twin brother/pass-catching tight end Thatcher Miller, All-American offensive lineman Nolan Rucci and lower-the-boom safety Caleb Schmitz were all honored, along with five other L-L League standouts:
A trio of Elizabethtown players made the PFW Class 5A list: Ball-hawker senior linebacker Bobby Walters, senior QB-chaser defensive end Jett Kelly and senior long-snapper Billy McNitt. They were joined by Manheim Central junior pass-catching sensation Owen Sensenig and sure-handed Lebanon senior wide receiver Alex Rufe.
The PFW All-State big-school lists were released Wednesday; on Tuesday, Lancaster Catholic senior D-end Devin Atkinson earned Class 3A All-State honors, as football reporters from across the state nominated and then voted for the All-State teams.
McCracken, Rucci and Schmitz are repeat big-school selections.
McCracken returned from an offseason knee injury this past fall to throw for 1,312 yards with 11 TD tosses. He earned L-L League Section 2 Offensive Back of the Year honors, and he was a first-team all-star pick at QB. McCracken, who holds offers from Shippensburg and IUP in the PSAC, finished his prep career with 5,791 passing yards — No. 13 on the big board in L-L League history.
McCracken was also tabbed by the Lions Club as Section 2 Player of the Year.
Rucci, a Wisconsin recruit and one of the top blue-chippers in L-L League history, anchored the Warriors’ O-line, and helped pave the way for Warwick to average 382 yards and 37 points a game. Rucci is a finalist for the coveted Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year award.
Rucci also pocketed L-L League Section 2 Offensive Lineman of the Year and Outstanding Lineman of the Year honors, and he was a first-team all-star choice at O-tackle and D-end.
Schmitz, a Cincinnati commit, had a game-changer season for Warwick; he had 32 tackles and a fumble recovery from his safety spot, as opposing quarterbacks simply didn’t throw his way if he was over the top on a receiver. Schmitz also led the league with 43 receptions for 777 yards with six TD grabs, and he earned L-L League Section 2 Wide Receiver of the Year, Defensive Back of the Year and Outstanding Back of the Year honors, plus first-team all-star nods at wideout, defensive back and kick returner.
Colton Miller had a dynamite season running the ball for Warwick; the hard-nosed RB rushed for 854 yards on 116 hard-fought carries with a league-leading 23 TD runs. He was a Section 2 first-team all-star pick at RB. Meanwhile, Thatcher Miller dominated from his TE spot, with 25 catches for 414 yards with four TD snags for the Warriors. He was a first-team all-star pick at TE, and recently received a college offer from West Chester.
The E-town trio all put up big numbers for the Bears this past season:
Kelly registered 72 tackles, with 11 hits for losses, six sacks and four forced fumbles. He was an L-L League Section 2 first-team all-star pick at D-end. Walters was an absolute hit-machine for E-town with 117 tackles, plus seven sticks for losses and four fumble recoveries. He was a second-team all-star pick at outside ‘backer. And McNitt, who anchored the Bears’ O-line with a second-team all-star nod at O-tackle, earned first-team all-star honors at long snapper for E-town.
The two wideouts on the PFW Class 5A list both had big seasons this past fall:
Sensenig had a breakout season for Manheim Central with 31 receptions for 676 yards with a league-leading 11 TD grabs. He was an L-L League Section 2 first-team all-star selection at WR. Rufe was tabbed Section 3 Wide Receiver of the Year and he was a first-team all-star pick after he hauled in 24 catches for 569 yards with six TD receptions. Rufe put up those impressive pass-catching numbers in just four games; he shifted over and played QB in the Cedars’ final two games.
Here’s the complete PFW All-State Class 5A team …
Joey McCracken, Warwick -- 6-4, 195 senior
Micah Brubaker, Mechanicsburg -- 6-1, 185 senior
Ethan Dahlem, Upper St. Clair -- 5-10, 175 senior
Quinn Wentling, Whitehall -- 5-11, 195 junior
Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland -- 5-10, 175 senior
Colton Miller, Warwick -- 6-4, 215 senior
Derrick Davis, Gateway -- 6-1, 185 senior
Nick Singleton, Governor Mifflin -- 6-0, 205 junior
Owen Sensenig, Manheim Central -- 5-10, 185 junior
Alex Rufe, Lebanon -- 5-11, 185 senior
Charley Rossi, South Fayette -- 5-8, 175 senior
Christian Sapp, East Stroudsburg South -- 6-0, 190 senior
Eli Jochem, Pine-Richland -- 6-0, 180 senior
Thatcher Miller, Warwick -- 6-4, 225 senior
Harrison Hayes, Pine-Richland -- 6-5, 285 senior
Nolan Rucci, Warwick -- 6-8, 300 senior
Jaheim Bassham, Erie Cathedral Prep -- 6-3, 277 senior
Ryan Lain, Marple Newtown -- 6-3, 260 senior
Dominic Sheidy, Governor Mifflin -- 6-2, 290 senior
Ethan Carr, Penn-Trafford -- 6-3, 205 senior
Randy Fizer, Red Lion -- 6-0, 170 senior
Miguel Jackson, Pine-Richland -- 6-2, 265 senior
Anthony Smith, Shippensburg -- 6-7, 265 junior
Jett Kelly, Elizabethtown -- 6-1, 220 senior
Jaydon Smith, Erie Cathedral Prep -- 6-4, 235 senior
Tyree Morris, Mechanicsburg -- 6-6, 230 senior
Cam'Ron Stewart, Governor Mifflin -- 6-5, 240 senior
Brandon Strausser, Governor Mifflin -- 6-0, 210 senior
J.R. Strauss, Exeter -- 6-3, 215 junior
Bobby Walters, Elizabethtown -- 6-1, 175 senior
Corban Hondru, Peters Township -- 6-1, 225 senior
Luke Miller, Pine-Richland -- 6-2, 205 senior
Caleb Schmitz, Warwick -- 6-4, 210 senior
James Anderson, Mechanicsburg -- 5-10, 150 senior
Micah Bootman, Upper Dublin -- 5-10, 175 senior
Donovan McMillon, Peters Township -- 6-2, 190 senior
Billy McNitt, Elizabethtown -- 6-3, 265 senior
Justin Caputo, South Fayette -- 5-10, 175 junior
Charlie Box, Marple Newtown -- 5-8, 175 junior
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland
COACH OF THE YEAR: Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland