York, PA - The game ball went not to one player, but five.
As the West York football team broke its postgame huddle Friday night, each of the starting members of the Bulldogs offensive line reached skyward to touch the football their coach had just dedicated to them. It was a fitting gesture, following a season-opening 24-7 victory at rival Central York
After all, this was a victory defined by the overpowering nature in which it was achieved. The Bulldogs pounded Central's defense with one run after another to take an early lead, then shackled the Panthers electric skill players before they could get started.
In both cases, it was the big guys up front -- including those five seniors along the offensive line -- who set a punishing tone.
"I thought we played on their side of the line of scrimmage all night, both offensively and defensively," Bulldogs coach Ron Miller said. "If we can do that, we're going to win a lot of football games."
The win was West York's fourth in five years against Central.
In a way, the seeds of this triumph were actually sown nearly a year ago, following a 13-7 opening night defeat to these same Panthers last season. In that game, West York's front had wilted under Central's pressure.
A few days later, the Bulldogs' lineman arrived in the team's locker room to find articles from that game posted on the walls.
"Highlighted, printed out," recalled Bulldogs center Brody Kern, a Delaware commit. "Everywhere in our locker room."
That defeat became kindling for Kern and his linemates heading into Friday.
"The main goal was to dominate up front," Kern said. "We definitely did that."
The numbers bore that out. Central York (0-1) didn't manage a first down until late in the second quarter and had minus-5 yards at halftime. West York's defense sacked Central York quarterback Corey Hartz five times and limited slippery running back Marquis Fells to 11 rushing yards.
"I was really disappointed that we couldn't run the football," Central York coach Brad Livingston said. "The kids were frustrated. ... It was a very frustrating night if you were wearing black."
Central York's only touchdown, in fact, came courtesy of a Bulldogs blunder late in the first quarter. With West York already up 10-0, a Bulldogs player mistakenly touched a Panthers punt that was about to be downed. Central pounced on the live ball at West York's 4-yard line and eventually scored on a 1-yard run by Breaun Randle.
Even that momentum seemed to be short-lived.
The Bulldogs fired back in the second quarter with an 8-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by quarterback Brandon Kinneman's 1-yard sneak on fourth-and-goal. The senior, making his first start, ran for 66 yards on that drive, part of a 20-carry, 110-yard night.
Kinneman also connected with receiver Zack Smith for a 43-yard touchdown strike late in the third quarter to effectively seal the game.
All along, the Bulldogs defense continued to smother the Panthers' speed-fueled attack. Smith's interception on the second play of the game set up a field goal, and West York added two key stops in the second half -- a fumble recovery and a turnover on downs -- when it appeared Central's offense was starting to warm up.
It was, in a sense, the exact inverse of what had happened in the teams' meeting a year ago.
"They out-toughed us last year," Smith said. "We had to come out and get redemption on them."
And perhaps no player in a West York uniform felt better about that redemption than those five seniors up front.
West York 10 7 7 0 -- 24
Central York 7 0 0 0 -- 7
WY -- Chris Markel 21 FG, 7:46
WY -- Brock Snellbaker 5 run (Markel kick), 2:58
CY -- Breaun Randle 1 run (Kyle Long kick), :09
WY -- Brandon Kinnneman 1 run (Markel kick), 5:25
WY -- Zack Smith 43 pass from Kinneman (Markel kick), :43
-- WY -- CY
First downs -- 17 -- 4
Rushes-yards -- 52-211 -- 22-2
Passing -- 8-15-2 -- 6-14-1
Passing yards -- 110 -- 69
Total yards -- 321 -- 71
Punts -- 1-29 -- 5-36.6
Fumbles-lost -- 2-0 -- 3-1
Penalties-yards -- 4-13 -- 4-45
Rushing -- West York, Brandon Kinneman 20-110, Steven Wilson 12-54, Brock Snellbaker 7-34, Josiah Mincer 12-12, Kyle Narber 1-1; Central York, Marquis Fells 8-11, Sherief Sutton 2-6, Breaun Randle 1-1, Corey Hartz 11-(-16).
Passing -- West York, Brandon Kinneman 7-14-2-97, Zack Smith 1-1-0-13; Central York, Corey Hartz 6-14-1-69.
Receiving -- West York, Zack Smith 4-68, Joseph Smith 2-20, Ross Campbell 1-14, Steven Wilson 1-8; Central York, Darian Hampton 3-51, Andrews Dadeboe 2-16, Marquis Fells 1-2.