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Written by: Billy Splain on Wednesday, June 24th, 2020
Starting in 1958 and 1961 with perfect 10-0 seasons, the Central Dauphin Rams had fielded several promising teams through the following decades, competing againstthe best Central Pennsylvania had to offer. Finally, in 2011, the Rams marched through a murderous playoff schedule to win the PIAA AAAA State championship.
An excellent 1958 squad was led by a brilliant star, the legendary Don Caum, and legendary coach Joe Yukica. This was Caum’s junior season – he was named first team All-State quarterback. In 1959, Caum and his Rams won their first nine games before bowing to Easton’s powerful Red Rovers by a single point before a huge crowd at Central Dauphin’s Landis Field. Don Caum was honored as both All-State and All-American. The Rams had won 19 straight games.
Central Dauphin was perfect again in 1961 at 10-0 with one of the school’s all-time great teams.. Steve Schreckengaust was an All-State guard. In 1963, the Rans won
one of the biggest victories in school history by upsetting George Chaump’s John Harris Pioneers before a roaring Landis Field crowd.
It all came together a half century later for the Rams. 2010 had been a good 10-3 season. The previous five years had seen a total 43-17 record.
In 1997, legendary coach Chaump returned to the Harrisburg area and led CD to the District crown and an overtime state semi final loss to CB West at Hersheypark Stadium. In 1998, Chaump’s Rams completed a perfect regular season before bowing in the District championship game..
In 2002. coach Chaump led the Rams to a State Number One ranking before a heart-breaking PIAA loss to eventual champion Parkland eliminated the Rams.
For 2011, a great team was being assembled by Coach Glenn McNamee. Six offensive starters and one defensive starter returned, but a big offensive line had to be rebuilt after the 2010 squad had reached the District Three semi finals.
Junior quarterback Brandon LaVia was counted on to lead the team. All around Zayd Issah, another junior, had rushed for 1.650 yards and scored 22 touchdowns, Veterans LaVia and Issah were expected to be ably supported by veteran backs Drew Scales and fullback Adam Hollinger. All-Conference tackle Zach Wilk and tight end Jesse Myers were the key returnees up front.
The season began with a 28-21 home overtime win over Lancaster-Lebanon League League foe Manheim Township. Bobby Schaffer’s short plunge provided the margin.
Bishop McDevitt of Harrisburg, the area’s dominant Catholic program, overcame a 10-0 Ram lead and scored the winning touchdown with 4:37 to play in a 20-13 game. The contest had been moved from McDevitt Field to CD’s Landis field and played on Sunday afternoon.
Next the Rams traveled to Philadelphia for a contest with Delaware Valley Charter and came away with a 42-6 victory. Similar romps at Mechanicsburg and over intra-district rival Central Dauphin East followed.
The Rams then faced perennial power Cumberland Valley at Chapman Field. The Eagles were held to just two first downs in the first half and a Nate Hamilton blocked
punt return keyed a 17-7 signature victory.
Four more major decisive wins over the likes of Harrisburg, Carlisle, State College and Chambersburg set the stage for the post-season.
In the first round of the PIAA District playoffs, Central Dauphin faced neighbor CD East. Issah and Scales led a 253 yard rushing attack as Issah scored three touchdowns
in a 30-0 romp. Cedar Crest then took the Rams to the limit in a 35-32 battle, Recovery of an on-side kick finally sealed the victory. CD faced seventh-seed Central York in a semi final and trailed 21-6. Hamilton blocked a punt in the third quarter and the tide was turned. Issah scored twice, and a Scales TD with two minutes remaining sdvanced the Rams to the District final..
Now playing at Hersheypark Stadium, a narrowly made field goal put the Rams ahead of the Wilson Bulldogs. In an evenly matched title game, these three points proved
decisive. Behind 10-14, CD scored twice as LaVia hit Issah twice for 53 and 28 yards and the Rams had won 24-21.
