HERSHEY — After some of the West York senior football players emerged from the lockerroom at Hersheypark Stadium on Friday night, they exchanged hugs.
The tightly knit group of players had just played their final game together, and the disappointment over the outcome was clearly visible on their faces.
The Bulldogs traveled to Hershey to try and win a District 3 Class AAA championship.
Bishop McDevitt, though, refused to let that happen as the Crusaders captured their third straight district title, 21-10.
The loss stung the West York players, but eventually the memories of a
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"It was a great season," Bulldogs' wide receiver Zack Smith said. We went 13-1, most wins ever in West York history. We have a great group of 24 seniors, and most of them are going to play in college."
After Smith and his teammates fell behind Bishop McDevitt, 14-0, they rallied to close within four points, but didn't get any closer. The Crusaders sealed the victory on Andre Robinson's seven-yard touchdown run with just four seconds remaining in the third quarter.
"We went into halftime down, 14-7, and we said, we're going to score (a touchdown) on the first possession of the second half," Smith said. "We had a big (kickoff) return from me, and a huge run from Brock (Snellbaker), but we only got a field goal."
Smith took the kickoff back 38 yards to the Crusaders' 47-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage, Snellbaker bolted 35 yards to the 12-yard line. The next three plays netted just one yard, and Chris Markel came on and drilled a 25-yard field goal.
"We had some (scoring) opportunities that we left out there," West York head coach Ron Miller said. "We needed to play a perfect game, but we didn't do that tonight."
Bishop McDevitt was almost perfect on its first drive on the game going 89 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. The payoff came on a 28-yard pass from Alec Werner to Kobay White.
The Crusaders increased their lead to 14-0 in the second quarter on a six-yard pass from Werner to Brian Lemelle.
Bishop McDevitt had to travel just 10 yards for the score after Smith, the Bulldogs' punter, couldn't get a punt off and tried to run for a first down, but was tackled seven yards short of the stick.
"If I wouldn't have ran, the punt would have gotten blocked anyway," Smith said.
Miller said the Bulldogs' coaches in the press box confirmed that Smith wouldn't have been able to cleanly punt the ball.
The two-touchdown deficit didn't discourage West York which responded with a 55-yard scoring drive. Snellbaker did the honors on the TD from the 2-yard line, and Markel kicked the extra point.
West York, though, wasn't able to get in the end zone again.
Bishop McDevitt sealed the outcome by going 35 yards for the final touchdown. The Crusaders gained outstanding field position when West York failed to convert a fourth-and-three call from its own 35.
"I made the decision to go for it on fourth down," Miller said. "I've trusted the kids, and they're like, let's go for it. I thought at this point in time playing the best team in the state of Pennsylvania, we're going to go at it.
"I have no regrets about anything this season. We had a great season. We just came up short against a really good football team."
Snellbaker closed his career by rushing for 90 yards, and Smithh, the York-Adams leading receiver this season, caught four passes for 42 yards.
"Everything is on the line, you have to give 110 percent," Snellbaker said. "You never know when it's going to be your last time."
Werner passed for 274 yards and two touchdowns for the Crusaders. The West York defense gave up 11 more points it's been allowing all season, but two of McDevitt's touchdowns came on short fields. The Bulldogs caused four turnovers (two interceptions and two lost fumbles).
"I'm going to be losing 24 of the finest kids I've every been around," Miller said. "A lot of great families. It's been special. As I get older, it will be fun to see how successful these kids become."
Reach Dick Vanolinda at firstname.lastname@example.org