Wilson Rolls Into Playoffs
Nine years. That’s a pretty long time if you sit down and think about it. A lot of things can change over that length of time.Given a window of that many years, surely one of those things that must change is who the head of the class is when talking about Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 football, right? Right? Well, not exactly. Believe it or not, we’re still in the midst of something that began on an early November night back in 2007 and after Friday night in Witmer, we’ll pick the story back up again in September 2017. You see, as the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard signifying the end of Wilson’s 42-21 road victory at Conestoga Valley, the Bulldogs were putting the finishing touches on their ninth straight unblemished Section 1 crown and yes, unblemished as in 64 consecutive victories over the same common opponents for nearly a decade.
All streak talk aside, there was still work to be done as the Bulldogs rode in to face the Buckskins, a team with a lot of senior talent looking to go out with one last hurrah, while Wilson was looking to make the final tune-ups before what they hope is a deep run in the District 3 6A playoffs and beyond. It was apparent from the jump however, that this night would belong to Wilson.
Freshman Abdul MacFoy got the Bulldogs in business by returning the opening kickoff to the Wilson 45 yard line. From there, it took Wilson just five plays in 1:22 to go 55 yards as junior running back Iggy Reynoso took the 7 yard swing pass from Grayson Kline across the goal line to give the Wilson the early 7-0 lead, thanks in large part to Foday Jalloh’s 36 yard reception earlier in the drive which got Wilson inside the CV 10 yard line.
CV was able to pick up a first down on their first possession when senior quarterback Grant Stoltzfus found fellow senior Zach Mowrer for the seven yard completion to move the sticks out to the CV 34 yard line, however that would be the Bucks’ last first down of the drive as the Bulldog defense stiffened and forced a punting situation after a 3rd & 4 pass attempt sailed incomplete.
While the first Wilson drive took five plays to result in points, their second drive would last just two offensive snaps, all showcased by Iggy Reynoso. The junior promptly ripped off a 57 yard dash down to the Buckskin 1 yard line on the first play and was rewarded for his efforts by cashing in from there to give Wilson the 14-0 cushion with 7:20 to go in the first quarter.
The Bulldog D was on a mission the next time they took the field to not allow a single first down. Mission accomplished. CV was forced into a 3 and out after Isaiah Reigel got up and deflected the second down pass, which paved the way for Edwin Ortiz’s sack with CV in a must-pass situation on 3rd & 10.
Following Mason McElroy’s punt return down to the CV 17 yard line, it was another quick Bulldog score as Kline found Alex Twiford across the middle for the touchdown, but not so fast as laundry was spotted on the field in the form of an ineligible man downfield call against the Bulldogs. Not to be derailed, Wilson scored on this drive as well, as Reynoso took it in from 1 yard out to make the lead balloon to 21-0 in favor of the Dawgs with 4:51 still left in the first, which is where the score remained as the game moved to the second quarter.
CV would get the ball back on their first series of the second quarter after holding Wilson on downs at their own 34, but would have to navigate past a 3rd & 27 try following a personal foul whistled against them. The Wilson D would hold here as well as the Bulldogs defense refused to yield much of anything in the first half of action. In fact, after the first 24 minutes were completed, CV’s first half rushing total was -34 yards.
With the ball back in the hands of their offense, Wilson was on a quest to get back into the endzone after being held on downs the previous series. Fortunately for the Wilson, they didn’t have far to go as Mason McElroy returned the punt down to the CV 30 yard line to set them up nicely. Three plays is all it would take. After Kline’s pass to Justin Weller of 26 yards moved Wilson to the 10 yard line, the junior signal-caller found Alex Twiford through the air again, and this time it counted, as Wilson increased their lead to 28-0 with just over two minutes gone by in the second.
Following a CV 3 and out, Wilson had yet another short field after a McElroy punt return to the Bucks’ 26. Faced with a 3rd & 5, Wilson went to the shovel pass to Twiford to move the chains,which he did, down to the 14 yard line on an 8 yard pickup. After a couple of Reynoso runs moved the Bulldogs ever closer, the one they call Iggy was there to score his fourth total TD of the half by way of a 4 yard TD run to extend Wilson’s lead to 35-0.
CV was looking to find some positive momentum their next drive, but Foday Jalloh had different ideas as he came free on the blitz on 3rd & 10 for a 14 yard loss which saw the Bucks punt it away to Wilson once again.
Fortunately for the home-clad Blue and Red of Conestoga Valley, the Bulldogs would get the ball back this time as the punt was fumbled with Eric Graff falling on the loose football to give it back to CV on their own 26 yard line. CV moved the ball onto Wilson’s side of the field this possession as Grant Stoltzfus found his speedy junior wideout, Jose Barbon, for the long pass on 3rd & 10 along the Wilson sideline down to the Bulldog 46 yard line. The Bucks went back to the same play on the very next snap, but Isaiah Gilmore would have none of it as he was there to break it up for Wilson. A few plays later, CV would have 3rd & 10 from that same 46 yard line, but could do nothing with it as Isaiah Reigel and Edwin Ortiz were there to combine on the sack for the Bulldogs to force another CV punt.
