The preparations for Dallastown's highly successful football season began in the middle of last winter.
Thirty to 40 players regularly attended January workouts. They were looking to get stronger and faster while bonding with future teammates.
The Wildcats were determined that the 2013 season wasn't going to be like 2012, when they finished at 4-7.
The off-season and in-season work paid off. Dallastown will carry a 10-2 record into Friday night's District 3 Class AAAA semifinal game at Cumberland Valley. The opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Wildcats pulled out fourth-quarter victories over Dover and Central Dauphin East this season and rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat arch-rival Red Lion.
"We have a lot of pride," Robert Catchings said. "We're bonded together, and when we're down, we pick each other up."
Catchings, a 5-foot, 6-inch, 170-pound senior, is one of the York-Adams League's premier running backs with 1,329 yards on 198 carries (6.7 average).
"Our line is a big factor in that," Catchings said. "They do a good job of keeping the other guys off me. Once, I get to the backers (linebackers), there's room for me to run. Once, I see an open field, I just go."
Catchings is anticipating a "good rematch" with Cumberland Valley.
"Two years ago, they beat us in districts (51-22), and we're looking to get revenge for that," he said.
Cumberland Valley, as usual, poses a huge challenge.
The Eagles, who are also 10-2, have won 12 District 3 crowns and one state title.
"They have a new coach, but they haven't changed," Dallastown head coach Kevin Myers said. "They run the Wing-T (on offense) and both a 4-4 and 4-3 (defense). What they do, they do very well. That's why they're one of the most decorated teams in District 3."
Tyler Updegraff leads Cumberland Valley's run-oriented offense with 1,401 rushing yards. Another Tyler, Heisey, has supplied 740 ground yards.
"We played against three Wing-T teams in a row this season (Dover, New Oxford and South Western), so that should be good preparation for us," Dallastown defensive tackle Jordan Woods said. "In a Wing-T, the guards tell us where to go."
Cumberland Valley and Dallastown have three common opponents this season. The Eagles defeated Red Lion (44-14), Central York (21-7) and Central Dauphin East (32-7). Dallastown defeated Red Lion (31-24) and Central Dauphin East (21-20) and lost to Central (17-7).
Dallastown, the No.-3 seeded team, has to be considered the underdog to No. 2-seeded Cumberland Valley.
However, the Wildcats aren't conceding anything to the perennial champions.
"They're one of the top 16 teams in the state and one of the top four teams in the district, just like we are," Myers said. "This team (Dallastown) has gotten better the last four or five weeks. A lot of that success is due to the way that (quarterback) Andrew Henry has played."
Henry has completed 102 of 170 pass attempts for 1,354 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's been intercepted just four times.
"He's been getting rid of the ball, and he's smart with the ball," Myers said. " I thought his best throw was the one the other night to (Max) Naill that was called back. He (Henry) threw a laser on the run."
Henry led the Wildcats to the District 3 semifinals for the first time in history.
Dallastown is hoping to continue its magical run. The Wildcats have one more practice before boarding the bus for Cumberland Valley.
"Football is a blast and playing this late in the season is a dream," Woods said. "We're definitely living our dream."