When he joined the York Silver Bullets back in 2005, Shawn Brady envisioned someday hoisting a league championship trophy.
While it took 14 years to happen, Brady was finally able to realize his dream this past Saturday.
Now the co-owner of the Atlantic Football Association franchise, Brady was on the sidelines when the Bullets rallied from a one-point deficit with 60 seconds left in regulation against Franklin County at Waynesboro High School.
The game-winning score happened when quarterback Bob Moore found Quinn Way in the back of the end zone with 23 seconds left. That tally, and the ensuing two-point conversion, gave the Bullets a 14-7 triumph and the organization’s first-ever championship.
“It was a little insane,” said Brady, who saw his team improve to 9-1 with the win. “It’s one of the few times where I didn’t mind us taking a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, because as soon as (the officials) signaled it as a touchdown, everyone ran off the bench on to the field to celebrate.”
Roster filled with former York-Adams stars: With a roster filled with former York-Adams League standouts such as Nykam Beverly, Edgar Centeno, Robert Catchings, Kahleik Savery, Shannon Valenti, James Way III and others, the Bullets were finally able to claim that elusive first title.
“This was our second time in the championship game,” Brady said. “We were in that game in our old league, the Colonial Football Alliance, back in 2008. And it took us awhile and some rebuilding years to get back.”
The Bullets fell in that game back in 2008 by a 14-13 margin. The thought of another possible one-point loss in the title game did not elude Brady's mind as time was winding down Saturday.
“It did cross my mind,” Brady said with a laugh.
The end result of winning the AFA title could mean another game this winter in Florida called the Sunshine Bowl showcase, which features adult amateur football champions from around the country.
“I know that the team that won the championship last year (in the AFA) was invited,” Brady said. “But we’ll just have to wait.”
New staff attracts younger players: After retiring from the game after last season, Brady, a former Central York standout, enjoyed his first year in which his focus has been on running the entire organization. After a disappointing 4-5 mark in 2018, Brady and his new coaching staff — Blair Powell (head coach), Lloyd Williams (assistant coach), James Way (defensive coordinator), Shannon Rose (line coach) and Shanoy Moody (line coach) — went to work in preparing the team for Saturday’s victory. That included recruiting new players while getting returning players accustomed to the new staff.
“I brought in Coach Powell and he brought in James Way,” Brady said. “And they did a phenomenal job of recruiting younger players from the area and some players from out of town that really meshed well together.”
Moore, a York native who played in high school for Glen Mills, tallied nearly 1,000 passing yards to go with 14 touchdowns during the regular season. Catchings, a Dallastown grad, rushed for a team-high 334 yards and two scores, while James Way III, a former York High standout, added 270 yards and three scores on the ground. Wide receiver Doobie Dorm caught 24 passes for 462 yards and seven TDs.
The roster make-up: While Brady would personally be thrilled to have recent high school graduates and current college standouts join the organization, NCAA and league by-laws effectively throw a cold towel on that. So most of the players who make the roster are those who either have graduated from college or have no intentions of playing college football after high school.
“All players have to be at least 18 years old by the first game,” Brady said. “But we don’t like to go that route because even though the league is nonpaying, we don’t want a kid to play if he still thinks he might play in college.”
So that effectively rules out recent high school stars from playing in the league before they make their way through college.
Brady also said former NFL standouts, such as Dover grad John Kuhn, would be welcomed with open arms, although that possibility seems extremely remote.
“Anything is possible,” said Brady, who noted that the Silver Bullets played most of their home games at the former Tri-Town field in Dover. “I think his mom still lives in the area.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.