The Downingtown West football team huddled at the 10-yard line about a dozen minutes before the opening kickoff of a 31-2 season-opening win Friday night at Haverford High.
The captains stood in the middle, calling a decade-old chant created by a former player.
"Unstoppable. Stand tall. We can't fall. This is our year," they hollered.
If this does prove to be West's year, it could not have started any better. The defending Ches-Mont League National Division champion scored four times in the second quarter. The defense did not yield a point against the nonleague opponent. Senior Tyler McNulty played with the poise of a seasoned quarterback - not one making his second career start.
"It felt pretty good," the quarterback said after throwing for two touchdowns and running for another. "We've been working pretty hard since January, and we think this team can do some special things. We wanted to make a statement."
Two of West's four touchdowns came on consecutive one-play possessions. McNulty hit Jake Barr on a short pass on the first play after his defense plucked a fumble. Barr, a junior running back, dashed through Haverford's defense for a 33-yard score. It was Barr's second TD of the quarter.
Haverford's next possession stalled at the Whippets' 10-yard line when the Fords turned the ball over on downs. McNulty's first play of the ensuing drive was a deep throw down the center of the field to Collin Domblesky. The senior hauled in the arching pass in stride and coasted for a 90-yard touchdown.
"I had great protection," McNulty said. "My receivers are really fast, and they run really nice routes. It just happened to fall in."
The Whippets defense applied constant pressure, highlighted by defensive ends Mike Withka and Tyler Kuhn. Withka recorded a key third-quarter sack, and Kuhn recovered a fumble two plays later on another West sack.
West huddled after the final whistle. This time, the group circled around the opposite 10-yard line. Coach Mike Milano walked into the center. This chant belonged to him.
"Feel good?" he shouted.
"Oh yeah," his players replied.
He asked the players again. They answered back louder. Downingtown West's season was off to a roaring start.
Downingtown West 0 28 3 0 – 31
Haverford High 0 0 0 2 – 2
D: Jake Barr 4 run (Brandon Bowler kick)
D: Barr 33 pass from Tyler McNulty (Bowler kick)
D: Collin Domblesky 90 pass from McNulty (Bowler kick)
D: McNulty 6 run (Bowler kick)
D: FG Bowler 36