Two weeks into his first season at Central York, coach Josh Oswalt said he couldn’t be happier with his decision to leave Carlisle and come to the Panthers.
Central is 1-1, with a big opening night win against rival West York and even last week’s loss against perennial district power Cumberland Valley did nothing to temper the enthusiasm.
“I honestly feel I know what we are capable of. We are two weeks in and I have a pulse on who my guys are and what we can do,” Oswalt said. “I love playing some of the top dogs in the district and state, and Cumberland Valley really tests who we are.”
In fact, Oswalt felt his team played with the mighty Eagles throughout the first half. It was a two-score game until Charlie Katshir returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown with only 33 seconds left in the half, and Cumberland Valley won, 35-7.
“(The score) isn’t really indicative of what came out of the game,” he said. “We were down 14-0 at halftime if Charlie Katshir doesn’t break eight tackles returning a punt. We probably had 10 opportunities to get him. It was a learning experience.”
Oswalt would know about the power of playing this type of competition from the other side. He played at Cumberland Valley, and in his three years of varsity, the Eagles only lost four games, two of which were in the PIAA playoffs.
“I know if you want to be the best you have to the beat the best,” he said. “We at Central played better against CV on Friday than any Carlisle team I faced them with.
“Playing them early in the year, now we can gauge who we are. Now we see we can’t make mistakes against good teams. We don’t want to pick up cupcakes, this (type of matchup) is going to be for us moving forward.”
Central York athletic director Marty Trimmer said the district has noticed the good things Oswalt has done, and not just within the walls of the high school or the confines of the football field.
“We are very pleased at this point of what Josh had been able to do in a short time,” said Trimmer. “He’s created a lot of excitement, not only at the high school level, he’s also been really involved with our middle school kids and coaching staff and made them involved with our program.”
Trimmer added how impressed people are with the community aspect that Oswalt is promoting. Last Saturday after a practice, the entire Panthers' team participated in an autism walk hosted by the school.
“The whole football team went over and walked. They didn’t have to, but they all went over as a team,” Trimmer said. “He is trying to get his football team involved with the community as much as they can. That’s a positive.”
On the field, Oswalt believes in being up-tempo, and Friday night’s game at Hempfield will be more of the same. Considering Hempfield plays the same way, expect a track meet in Landisville.
Plus, both teams are similar: They lack experience but have a solid number of players. Still, Oswalt knows he will have to contain the Black Knights' 6-foot-4 quarterback David Robinson, who took over after three-year starter Sam Kramer graduated.
“He is their all-everything guy,” Oswalt said. “He’s got big shoes to fill but I feel like he has done a nice job the last two weeks. He’s a big kid, a fast kid. We don’t want to be that team where he is hitting on all cylinders against.”
Hempfield is 0-2, after a season-opening loss at Dallastown and a setback against Exeter.