The ending to it all seemed so sudden that it was simply hard to believe.
However, in the wake of Bermudian Springs' 34-7 loss to Wyomissing in the District 3 Class AA semifinals last Friday, Bermudian Springs head coach Jon Defoe had developed a succinct summary of his team's 2011 season.
"I always say it's important to run the football and to stop the run," he said, "and, until that final game, we were pretty good at both."
"Pretty good" may not go nearly far enough, especially for the Eagles' fans who enjoyed an 11-game winning streak. Likewise, Defoe said his YAIAA Division III champions (11-1, 9-0) were enjoying life on the gridiron.
"Certainly, our strength was we felt like we had a group of kids that really got along well and really liked each other and had a common goal," he said. "I think those intangibles were in place."
What was tangible was an overwhelming offensive attack featuring two senior backs -- Tyler Fitzkee and Adam Berryman -- who combined for numbers rarely seen. The two teamed for 3,323 yards, more than eight yards per carry and 46 touchdowns -- and those were just the rushing totals.
The pair also were the team's leading receivers, combining for 24 receptions for 493 yards and four scores.
And those statistics don't include more than 130 tackles by Fitzkee from his linebacker spot or the school record-tying nine pass interceptions grabbed by Berryman.
"Those two have garnered some interest and there are a couple of places that want them to make a commitment," Defoe said of colleges' interest in both. "They'll keep their options open and let it play out."
In the meantime, the Eagles' Wing-T attack also featured quarterback Michael Moore, who tossed for 1,012 yards in 12 games in his junior campaign.
"Certainly, a lot of that is our play-action game. It's a big part of our offense," Defoe said, adding, "Mentally, he did a good job to keep himself in the moment, and that's crucial for a quarterback."
And that was the odd facet of Bermudian Springs' 2011 season. Despite overwhelming victories, the Eagles found themselves trailing at halftime in four regular-season games. In each case, the Eagles rallied to win.
"Most of it was internal leadership," Defoe said about the rallies. "These guys, there was a togetherness about them pretty much early on."
That unity allowed a defense to mature to the point that it led the Hanover area in scoring defense. Defoe said players such as Austin Owens, Jake Slonaker and Cody Erb improved greatly as the season progressed.
"I kind of say every year that, offensively, we'll find something," Defoe said. "It will come down to defense and if we can stop people."
For 11 games, the Eagles succeeded on both counts, starting with a comeback victory over Northern and following through an unbeaten path through YAIAA Division III.
Now Defoe is hoping the returning players, including four of the five starting offensive linemen, take their playoff experience to attempt to advance even further in 2012.
The challenge will find somebody ... anybody ... who can replace Fitzkee and Berryman.
"We'll see," Defoe said. "You never know who that next guy's going to be. Sometimes it comes out of the senior class for the first time. Sometimes, it's that sophomore who's worked real hard during the summer."
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