Barons’ title dreams “Fisseled”out by West York
HERSHEY, Pa. – Corey Harris couldn’t stand still. He was still clutching a football in his hands and running in place, maybe in an effort to try and keep warm in the chilled Hershey Stadium air.
Moments earlier, Harris and his West York Area Bulldogs warmed the hearts of their fans – and all of York County. The Bulldogs’ (13-1) historic 15-7 victory over Manheim Central (11-3) in the District 3 “AAA” championship game was the first ever big school championship for a York-Adams league school.
York-Adams league teams were 0-4 in District 3 title games since 1993. The league’s last title game appearance came in 2006, when South Western fell to Red Land, 21-12.
With the victory, West York will take on WPIAL champion Thomas Jefferson, a 35-21 winner over Erie Strong Vincent, next weekend at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona. A date and time is yet to be determined.
Harris was overjoyed with the historic win.
“I’m happy right now,” the junior back said. “I ran hard tonight. I didn’t get any touchdowns, but it’s OK. We won that district championship.”
The blue and white won that district crown against a team that had twice thrashed them in the playoffs, that had won an impressive 38 District playoff games, and that was 15-1 in District 3 championship games since 1988.
Bulldog head coach Ron Miller was asked what he did to win the championship.
“I didn’t do anything,” Miller said. “A bunch of young men did it.
“No one outside of the 42 men on my football team gave us a chance to win this game. I’m speechless.”
Manheim Central tried to render West York speechless on its first play from scrimmage when junior field general Justin Gorman rifled a 64-yard touchdown pass to Dan Trafford, and Central led 7-0 just 18 seconds into the game.
“I’ve said before that we’re the fastest slow team out there,” Barons’ boss Mike Williams said. “They had four or five guys that were really fast.”
WY countered the Barons’ touchdown with one of its own – an Alex George 1-yard dive to make it 7-6 with 7:09 left in the period.
But after the 7:09 mark of the first quarter, MC did nothing offensively. After the 64-yard touchdown pass on the first play, MC was limited to just 52 yards of offense and a pair of first downs the remainder of the half.
West, meanwhile, stole a little Manheim Magic away from the maroon and grey for its second touchdown – a 64-yard touchdown pass from Alex George to Blaine Fissel. Fissel, a senior wideout, described the play.
“One of our receivers ran his rout a little wrong,” he said. “The ball was tipped and it fell right into my hands.”
Fissel then found a seam in the defense and scooted to the end zone to make it 13-7, Bulldogs.
#5 also played a key role in the Bulldog ground game, racking up 63 yards on 15 carries. Fissel, who said he hadn’t played running back since 9th grade, finished with over 120 all-purpose yards in the game.
Central had a chance to cut the lead to 13-10 early in the third quarter, but Taylor Groff’s 32-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. Central had a 4th-and-2 from the WY 6 yard line earlier in the first half, but elected to go for the first instead of the three points.
“(And) you saw what happened the second time around (when we did try the field goal),” Williams said. “That’s what we were concerned with.”
West York’s remaining two points came via a safety when Gorman (4 rush, minus-3 yards; 9-of-22, 142 yards, TD) ran out of the back of the end zone.
Central did have one last chance after picking off George (4-of-11, 89 yards, TD, 2 INT), but a fourth down pass from Gorman to Dakota Royer (4 rec., 30 yards) lost a yard, and West ran out the clock from there.
Harris finished with 91 yards on 26 carries for the Bulldogs, while George added 59 yards on six keepers.
Joe Gruber paced the Baron ground effort with 43 yards on nine carries. Royer, in addition to his four catches, ran once for minus-4 yards, blocked a punt, threw an incomplete pass, registered his 11th quarterback sack, and returned two kicks for 36 yards.
Manheim, though, returns a ton of juniors for next year’s squad, but right now, Central finishes as the District runner-up for just the second time in its storied history.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that the sun will come out tomorrow,” Williams said.
The sun, however, will probably shine just a little bit brighter over in York.
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