A lot of words can be used to describe the 2011 Youngsville Eagles football team.
On Friday, only one word seemed appropriate - perfect.
What was supposed to be Youngsville's last major obstacle between it and a 10-0 season instead was a rout by halftime. The Eagles jumped out to a 48-0 halftime lead and cruised to the finish line with a 48-22 victory over the Saegertown Panthers Friday at Mike Shine Field.
Times Observer photos by Allen Seybert
Off to the races
Above, Youngsville’s Jordan Gurdak breaks free for a 70-yard touchdown run during the second quarter of Friday’s 48-22 victory over Saegertown at Mike Shine Field. Gurdak had 224 rushing yards and four touchdowns, helping the Eagles clinch an outright Region 2 title and finish off a perfect regular season at 10-0.
The victory not only secured a perfect regular season for the Eagles - the school's first since 1966 - it also gave Youngsville its first outright Region 2 championship and extended the school record for wins in a season.
While the players and coaches got the job done, they weren't alone in celebrating the triumph. Shortly after the final seconds ticked away, hundreds of students, parents and fans converged at midfield as a community celebrated together the accomplishments of its football team.
Parents hugged their sons, students snapped photos of their classmates and fans held signs that read "Region 2 champs" and "10-0 baby."
Just outside of the mob, Youngsville coach Luke Alex stood in awe - amazed at what his team had accomplished on Friday and all season for that matter.
"This is just huge for these guys and this town," said Alex. "These guys execute so well and have worked so hard to make this happen. They couldn't deserve it more."
Many of the Eagles, including senior tailback Sam Lucas, were still trying to wrap their heads around exactly what they had accomplished.
"It hasn't even hit me yet," he said. "All week we walked around knowing we were 9-0, but there is just something special about 10-0. This win and this season just means everything to us. All of these guys have put the time and effort in. For it to pay off and for us to be able to experience this is just very special."
"I love these guys," added senior lineman Sawyer Dininny. "This whole team is awesome. We've been playing ball together so long and I've truly enjoyed every minute of it."
The journey is not yet over for Alex, Lucas, Dininny and the rest of the Eagles. Youngsville opens the District 10 Class A playoffs next weekend against an opponent and at a site and time to be determined. The D-10 playoff brackets are expected to be released on Sunday afternoon.
Friday's game was expected to be a thriller with the Eagles entering with no region losses and the Panthers with just one - a 27-26 overtime loss to Mercyhurst Prep. A Saegertown win on Friday would have created a three-way tie for the Region 2 championship with the D-10 playoffs on the horizon.
The Eagles quickly made sure a three-way tie would not be happening.
That's not to say everything went flawlessly for the Eagles.
Youngsville received the opening kickoff and Jordan Gurdak fumbled on the third play from scrimmage. Saegertown quickly moved inside the Eagles' 20 and completed a pass that appeared would take them inside the 10. Instead, the Panthers fumbled and Youngsville recovered at their own 8.
From then on, Gurdak went to work on atoning for the early fumble.
With 8:19 left in the first quarter, Gurdak took his fourth carry of the night and raced 60 yards to paydirt - a place he would get used to visiting by the time this night was over. Gurdak finished the night with nine carries for 224 yards and four touchdowns.
After a Saegertown punt, Youngsville made it two straight possessions that ended with a touchdown. Quarterback Cory Craig completed just two passes all night, but his first was a 58-yard touchdown strike to Rocco Gatta that made it 14-0. T.J. Hardy supplied the extra point and finished the night 6-of-7 in that category.
After the touchdown pass, Hardy executed a perfect directional kickoff that was recovered by Jake Marino at the Saegertown 32. Two plays later, Sam Lucas rumbled into the end zone from 18 yards out to make it 21-0 Youngsville after the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to Gurdak.
Gurdak started the second with a 53-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0. On Saegertown's next possession, Gurdak forced a fumble that was recovered by Tyler Keyes and returned to the Panthers 26. Three plays later, Gurdak scored again - this time from 11 yards out - to make it 35-0 with 8:06 left in the opening half.
Gurdak also supplied Youngsville's sixth touchdown of the night, scurrying 70 yards with 4:30 left in the half to put the Eagles on top 42-0. Gurdak didn't get to have all the fun in the quarter as Gatta added a 44-yard touchdown run with 2:56 remaining to make it 48-0 Eagles at halftime.
"After the Eisenhower game, the paper said that in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined a start like that," said Alex. "Well, again tonight, in my wildest dreams I could've never imagined that we'd put together a half of football that looked like that. We were simply dominant."
Youngsville's starters were on the sidelines to begin the second half and Saegertown scored three second half touchdowns against Youngsville's second teamers. Quarterback Noah Marvin tossed touchdown passes of 12 and 49 yards to Shane Rigby in the third quarter and Matt Humes had a two-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
While the Youngsville second teamers played nearly all of the second half, the starters were able to finish the game - and the perfect season - on the field. With 1:20 left, Craig took a pair of knees to kill the clock and kick start the celebration.
The District 10 Class A quarterfinals will be played on Friday. The Eagles - Region 2's top seed - will likely draw the fourth seed out of Region 1. Farrell and West Middlesex are currently tied for the third seed and Farrell holds an 18-13 win over West Middlesex during the season, meaning the Eagles will likely draw the Big Reds.
Y- Jordan Gurdak 60 run, 8:19, T.J. Hardy kick
Y- Cory Craig to Rocco Gatta 58 pass, 6:40, Hardy kick
Y- Sam Lucas 18 run, 6:13, Hardy kick
Y- Gurdak 53 run, 10:03, Hardy kick
Y- Gurdak 11 run, 8:06, Hardy kick
Y- Gurdak 70 run, 4:30, Hardy kick
Y- Gatta 44 run, 2:56, kick failed
S- Noah Marvin to Shane Rigby 12 pass, 9:23, Marvin to Rigby pass
S- Marvin to Rigby 49 pass, 3:24, pass failed
S- Matt Humes 2 run, 1:36, James Taylor run
RUSHING-S-Kyle Wise 9 for 43, Brock Lojek 10 for 40, Noah Marvin 3 for 9, Casey Chapman 3 for 2, Logan Pratt 1 for 9, Lance Neuschler 2 for 30, Trey Reagle 4 for 16, Casey Fetzner 2 for 15, Matt Humes 2 for 2, TD; Y- Cory Craig 11 for 49, Jordan Gurdak 9 for 224, 4 TD, Sam Lucas 7 for 57, TD, Rocco Gatta 1 for 44, TD, Dan McLaughlin 4 for 8, Jake Marino 6 for 18, Sage Sivak 5 for 43, Andy Kerr 1 for -3
PASSING-S- Marvin 8 of 15 for 124, 2 TD, INT, Humes 0 of 2 for 0; Y- Craig 2 of 4 for 72, TD
RECEIVING-S- Shane Rigby 4 for 102, 2 TD, Dakota Long 1 for 11, Lojek 2 for 10, Wise 1 for 1; Y- Gatta 1 for 58, TD, Kerr 1 for 14