Thoughts from West York-South Western
A few stream-of-conscious thoughts on the aftermath of West York's clinical, 49-14 rout of South Western...
The Mike Bell Effect: For the second straight week, West York's senior tailback was a game-changer. He ran for 138 yards and pair of touchdowns on just 14 carries. And while I'm not able to keep statistics for missed tackles, Bell caused a bunch of those, too. He ran around defenders, scooted by them and, on one second quarter play, jumped right over one.
More importantly, Bell had zero fumbles this week, something he's struggled with at times.
"It felt like I got the monkey off my back this week," Bell said afterward. "I had a couple turnovers last week. I was able to eliminate that. "
In just three games (he was ineligible for the Bulldogs' first two), Bell has given West York a different dynamic. While junior Brock Snellbaker is the workhorse, Bell constantly probes for a big play. He had five runs of 12 yards or more on Friday. On his 49-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Bell dashed right, cut back, made a defender miss and then outrun the rest of South Western's defense. Bell broke last week's game against Dallastown open with a similar long touchdown run. He possesses both breakaway speed and, at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, a near-ideal running back's build.
"You give it Mike and he's out dancing and jumping around and making people miss," West York coach Ron Miller said. "Next thing you know, he's in the end zone."
Hepler on point: We've seen Bulldogs quarterback Kaden Hepler play some good football the last few years. Friday's game may have been his finest performance.
The senior operated with pinpoint precision. Everything he threw was on target. Hepler completed 12 of 16 passes in the first half for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
"Everything was right where it needed to be," Miller said. "The balls were delivered on time. His reads were good tonight. He managed the game well as he always does."
Hepler's most impressive pass came early in the second quarter. On a second-and-goal from the 11-yard line, Hepler took a quick drop and fired a perfect, back-shoulder throw to Zack Smith just inside the left goal line pylon. It was the sort of throw you don't often see at the high school level.
Hepler said he worked on the throw in practice this week.
"You gotta practice that a lot," Hepler said. "You see guys in the NFL make that throw. It’s not easy. You both have to be on the same page. So I was happy that (Zack) saw it, too. I made the throw, he made the catch."
"As soon as he did it, he pointed to his shoulder," Miller said of his quarterback. "He’s at that point. He’s been playing for a while. It was a great adjustment by Zack, as well."
Defense steps up again: Not to be lost in the Bulldogs' offensive barrage was the performance of the defense, which plucked three interceptions and smothered South Western's Wing-T ground attack. The Mustangs were limited to 83 rushing yards in the first half, and 35 of those came on Dillon Thomas' second-quarter touchdown run.
The defense also played in integral part in two of West York's first three touchdowns. Jerrin Toomey's interception -- his first of two on the night -- set up West York's first touchdown. Later in the quarter, Brock Gladfelter returned an interception 42 yards down the right sideline to make it 21-0.
South Western also fumbled away a pair of kickoffs, giving the Mustangs five turnovers on the night. West York actually entered the night with a minus-one turnover ratio on the season, a rarity for the Bulldogs. The number moved to plus-four after Friday night.
And what of the Mustangs?: Certainly, there will be plenty of glitches for South Western to correct. The turnovers. Spotty blocking up front. Lots of missed tackles. But after the game, veteran coach Don Seidenstricker didn't seem too concerned about Xs and Os.
"We're embarrassed," Seidenstricker said. "I said this is a championship-level game. (West York) understood that. They took it to heart. We didn’t compete.
"Tonight, (turnovers) didn’t make the difference in the game. We came here to avoid losing. We did not come here to play a football game. And when you play to avoid losing in a high-level, high-emotion football game, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
"It doesn’t have anything to do with Xs and Os, it’s the approach to the game and how you compete."
Plenty to chew for the Mustangs, who must regroup in time for next week's division opener at home against Dallastown.