Thoughts from Dallastown-West York
A few thoughts on Dallastown's down-to-the-wire, 21-14 victory at West York on Friday... Also, just as a heads up, our power rankings will come out a few days later this week. I'm hoping to have them out by Monday. Stay tuned. What we learned about Dallastown I don't think we found out much about Dallastown tonight that we didn't already know. This is just, all around, a very solid and sound football team. They played OK defense, allowing 313 yards but coming up with some key stops when they needed them. Special teams were decent. The offense was far from prolific, but made some big plays at critical moments. But certainly, being able to do all those things against a team of West York's caliber has to count for something. Even considering the scoreline -- and the fact the Bulldogs dominated possession for large stretches -- you'd have to call this Dallastown's most impressive win of the year. Perhaps the most encouraging part of this performance for Dallastown was that it never seemed like the Wildcats panicked. Even when Dallastown fell behind in the second half, it stuck to its game plan. The Wildcats kept it on the ground offensively, on several occasions with senior Ben Kline taking direct snaps, and picked their spots when to throw the ball. "We were confident the whole time we were going to pull it out," Kline said. "The big thing was, we knew we were playing a very good football team," Dallastown coach Kevin Myers said. "We got in a little bit of a bind, and showed we can come back." That ability to comeback -- that sense of calm, even in adverse situations -- will serve Dallastown well as we move further into the season. What we learned about West York West York coach Ron Miller's message after the game was simple: The Bulldogs still make too many mistakes. Take their first drive of the game. West York worked its way down the field, and lined up for a first-and-goal at the 10-yard line. Then, a holding penalty pushing West York back to the 26. A shovel pass on the next play went for negative yardage. Two plays later, the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs. That was the first of three occasions Friday in which West York drove into the red zone, only to come away empty-handed. On another play in the second quarter, tailback Zach Trone came close to breaking the plane of the goal line -- and the Bulldogs certainly argued he did -- before he fumbled the ball into the end zone. Dallastown recovered, and the Bulldogs were once again left frustrated. And then it the fourth quarter, it was another mistake that breathed life into the Wildcats. Kaden Hepler threw an errant pass that was picked off by Kline, giving Dallastown the ball at the Bulldogs' 27. The Wildcats offense -- which had struggled for portions of the game -- scored on the ensuing drive to tie the game, and added another touchdown a few minutes later to take control for good. Even in its two wins, West York didn't quite put a full game together. When this team does, it will be dangerous. For now, the Bulldogs need to try to limit those costly miscues. Standouts for Dallastown Josh Luckenbaugh looked good at quarterback for the Wildcats. Dallastown certainly picks and chooses its spots carefully when it comes to throwing the ball, but the senior took advantage of his opportunities. He completed 10-of-13 passes -- including his final six throws -- for 100 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Kline was his usual ball-hawking self. At times, it looks like he's in on every tackle. George Christas had a couple big plays, including the fourth-down pass break-up on West York's final drive. Finally, running back Ryan Behrmann produced the game's longest play --- a 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to open the scoring. Standouts for West York The two players who jump out were the two guys who touched the ball the most. In just his second game back, Zach Trone looks like the workhorse feature back that the Bulldogs want. Yes, he's only 5-foot-7. But Trone was fairly effective running between the tackles Friday. He finished with 109 yards on 25 carries, and ran for both of the Bulldogs' scores. He did have that costly -- if not controversial -- second-quarter fumble. Meanwhile, Kaden Hepler's game was far from perfect, in large part because of that interception to Kline. But he continues to show the tools that will make him a successful quarterback at this level -- a strong arm, good pocket awareness and the occasional bit of grit. On one play during West York's final drive, Hepler lowered his head along the sideline and was absolutely drilled by a pair of Dallastown defenders. Hepler looked shaken up a bit, but got up a continued the drive. The junior had a decent night on the stat sheet as well, finishing 17-of-32 for 148 yards and rushing 14 times for 52 more yards. Where do they go from here? The answer seems pretty obvious for Dallastown. Based on the results, you'd have to consider them a favorite in the still-wide-open YAIAA Daivision I (with hat tips to Red Lion, Spring Grove and South Western, as well). The Wildcats play Northeastern next week, and barring a big upset should be undefeated going into their D-I opener at home against South Western. Something to remember: Arguably Dallastown's two toughest divisional games -- South Western and Red Lion -- are both at home. The Wildcats also host Central York, a team that's looking rejuvenated after a 54-0 blowout of New Oxford. For West York, this loss undoubtably hurt. But a 2-2 record isn't the end of the world. The Bulldogs travel to South Western next week -- a tough game to call, by the looks of things -- and then go into their Division II schedule. At this point, you'd have to consider it a pretty hefty upset if one of those D-II teams were to knock off West York. And while the prospect of going 7-3 or 8-2 might seem ho-hum compared to what the Bulldogs have done the last few years, that murderous non-league schedule will pay huge dividends for them in terms of District 3 playoff seeding.