J.C. Dobis still was shaking his head in wonder the next morning.
"That was the most unbelievable game I've ever played in," Dobis, Shawnee's standout senior lineman, said of the Renegades' 28-26 victory over Millville on Saturday in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals.
But a twisting, turning, roller-coaster ride of a road victory was somehow fitting for Shawnee, since that pretty much sums up for the season for the Renegades.
Shawnee (4-6) is back in the sectional title game for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The Renegades will visit Clearview (7-2) — another improbable finalist — in the South Jersey Group 4 championship game on Friday night.
Shawnee won the title in 2017, 2014, and 2013. The Renegades lost in the final in 2015.
This is a program that is defined by postseason success, with seven titles and nine appearances in the finals since 2000.
But this season has been one for the books.
Shawnee entered the playoffs on a four-game losing streak. The Renegades were 0-for-October, losing four times to teams that since have advanced to their respective sectional title games.
"I've been saying this all along," Shawnee coach Tim Gushue said. "This group is so resilient. A lot of times, you go through a tough stretch — I mean, we were winless in October — and high school kids, they can be fragile at times.
"What has impressed me so much about this team is that they didn't get down. They would be disappointed after a loss, but the next time we got together, whether it was Saturday morning or Monday, they were ready to go."
Gushue credited his senior leaders with holding the team together when "the ship was taking on water."
Dobis said the Renegades' five senior captains made a conscious effort to keep spirits high despite the team's struggles on the scoreboard.
"We talked to the team a lot," said Dobis, a captain along with classmates Joe Dalsey, Patrick O'Hanlon, Jon Searcy, and Joe Moore. "We still felt like we were a good team and we knew we were Shawnee and this is what we do. We play a tough schedule and we're ready to go for the playoffs."
Dobis said the team's unique chemistry was a factor as well.
"That really helped us through tough times," Dobis said. "We're all really close, on the field, in the hallways, just the whole program. We were there for each other through all this."
Gushue said he had "no doubt" the team's daunting schedule prepared the Renegades for another postseason run.
Shawnee's four losses in October were to teams that will play in this weekend's sectional finals: Woodrow Wilson (South 3), Union City (North I 5), Williamstown (South 5), and Rancocas Valley (South 5).
Shawnee will be playing in the final as well, thanks to a dramatic victory over top-seeded Millville, which had won six in a row.
Shawnee scored 14 points in the game's final 74 seconds, as freshman quarterback Matt Welsey passed to sophomore running back Tom Rebstock for a 9-yard touchdown with one minute, 14 seconds on the clock, and junior Dom Frigiola returned an interception 27 yards for another score at the 0:57 mark.
Frigiola's pick-six and Dalsey's extra point made it 28-20. But Millville drove down the field and scored on Eddie Jamison's 21-yard pass to Dashon Byers to make it 28-26 at the 0:18 mark.
"The last two minutes must have taken two hours," Gushue said.
Moore was the late-game hero for the Renegades, knocking down Millville's two-point conversion pass and recovering the onside kick to seal the victory.
"We just fought, fought, fought," Dobis said. "I've played in a lot of games in my life but I never played in a game like that. That was just so much fun."
Rancocas Valley (8-2) at Williamstown (11-0), 7 p.m.
Shawnee (4-6) at Clearview (7-2), 7 p.m.
Woodrow Wilson (8-2) at Burlington Twp. (10-0), 7 p.m.
Camden (9-1) at Haddonfield (10-0), 7 p.m.
Paulsboro (8-2) at Willingboro (6-4), 7 p.m.
Salem (8-2) at Penns Grove (11-0), noon