Commentary: Long ride ends for Biglerville seniors
Upper classmen built lasting legacy in Biglerville football community
The Biglerville players broke their postgame huddle, stood up and applauded their fans.
For several seconds, the Canners clapped their hands together, doing what their faithful have turned out in large numbers to do multiple times in the past month. Those fans traveled to fill the away bleachers for a division-clinching win at Bermudian Springs two weeks ago, then filled the away bleachers last week at Hanover and greeted the team's return by lining Main Street in Biglerville and cheering and holding up signs as the Canners' bus roared into town after a playoff victory.
The fans packed the away bleachers again on Saturday, this time in Wyomissing, where they watched the Canners' ride end with a 42-14 loss in the District 3 Class AA football semifinals.
For many of the Canners and their families, the journey that ended on Saturday started long before this group of 16 seniors attended their first day of high school. It started in front of sparse crowds at youth football games.
Many on the team, including team captains Scott Cooper, Ben Hurda and Dayne Showers, began playing together in fourth grade. Honorary captain Colton Sentz joined the team in fifth grade.
While this year's YAIAA Division III title and the district playoff victory against Hanover are the crowning achievements this senior class will be remembered by, this group of players produced several big moments well before their senior seasons that they'll never forget. They went undefeated in fifth grade. Hurda completed a miracle pass to Cooper as time expired to beat rival Bermudian Springs in eighth grade. They snapped a 10-game varsity losing streak by grinding out a victory in Waynesboro last season on a balmy day in front of more than 1,000 fans.
“I think that’s why we were as successful as we were, because they are close, they are tight-knit," Biglerville coach Alex Ramos said about his seniors. “We had kind of an idea (what we were getting). I don’t put a lot of weight in what goes on in youth, but we thought we might’ve had something special. There’s a lot of guys who just worked their tails off.”
That camaraderie extended beyond the locker room, as a united fan base formed to support this senior class which led the team as far into the postseason as any senior class had before.
“They showed great support," Cooper said. "I’m very proud of that.”
“I don’t think this would’ve been the same without them,” added Sentz.
So they applauded the fans, thanking the backbone that supported them from youth games in Biglerville nine years ago all the way to Saturday's playoff game nearly two hours away in Berks County. Then they hugged each other and patted each other on the back, tears welling up in their eyes as nearly a decade of football together came to an end.
“I can’t believe it’s over," Showers said. "It seems like just yesterday we were going out against James Buchanan for our first (varsity) game our sophomore year. Now it’s over and I can’t believe it.”