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Kennard-Dale's special football season ends with a District 3 Class 4-A semifinal setback

ROB ROSE
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Lampeter-Strasburg quarterback Berkeley Bagner, right, gets sacked by Kennard-Dale's Jedediah Peters during PIAA District III, Class 4-A semifinal football action at Lampeter-Strasburg High School in Lancaster, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Lampeter-Strasburg would win the game 31-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

When Kennard-Dale's football season started, being in the District 3 Class 4-A title game didn't even seem like a possibility.

The Rams' sights were set on following up consecutive winning campaigns with their first playoff win in program history. K-D (10-2) achieved that goal last week on its home field after the team won its first York-Adams League Division II championship and set a new program record for wins.

Still, the Rams wanted more.

A game at the home of the two-time defending District 3 4-A champion, Lampeter-Strasburg (11-1), offered a chance to compete for another title, but the dream season ended unceremoniously with a 31-0 defeat in a District 3 semifinal on Friday night.

Despite the Rams' struggles to score any points in the semifinal showdown, K-D head coach Chris Grube wanted his players to hold onto the memories made along the way.

"I'm just so proud of these guys," Grube said. "What we have done this year, for us, for the football team (and) for the Kennard-Dale community is just, at the end of the day, it's more than football. I'm so proud to be their head coach. This one definitely stings, but we'll be back. We'll be back."

The Rams are known for their rushing attack, but attempted to surprise the Pioneers with a passing play to begin the game. On their second snap, senior quarterback Jacob Copenhaver rolled out and launched a pass down the sideline.

His throw was intercepted after it floated in the middle of the field. Two plays later Lampeter-Strasburg scored a touchdown. That began a long night for the senior quarterback and the offense.

Kennard-Dale's Jacob Copenhaver reacts after a 31-0 loss to Lampeter-Strasburg during PIAA District III, Class 4-A semifinal football action at Lampeter-Strasburg High School in Lancaster, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Copenhaver threw three interceptions and fumbled twice after being sacked. The Rams punted four times as well and couldn't execute the perfect plan needed to knock off the Pioneers.

"I knew coming into this game we could not do what we did the first half. I'm not gonna lie," Grube said. "I knew we had to throw the ball. We had to because you saw what they do. They throw guys in the box and they got some big boys plugging holes."

Sophomore Hayden Klimm led the Rams offense with 64 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Although K-D's offense struggled, its defense battled to keep the team in the game. The Rams forced three turnovers of their own and gave the offense chances to capitalize. Grube was impressed that, despite a 24-0 deficit at halftime, the Rams allowed just one score after the break.

Lampeter-Strasburg's Berkeley Wagner, front, carries the ball while Kennard-Dale's Malachi Partee defends during PIAA District III, Class 4-A semifinal football action at Lampeter-Strasburg High School in Lancaster, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Lampeter-Strasburg would win the game 31-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Lampeter-Strasburg senior quarterback Berkeley Wagner struggled early on with an interception and a fumble on the goal line, but found his form as the game continued. Wagner tossed two passing touchdowns and ran in another of his own later.

While the team wanted a chance to keep its historical season going, Grube wasn't willing to let the players get down on themselves after the game. He thanked the seniors for leaving the program better than they found it and reminded the young players that being part of the program now means there is a new standard in Fawn Grove.

Grube knew the disappointment the players felt as they huddled together on the field and battled their emotions would eventually turn into pride for what they achieved. The season ended sooner than they wanted, but lasted longer than any Rams team before them and that's something that won't be forgotten anytime soon.

Kennard-Dale vs. Lampeter-Strasburg during PIAA District III, Class 4-A semifinal football action at Lampeter-Strasburg High School in Lancaster, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Lampeter-Strasburg would win the game 31-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"I definitely think that they had a big advantage tonight with the experience," Grube said of the Pioneers. "Last week, we had that nice win, but this is all new to us. Our guys, we have no experience with this and to watch our guys battle that second half and give them seven points, I couldn't ask for anything else. I know offensively we didn't do what we needed to do, but our kids never give up. Our kids played with so much heart tonight and they play for each other. The score, that definitely hurts, but at the end of the day, I'm happy with our kids."

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.