New Oxford head coach Jason Warner knew what he was getting into when took over the reins of a New Oxford football program that was coming off a total of two wins from 2014-2017.
Warner was an assistant during that time, but from the time he took the job, the Colonials have improved dramatically. They continued that ascent with a 5-0 victory over Gettysburg on Friday to earn the YAIAA-2 championship and also punch their ticket to the District 3 Class 5A tournament which begins in two weeks.
The last time the Colonials won a division title on the gridiron was in 2002, and they hadn’t beaten Gettysburg since 1981 when they won, 7-6, for their only victory in 30 prior meetings with the Warriors.
“A lot of credit has to go to the kids and not just this year’s kids,” Warner said. “That’s the kids from last year and from 2018, too. We have a great coaching staff and the kids buy into what we sell them.”
Warner, a 2000 grad of the Ox, is joined on the staff by fellow alumni Larry Baumgardner, Derek Starner, Adam Smith, Brandon Horick and Garred Chrismer. Also on the coaching staff are John Slagle, Jarrod Linn and Mike Marshall.
“We’ve been here as a staff for a long time and a bunch of us played here,” Warner said. “We preach family here and it really is.”
New Oxford (5-0) entered the season having to replace two of the greatest players to ever come through the school in quarterback Brayden Long and wideout Abdul Janneh. Both earned all-state selections in 2019.
Taking over for Long is senior Connor Beans, who has had a fine campaign under center as he has thrown for 867 yards, while senior Connor Herring and junior Ben Leese have assumed the wideout duties. Though Herring started opposite of Janneh a season ago.
On Friday, Beans was 22-of-37 for 242 yards with a pair of interceptions, while Herring and Leese each reeled in eight passes with Herring posting 95 yards and Leese adding 93.
“I’m very emotional right now,” Beans admitted with tears in his eyes. “My teammates believed in me and we put in a lot of work to get to this point. But tonight, it’s all about our defense. They carried us all night.”
Warner tipped his cap to Beans’ season: “Connor has had a great season and so have the receivers. They all put in a ton of work to get better. The offensive line has been great and didn’t allow a sack tonight.”
New Oxford got on the board when Josh Little split the uprights for a 32-yard field goal with 2:08 remaining in the opening quarter. A score that was set up when Beans connected for a 40-yard gain down the right sideline to Herring.
The Ox threatened in the third quarter, but Beans’ fumble at the Gettysburg 1-yard line was recovered by Warrior defensive tackle Hunter Williams.
Gettysburg (3-2) was unable to gain any room to get a punt away and the snap to punter Zach Parr sailed over his head for a safety with 5:04 to go in the third quarter.
Gunner Wilson snuffed out the Colonials’ next drive with his second pick of the night, this one in the end zone.
With 6:15 to go, the Warriors took over at their own 38 and in need of a touchdown to take the lead. The visitors picked up a couple first downs but were stopped on downs at the Colonial 35 with 56 ticks remaining.
New Oxford wasn’t quite home free, because Gettysburg had a pair of timeouts, which the Warriors used following first and second downs. But Hunter Shaffer broke free for a 33-yard gain that allowed the Ox to ice the game.
“I’m proud of our boys tonight,” Gettysburg head coach Matt Heiser said. “We rallied around each other very well defensively and kept a very good offensive team out of the end zone.”
With the cutoff for district power rankings on Monday, the Ox will be in the field, but will have also an opportunity to complete an undefeated regular season if it can win at West York (2-2) next Friday.
Meanwhile, Gettysburg has off next Friday and will host West York on Friday, Nov 6.
Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas
Gettysburg 0 0 0 0 — 0
New Oxford 3 0 2 0 — 5
NO — Josh Little 32 FG, 2:08
NO — Safety, snap over punter’s head, 5:04
First Downs 6 14
Rushes-Yards 34-88 21-89
Passing 4-12-1 22-37-2
Passing Yards 26 242
Total Yards 114 331
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-2
Punts 4-44.5 2-25.5
Penalties 3-31 2-20
Rushing: G-Jeremiah Scott 13-40, Ruger Pennington 9-37, Landon McGee 5-13, Jayden Johnson 2-2, Asher Baddick 5-(-4); NO-Hunter Shaffer 16-59, Dylan Forbes 3-30, Connor Beans 2-0.
Passing: G-Baddick 4-12-26-1; NO-Beans 22-37-242-2.
Receiving: G-Gunner Wilson 2-2, Andrew Gastley 1-21, Scott 1-3; NO-Connor Herring 8-95, Ben Leese 8-93, Anthony Withrow 3-51, Josh Bethas 1-3, Forbes 1-0, Shaffer 1-0.