Wolfpack Players Receive State Championship Rings
Ty Harper isn’t exactly a jewelry guy.
He always thought the only accessory he would wear would be his wedding ring from his wife Lauren.
Then the Wolfpack won the 2018 state title.
Now, the Clymer/Sherman/Panama football coach has added a third ring to his collection.
At this rate, he might need to invest in a jewelry box.
The Wolfpack received their 2019 New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D championship rings during a drive-thru ceremony in the Triple E Manufacturing parking lot Tuesday evening.
The occasion was likely the final coronation of the school year for the back-to-back state champions, especially the team’s 11 seniors who likely will not take part in in-person graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation.
“This year, with the circumstances, I think this was something that we looked forward to even more than last year,” Harper said. “Following the 2018 championship, there was a point where we were all ready to move on and start thinking about the 2019 season. With school closing and some of the seniors not able to finish out their winter seasons or play at all in the spring, it’s definitely something that was special for us.”
Much like the 2018 season that preceded it, the 2019 campaign will go down in history in the tri-community area of southern Chautauqua County.
Expectations were high for C/S/P after winning its first state title in 2018 with a perfect 13-0 record that included a 26-6 defeat of Moriah in the state title game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
The Wolfpack graduated a staggering 20 players off that team, including core members of their offensive and defensive lines like Jevan Newman, Reece Bates, Jordan Smouse, Mason Bestine, Elliot Jackson, Steven Ryan, Hunter Kochanowski and Jordan Caron.
“If you would have asked me in August if we were going to repeat, I would’ve said we have a long way to go before we even start thinking about that,” Harper said. “In some ways it was even more memorable than the first one. We had to improve so much and I’m very proud of that.”
Gone also were running backs Michael Beatman and Derek Ecklund; defensive end Chance Meeder; and linebackers Robert Overton and Mitch Hovey.
C/S/P hardly skipped a beat.
With a returning core that included quarterback Gerrit Hinsdale, wide receiver/defensive end Cameron Barmore and Mr. Everything John Swabik, the Wolfpack were just as good.
“Those are two really special players. Some coaches do it for 25 years and don’t have one kid like that,” Harper said.
Harper added: “Zavon Overton is another guy, who on a lot of teams is the guy people are talking about. Sometimes he gets lost in the conversation because of the talent around him. He was such a special player in his own right.”
Although a loss to Franklinville/Ellicottville in Week 3 ended the Wolfpack’s 15-game winning streak and put them behind the 8-ball for the top seed in the Section VI postseason, it didn’t matter.
All that changed was which color uniform Harper’s team would wear in the sectional championship game at New Era Field in November.
After a 22-0 shutout of the Titans, C/S/P beat Batavia Notre Dame, 47-14, in the Far West Regional at SUNY Brockport and Tioga, 28-27, in the state semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
“Tioga was ranked No. 1. … They have a great program and they are always in that game, I feel like,” Harper said. ” … That’s on the short list of the most special games I’ve ever coached in.”
A repeat of the 2018 state final featured the Wolfpack and Moriah at the Carrier Dome, and again C/S/P came out on top, this time by a dominating 47-6 tally.
“We had some kids,” Harper said, “who were so tough and gritty they just wouldn’t let us lose.”
The Wolfpack will move up to Class C this coming fall and likely face a harder road to a three-peat. No matter the result, the 2018 and 2019 teams will go down in Chautauqua County history.
And they’ll have the rings to prove it.
“With everything they’ve had to endure, I feel good for them,” Harper said. “I think our entire coaching staff, we feel happy to be able to bring some closure to the year for them.
“Just to be able to spend a minute or two with each of them,” Harper added, “was a really great experience. We wish them the best.”
NOTES: Each state championship ring features a “CSP” in the middle surrounded by green and white gems in the shape of a football. Around the outside of the football it says “STATE CHAMPIONS” with “2019” in the corners of the ring. … A parent-led pancake breakfast in March, the CSP Football Club and a bottle/can drive, made possible by Don’s Car Wash, helped offset the costs of the rings.