Fresh off a narrow, one-stroke victory over Spring Grove Wednesday, Central York's golf team is preparing to battle Eastern York next week with a trip to the district playoffs on the line.
"We didn't play well, but we lucked out and won by one, so I guess we just needed the excitement," head coach Mike Ruby joked after the win against Spring Grove. "Now, we're just going to play one match at a time. We have to beat Eastern to get to districts. Our team knows exactly what's in front of them."
With a win, the Panthers, who have already clinched the Division I title for the second consecutive season, could run into Manheim Township in districts. The Blue Streaks ended Central's 2014 campaign with a five-stroke victory in the district championship. But the Panthers have added reinforcements since that heartbreaking loss.
During the offseason, sophomore Joe Parrini, who was named a GameTimePA first-team all star as a freshman, transferred to Central and jumped right into their top five.
"He has transitioned very well because he has played with our kids for most of their lives and I've known him since he was 5 years old," Ruby said. "He and the rest of the guys feed off each other. It has been a lot of fun to see."
Parrini joined two other sophomores (Matt Bricker and Julianne Lee) along with seniors Gus Minkin — who sports a league-best 72.2 average — and Connor Bacha in Ruby's talented lineup.
Bricker flashed his potential earlier this season when he followed up a 69 with a bogey-free round of 68 at The Bridges Golf Club.
"Not many kids, especially a sophomore, can do that," Ruby said. "That's a special round for anyone. He was on fire and he's only a sophomore so he's just going to keep getting better."
Competing against each other in such a talented, balanced lineup has pushed each of Central's golfers to lift their games, Ruby added.
"They're all course rats, we can't get them off the course," he laughed. "We're excited to see how far we can take it this year."
FIREWORKS AT BRIARWOOD WEST >> Division I put on a show at Briarwood West on Sept. 17. All seven teams finished with their lowest team average of the season and three teams finished under 300. The Panthers came out victorious, tying a season-low score of 287. Spring Grove (298) came in second after beating its previous best score by 25 strokes, and Dallastown, who will send four golfers to next week's individual district qualifier, came in third with a season-best 298.
Entering the tournament, Central York was the only team that had finished under 300 in a match this season and that happened just once.
"It's a much easier, shorter course, which our kids normally don't play too well," Ruby said of the course dimensions. "We all had a good day that day, no doubt about it."
GRUVER DYNASTY AT NEW OXFORD >> The Colonials have an impressive young freshman this season — Justin Gruver. If the last name sounds familiar, it's because Justin's older brother, Michael, averaged a 77.9 for New Oxford last season as a senior.
The younger sibling averaged a 75 this season and never shot above a 77. Gruver tied for first with Minkin at Red Lion's tournament and won The Bridges Club Championship earlier this month.
"He plays like a veteran player and is a very special person," New Oxford coach Josh O'Brien said of Gruver, who also qualified for the YAIAA individual tournament. "He has a great personality and a game to match. He is competitive too."