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Inspired by Patrick Maloney, Kennard-Dale determined to continue strong start to 2020

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
Kennard-Dale senior lineman Gabe Hulslander goes through a drill during practice. Hulslander and the Rams look to move to 2-0 against New Oxford on Friday.
  • Kennard-Dale is coming off a 34-20 victory over York Suburban in its 2020 football opener.
  • The Rams were inspired by an appearance by former teammate Patrick Maloney.
  • The Rams face a road test against a 2-0 New Oxford team on Friday night.
Patrick Maloney is shown wearing his powerlifting medals while graduating from Kennard-Dale High School recently.

Headed into its first game of the season, the Kennard-Dale High School football players weren't expecting anybody — outside of Fawn Grove — to pick the Rams to win.

After all, they were facing defending York-Adams Division II champion York Suburban, which was coming off an impressive season-opening victory.

En route to their undefeated 2019 regular season, the Trojans handed the Rams a 22-point loss. This year, however, K-D used its Week 1 bye to prepare for the start its 2020 campaign. The result was an emotional 34-20 win over the Trojans and a 1-0 start to the season.

 “We knew nobody was going to pick us to win,” senior lineman Gabe Hulslander said. “We’re used to not being picked to win, but we know that we have the guys on the team to put together wins. Being their first (regular-season loss since 2018), we take pride in that.”

The Rams sprinted out to a 20-0 lead after the first quarter, in large part because of a pregame speech from someone very close to the program. Former K-D football standout Patrick Maloney led the Rams onto the field and spoke to the players before to the game.

Maloney was an all-star lineman for the team who suffered a brain injury during a game last season. Hulslander said the speech helped motivate the Rams even more for a game that the team was already excited about. It was also K-D’s first game on their new turf field.

 “Having Pat (there) brought a whole new feeling and energy boost,” Hulslander said. “Most of our players, we played with Pat. He was a big part of our team and we were best friends with him, so having him there, showing his toughness and talking to us, we made sure to get the job done.”

K-D coach Chris Grube was on the sideline when Maloney went down and visited him numerous times at hospitals and medical facilities during his rehab process. Having Maloney involved with the program again was a special moment.

“It was a very surreal moment for, not just myself, but the coaching staff, players and our community,” Grube said. “It’s been a long journey with Patrick. Friday night was definitely emotional, I’m just happy he was there that night. I love having him around.”

New Oxford up next: This week, the Rams won't be on their new home turf field, but they believe their preparation for the Trojans' prolific passing offense will help them pick up a road win over the 2-0 New Oxford Colonials.

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The Colonials have gotten off to a strong start in its first season in D-II and creates issues for teams in the league that haven't seen them before. Grube said he spent a lot of his time during the COVID-19 quarantine period watching film of teams, including the Colonials' 2019 games.

Former Kennard-Dale High School football player takes another step forward in his recovery

The Colonials threw the ball extremely well last season behind the duo of quarterback Brayden Long and wideout Abdul Janneh. Although that pair is playing college football now, Hulslander and the Rams' defense aren't taking the Colonials' offense lightly. They believe a second straight week of planning for a pass-heavy offense will help them get  a win.

Kennard-Dale head coach Chris Grube.

“That preparation is definitely helping us for New Oxford because they do similar things,” Hulslander said. “They have some good wide receivers and they like to chuck it deep, so it’s definitely helping us because we don’t have to switch it up too much for these first two weeks.”

After an emotional upset victory to begin the year, the Rams want to keep the success rolling on Friday. While K-D is ready for another battle under the lights, Hulslander and the players know the reps on the practice field during the week are the most important factor to win the game.

“Every week our mindset is going 1-0 for the week,” Hulslander said. “The win doesn’t come on Friday night, it comes throughout the week and that’s our mindset this year.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.