After West Catholic dropped two of its first three games of the 2010 season, it embarked on a 12-game win streak that was capped with the program's first PIAA Class AA state championship.
During that dominant stretch, the Burrs outscored foes, 500-108. In seven playoff games, they won by 263-56.
Two years after a crushing, double-overtime loss to District 10's Wilmington Area, West returned to Hershey and gained redemption by clobbering District 7's South Fayette, 50-14. Afterward, coach Brian Fluck, hoisting the first-place trophy, was quick to recognize the accomplishments of the star-studded 2008 team.
The Burrs also had come close to winning it all in 2009, but ran up against 8,000-yard passer Kyle Smith and Lancaster Catholic in the state semifinals.
For finally knocking down the door, West is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania football team of the year.
With 1,556 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, tailback Brandon Hollomon spurred an offense that averaged 36.5 points. Fellow backs Joshua Mathis (984) and David Williams (924) nearly eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.
Hollomon closed his career with 3,263 yards, climbing to No. 3 on the school's all-time list, behind 2007 graduate Dennis Shaw (3,444) and 2004 product Curtis Brinkley (7,413).
At quarterback, Anthony Reid, one of four players to come over from North Catholic, threw for 1,431 yards and 15 scores.
A 3-4 defense that yielded just 10.1 points a game was spearheaded by inside linebackers Kevin Burns (60 solo tackles, 37 assists) and T.J. Waters (38, 31), end Jim Lynch (53, 29), and outside linebackers Anthony McDonnaugh (36, 21), and Tristin Freeman (38, 13).
Coach of the year. With apologies to Fluck, who has compiled a 109-49 record (.690 winning percentage) in 12 seasons, this award goes to longtime Strath Haven boss Kevin Clancy.
After last year's 5-5 showing, the Panthers went 12-2, tied Ridley for the Central League crown, and advanced to the Class AAA state quarterfinals before losing to Archbishop Wood. The District 1 title they earned was their first since 2005 and 11th overall.
Clancy, who dealt with his own health issues this year, is 199-49 (.802) in 20 seasons with Strath Haven. Overall, he has a 266-88-2 mark.
The runners-up for coach of the year were Fluck, Northeast's Chris Riley, and Penn Wood's Sam Mormando.
Game of the year. No surprise here. In a back-and-forth Class AAAA state semifinal before an overflow crowd at Plymouth Whitemarsh, No. 1-ranked La Salle outlasted No. 2 North Penn, 38-35.
The contest featured seven lead changes, seven fourth-down conversions, 775 yards of offense, and a clinching interception, off a deflection, by lineman Ryan Geiger with 1 minute, 14 seconds to play.
Upset of the year. In the opening round of the District 1 Class AAAA tournament, 16th-seeded West Chester Henderson nipped top-seeded Ridley, 14-13, at Phil Marion Field.
Comeback player of the year. After taking a year off to sort out personal issues, Rashaad Williams returned to Central Bucks West and gave the Bucks a huge boost. The 5-8, 175-pound speedster carried 236 times for 2,056 yards and 20 TDs.
In a district playoff opener, Williams rushed 27 times for a single-game school-record of 427 yards and five scores as the visiting Bucks ousted Coatesville, 42-28.
Rookie of the year. In La Salle's drive to the Class AAAA final, sophomore Sean Coleman, possibly better known for his lacrosse skills, contributed as a wide receiver (team-high 33 catches), cornerback, and kick returner. He earned second-team all-Catholic honors on defense.
Best finish. Capping a 21-play, 99-yard drive, Tanner Allem tossed a 15-yard TD pass to tight end Ry Yozallinas with 1.7 seconds to play to give host Souderton a 10-7 win over Route 309 neighbor Pennridge in a Suburban One League Continental Conference matchup.
Breakthrough No. 1. Northeast captured its first Public League championship in 27 years when it topped three-time defending titlist George Washington, 13-6. Second-year coach Riley was a member of the 1983 squad that took top honors.
Breakthrough No. 2. With a 5-0 mark, Penn Wood won the Del-Val League title – and beat 12-time defending champ Interboro - for the first time since 1994. That was the year the Patriots claimed the old National Conference crown.
Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or firstname.lastname@example.org.