SPRING GROVE — Way back in August, Dallastown football coach Ron Miller gave each of his players a Hershey’s Kiss to keep.
Miller told his team to store the little piece of chocolate safely so they could all open them together on the bus ride up to Hersheypark Stadium for the District 3 Class 6-A football title game.
That didn't quite work out for the Wildcats' football team.
One of the Miller’s standout players, however, will be able to enjoy that dream, albeit in another sport.
Raymond Christas, who was an all-state offensive and defensive lineman for Miller this past season, will have the chance to unwrap and enjoy his Hershey’s Kiss Saturday. That’s because Christas and the rest of his Dallastown wrestling team will take a bus trip up to Hershey for the District 3 Class 3-A wrestling title match.
The top-seeded Wildcats bounced fifth-seeded Central Dauphin, 30-27, in the semifinals Thursday evening at Spring Grove High School. The win sewed up a state berth for the Wildcats.
Battle of unbeatens looms: Dallastown (19-0) will now get a chance for its first district title since 2000 when it squares off against No. 3 seed Cedar Cliff (15-0), a 42-26 winner over Chambersburg in the other semifinal, at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Milton Hershey School.
“This is everything,” Christas said. “Dallastown wrestling has kind of been getting back to this point the past few years. I think this is the first time we’re in the district final since 2006, so to be able to get back here is something that we’re all very proud of.”
Building a big lead: Much like they did the night before in a 33-31 triumph over Cumberland Valley, the Wildcats were able to take command during the upper weights and light weights. Starting with Jarrett Feeney’s decision at 195, the Wildcats claimed points in five-straight bouts, including back-to-back falls at 106 and 113 by Caden Dobbins (106) and Adam Karlie (113).
“That was huge for us,” said Christas, who remained unbeaten on the season after claiming a 5-0 decision at 285. “Sometimes you go out and you’re not going to get everything that you hoped for and that means that some guys have to step up.”
CD, which had a four-match winning-streak in the District 3 tournament against Dallastown entering the night, won five of the final six bouts. The only exception was a huge decision at 132 by Cael Turnbull over Bryce Buckman, 4-3.
“Cael was really fighting and grinding in his match there,” Christas said. “And for him to pull that one out, that was just huge.”
Team effort: While there were individual standouts in Thursday’s victory, Dallastown coach Dave Gable pointed out that it is still a team sport at this time of the year.
“We just continue to perform well as a team,” Gable said. “It’s different people each night that come through. If you were looking on paper, just (Central Dauphin's) records and rankings with some of their guys and compare that with some of our places, you’d think ‘what the heck?’ And it felt like a lot of our guys wrestled over their heads. Central Dauphin is just such a great team.”
John Ligon was able to get his team a lead it would never relinquish after scoring a pin in just 60 seconds at 160 pounds. After dropping back-to-back overtime bouts at 170 and 182, Feeney was able to break the 6-6 deadlock with a decision. Jamal Brandon (who also played football for Dallastown) doubled the lead to 12-6 with a 3-2 decision at 220 before Christas made it 15-6 with his triumph.
Rematch vs. Colts: After wrestling on back-to-back nights, Gable and his team will have a day to rest Friday before getting the defending champion Colts Saturday. The district final will be a rematch of last year’s semifinals, when Cedar Cliff scored a 36-35 victory based on criteria.
Getting even, however, will not be the primary goal come Saturday. Instead the Wildcats are looking for something more … golden?
“I know that they (the Colts) have a lot of good guys that will be favored at the district (individual) tournament, but we really haven’t looked ahead that far,” Christas said. “We’re just taking it one match at a time. I know that coach will keep grinding to figure out the match-ups and who we’re going to send out where and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”
113 through 132.
Seasons end for New Oxford, Gettysburg: New Oxford and Gettysburg, meanwhile, saw their seasons end on Thursday in District 3 3-A consolation action.
New Oxford suffered a 38-31 loss to Cumberland Valley on Thursday. The Colonials finished 12-7.
Gettysburg, meanwhile, won its first consolation match on Thursday, beating Lampeter-Strasburg, 54-25, before falling to Central Dauphin, 43-24. The Warriors finished at 16-5. Central Dauphin improved 17-3 and clinched a state playoff berth.
In 2-A action on Thursday, Bermudian Springs beat Octorara in a quarterfinal match, 42-23. The Eagles then lost to Hamburg 43-24 in the semifinals.
Bermudian (19-2) will face Upper Dauphin (15-3) in a consolation match at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Milton Hershey. Bermudian must win that match and then beat the winner of the other consolation match between Northern Lebanon and Boiling Springs to earn a state berth.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.