Don Seidenstricker doesn't like to single out football teams he coached at South Western. Consider this: His teams won York County division titles in half of Seidenstricker's 26 years as head coach.
He is especially proud of the run from 1989 to '97, when the Mustangs won eight of nine division championships. Only a close loss to William Penn in 1991 kept Seidenstricker's clubs from a nine-year sweep.
"I'd like to think we raised the level of football in York County," he said Wednesday.
These days, Seidenstricker still oversees the athletic program at South Western but has handed over the keys of the football program to longtime assistant Damian Poalucci, who enters his third season this fall as the head coach.
This fall also marks the 20th anniversary of South Western's 1994 team, which became the second of four teams to go undefeated in the regular season and sent seven seniors to college. One of those players, quarterback and defensive back Aaron Brady, went on to Rutgers. This spring, Brady became the head football coach at Malvern Prep, near West Chester.
That list — Seidenstricker's former players who now coach — is another long one. Seidenstricker recalled seven of them on Wednesday, including Eric Updegrove, who played on the 2006 team that upset Manheim Central in the District 3 Class AAA semifinals.
Updegrove currently coaches the defense at Kennard-Dale. His path to coaching started with a knee injury at Millersville. Updegrove never played again that sophomore year, but he was asked to help with the defense after learning it so quickly as an outside linebacker.
It was that position where he excelled for South Western and wreaked havoc one late November night against Manheim Central.
The Barons had 15 district titles in a span of 17 years.
Seidenstricker recalled only one other game in his years where The Corral was more packed.
"We'd look up in the stands. It was packed," said Updegrove, who was a senior at the time. "Then every inch of the hills there had people sitting on blankets. When that buzzer rang, the people over the fence and onto the field. That was pretty incredible."
One play, Updegrove said, shifted momentum South Western's way. The Mustangs' Wing-T ate through Manheim Central's defense on a six-play drive, during which Seidenstricker used the same running play: "Army 929 crack."
Updegrove took his place in the huddle. Each time, the receiver returned with Seidenstricker's message. Two of Updegrove's teammates smiled as it never changed. The sixth and final call went to Updegrove, who ran into the end zone from 5 yards out and gave the Mustangs a 14-7 lead.
"At that point, they seemed to be getting the momentum," Updegrove said. "That's when we took it back."
In retrospect, Seidenstricker said he thought the 20-15 win "expended" his team's energy before the following week's district final loss to Red Land.
"It's a shame it ended the way it did," he said of the 21-12 setback.
Seidenstricker's teams have twice been to Hershey: Once for that game, and earlier in 2000, when the Mustangs became the first York County football team to reach the Class AAAA district final. It's those achievements, along with others, that make Seidenstricker hesitate when singling out one team. They all seem to linger in his memory with a deep imprint.
"It was almost surreal at times," Seidenstricker said. "At the time, we were so intent on what we were doing, we didn't have time to reflect on how special it was."
Perhaps that makes the Manheim Central win special. The Barons' 34-year coach, Mike Williams, announced in June his intention to retire following this fall.
With 16 district titles — and hope for a 17th — Williams will soon have those memories to reflect upon the way Seidenstricker does.
Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.