Nov. 11—MECHANICSBURG — Wilson senior Tommy Hunsicker was the last player to walk off the field after his team's season ended sooner than he wanted Friday night at Cumberland Valley.
As the visibly distraught Bulldogs comforted each other on Chapman Field following a hard-fought, 20-14 District 3 Class 6A quarterfinal loss to the Eagles, Hunsicker reflected on a high school career well spent wearing the Wilson uniform.
"We've been playing together for years; I love all of them, they're my friends on and off the field and I'll be with them forever," Hunsicker said. "That's how we played this whole year: as friends, all together.
"And that's probably what I'm gonna miss the most, just the bond that we built on the field. Everything we did as a team. ... We fought till the end. That's all we can ask for."
Without a doubt, fifth-seeded Wilson (7-4) fought till the end against fourth-seeded Cumberland Valley (7-4).
With the Bulldogs trailing 20-7 in the fourth quarter, junior defensive back Christo Hunsicker blocked an Eagles punt at their 17 before freshman defensive back Monty Greer recovered the ball in the end zone to make it a 20-14 game with 9:46 remaining.
"He's been coming up with big plays all year; really his whole life," Tommy Hunsicker said of his younger brother. "We've been playing together forever, and I'll miss it. He really brought energy to the sideline with that play. That's exactly what we needed in that moment."
As if a blocked punt wasn't enough to shift the momentum, a fake punt run on fourth-and-11 by senior running back Nick Fiorini on the Bulldogs' next drive gave Wilson a first down at the 50 with just under seven minutes to play.
Though they would not score on the drive, the 24-yard gain was a sign of the resilience the Bulldogs showed throughout the second half.
Cumberland Valley began the third quarter with an 18-play, 76-yard drive that ended when Bryce Staretz scored his second rushing touchdown of the game from the Bulldogs' 1-yard line with 2:40 remaining in the quarter. The Eagles converted on fourth down twice on the drive.
"They didn't quit; they played hard all the way to the end," Wilson coach Doug Dahms said. "They could have rolled over when they got the two-touchdown lead and we weren't stopping 'em, but they fought till the end."
The end culminated in one final chance for the Bulldogs, who took over at their 20 with 1:35 to go and with no timeouts. After picking up a first down, a penalty followed by three consecutive incompletions from their 22 forced a turnover on downs and Cumberland Valley was able to run out the clock.
Tommy Hunsicker finished 14-of-27 passing for 156 yards and one touchdown. His lone touchdown pass was to junior Madyx Gruber from 10 yards with 9:05 remaining in the second quarter to tie it at 7-7.
Staretz opened the scoring on a 9-yard run with 1:40 to go in the first quarter. He finished with 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 33 of the Eagles' 35 carries. He had 70 yards in the first half.
In an early attempt to swing the energy in its favor, Wilson successfully executed an onside kick after its first touchdown, but failed to score on the ensuing drive.
A 17-yard pass from Grant Shepley to Caiden Pines with 1:40 left in the first half gave Cumberland Valley a 13-7 lead at halftime following a missed extra point.
"The whole first half and first quarter we just weren't stopping No. 1 (Staretz)," Dahms said. "So we finally tweaked the little things and started moving around a little bit more, then the kids picked up and we started playing football. Now, we made some mistakes; we didn't capitalize on the onside kick and then we had a couple of big drops at the end there that were very uncharacteristic.
"Give the kids credit. They fought back."
The Bulldogs finished with 191 yards of total offense (156 passing, 35 rushing) and the Eagles had 223 yards of total offense (145 rushing, 78 passing). Senior Austin Valukevich had a team-high 58 receiving yards off two catches for Wilson.
While it is not the finish he would have liked, Tommy Hunsicker said he sees a bright future for the Bulldogs.
"They got a ton of potential," he said. "We could see it every day on the practice field. There's countless players that can make an impact for this program, and that's how it is every year. I can't wait to see what they're going to do in the future.
"My brother and the seniors are going to be leaders next year. I have high expectations for them as always in everything that they do, not even just football. They're great kids. They're all going to do great things."