STROHECKER: With high expectations, Central York must learn how to finish off opponents
- Central York earned a 28-13 season-opening triumph over West York on Friday night.
- The Panthers jumped out to a 21-0 lead and were never really threatened.
- Despite the victory, Central could never truly put away a younger and outmanned Bulldogs team.
You don’t ever apologize when you win a football game.
It doesn’t matter at what level — professional, college or high school. Every coach and player knows the amount of work that goes into a week to prepare for that one game — that one chance to wake up the next morning feeling great, as opposed to feeling awful.
So, you never apologize when you win one, no matter how ugly.
Central York head coach Josh Oswalt didn’t apologize for his Panthers only coming away with a 28-13 win over West York on Friday night, Sept. 1, to kick off their season. Apologizing would’ve been disrespectful toward a Bulldogs team that didn’t quit, despite falling behind 21-0 by halftime, and continued to fight, even though it was greatly outnumbered and outmanned.
What Oswalt was, however, was embarrassed. The execution by Central was inconsistent, with dropped passes, missed assignments and uncharacteristic penalties plaguing the team all night.
He knows his team is capable of more. Even though it was the first game of the year for the Panthers, he expected more.
“I guess, maybe my expectations are above and beyond what they have,” Oswalt said. “Execution…was embarrassing."
Trendy pick: Oswalt isn’t the only one who has extremely high expectations for Central. The Panthers are a trendy pick to win the York-Adams League Division I title this year, a product of going 7-4 overall last year and making the District 3 Class 6-A playoffs.
And what comes with high expectations is the perception that, when you have the chance to bury a team, you do it. Teams expected to be great don’t play down to their opponents. They build a lead and then look to increase it.
Oswalt acknowledged his team didn’t have a killer instinct last season, but that was to be anticipated with a team that was still learning how to win, coming off a 3-7 year in 2015. Central stunned almost everyone not associated with the program last season with its performance. By the time it was expected of the team to win games, the season was nearing a close. There was never that belief that the Panthers would blow out teams. With Oswalt in his first year coaching the team, a first-year starting quarterback in then-sophomore Cade Pribula and only winning three times in 2015, simply winning the next game on the schedule sufficed.
That won’t cut it this year.
There won’t be any sneaking up on teams by Central in 2017. It’ll be the hunted and anytime a team can take the Panthers to the wire, it’ll be seen as a moral victory by others around the league, especially in Division I. It may help enforce the notion that, just maybe, Central is not as good as expected.
Panthers never in danger: Central was never in great danger of losing to the Bulldogs on Friday night. West York only got to within 15 points in the second half, once when it finally got on the board late in the third quarter and then again with 15 seconds left in the game. But, the Panthers never put the finishing touches on what could’ve been a convincing season-opening win.
It will no longer be good enough for Central to just simply win games this year.
It will be expected to finish off teams when given the chance, something that it needs to learn how to do.
“We gotta be able to finish games,” Oswalt said. “We gotta be able to get on top of people and finish them.”
Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org