Even as the air chills and their season winds on -- each game more urgent than the last -- it seems little has changed for the West York football team.
The Bulldogs team that breezed through swaths of the regular season continues to roll forward.
The mercy-rule victories continue to pile up.
The road to Hersheypark Stadium -- a season-long goal for West York's group of tunnel-visioned seniors -- continues to grow shorter.
And yet one big-time roadblock remains, separating the unbeaten Bulldogs from their first trip to Hershey since their 2008 District 3 Class AAA championship run. Twice since then, West York has reached the district semifinals and come up agonizingly short.
The second-seeded Bulldogs (12-0) hope the third attempt will be different, when they host Mid-Penn representative Susquehanna Township (10-2), the third seed, tonight at 7 p.m.
"We've talked about it since January," West York coach Ron Miller said. "We knew we had a good group coming back. We set our goals high. We wanted to get back to Hersheypark."
Tonight's winner will play either top-seed Bishop McDevitt or No. 4 seed Lancaster Catholic in the District 3 Class AAA title game next Friday. This will be West York's fourth trip to the semifinals in five seasons.
The Bulldogs lost to these same Indians, 7-6, in the 2009 semifinals. Last year, West York fell to Lampeter-Strasburg in this
Those near-misses will certainly be in the minds of the Bulldogs' 24 seniors, as they try to extend their careers for at least another week.
"Yes, we've accomplished a lot of things," West York quarterback Brandon Kinneman said. "But I really, truly think for all of us, for this to be a complete season, we're going to need to get to Hersheypark and give us a shot to put a gold medal around our necks."
Kinneman and his teammates enter tonight having played some of their best football of the season in recent weeks. West York's first two playoff games have produced two mercy-rule victories against YAIAA foes Northeastern and Spring Grove.
Dating back to the start of October, West York has enforced the running clock -- started when a team leads by 35 or more points -- in six of its last seven games.
"I'm fortunate that I have a group of 24 seniors, and that urgency is really setting in with them," Miller said. "Our mantra has always been 1-0. But at this point, if you don't go 1-0, it's on to another season and tremendous careers are ended."
Then again, Susquehanna Township is not exactly slumping; the Indians have won seven straight since their last defeat -- a 37-14 loss on Sept. 29 to Bishop McDevitt.
Any plans on slowing Township's speed-infused offense begin and end with Colby Grant, the senior running back who has racked up 1,304 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Grant is also a return threat -- he ran back a kickoff for a game-changing touchdown during his team's 27-17 win over Manheim Central last week.
Stop Grant, and the Bulldogs still must contend with a capable passing attack keyed by Indians quarterback Jordan Baskerville and receiver Jordan Banks. The latter is averaging 22.8 yards per catch.
One bright spot for West York: It has had success against Township's offense in the recent past. In addition to that seven-point outing in 2009, the Bulldogs kept the Indians in check last year during a 42-14 rout in the district quarterfinals.
West York's defense enters tonight having allowed 10.3 points per game this season.
"We have to understand, they're going to get their plays," Miller said. "They just have too much talent and too much speed not to. It's just trying to prevent the big play.
"If we can make them go the length of the field, even if they get chunks here and there, we have a chance to turn them over hopefully."
Jordan Baskerville, Sr. -- 75-of-137 (54.7 percent), 1,355 yards, 16 TDs, 8 INTs
Colby Grant, Sr. -- 156 attempts, 1,304 yards, 8.4 avg., 17 TDs
Lorin Butler, Jr. -- 46 attempts, 361 yards, 7.8 avg., 5 TDs
Jordan Banks, Sr. -- 28 catches, 638 yards, 22.8 avg., 7 TDs
Mike Jones Jr. -- 13 catches, 167 yards, 12.8 avg., 1 TD
Brandon Kinneman, Sr. -- 87-of-159 (54.7 percent), 1,525 yards, 19 TDs, 5 INTs
Brock Snellbaker, Sr. -- 128 attempts, 759 yards, 5.9 avg., 11 TDs
James Johnson, Sr. -- 90 attempts, 518 yards, 5.8 avg., 5 TDs
Kinneman -- 108 attempts, 496 yards, 4.6 avg., 11 TDs
Zack Smith, Sr. -- 60 catches, 1,085 yards, 18.1 avg., 15 TDs
Snellbaker -- 12 catches, 213 yards, 17.8 avg., 3 TDs