Roles reversed in Red Lion-Dallastown rivalry
Don't miss these games on Friday night. Sean Heisey, York Daily Record
There will be a familiar story line in this year's Red Lion vs. Dallastown high school football game, only this time the script will be flipped.
Last year, it was Dallastown that entered as the home team, with a perfect 9-0 mark on its resume; this year, Red Lion is the undefeated program defending its home turf.
Last year, Red Lion took the field with a 6-3 overall record and an upset at the forefront of its mind. The plan worked to perfection — the Lions won soundly, by a final score of 26-0.
This season, Dallastown is the team with a few blemishes on its overall mark, carrying a 7-2 record into Friday night's rivalry contest.
"Dallastown was tremendous last year," said Red Lion head coach Jesse Shay. "I'm sure (Wildcats' head coach Kevin Myers) is saying 'the pain we felt last year. We want Red Lion to feel that same thing this year.'"
Shay would later add: "When someone does something to you, you want them to experience the same thing."
Ordinarily, the game would have been played with a YAIAA Division I championship at stake. It lost some of its luster last weekend, however, when Central York upset Dallastown on the Wildcats' home field, 31-27.
Nevertheless, this rivalry is a fierce one — the best York County has to offer.
"It's proximity," Shay said. "These kids all know each other. They played on youth teams, were teammates at some places. It's as good a rivalry as I've been a part of."
And while the Wildcats downplayed last year's outcome in interviews leading up to this week's game, one would figure it would be hard to overlook entirely.
"It's the cross-town rivalry," said Dallastown kicker Drake Pew. "We want to get at them every single game. We want to do to them what they did to us last year."
In order to do that, the Wildcats will need to do what no opponent has done this season — control play up front against the Red Lion offensive line.
It's a veteran unit, going left-to-right: Bronson Warner (tackle), Jeff Lucas (guard), Dakota Cleary (center), Nick Argento (guard) and Steve Tierney (tackle).
Red Lion has rushed for 2,624 yards this season on 334 carries (7.9 yards per rush). Running back Dylan Gurreri is the bell cow (143 carries for 1,041 yards), yet quarterback Sam Emig is no slouch. The senior has rushed 90 times for 831 yards, good enough for an average of 9.2 yards per carry.
"They're a big part to what we do. Our team, our offense," Emig said of the Lions' offensive front. "They've been playing together since seventh grade. They're all brothers. I couldn't ask for a better line."
In the words of Myers: "They're huge. … I've followed them a bit. They're one unit. They move together, they're synchronized. They're fun to watch — when you're not preparing for them."
The Lions are 9-0 and have done so in convincing fashion.
But one cannot overlook the rivalry itself, the emotion of the game and what that will all mean when the ball is kicked off Friday.
"That little extra rush, the little extra adrenaline. That killer instinct," said Pew before Wednesday's practice. "They're coming in here and they think they're going to win. And we know they're a beatable team."
If you go
Who: Dallastown (7-2, 4-2) at Red Lion (9-0, 6-0)
What: YAIAA football game, Week 10
Where: Red Lion High School
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Watch live: The game will be livestreamed at GameTimePA.com