Playoff-bound and holding a share of a division title are both new to the Northeastern football program.
And it took only four years to accomplish.
With Friday night's 55-28 home victory against Kennard-Dale, the Bobcats earned a share of the YAIAA Division II title with West York and Dover. Northeastern also made sure its dream season will continue for at least another week when the District 3 Class AAA playoffs begin.
"It is amazing. It's overwhelming really," quarterback Nick Small said. "We all thought we could do it, but when you are actually in the situation it's a different story. It's a dream come true for all of us."
Small did his part to make sure the celebration would take place. The senior threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more. Small completed 10-of-14 passes for 171 yards in the first half alone against the Rams (2-8, 1-4 Division II).
Bobcats coach Brendan Brown has been there since the program's inception. His team won three games in 2008, four the next season, but dropped to only two last year. Now Northeastern is 6-4, 4-1 in Division II and will likely find itself in a rematch with West York next week.
The Bulldogs knocked off the Bobcats, 28-0, last week.
"This is a great group of seniors. They were freshmen when we started this thing," Brown said. "They have been in the background watching how we do things. They have done everything we have asked them to do.
"It's so great for this community. It's a hard-working community, and the kids are a product of that."
Small, who helped his team score five straight times while taking a 34-6 lead to halftime, credited the coaching staff with preparing the team for success.
"It's got to be something behind the scenes to turn a program around like that in four years," he said. "I give that to the coaches and the people around this area that supported us."
Senior Eric Steadman, caught a touchdown and returned a fumble for six points. Braheem Riley and Coty Hilbert caught touchdown passes while Tyrone Belgrave ran for a score.
The Bobcats' season had several markers indicating history could be made.
A close loss to Shippensburg in Week 3, followed by a lopsided win against William Penn squared Northeastern's record at 2-2. Later, a three-game win streak was capped by an upset of Dover, making at least a share of the division title possible.
"Without a doubt, the Shippensburg game ... a very good football team, and we statistically dominated them and had a chance to win it on a field goal at the end," Brown said. "That was a definitely the turning point where our guys, our coaching staff, knew we had a great defense and, when we don't turn the ball over, we are going to be a tough out for anybody.
Steadman said several players believed even before the season began.
"Twelve weeks ago, our football team went camping and everyone went around the circle and talked about it," he said. "That is when we knew we could do it. Then it started becoming a reality going into division play, especially after the Dover game. We knew we had a shot at it after that."
Kennard-Dale 6 0 8 14 -- 28
Northeastern 13 21 8 13 -- 55
KD -- Matt Vincent 12 (run failed), 9:43.
Ne -- Eric Steadman 7 pass from Nick Small (kick failed), 7:08.
Ne -- Small 1 run (David Deamer kick), 2:10.
Ne -- Braheem Riley 33 pass from Small (Deamer kick), 10:49.
Ne -- Small 2 run (Deamer kick), 7:53.
Ne -- Small 1 run (Deamer kick), :23. Third Quarter
KD -- Dan Hare 46 run (Hare run), 9:57.
Ne -- Coty Hilbert 10 pass from Small (Alec Miller pass from Deamer), 5:53.
Ne -- Tyrone Bellgrave 2 run (Deamer kick), 11:55.
Ne -- Steadman 48 fumble return (kick failed), 8:41.
KD -- Hare 8 run (Vincent run), 2:09.
KD -- Mike Young 46 fumble return (pass failed), :41.
-- KD -- Ne
First downs -- 13 -- 18
Rushes-yards -- 49-110 -- 29-197
Passing -- 1-6-0 -- 14-23-0
Passing yards -- 41 -- 191
Total yards -- 151 -- 388
Punts -- 4-34.8 -- 1-42.0
Fumbles-lost -- 6-1 -- 4-2
Penalties-yards -- 6-50 -- 8-71
Rushing -- Kennard-Dale, Vincent 13-42, Oakley Dieter 8-36, Hare 17-22, Dylan Moniahyan 7-4, Young 2-10, Phil Herndon 2-(-4); Northeastern, Small 14-70, Hilbert 3-54, Miller 2-35, Bellgrave 6-32, Steadman 1-8, Zach Moyer 1-2, Steven Shimkus 1-(-3), Team 1-(-1).
Passing -- Kennard-Dale, Hare 1-5-0-41, Zach Wilkinson 0-1-0-0; Northeastern, Small 14-23-0-191.
Receiving -- Kennard-Dale, Brandon Terrell 1-41; Northeastern, Moyer 6-88, Steadman 4-17, Terrell 2-61, Joe Beckhardt 1-15, Hilbert 1-10.