When the 2014 football season came to a close with a loss in the D-10 championship game to Conneaut, depression and self-pity could have been expected and really, no one would have been surprised. Instead, the word that seemed to emanate from that point on was focus. What followed was one of the more exciting and unexpected seasons in Prep football history.
Though the Ramblers would lose their first game and their last game, what occurred in between was nothing short of remarkable. Battling injuries and adversity throughout, the team would win 14 consecutive games to advance to the state championship for the fifth time in school history. During that run to Hershey, some key games and moments stood out above the rest:
Week 3 at McDowell: Not many of the games in this great rivalry have gone down to the last play. But that's what occurred in the latest matchup, as Anthony Lupo hit an 18-yard field goal as the clock expired to give Prep a 9-7 victory over McDowell. Lupo accounted for all the points for the Ramblers as he hit three field goals. The win was the 132nd in the coaching career of Mike Mischler, moving him past Mina George for most-ever in school history.
D-10 Championship vs. Conneaut: In one of the greatest performances in school history, Prep's Ta'Nauz Gregory put his team on his back, leading the Ramblers to the District 10 championship in a come from behind 42-21 win over Conneaut. Moved in as a quarterback due to injury, he carried the ball 16 times for 186 yards and four touchdowns. Gregory also completed a pass, caught two balls for 34 yards and made two interceptions. Prep out gained Conneaut 422-259, out rushing them 342-82.
“I think what impressed me the most about our players and coaches this season was their ability to overcome the multi-faceted levels of adversity that we faced this year and still have the success that they did,” said head coach Mike Mischler. “We had to come from behind in many of our games while being several men down for most of the year due to injury.”
PIAA Quarterfinals vs. Thomas Jefferson: In a back and forth tilt, Prep scored last in the fourth quarter to rally for a 28-21 victory over Thomas Jefferson. Joe Mischler was 11-16 for 123 yards and two TD's, both to Koran Williams. Sullivan Johnson had the winning run from a yard out while Chris Muldrew had 124 yards and a TD. On defense Matthew Bauer led the way with 14 tackles.
PIAA Semifinals vs. Bishop McDevitt: In what has to be viewed as nothing but an instant classic, the Ramblers rallied from a 13-point third quarter deficit to stun Bishop McDevitt 38-34 to advance to the state championship game. Mischler hit Tim Beveridge early in the fourth on a 39-yard touchdown pass to give Prep their first lead of the game, an advantage they would never relinquish. The Crusaders drove into the red zone in the final minute but Terry Roberts turned things away with an interception in the end zone as the Crusaders were shut out in the second half. It was another huge night for Gregory who ran 15 times for 147 yards and caught five passes for 115 yards and a TD. Johnson scored twice and ran for 118 yards while Mischler had 210 yards passing and threw 3 TD's.
Though the season would not close out in the storybook fashion the team hoped for a week later in Chocolate Town vs. state champ Imhotep Charter, this proved to be a year that will never be forgotten.
“These players and coaches never lost faith in each other,” Mischler said. “They ignored the noise and controlled only those things that they had control over. The players bought in and trust and unity was what ended up making this team so successful.”