This punting situation proved to be much more successful for the Bulldogs as Mason McElroy was there to take it all the way back to the house, or so it appeared. It was not to be however as a block in the back call brought it all the way back to the Wilson 26 yard line. On the second play of the drive, Grayson Kline was able to scramble out of the pocket and rattle off 9 yards to set up a 3rd & 1. The Dawgs were able to convert as Abdul MacFoy raced through a big hole opened up by the offensive line down to the Wilson 44 for a 9 yard pickup. Kline went back to the air attack with a 24 yard connection to sophomore tight end Nick Johnson to get it down to the CV 32 yard line. The Kline-Johnson tandem was still in full effect as another strike between the two moved it to the CV 17. With the first half clock moving closer to the halftime horn, Kline stood in the pocket and found Justin Weller for the 17 yard TD grab to put the mercy-rule into effect in the second half as the Bulldogs made the score 42-0 with just 15 ticks left in the half. The touchdown pass from Kline capped off a dazzling first half which saw him go 10-13 with 3 TDs.
As much as the first half was dominated by the visitors from West Lawn, the Buckskins were out to reverse their fortunes in what would be the last half of their season, while Wilson was looking to find some quality time for their reserve units in the second half.
CV would start the second half at their own 16 yard line and began to move it. After a beautifully broken up pass by Wilson’s Angel Martinez, CV got it done through the air as GrantStoltzfus found Bryce Shetter for a 30 yard strike down to the Wilson 46 yard line. Another long pass from Stoltzfus to Clayton Byers moved CV near the redzone down to the 25. The drive was ultimately capped off by senior running back Connor Brinton who took it in from 2 yards out to make it a 42-6 Wilson lead with 7:34 to go in the third after Hunter Nash came free on the PAT try for Wilson to force it wide.
After the ensuing kickoff trickled out of bounds, Wilson would take over at their 35, but the Buckskin defense stood tall forcing a Wilson punt. The aforementioned punt would turn out to be nothing more than an attempt, as Wilson was not able to get the punt off in time before the CV pressure arrived as CV took over at the Wilson 30 yard line.
One play is all it would take as Stoltzfus found Bryce Shetter for the TD strike from 30 yards out, in addition to a 2pt conversion on the swing pass to Connor Brinton to make it a 42-14 Wilson lead with 4:42 left in the third.
After the Bucks’ D forced a Wilson punt, the quick strike CV offense was at it again. Taking over at their own 39 following the punt, Stoltzfus hooked up with Shetter again who reeled in a beautiful reception down to the Wilson 38. From there, it was Connor Brinton capping his impressive senior campaign with a 38 yard jaunt to the house to make it 42-21 with just 52 seconds left in the third, a quarter which saw the Buckskins outscore the Bulldogs 21-0.
As the fourth quarter got underway following a facemask call against CV, a handful of nice runs by senior running back Malachi Clore of Wilson moved the Bulldogs down near the CV 20 yard line. However on the ensuing third and fourth down attempts for Wilson, the CV defense was there to string them out and prevent any further damage on the scoreboard.
Facing a 3rd & 7 from their own 23, Grant Stoltzfus was able to prolong his CV record-breaking career for just a little while longer with a strike to Zach Mowrer to the CV 47. From there, Stoltzfus found Bryce Shetter across the middle for a 15 yard pickup and a first down, as Stoltzfus exited to a ceremonial curtain-call following the completion giving way to junior Tanner Schwilk. Unfortunately for CV, that would be all the closer they would get as both the third and fourth down attempts sailed incomplete.
Wilson would get the ball back one last time and for a brief moment, looked like they add another score to their evening as senior Vilyano Martinez ran up the gut and was just tripped up by the shoelaces or else he would’ve been making a house call as well. Martinez went on to finish with nice looking runs for Wilson with the game coming to a close. When all was said and done however, it was a 42-21 Wilson victory, and ninth straight Section 1 crown to take home looking onward and upward to the playoff scene.
When asked what makes the Wilson program as successful as it is, coach Doug Dahms replied, “We have a veteran coaching staff that puts in an unbelievable amount of time, leaves no stone unturned, and we prepare the kids to put them in a position to win. The ball is in their court and they rise to the occasion.”
Even during a second half which saw CV slice the Wilson lead in half in just one quarter by way of big plays, coach Dahms wasn’t about to pull the reserves out of the fire. “You’ve got to give those kids a chance to grow and find out on their own. I told them coming out for the second half, you guys are going to play. You’re a varsity player now, so let’s get going.”
Nine years. That’s a pretty long time if you sit down and think about it. So consider this, the next time Wilson takes the field in an L-L Section 1 contest, the senior members of that team were in second grade the last time Wilson last lost a regular season Section game. No matter what tidbit is deemed most fascinating, or what adjective has yet to be used to describe Wilson’s current Section 1 winning streak, one thing is apparent. It is truly ongoing excellence at the highest level.
NEXT UP: Although the District 3 brackets will be officially published on Sunday, all signs point to Wilson earning the #2 seed and playing at home all the way until Hersheypark Stadium and the finals. The Bulldogs appear to have a date against #7 seed Central York, to await the winner of Red Lion/CD East should they be victorious next week. Interestingly enough, a Wilson/CD East game would provide a rematch of last year’s playoff game at Wilson when CD East came away with a dramatic 20-14 overtime victory on the road.
CV meanwhile wrapped up a 4-6 campaign this year that included a 3-1 start following an impressive 43-21 road victory at neighboring McCaskey.
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