After back-to-back District 3 Class A championship game appearances, York Catholic found itself in an unusual situation five games into the 2015 season.
The Fighting Irish were 1-4 and in need of a lift. A quick look at the four teams that had beaten them during the first half of the season, however, told the team things weren't as bad as they seemed to be.
Northeastern, Susquehannock, Berks Catholic and Hanover were a combined 17-3 to that point and York Catholic coach Eric Depew knew the season was far from lost.
"I will say we played some really good teams," he said. "Northeastern is a great team, Susquehannock, (new coach Steve Wiles) is doing a great job, and Berks is Berks. Hanover is in first place and unbeaten."
A dramatic 29-24 win at rival Delone Catholic gained the Irish some traction, however up next came the Nighthawks.
"I was confident going into the Hanover game and we just made a couple of mistakes on special teams," said Depew.
The next week, Depew sensed his team needed some guidance. Prior to the Littlestown game, he read the story of Jonah from the Bible.
"We had a rare situation for us," he said. "We were 1-4 going into that game. I read some scripture about Jonah and the whale being in the depth of the ocean. That is kind of where we were at that time, in a pit. We needed to believe we could climb out of it."
An impressive 35-14 win over the Thunderbolts was followed by last week's victory against Biglerville, a team which hadn't lost a Division III game prior to that meeting.
"We had a good game at Littlestown, got the line established and ran the ball," Depew said. "Going against Biglerville, we knew they were a good team, 3-0 in the division. It was definitely a huge, huge win for us."
Football basics — improved defense and running the football — has anchored the Irish turnaround. York Catholic ran for 203 yards against the Canners last week. After going for 108 in that game, Jakkar Kinard stands third in the league in rushing with 676 yards.
First-year quarterback Dan Yokemick has also stepped up to help the offense move.
"We knew Dan was an athlete coming in. We knew he had the skills. It was just a matter of time. He's getting better, and he and Jakkar are nice one-two punch," Depew said.
"Jakkar played a lot of defense for us last year. We knew what we were getting with him and that he's something special. We wanted to lean on him and get him 20-25 carries. He's starting to get the load."
Up next for the Irish is a Bermudian Springs squad that was in a similar situation a few weeks ago. The Eagles uncharacteristically started off 0-4 before winning their last three, capped by last week's overtime thriller against Delone.
Not only will York Catholic have to deal with a resurgent Bermudian team, but Eagles running back Ashton West is also climbing up the YAIAA leader board. He's fourth in the league in rushing yards and on top with nine touchdowns.
Suddenly a game that looked meaningless a few weeks ago has huge implications in Division III with both teams chasing unbeaten Hanover. Not only that, but the Irish are ranked third in the District 3 Class A rankings.
Even when his team was 0-3, Depew knew the Irish would come around. The team has become a regular in the district playoffs, something he doesn't see coming to an end.
"I knew we had a great group of kids, a lot of talent. Just a matter of getting everyone together," he said. "After the (Biglerville) win we are third, we have a great opportunity.
"If we win out, we could move up to second or are no worse than a third seed. We've got three weeks to play. A loss can kill us. We will handle what we can control and see how it plays out."