VIDEO: West York head coach Jeremy Jones discusses the Bulldogs' difficult nonleague schedule, their chances in D-II and their large senior class. JACOB CALVIN MEYER, 717-505-5406/@jcalvinmeyer
Five weeks ago, West York’s season seemed lost.
A senior-laden team with top York-Adams League players such as Andrew LaManna and Ay’Jaun Marshall was 0-5 overall and 0-1 in York-Adams Division II play.
The Bulldogs had only one path to making the District 3 Class 4-A playoffs — run the table.
“We knew other people weren’t confident in us,” LaManna said. “We needed to worry about only ourselves. Throughout those five games, our backs were against the wall.”
Run the table is exactly what West York did.
The Bulldogs are now 5-5 and are preparing for their first playoff game since 2014. West York is the No. 9 seed in the 4-A playoff bracket and will travel to No. 8-seed West Perry on Friday.
“It was tough,” head coach Jeremy Jones said. “Our kids battled. The kids just kept going and buying into what we were doing. Hats off to them, because a lot of kids could have quit on those situations, and they didn’t. I’m proud of them."
How they did it: The Bulldogs started the season with losses to Central York, Shippensburg, Lampeter-Strasburg, Gettysburg and Wyomissing. All five of those squads are playing in the District 3 playoffs this weekend.
The Bulldogs got their first win of the season in late September with a 40-13 victory over Susquehannock. West York then won three straight close games vs. Eastern York, Kennard-Dale and York Suburban.
The team was 4-5 heading into last Friday’s game against rival Dover. A loss would have bumped the team out of the postseason.
Jones said the Bulldogs played “by far” their best game of the season in a 49-22 triumph.
“As a team, that’s the best full game we’ve played all year,” Jones said. “Everything clicked on Friday. … They’re a resilient bunch. These guys have embraced being backed into a corner.”
Potent passing attack: Three West York players had career games in the win. Corey Wise, the team's junior quarterback, completed 17 of 24 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns vs. no interceptions.
“He has so much potential,” Jones said. “I tell him to be a distributor. We are trying to take advantage of what they give us. We always focus on the match-ups, because we’ve got some guys who are match-up nightmares for some teams.”
LaManna, who is one of the top wideouts in the league, caught 10 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s huge, literally and figuratively,” Jones said about LaManna. “He’s got great hands and a great sense of space."
The 6-foot, 5-inch senior also threw for a 23-yard score to Shane Kauffman, who caught four passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall, who has rushed for nearly 1,100 yards this season despite missing two games, ran for 88 yards and two scores in the win over Dover.
“It was crazy. We all had career games,” LaManna said. “I had a career game, Ay’Jaun had a few touchdowns, Corey threw for almost 400 and Shane had a great day.”
Jones said Wise’s development has been sped up by having a top wideout such as LaManna to throw to.
“If Corey is off a foot or two, it’s not a big deal,” Jones said. “Corey has been starting since the second half of his freshman year, so they’ve played 25 games together.”
“All I have to do is throw it up to him,” Wise said about LaManna. “Most of these corners are 5-10, and he’s 6-5. You just have to give him a chance, and he usually comes down with it.”
LaManna said Wise has the perfect attitude for a quarterback.
“He’s positive and confident,” LaManna said. “I love having him at quarterback. I'm proud of him.”
Senior leadership: Jones said he credits the turnaround to the team’s senior leadership.
“I think it helps when you have (21) seniors,” Jones said. “Some of our seniors have played since their freshman year. Some of these guys have seen a ton of football. Guys like Ay’Jaun, Andrew, Justin (Wetzel) and Shane have all seen a ton of football. There isn’t much they haven’t seen.”
LaManna said the senior class, and having confidence against Division II squads, led to the turnaround.
“Our entire starting lineup is consisted of seniors,” he said. “I think it’s comfortability. In the beginning of the year, we were playing nonleague teams. But we’ve played Suburban and Eastern and beaten them before. We were more confident in division play.”
Playoff game: The Bulldogs travel to take on West Perry (7-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Mid-Penn squad is led by quarterback Kenyon Johnson and running back Terrance Quaker, who have combined for 1,800 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns this season.
“(Johnson and Quaker) are a large part of their team,” Jones said. “We have to contain (Johnson). He’s slippery and scary in space, and (Quaker) is a burner.”
Jones said the message to the team is one directed at his 21 seniors.
“If you guys want another chance to play together, you have to take care of business,” Jones said. “Don’t look at the bracket. None of that matters.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org,