Bishop McDevitt claims 10th District 3 football championship with victory over West York
HERSHEY, Pa. – It might have been hard not to confuse West York head coach Ron Miller’s strategy for Penn State’s new boss, Bill O’Brien. The Bulldogs went for several fourth down attempts and took a fair share of risks against perennial Mid-Penn Conference power Bishop McDevitt.
“We felt tonight that we had to take our chances,” Miller said. “We’re always very aggressive and we go after teams.”
But this night for West York, the Bulldogs’ rolls of the dice seemed to come up snake eyes.
Bishop McDevitt (14-0) overcame three missed opportunities in the red zone and four total turnovers to claim the program’s 10th District 3 football championship, and fifth in AAA, with a 21-10 victory over West York (13-1) Friday night at Hersheypark Stadium.
With the victory, the Crusaders will take on District 10 champion Cathedral Prep (13-0), a 27-13 victor over West Allegheny next weekend in a PIAA AAA semifinal game at a site and time to be determined. Two years ago, McDevitt and Cathedral Prep met in the semifinals at DuBois’ E.J. Mansell Stadium.
Before the start of the game, some reporters were engaged in a high-stakes Internet game of Yahtzee, a game which involves dice. It was only fitting that the Bulldogs and Miller played a Memphis riverboat gambler style in an attempt to fell the Crusaders.
But on five fourth down situations, McDevitt’s defense played the joker to the Bulldogs’ hand.
“Obviously, in hindsight, I’m kicking myself because I feel like I let the kids down,” Miller said. “I wanted to put a district gold medal around their necks, but hey, to get to this point, you’re already a winner. We just came up short against a very good football team.”
One critical McDevitt stop came in the second quarter with the Crusaders clinging to a 7-0 lead. West York, deep in its own territory, was forced to punt. But punter Zach Smith, who used a rugby style of punting, couldn’t roll right and kick. He tucked the ball under and ran, and gained six yards, but was stopped short of the sticks.
“That was not by design,” Miller said. “Zach and I disagreed, but our coaches had a good vantage point and they said there was no way he could have gotten the punt off.”
Another critical stop came in the third quarter with the Crusaders leading narrowly, 14-10. The Bulldogs went for it on a 4th-down-and-4 from their own 36, but Brandon Kinneman’s quarterback keeper was stuffed for a yard loss. Seven plays later, McDevitt’s Andre Robinson scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to make it 21-10.
“That was a play we had sent the punt team out and Brandon said, ‘Coach, I know we can get the first down,'” Miller said. “I trust in these kids, and we called a play we were having success with.”
Those two turnovers on downs each led to Crusader touchdowns. West York committed five turnovers on downs for the game, but didn’t lose a fumble or throw an interception.
“We were worried,” said McDevitt head coach Jeff Weachter. “All week long we heard about how big and physical their line was (at West York). And our front seven did a really great job.”
McDevitt limited West York to 130 yards rushing on 40 total team carries and 177 yards of total offense on 55 plays.
Offensively, though McDevitt gained yards at will, it did so in spite of itself, and only led 14-7 after Brock Snellbaker scored for West York on a 2-yard run before intermission. The Crusaders finished the game 2-of-5 in the West York red zone, scoring a pair of touchdowns on a 6-yard pass from Alec Werner to Brian Lemelle and the Robinson 7-yard run. The Crusaders also missed a field goal and threw a pair of interceptions.
“We hadn’t turned the ball over much all season,” Weachter said. “Tonight was uncharacteristic. We’ve got to clean that up.”
The Crusaders got on the board on their initial possession of the game when Werner hit freshman Kobay White on a pinpoint 28-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead. McDevitt threw the ball 10 times in its first 13 offensive plays and attempted 31 passes in the game. Werner completed 21 of 31 for 276 yards.
“We have a lot of weapons out there,” Werner said. “They all make me a lot better and I’m thankful for them.”
Werner became the fourth Pennsylvania quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons in the first quarter when he completed a 29-yard pass to White. Werner joined Derek Buganza (Brockway), Matt Bodamer (Port Allegany) and Brendan Nosovitch (Allentown Central Catholic) on that short list.
McDevitt is also one of just a handful of teams with a 14-0 record. But ask Werner or Weachter about that mark, and it surprises both – in a way.
“We didn’t expect this,” Weachter said. “We’re a very young team. But our seniors deserve a lot of credit – we don’t have a lot of them, but they’ve done a great job with leadership.”
“I would agree (with Coach),” Werner said. “Going 14-0 is hard. We thought we might have some bumps in the road, but every close game we were in, we pulled them out.”
Its 10th District 3 football championship in tow, postseason success for these Crusaders hardly seems like a roll of the dice.
SPECIAL NOTE: West York’s football team wore bright green socks Friday night, which noticably stood out against their all-white uniforms with blue numbers. The green socks were for a neighbor of Miller’s – Tom Duffy, whose 2-year old son, Joey, is battling a disease called MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), which is also referred to as preleukemia and affects bone marrow. Miller said Mr. Duffy asked if awareness for bone marrow swabs and donations could be raised, so the team ordered the green socks to wear for its last regular season game. Due to Hurricane Sandy, the socks didn’t arrive in time for Week 10, but did arrive in time for the Bulldogs’ first playoff game. “They wore them, and they won, so the guys told me, ‘Coach, we’re wearing these all the way to Hershey,'” Miller said.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Friday’s meeting marked just the second time the Bulldogs and Crusaders had done war in each other’s program histories. The only other meeting came in the 1997 District 3 Class AA championship game, won by McDevitt, 35-14……..Since dropping to the AAA classification in 2010, McDevitt owns an impressive 12-0 record in District 3 playoff games and has not lost to any AAA team from District 3 since an upset to Susquehanna Township in 2010 during the regular season……McDevitt became the first District 3 AAA team to win three consecutive district championships since Manheim Central from 2003-05…….The 13 victories for West York tied a school single-season record set in 2008……Miller said he’s losing 24 seniors off of the current West York team. “These are the kids I had at my first youth football camp when I got here seven years ago,” Miller said. “The goal was to make the program a state-recognized program.”
West York Area 0 7 3 0 – 10
Bishop McDevitt 7 7 7 0 – 21
McD – Kobay White 28 pass from Alec Werner (Conner Maloney kick)
McD – Brian Lemelle 6 pass from Werner (Maloney kick)
WY – Brock Snellbaker 2 run (Chris Markel kick)
WY – FG, Markel 25
McD – Andre Robinson 7 run (Maloney kick)
Rushes-yds 40-130 31-150
Passing 6-15-0 21-31-2
Pass yds 47 276
Total offense 177 426
1st downs 13 18
Penalties 4-28 9-75
Turnovers 0 4
RUSHING: WY: Brock Snellbaker 18-92 TD; Brandon Kinneman 12-15; James Johnson 5-16; Steve Wilson 3-4; Zack Smith 2-1. McD: Rashad Lawson 14-103; Andre Robinson 16-55 TD; Alec Werner 1-minus-8.
PASSING: WY: Kinneman 6-15-0-47. McD: Werner 21-31-2-276 2 TD.
RECEIVING: WY: Smith 4-37; Snellbaker 1-8; Johnson 1-2. McD: Brian Lemelle 10-98 TD; Kobay White 4-71 TD; Tyrone Gibson 3-26; Robinson 2-44; Lawson 1-36; Nate Showalter 1-10.
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