New Oxford-South Western football battle to feature neighboring rivals and 2-0 teams

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
New Oxford head football coach Jason Warner
  • South Western travels to New Oxford in a Friday night football battle.
  • Both teams will enter the nonleague contest with 2-0 records.
  • The two Hanover-area schools are separated by fewer than 10 miles.

Jason Warner admits that for a game to be a rivalry, both teams need to win sometimes.

That hasn't always been the case when New Oxford has gone up against South Western. The Mustangs have mostly dominated the series between the Hanover-area schools located fewer than 10 miles apart.

New Oxford, however, is doing its best to change that narrative. The Colonials did win the last two meetings between the programs in 2018 and 2019, when both teams were in York-Adams Division I.

Now, two weeks into the 2021 season, the Colonials will look to make it three straight victories over their longtime nemesis.

Friday night at New Oxford, the D-I Mustangs and D-II Colonials will collide in a much-anticipated nondivisional showdown between 2-0 squads.

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"We have always looked at them as a rival and they really were a very prominent program in the '90s and the early 2000s," Warner said. "Everybody always kind of looked at South Western as the team to beat, so I think we still sort of treat them like that. We're excited for that matchup Friday."

Colonials an emerging power: While the all-time record between the teams has been lopsided toward the Mustangs, recently it has been the Colonials who have become one of the league's most consistent teams.

After making the playoffs in 2019, New Oxford followed up that campaign with an undefeated regular season in York-Adams Division II in 2020 and a narrow loss to Warwick in the District 3 playoffs.

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The Colonials graduated several senior starters from a season ago, but have replaced them and have continued the success this year. New Oxford has yet to allow a point in two victories (7-0 over Bermudian Springs and 21-0 over East Pennsboro) and Warner credited the team's ability to force turnovers for the shutouts.

Warner said the players don't have many memories of the struggling seasons during the years before 2018, but the coaches can recall the rough times. That's why they enjoy it even more when they play big games, such as they will on Friday.

"As a coaching staff, we remember five years ago being in a totally different spot than we are now, so the kids sometimes forget those things, because they weren't around," Warner said. "I mean, they were playing (youth) football somewhere during those times, but it's exciting."

Tony Shermeyer

Shermeyer succeeding quickly with Mustangs: For South Western, first-year coach Tony Shermeyer took over before this season and completely changed the team's offensive attack.

After years of running the Wing-T, the former Delone Catholic standout moved the Mustangs firmly into 21st century with a spread offense. So far, it's been a great choice.

"You could see over the summer that the kids are really excited to to change up the offense a little bit," Shermeyer said. "The buy-in has been tremendous. I just think it was a big group effort. Everybody was buying into what we were doing and everything started to click in the works."

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The Mustangs have scored more points in each of their first two games than they did in any game last season. South Western owns a 47-12 victory over Milton Hershey and a 34-7 win over York Suburban.

Quarterback Shilo Bivins has scored six touchdowns in the two games and has flourished early on running the new offense.

Shermeyer said the senior is still learning how to read defenses and pass from the pocket, but his running ability poses challenges for defenses. Going up against New Oxford will likely test Bivins' ability to make plays through the air.

After an offseason of change, both teams head into Friday's game excited about their futures despite much different histories in the programs' pasts. After this week, both teams will head into their respective York-Adams division schedules. Friday's contest could offer a barometer of what the division seasons will bring them.

"We were hoping that we could be in this position at this point in the season and now that we're here, we just need to keep chugging along," Shermeyer said. "We just want to make sure the players understand, keep them level headed and make sure they understand that they need to keep getting better every week. I think we're starting to get to the point of the year where we're starting to see who teams truly are, so we just have to keep on trying to improve what we can put out there every week, eliminate mistakes, and everything else will take care of itself."

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.