YORK — It’s one thing to hit York High running backs Cullen McCarty and Jack Neary.

It’s quite another to bring them down.

McCarty, a junior, and Neary, a senior, combined for 295 rushing yards Friday night to lead the Wildcats to a bruising 31-14 season-opening victory over Westbrook. As a team York rushed for 354 yards.

“We preach it, run hard and punish the defenders,” said McCarty, who had 165 rushing yards despite missing time with leg cramps. “The offensive line set it all up. They opened the holes and then we did what we did.”

The holes were big, but McCarty and Neary finished off a lot of the runs with hard hits. Neary rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns, on runs of 3 and 33 yards in the first quarter.

“This is how we want to play,” said Neary. “We want to play physical football and we just want to hit.”


York opened a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, aided by two Westbrook fumbles on the Blazes’ first five plays.

Quarterback Cole Merritt capped York’s opening drive with a 1-yard sneak. After Westbrook’s second fumble, the Wildcats needed just two plays to go 21 yards for their second score: an 18-yard run by McCarty and a 3-yard score by Neary. Trevor LaBonte’s second PAT kick made it 14-0 with 5:08 left in the first.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” said McCarty. “The fumbles gave us even more and then we were just clicking, clicking, clicking.”

After forcing a punt, York went in for its third score on Neary’s 33-yard run. He appeared to be down on the play, but got up and ran in untouched and it was 21-0.

“I got hit pretty hard on the play and I thought I was down,” said Neary. “I didn’t hear a whistle after a couple of seconds and I just ran into the end zone trying to make a play.”

York’s defense handled Westbrook in the first half, holding the Blazes without a first down. A late 23-yard field goal by LaBonte made it 24-0 at the half.


Then Westbrook got back in it. Their defense forced a punt and Maurice Johnson broke a 61-yard touchdown run, starting to his right and then cutting all the way across the field to the left sideline and sprinting in for the score. Jared Clark bulled in for the conversion points and it was 24-8.

York was driving when a holding penalty and fumbled snap led to a third-and-18 from the Westbrook 20. Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Derek Breunig stepped in front of a throw-back screen pass and returned the interception 70 yards for a touchdown.

The conversion rush was stopped, but the Blazes were within 24-14 with 11:47 left.

“We talked at the half about taking it one play at a time,” said Jeff Guerette, the Blazes coach. “And I thought we did that. I was proud of our effort and hopefully we can take the lessons from the first half and the second half and build on it.”

Westbrook wouldn’t get any closer, even as McCarty went to the bench with cramps. Neary stepped in and picked up some valuable first downs, leading to the final touchdown, a 13-yard run by Merritt off a great play-fake to both running backs.

“This was a huge win for the kids,” said Randy Small, coach of the Wildcats.

“I thought we played real physical.”

Especially his backs.

“We stand sometimes on the defensive side against our offense (in practice),” said Small. “And boy, we were all football players but those two coming at you, and real fast, I don’t know if I’d want to stick my nose in 40, 50 times and try to tackle them. They get after it. They’re bruisers.”

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