Panthers overcome inconsistencies to open season with win against Bulldogs
It didn't matter which coach you spoke to after the Central York-West York game on Friday night, Sept. 1.
Neither was particularly happy.
Only the Panthers' head man, Josh Oswalt, could feel at least partially satisfied that his team won, with Central securing a 28-13 win over the Bulldogs to kick off its season.
"Not good," Oswalt honestly assessed his team's performance. "I guess, maybe my expectations are above and beyond what they have. Execution tonight was embarrassing."
It could've been first-game jitters, but even Oswalt wouldn't allow that as a reasonable excuse. Simply put, the Panthers had the opportunity to put away a much younger and inexperienced West York team, but didn't.
Any positive feelings that Oswalt could've had from the game essentially went out the window immediately following his team's opening drive. That's when Central marched down the field in 10 plays and scored on a Gavin Downey six-yard touchdown catch less than five minutes into the game to go up 7-0.
After that, however, there was much to be desired about the Panthers' performance.
Central actually controlled the entire first half, even building a 21-0 lead at the break. But, inconsistencies on offense held back what could've been an even larger margin. Dropped passes that would've resulted in easy scores occurred on more than one occasion and an interception by the Bulldogs at their own goal line to end the first half prevented the Panthers from holding a four-score cushion at the break.
"Things that we work on daily, and it comes down to them being selfish and not sticking to the fundamentals," Oswalt said.
Still, Central held a significant advantage in yards gained and first downs after the first half, but West York was still just one big play away from being back in the contest.
And, in the span of two big plays, the Bulldogs did just that.
A 46-yard run by Ay'Jaun Marshall set up West York deep in Panthers' territory late in the third quarter for the first time all game. One play later, Jamal Anderson capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run, getting the Bulldogs on the board and within a couple scores.
"We waited till it was 21-0 to play," West York head coach Jeremy Jones said. "It was very similar to last week. We've been talking to the kids about consistency, consistency, consistency and we're still not there yet."
With West York gaining momentum and back in the game, Central put the game to rest early in the fourth quarter. Will Van Dyke scored from 33 yards out to put the Panthers in front, 28-6, which helped the team rest easy for the final nine minutes.
The final quarter was full of mistakes by both teams, with each side committing a number of penalties that brought the pace of the game to a near halt. For consolation purposes, the Bulldogs scored the game's final points with 15 seconds to play on a five-yard touchdown pass from Corey Wise to Eli Bentzel to make it 28-13.
"We talked about it a lot in the offseason, was that killer instinct," Oswalt said. "That 'sharks in the water.' When there's blood in the water, those sharks aren't feeling sorry for anybody laying there bleeding or whatever's there. We gotta be able to finish games. We gotta be able to get on top of people and finish them."
Cade Pribula showcased the maturity of being a second-year starter as a junior, using both his arm and legs to lead the Central offense. He completed 14 of 25 passes for two touchdowns, while he also rushed for 78 yards.
Marshall led West York in rushing, carrying the ball 21 times for 115 yards, aided greatly by the 46-yard run that set up the team's first touchdown.
CENTRAL YORK 28, WEST YORK 13
CY - Downey 7-yard catch (Basile kick), 7:21
CY - Sturgis 25-yard catch (PAT failed), 7:30
CY - Werner 2-yard run (2-point conversion successful)
WY - Anderson 15-yard run (2-point conversion failed), 3:20
CY - Van Dyke 33-yard run (Basile kick), 9:21
WY - Bentzel 5-yard catch (Bigelow kick), :15
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org