HERSHEY, Pa. - A year later, the memory is still fresh in the minds of Anthony Reid, David Williams, Dave Sherman, and Mike Makor.
The bonds are still strong - now the legacy is even stronger.
And all the supportive phone calls, text messages, and e-mails from their former teammates and coaches at North Catholic made winning a state championship with West Catholic that much sweeter.
More than a year after playing their final game for North Catholic, all four dedicated Saturday's PIAA Class AA championship win to the memory of the school that closed its doors in June.
"Some of my old coaches, they've been sending me messages like: 'We wish we could have been in this spot last year. But since we couldn't do it, I want you to take your athletic ability and win this game for us,' " Reid said.
After a year of struggling to adjust to new teammates, coaches, and systems, all four transfers emerged to play key roles in the Burrs' 50-14 win over South Fayette.
After the win, all of them said those struggles made the championship even more satisfying.
"We knew if we came in here and worked hard, we could do it," said Makor, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior guard. "We were very hungry. We wanted to keep the name of North Catholic alive."
Because it was their senior year, the win was especially satisfying for Sherman and Reid.
As the quarterback, Reid said he took it upon himself to make sure the offense gelled and he developed chemistry with his new teammates.
According to Reid, it took until the fifth game of the season, a 40-6 win over Archbishop Ryan, before the team truly came together.
"It was tough," Reid said. "But after the Ryan game, I could say that we were finally all together.
"I could look around and see that we were starting to make plays. I knew we were good, the whole state knew we were good. At that point, it was time to prove that we can play with anyone."
Unlike Reid, who was starting under center from day one, Williams, Sherman, and Makor were all fighting for starting jobs in the beginning of the season.
"We all felt like we really weren't going to fit in," said Sherman, a free safety. "We all really had to fight for our spots. So it was tough.
"But that just makes this even more special. We had our ups and downs, but we all came together as a team. It was amazing."
Williams, a 5-11, 180-pound bruising sophomore running back, found carries hard to come by for much of the season.
But in a perfect example of things coming together at the right time, Williams exploded for 183 rushing yards - by far his highest total of the season - on just 14 carries Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium, including an 81-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
"I had to work hard to get to where I'm at right now. We all did," Williams said. "When we came in, everybody was on a different page and it was tough trying to get on the same page. But as the season progressed, it got better and better. . . .
"It started out as a bad thing, but it turned out to be a good thing."