Millionaires win their first district title in 21 years

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Williamsport players celebrate with coaches Chuck Crews, middle, and Kevin Brown, right after winning the district championship Friday.

Williamsport players jumped high and exchanged hugs while others gave coach Chuck Crews an ice-water bath. Simul­taneously, students flowed down from the jam-packed bleachers and stormed the field.

It was a scene that some thought they may never witness at Williamsport. It was a scene that seemed it might be eons away just two years ago when Williamsport went 2-8 and capped a four-year stretch in which it totaled eight wins.

But this was no dream. It might not be a miracle, but it sure feels close.

Williamsport is District 2-4 Class AAAAAA’s best team. Wil­liamsport is a district champion.

Williamsport dazzled offensively, locked down an explosive Delaware Valley team, scored 28 second-quarter points and romped to a 55-21 district championship win Friday at Mil­lionaire Stadium. Treyson Potts ran for 141 yards and scored five touchdowns, Isaiah Hankins threw for 188 yards and Wil­liamsport captured the program’s first district title since 1995.

“On the sideline, when the buzzer rang we said, ‘Who would have thought?’ Coming from 2-8 to 6-5 last year to 11-1 now and going into the state playoffs … it’s great,” Potts said. “Coach Crews is the biggest part of that and the players have been working hard in the offseason and going hard and that’s what got us here.”

“It means everything. It shows how far a team, school and community have come together,” said Hankins, who broke his two-year old record for passing yards in a season. “We went through everything you can as a football team. We went through adversity and trials and tribulations and we’re victorious.”

Williamsport will play the winner of Saturday night’s Erie-McDowell-State College game in next weekend’s state tournament. The Millionaires won their fifth straight and avenged their only defeat in emphatic fashion.

Since losing at Delaware Valley, 49-42 in Week 7, Williamsport had craved a rematch. It received that opportunity and left no doubt who the district’s best was, putting on a powerful display that produced 41 straight points between the second and third quarters as it mercy-ruled a team riding a seven-game winning streak.

“We were hungry. We wanted revenge against Del Val as soon as they beat us the first time,” two-way starter Jalen Jackson said after catching 4 passes for 75 yards and making several tackles. “We wanted an undefeated season, we wanted to get 700 (program wins) during the regular season so we wanted Del Val pretty bad and we finally got them.”

Williamsport took a huge step forward in Crews’ first season last year, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but just reaching the playoffs was no longer good enough. The Millionaires wanted greatness and now they have achieved it, putting their names along some of the best teams in Williamsport history.

“Those boys and seniors came from 2-8 to now here they are district champions. They worked their behinds off and they deserve every accolade and praise they get,” Crews said. “This is the culmination of years of hard work and effort and everyone working together.”

Williamsport scored on each of its first two drives with Potts scoring on 8-yard touchdowns each time. Delaware Valley (9-3) countered with two touchdown passes in six seconds and tied the game 14-14. Then Cam Dickey made one of the season’s biggest plays, recovering a fumble that led to a 71-yard scoring drive capped by an Elliott Walker 12-yard touchdown run highlighted by a beautiful Marcus Simmons block.

A player who holds nearly every program passing record there is made the biggest play of his stellar career on defense minutes later. Kurt Danneker drilled Ryan Obiso at the line of scrimmage and Hankins caught the ball in midair, going 20 yards for a touchdown that gave Williamsport a 28-14 lead. The rout was on.

“Kurt Danneker is the man. He hit him and I just took it and I ran,” Hankins said. “I give all the gratitude to Kurt. He made the play. He’s a monster.”

The Millionaires continued delivering monster performances on both sides of the ball as the defense forced consecutive three and outs and then scored on the ensusing possessions. Dickey was all over the field and his sack for an 11-yard loss back to the 1-yard line set up Williamsport’s next score, a 9-yard Potts run. Delaware Valley kept trying to attack through the air in the first-half’s closing moments but the pass rush was strong, the secondary covered well and Williamsport forced another short series.

Just like a week ago, Williams­port brilliantly executed its two-minute offense, going six plays and 50 yards in just 42 seconds. Hankins hit Potts for a 9-yard touchdown that made it 42-14, a score that sent shockwaves to those following throughout the state, but not through the Williamsport huddle or sideline.

“They made a couple plays of their own in the first and tied it but they knew we could score at will on them,” Jackson said. “We showed that the first two drives so once we found out we can score on will we kept putting it on them and weren’t letting up until the clock hit zero.”

Cavallaro broke the District 2 record for single-season yards but went 3 for 16 during the 41-0 stretch. Conversely, a Delaware Valley defense that allowed 22 points in its last four games was gouged by an explosive offense that totaled 517 yards and topped 40 points for an eighth straight game.

Dickey played one of the best games ever and recovered another fumble on the second half’s first play and Potts scored again. Danneker and fellow offensive linemen Tyler Anderson, Chance Bower, Eli Clary and Tucker Kreisher overpowered Delaware Valley up front and Marty Clark scored on a 59-yard touchdown a series later, capping the remarkable 41-point flurry that took just 18 minutes, 24 seconds and helped Williamsport do what just two years ago seemed so unfathomable.

“We’ve always had the tools here at Williamsport. We always had the athletes, we always had the linemen but it took a coach to bring everyone together and establish a winning mentality,” Jackson said. “We knew we were one of the best teams in the area and that we could make a big run. It’s amazing. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had in my life.”