Red Lion hungry for win over rival, undefeated Dallastown
In his third season as head coach, Red Lion's Jesse Shay has always offered a different view of the Lions' backyard rivalry with Dallastown.
For starters, Shay credits Wildcats coach Kevin Myers with creating the program that other YAIAA big schools strive to be. Dallastown's success over the past several years lends credence to Shay's claim.
At the Lions' practice on Monday, Shay offered even more perspective.
"You have to remember the huge demographic changes we have had – and Dallastown as well – over the last decade," he said. "A lot of these kids that are playing for us didn't grow up here.
"Everyone on the field knows how important the rivalry is to the area. The players may not feel that same rivalry towards the guys wearing blue. That's OK, they know who they are playing for."
Still, that doesn't mean that emotions won't be high on Friday when the two square off at Dallastown (9-0, 6-0 YAIAA Division I) in a game that has been known to draw a standing-room only crowd.
And for all the good feelings between the two schools, that doesn't mean that Red Lion (6-3, 4-2) would not take particular delight with putting the only blemish on the Wildcats season thus far.
There's too many factors for the bordering schools, located less than 3 miles apart, to not continue being rivals.
Yet, the bottom-line motivation for Shay and the Lions is more than the history.
"I am 0-2 against them. I have never beaten this program and none of these guys have beat that program at the varsity level," Shay said. "We know they are now the two-time (Division I) champs. We need to know that instead of just playing with them like the last two years, we need to know we can beat them."
Red Lion's Alex Keough, who with 860 yards and nine touchdowns has been among the YAIAA leaders in rushing most of the season, said the team is approaching the game like any other, however
"It's just another game, but it's definitely different. This whole week has a different feel to it," he said. "It's a big one, winning this game would be a little more sweeter than any other ones."
Keough is one of those seniors that has not beaten Dallastown at the high school level.
"It's definitely something that is going to be in the back of our minds, whether we want it to or not," the running back said. "You are going to have to have that extra motivation to beat these guys. Not only because the last two games we lost to them, but because it's Dallastown and the history behind it."
With Red Lion's defense playing at its best right now this season - and perhaps at its best level than at any other point during Shay's tenure at the school - Friday's showdown comes at a good time for the Lions.
Against Spring Grove last week, juniors Ben Frey and Nick Argento led a defensive unit that recorded five sacks, had 14 tackles for a loss and forced a fumble, as the Lions stifled the Rockets outside of one long play and a final long drive.
"We've got to get them off the field. To me that is good as a turnover," Shay said. "The third down conversions are important. We got out of third down situations last week, we got out of them the week before. We have to keep it rolling."
The rivalry has nearly always produced close games, something that happened several years ago when the Wildcats were struggling and of late with the Lions. It is the proverbial records-don't-matter matchup.
"I wasn't here for it, but I keep hearing about the lean years at Dallastown. Nothing that I have seen makes me believe that those things occurred, or that they should happen again as long as Kevin is in charge," said Shay.
With both teams playing at a high level, this could be a classic.
Week 10 YAIAA football schedule
Note: Friday's games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
Biglerville at Bermudian Springs
Central York at William Penn
Delone Catholic at Hanover
Dover at Susquehannock
East Pennsboro at Northern York
Eastern York at York Suburban
Gettysburg at West York
Littlestown at Fairfield
New Oxford at Northeastern
Red Land at Cedar Cliff
Red Lion at Dallastown
South Western at Spring Grove
Kennard-Dale at Millersburg
York Catholic at York County Tech, 2 p.m.