Robby Harbison even surprised himself on Monday night.
In a game that felt different because of its early start time and Monday-night kickoff — the game was postponed to 5 p.m. Monday because of Friday's heavy rain — the South Western senior running back immediately gave the Mustangs offense a different look.
Harbison, who was initially told he wouldn't be able to play at all this season after injuring his right ankle on the first day of summer camp practice, returned to the Mustangs' lineup and ran for 61 yards and a touchdown on the first drive of the game. He ended the day with 19 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns in South Western's 35-14 triumph over Central York.
Even Harbison didn't expect the performance he produced, especially considering the injury kept him from walking for more than three weeks. The first doctor he saw told him he would need season-ending surgery, but a second opinion suggested he do physical therapy and not play football until he could sprint and cut again. He started moving around without crutches a month ago, and started running about two weeks ago.
"I took (an extra) week off to be safe," he said. "That way I could get two weeks under my belt of practice to have more confidence going into the game."
There was no shortage of confidence Monday, even after Harbison rolled his other ankle and limped off the field late in the first half. He returned after halftime and led a scoring drive late in the third quarter to eliminate momentum the Panthers had built by scoring 14 straight points.
That touchdown was set up by a interception by Miles Francis, the first defensive stand since Central York had put together a 51-yard scoring drive to end the first half and a 96-yard scoring drive to start the second half.
"You can't be a great defense and have those peaks and valleys," South Western coach Damian Poalucci said of his team's inconsistent performance. "Sometimes we played really, really well, but that was kind of disheartening at times and I expect more from the guys."
The Mustangs (4-1 overall record) are now 2-0 in Division I, while Central York (1-4 overall) drops to 0-2 in the division.
Both teams now have just four days to prepare for their next games. Central York coach Brad Livingston hopes his team can gain confidence from the positives it showed when it came back in the game.
"We really haven't been playing with a lot of confidence because the beginning of our season is a little tough," he said. "I'm rethinking whether or not I need to take a look at that schedule, because maybe it's a little bit too much."
Central York0770—14South Western14777—35
SW — Robby Harbison 20 run (Wes Sneeringer kick), 8:52.
SW — Noah Staub 43 pass from Brock Geiman (Sneeringer kick), 1:41.
SW — Jeff Green 15 pass from Geiman (Sneeringer kick), 8:47.
CY — Shyheim Goff 7 pass from Nik Strine (Carter Luckenbaugh kick), 0:06.
CY — Goff 25 run (Luckenbaugh kick), 7:19.
SW — Harbison 2 run (Sneeringer kick), 2:19.
SW — Mike Johnson 51 run (Sneeringer kick), 1:16.
CYSWFirst downs1817Rushes-yards27-9941-285Passing20-46-28-12-1Passing yards255113Total yards354398Punts5-322-30Fumbles-lost0-03-1Penalties-yards6-406-63
Rushing — CY, Shyheim Goff 22-91, Elzir Stroman 3-8, Nik Strine 2-0. SW, Robby Harbison 19-127, Miles Francis 7-41, Nigel Williams 6-37, Jeff Green 4-19, Mike Johnson 1-51, Brock Geiman 3-9, Tyler Fulmore 1-1.
Passing — CY, Strine 16-38-201-2, Cade Pribula 4-8-54-0. SW, Geiman 8-12-113-1.
Receiving — CY, Brandon Falkenstein 8-131, Sakai Barton 7-74, Stroman 1-9, Sandy Paulino 1-18, Shawn Johnston 1-13, Goff 2-10. SW, Noah Staub 4-77, Green 4-36.