The head coach yelled and waved his arms up and down to get the audience involved. Players slapped hands with fans along the edges of the playing field. Even York City Mayor Kim Bracey participated in a throwing contest against two young fans to entertain the crowd. And nearly a dozen students from the York High band brought their drums to pump up the audience.
However, York quarterback Andrew Daley said afterwards the most important thing that could happen to win over the nearly 1,300 fans in attendance Saturday night was for the York Capitals to get a victory in the franchise's opener at the York City Ice Arena.
"That was running through my mind all week," said Daley, who had previously played college ball at Towson with Central York grad Steve Jordan. "We gotta go out there. We gotta win. We gotta put on a good show because we gotta keep them coming back. If there's no fans, there's no team. That's what it's all about."
For American Indoor Football standards, where teams normally average well beyond 70 points a contest, Saturday night's game wasn't exactly pretty. Still, a 32-25 win over visiting Washington counts as a victory for the Capitals.
"This is their (Washington's) third game and this is our first game," York head coach Kelly Logan said. "So I expected things like this to happen with a few mistakes here and there. Not only the players but also the coaches."
Overall, the experience turned out to be a good one for all involved.
"It's great. It makes me feel young again," said Steven Holcomb, a Conewago Township resident who attended the game with his wife. "I'm still learning the rules. I don't know if it's the same as the NFL. It's a faster game and everything. And it's great because we're all up close."
The ice rink, converted to an indoor football field earlier this week, was surrounded by the crowd on nearly every side. That kind of turnout in the team's opener can only be good news, said York City councilman Michael Helfrich, who got the honors of handling the pre-game coin flip.
"Well besides the fun of it and the York spirit, we still have an ongoing debt of nearly half-a-million-dollars a year on the arena," Helfrich said. "Anything to make the community utilize (the arena) and have this much fun, it's a good thing."
GAME: The Caps (1-0), wearing silver helmets and dark-blue jerseys and pants with white lettering, got the crowd going early on with a touchdown pass and another touchdown off an interception to lead 12-0 - both extra-point attempts were unsuccessful - through the first quarter.
Washington (0-3) then scored two unanswered touchdowns and converted one extra-point attempt to nab a 13-12 lead - its only lead of the game - in the second quarter. York scored a touchdown with 30.3 seconds left in the first half to take an 18-12 lead into halftime.
Both teams traded touchdowns in the second half, with Washington getting the final score with 6:05 remaining. Down by seven points, Washington had two separate possessions just yards from York's end-zone in the final minute, but the Caps' defense held both times to get the win.
"That's when you have to suck it up," said York defensive back Archie Smith, who's in his eighth year playing indoor football. "It's eight guys but those other seven guys out there together as a whole unit we all came together when we had to."
IMPROVEMENTS: Logan recognizes there are improvements that will need to be made going forward. One of those, though, won't include dealing with the arena's low ceiling, which got hit by the ball about a half-dozen times.
"You know what? That's a part of the game," Logan said. "We decided that we're going to deal with what we have. This is what we have. We're just going to keep working hard and be successful."
John Morris, the owner of AIF and the Capitals, also recognized some areas for improvement.
"I think one of the things, because we had so many people, there was difficulty maintaining the crowd," Morris said. "But everyone was in their seats. Maybe we needed to open the doors a little earlier. We anticipated a sold-out crowd. Thanks goodness we got it."
For Daley, who tossed three touchdown passes, he's just thankful he and the Capitals got off to a good start in front of their home crowd.
"This was awesome. It was really loud in here," Daley said. "We didn't practice in front of anything like this. So it was hard to relay the messages and the calls and things like that. Hopefully this continues for the rest of the season. We put on a good show and had a good game tonight."
NEXT GAME: The Capitals will play at Harrisburg next Saturday before returning home April 20th to face West Virginia.
--Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.