Last Friday ended with an oversized Hershey chocolate bar and a bath for Littlestown coach Mike Lippy.
Fortunately for him, the night was not as cold as previous weeks, but he did not care. His Thunderbolts (12-0) had sealed their trip to Hersheypark Stadium for a District 3 Class AA championship game with Berks Catholic (12-0). The title-game appearance will be Littlestown's first since 2005. The school last won a district title in 2004.
Saturday's game, which kicks off at 6 p.m., will be the second district title game for the YAIAA. York Catholic (8-3) goes for the single-A title at noon against district power Steel-High (10-1).
A night earlier, on Friday, Dallastown (10-2) will play for a chance to make its first trip to Hershey when it visits Cumberland Valley (10-2) in Class AAAA.
Of the three York-Adams schools left standing, Littlestown is the only one holding the higher seed in its matchup. The Thunderbolts edged Berks Catholic for the Class AA top seed when two of the Saints' regular-season opponents lost on the Saturday of Week 10. Despite such close ratings, Berks Catholic enters Saturday's championship game coming off an impressive 42-14 beating of Bermudian Springs. Littlestown just got past Bermudian late in the season on a Trevor Hildebrand goal-line run in the final second, so Lippy admitted he was taken aback when he first heard what happened in the other semifinal Friday night.
"Now that we watched the film, Bermudian really had some bad luck in the first quarter," he said, pointing out to big plays from Saints running backs Chris Warren and Pop Lacy. "That kid, Warren, got bottled up then ran for about 60 yards. Then they threw an out right (to Lacy), and the kid missed him."
Warren's 67-yard run came within the first minute, and Lacy's big receiving play later had the Saints up by 14 in the first quarter. Like Bermudian and Wyomissing, which Littlestown beat, 29-23, on Friday, all three run the Wing-T offense. Since Littlestown played Bermudian in Week 9, the Bolts have seen it twice in their last four games.
"I think we're getting better and better at defending it," said Lippy, whose defense did not allow an offensive the second half last week. They rallied from a 21-7 first-half deficit.
Which gets to the big chocolate bar.
Lippy said the mother of his field goal kicker, Jeff Garmen, went to Hershey earlier in the week to buy a slew of chocolate bars. She purchased one big one for Lippy. By halftime, with Littlestown trailing 21-14, she was unsure what to do with it. She wound up giving it to the cheerleading coach, who handed it to Lippy once the comeback was complete.
The victory was a second straight playoff win against an opponent that finished its regular season better than it started. Annville-Cleona, which faced Littlestown in the quarterfinals, entered with four wins in its last five. Wyomissing was only 6-5 going into last week's game but had rebounded from a 2-3 start with nearly a whole new team from last year's state title squad. The Spartans closed their regular season just a two-point conversion away from beating Berks Catholic, too.
Perhaps the real momentum Wyomissing had entering last week's semifinal was history. Littlestown's last two seasons ended with first-round losses to the Spartans, which had Lippy preaching attitude just as much as X's and O's to his players.
He told them: "If you prepare all week for a team you don't think you're going to beat, you're not going to beat them."
Friday's Class AAAA Semifinal
Dallastown (10-2) at Cumberland Valley (10-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
The skinny: The last two weeks, Dallastown coach Kevin Myers has driven one message to his players -- "Act like you've been here before." That mantra will be put to the test, when the Wildcats travel to Cumberland Valley with a trip to next week's district final at Hersheypark Stadium on the line. Cumberland Valley owns 12 district titles, the most of any Class AAAA school and second to Manheim Central throughout District 3.
Wildcats must: Stop the run. Dallastown held four of its last five opponents within 100 yards rushing before facing Central Dauphin East and star back Chase Edmonds last week. Edmonds had 29 carries for 166, but this week's foe comes with a run-first tradition and two running backs who are a testament to the Wing-T offense that remained under first-year head coach Michael Whitehead. Tyler Updegraff enters with 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns on 221 carries. Although Tyler Heisey's 731 yards on 187 carries is nearly half that production, he sniffs the end zone much more. Heisey has 24 TDs.
Eagles must: Use double coverage on Dallastown senior receiver Malik Lewis, who caught the winning touchdown in last week's 21-20 victory against CD East. A second must would be to get the film of Central York's 17-7 win against Dallastown. It's the only time during the second half of the season -- other than CD East -- the Wildcats did not control the line of scrimmage.
Saturday's Class A championship
York Catholic (8-3) vs. Steel-High (10-1)
Kickoff: Noon at Hersheypark Stadium
The skinny: York Catholic plays in its first District 3 football title game since 2002. The Fighting Irish have not won a district championship since 1982. They face a Steel-High program that won four straight titles through 2008 and lost to Delone Catholic in last year's final.
Fighting Irish must: Beat the Rollers up the middle and take away their speed advantage. That's offensively. Defensively, York Catholic will chase quarterback James Warren, who played the position for only the second half last week against Fairfield. Without him at QB, the Rollers led 7-6. With him, they rolled to 46 unanswered points.
Rollers must: Get another dominating defensive effort. They have not given up more than 14 points in any game this year, and only twice did they yield that much. Their recipe against Fairfield included five turnovers, four by fumbles. They also displayed an ability to take down the quarterback. However, York Catholic quarterback Hakeem Kinard (1,168 yards rushing on 195 attempts) could prove a tougher challenge.