The State semi final at Altoona’s legendary Mansion Park Stadium, with defending state champion North Allegheny, was viewed by many as a “true” state championship game. Central Dauphin led 20-6 early in the second half when the WPIAL powerhouse rallied to tie the score. The Rams then proved there worth by driving 46 yards in nine plays in the final 1:39. A 23 yard completion from LaVia to Issah moved the Rams to the Tiger four. Brandes followed with a 21 yard field goal. The final score was 23- 20.
The Rams won despite Issah gaining just 12 yards on 13 carries. North Allegheny led 17-13 in first down and junior NA quarterback Leftwich ran 26 times for 158 yards.
On to the AAAA State Final at Hersheypark facing the Distrixt One champion North Penn Knights. The only score in the first half came when LaVia and Scales executed
A 74 yard pass-run touchdown. North Penn evened the score at seven early in the fourth. Scales returned the following kickoff 47 yards into Knight territory. Issah drove in from two yards with eight minutes remaining and the Ram defense kept the Knights away. The coveted championship had been won 14-7
The 2011 Ram stellar offensive lineup:
WR 7 Bobby SCHAFFER 6-1 196 SR
T 74 Evan SCHWAN 6-6 225 SR
G 64 Arthur LEWIS 5-11 201 JR
C 59 Nick GILLICK 6-0 211 SR
G 67 Nick GREENE 6-0 219 JR
T 55 Zach WILK 6-5 275 SR
TE 88 Jesse MYERS 6-0 214 SR
FL 10 Sam ADAMS 6-1 192 SR
QB 12 Brandon LAVIA 6-0 203 JR
RB 1 Zayd ISSAH 6-4 220 JR
RB 5 Drew SCALES 5-8 175 JR
FB 38 Adam HOLLINGER 5-10 208 SR
The battling Ram defense:
DE 74 Evan SCHWAN 6-6 225 SR
DT 60 Nate HAMILTON 6-1 200 SR
DT 55 Zach WILK 6-5 275 SR
DE 64 Arthur LEWIS 5-11 201 JR
LB 44 Daylin RUSSO 6-0 210 JR
LB 38 Adam HOLLINGER 5-10 208 SR
LB 31 Ben MOSEY 5-10 210 SO
LB 1 Zayd ISSAH 6-4 220 JR
CB 39 David LAUDERMILCH 5-11 163 JR
CB 5 Drew SCALES 5-8 175 JR
S 11 Jordan BOWMAN 6-0 208 JR
6 Andrew BURGWIN 5-10 170 JR provided capable support in the defensive backfield. 52 Tyler COOKE 6-2 230 SR gave his team additional strength at tackle.
Glen McNamee was in his sixth season as Ram head coach. He had been a four-year starter at quarterback for the Bloomsburg Huskies. Glen held the school passing yardage and touchdown records at his 1997 graduation. He then served as an assistant at Lenoir-Rhyne University, coaching QB’s and acting as recruiting coordinator. After five years he had the opportunity to return to Pennsylvania on the staff of George Chaump at Central Dauphin. In 2006 he was promoted to head coach.
The Rams remarkable State championship season:
28 MANHEIM TOWNSHIP 21 OT
13 HARRISBURG BISHOP MCDEVITT 20
42 DELAWARE VALLEY CHARTER Philadelphia 6
42 MECHANICSBURG 7
49 CENTRAL DAUPHIN EAST 7
17 CUMBERLAND VALLEY 7
35 HARRISBURG 7
35 CARLISLE 16
26 STATE COLLEGE 17
42 CHAMBERSBURG 14
PIAA DISTRICT THREE PLAYOFFS
30 CENTRAL DAUPHIN EAST 0
35 CEDAR CLIFF 32
28 CENTRAL YORK 21
24 WILSON West Lawn 21
PIAA STATE PLAYOFFS
23 NORTH ALLEGHENY 20
14 NORTH PENN 7
The Central Dauphin School District had been organized in 1954 from several small boroughs and large townships in the rapidly growing Harrisburg Eastern suburbs. Central Dauphin’s first team was fielded in 1955. By 2010, the District’s population exceeded 90.000, making it one of the State’s largest districts. Central Dauphin East High School arrived on the football scene in 1962.
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