Notes: Turnovers could be key for Bulldogs
It's no secret what has been missing from West York defensive efforts the past few weeks.
The Bulldogs D prides itself on being aggressive and causing big plays -- something it did quite often during the first two-thirds of the season. But the takeaways have dried up of late, and that has contributed to a few sub-par defensive outings.
"If you look at our turnover numbers for the last four weeks, the last month of the season, we've still won the turnover battle except for Littlestown, but it's not those four or five turnovers," West York coach Ron Miller said. "I don't know why that is, people protecting the ball better. But we have just not been able to get that turnover."
The statistics bear that out. West York piled up 28 takeaways the first seven games of the season. During that time, the Bulldogs allowed 11.7 points per game.
Miller's team has forced seven turnovers the last five weeks, and its points per game has inflated to 28.6.
In it's last three games, West York has allowed its three biggest single-game outputs of the season (although last week's double-overtime win against Conestoga Valley skews that stat at bit).
Early in the year, those turnovers proved critical when the Bulldogs defense wasn't at its peak.
"I think back to Dallastown. They went first down, first down, first down. Then big-hit, fumble," Miller said, referring to West York's 52-7 win on Sept. 11. "I remember looking at one of my coaches and saying 'This game's over.' As soon as we get that excitement, and feeding off that energy ... that's where those turnovers are so critical for us."
The Bulldogs will likely need a turnover or two (or more) to slow down Susquehanna Township's high-powered offense, which is averaging 38.2 points per game.
"They say we're a rhythm offense -- when we're in rhythm on offense, we're as scary as anybody in the state. I feel the same way about our defense," Miller said. "We just haven't been able to get going early, and that's a concern.
"We need one. We could use one or two early in the game this week."
"West York Magic"
Miller also expanded quite a bit on last Friday's daring decision to go for two in a double-overtime, quarterfinal victory against Conestoga Valley.
The move, which Miller and his players decided on before the start of overtime, handed the Bulldogs a 35-34 victory.
"You know it's funny. It wasn't that difficult a decision that night. And now in retrospect, after hearing all these people say 'What were you doing?'" Miller joked.
Of course, his seniors have proven to have a knack for coming through in big-game situations throughout these last two District playoff runs.
"I think we're developing a little bit of West York magic," Miller said. "I think that comes with winning 34 football games. It comes with knowing how to win."
As for the players, they had no hesitation Friday when given the choice of whether or not the team should go for two if they get behind.
"We have an underclassman kicker. It's our senior year. We want to go out the way we we were going to out," senior quarterback Alex George said. "We said 'Yeah, we want to go for it.' He said alright, I'll get the play ready."
"They would have been despondent if we had said we're kicking," Miller said. "I mean they would have been angry."
The adrenaline from Friday's night's victory took a little while to wear off for George.
The senior had a roller coaster night. His fourth-quarter fumble cost West York a chance to win in regulation, but George responded by running in the winning two-point conversion in overtime.
"It was late," George said of when he finally dozed off. "Probably close to like 2 a.m."
You, Me and Dupree
By the end of this week, West York fans will no doubt be sick of hearing the name "Ben Dupree."
Like it or not, the senior quarterback is the catalyst on offense for Township, as his 505 yards from scrimmage last week will attest.
West York may not completely shut down Dupree, but Miller said they might not have to in order to win.
"I went back to the Cocalico game. He had 504 (sic) yards from scrimmage," Miller said. "He did. If they had held that kid to 350 yards, we're playing at home against Cocalico. Think about that. That's just mind-boggling.
"So I said to my guys, here's what you gotta do: Hold him to under 350 yards and we'll be going to Hersheypark next week. Think about that. That tells you how explosive he is."
We'll see if the Bulldogs can hit that mark.