Football fever has been spreading as fast as a stomach bug in York.
Dukes coach Glen Snodgrass has firsthand experience of both.
He's turned York, which ended a 22-game skid last season, into a Class B playoff contender that's surprised everyone but the Dukes.
They pulled off one of the biggest shockers ever in the first round last Friday, winning 28-9 at undefeated Scottsbluff and becoming the first No. 16 seed in Class B to knock off a No. 1 seed.
“Everybody says it was a huge upset,” Snodgrass said. “We never saw it that way at all. We believed if we played our best it would be enough to get a 'W.' They are a great team, but we believed we could do it.”
Snodgrass said it's been nuts ever since, so crazy that he's had to remind his team what it took to get to this point.
“We're really focused on keeping them grounded. We have no means arrived,” he said. “We are really focused this week on not being satisfied with what we've done so far.”
Snodgrass has had no trouble staying grounded as his family has been battling the flu-like illness that first hit the high school before moving into the elementary ranks. Sixth-grader Garrett, a student manager, returned to school Thursday. Second-grader Dalton has had it worse and is terrified after missing Halloween that he's also going to miss Friday's second-round game with defending champion Elkhorn.
The coach's wife, Allison, felt ill on Thursday morning.
Snodgrass says there's no way he'll succumb. He, along with everyone else in this town of about 8,000, is too excited about Friday's 7 p.m. showdown at Levitt Stadium in York.
“If you could see the crowd on Friday night, it's going to be unbelievable,” he said. “They are bringing in extra bleachers. It's been 10 years since they had this kind of success here.”
Attendance at home games has ballooned from 1,000 to 2,500 down the home stretch of a 6-4 season. The crowd of parents, students and fans who made the 6 ½ -hour drive to Scottsbluff was so loud and boisterous Snodgrass had a hard time hearing. The booster club donated funds to get a charter bus for the Scottsbluff trip and a local business bought steaks this week and last for the pregame dinner.
“I'm amazed at how much everyone is rallying around us right now,” Snodgrass said.
Scottsbluff was averaging 362 yards a game behind its power rushing game and had a defense that flew to the ball. But Snodgrass gives that long bus ride to Scottsbluff credit for the win, too.
“It was a good time to build team unity and build chemistry,” Snodgrass said. “It was a great time to all be in one spot, sit down and focus.”
It wasn't so great the next morning when the Dukes rolled home around 5:15 a.m. and several players had to take the ACT college entrance exam a few hours later.
Snodgrass wasn't worried about anyone skipping. The Dukes are all about doing the right thing.
Their program is based on being a great person first, a great student second and then a great athlete. Snodgrass has themes every week. This week it was integrity, but one of the most important for the players is hard work.
Maximum effort all the time.
“We never talk about winning, we talk about playing as hard as you can,” he said. “Our kids have played very hard. We lost a few early ones, but in those games I was still proud of our team because they did play as hard as they could.”
Snodgrass used the same philosophy during 12 seasons at Overton, where he took his team to the state finals three times, winning once. He picked it up from books by former UCLA coaching great John Wooden and former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, whom he considers a mentor although they've never met.
Snodgrass said it was the toughest decision of his life to leave Overton, but York was closer to family. He had an opportunity to work with his best friend from high school, defensive coordinator Matt Kern. Plus, he looked forward to the challenge.
“It's always something seeing what you can do with a team that is way down,” he said.
He had a lot of restless nights at first but said it's been a good move. The number of players in the program has jumped, the players are stronger and faster because of hours spent in the weight room, the youth programs are exploding and some confidence-building performances during a 2-7 season last year set the base for success.
“Right now, football is a very big thing in York,” Snodgrass said. “It's a fun time for football in York right now.”
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