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Why William Penn's loss feels like a win (column)

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This space is typically reserved for actual victories, with no room for moral victories.

But I'm making an exception today.

Week 5 of YAIAA football provided several surprises, but the most surprising result of all came as Dallastown beat William Penn ... by just three points. That's right, the Bearcats, who went 0-10 last season and are 0-5 this season, went on the road and pushed the undefeated, two-time defending YAIAA Division I champions for 48 minutes.

In the standings, the game goes down as a win for Dallastown and a loss for William Penn. But in the eyes of many, it goes down as a victory for a William Penn looking to return to prominence. And it should certainly catch the attention of the coaches around the league who still have to play the Bearcats this season.

Just last week, William Penn lost to Red Lion, 49-7, in a Saturday afternoon home game. The Bearcat players walked off the field hanging their heads. Coach Russ Stoner expressed frustration, saying his team went back its "old York High way."

Stoner brought a lot of optimism this offseason to a program that desperately needed it, but after that game, doubt seemed to creep into his mind.

“We’re hoping they all stick together and they all continue to work," he said after losing to Red Lion. "We still have 60 kids on our football team, so we’re hoping that come Monday there’s still 60 kids on our football team.”

But the Bearcats did stick together. So much so that just six days later, they nearly pulled the biggest upset of the season — perhaps the biggest upset of several seasons.

They showed their coach, as well as the entire county, that a rough start to the season isn't deterring the progress they're making.

"I'm not going to deem this a coming out party," Stoner said after the Dallastown game. "I'm not a moral victory guy. But you can see it in the kids' eyes. They are hurting. They want to win so bad. And they had a chance tonight. We came to the two-time defending (YAIAA Division I) champs' house and played really well against them. I love these kids."

I'm not a moral victory guy either, but I'm gonna go ahead and call it a coming out party. This team is capable of winning a game this season, maybe more than one. Many high school football teams have talent, but not many have the kind of fight and resiliency the Bearcats showed last week.

So, here's a message to Spring Grove, which heads to Small Field to face William Penn next Saturday: Look out. The Bearcats aren't a pushover.

Go ahead and forward that message along to South Western, Northeastern, New Oxford and Central York, the other four teams that have to face William Penn this season. And if you don't believe me, take it from Dallastown coach Kevin Myers.

"(William Penn is) dangerous," he said Friday. "Every game we watched live or on tape they were in it. They are going to be a team to reckoned with. I hope they keep their heads up. I really think they were a player or two away and a few plays away from two or three wins already this year."