YORK SPRINGS -- The location for the ending was familiar to the Biglerville football team. The circumstances, on the other hand, were nothing the Canners had ever experienced before.
The Canners finished their 2012 season in the same place where they have been ending it regularly since 2010 and intermittently before that -- against backyard rival Bermudian Springs, an annual foe through many decades and multiple league affiliations.
Yet until Friday, the rivals had never met in the District 3 Class AA playoffs. Such a meeting never materialized because the Canners could never quite get over the district hump: their only postseason appearance entering this season was a one-and-done meeting with eventual champ Lancaster Catholic in 2008.
This year's playoff matchup was made possible by the Canners holding up their end of the deal. They put together an 8-2 regular-season mark, and then nipped Trinity in the first round to gain the school's first District 3 victory.
Those milestones have been a long time in the making for the Biglerville program, which is just now getting a taste of what several of its Adams County cohorts have long experienced.
"It takes time and being in these situations more than once," Biglerville head coach Alex Ramos said. "We've never been to a district semifinal. Our underclassmen now know what it feels like. Hopefully, they leave a little hungry and say, 'I want to get back there.'"
Biglerville, along with other YAIAA Division III squads, has long struggled to break the year-in, year-out hegemony of Bermudian, Delone Catholic and Littlestown. Those three programs have now combined for 23 District 3 championship game appearances and 13 gold medals -- with the chance to add two more titles this coming Friday.
The Canners took a big step this year by knocking off Littlestown and playing the unbeaten Eagles tough; they are the only team to have scored more than once against Bermudian this season. That's progress, but Ramos knows that breaking into that top tier on a permanent basis takes long-term vision.
"Sometimes people forget, Jon Defoe's been at Bermudian for (fourteen) years," Ramos said. "He installed a system and a program, and he stuck with it. He's seeing the fruits of his labor. We need to have the same approach."
That philosophy will immediately be put to the test. The Canners' 2012 success was largely built on the backs of a senior class that includes quarterback Tanner Cool, running back Oakley Fissel, running back/cornerback Jordan Wenk, wideout/safety Tyler Lieberum.
That group made their mark, now it must be seen if that winning mentality carries over into those remaining in the program.
"Since the first day I met them I knew I had a special group," Ramos said. "They worked hard, they bought into everything we told them. They shouldn't hang their heads a bit, because they've done things no Biglerville Canner has done before."