Brandon Krise and Mike Felton have been tossing the pigskin around since they were freshmen.
In the backyard of each other’s homes, from the top of the driveway to the other side of the street, they’ve been pegging each other with passes.
Locating each other on the fly, launching hail mary passes. It was the simplest desire in their hearts, from Day One, to play football at a high level, sustaining the respectability of the program.
During the previous three summers, the recent South Western graduates have been fixtures at the Mustang Corral. The two worked on everything from handoffs, slants, fades, hitches, to posts.
They simulate game situations and embrace the physical aspect, grappling for a loose ball as if a gold coin is encrusted inside of it. The passion has never wavered.
Krise and the Temple-bound Felton would conclude the workout with sets of sprints, pushups, and drills to prepare them for a bulk of the labor they would soon take on.
From the eighth grade field trips to prom night at the York Fairgrounds, Krise and Felton has been an inseperable tandem. Frank and Frick, Mario and Luigi, Jordan and Pippen, you can’t have one without the other.
Krise, a wide receiver, and Felton, a running back/safety, have been best buds the past four years.
Like Frick and Frack, Krise and Felton are an inseparable tandem, remaining Ziplock-tight on and off the playing field.
Krise and his family are excited to watch Felton represent Pennsylvania in the Big 33 Football Classic on Saturday, June 16 at Hersheypark Stadium.
Felton spent Monday at Lower Dauphin High, practicing under the blistering June heat.
Felton, who will play safety in the Big 33, got acclimated to a new group of teammates, coaches, and even a new role locking down on bigger, dieseled-up tight ends.
Felton has been hell-bent on playing in a game of this star-spangled magnitude for four years. Krise depicts the game as the icing on Felton’s four-year career.
“We first started playing football together in eighth grade,” explained Krise. “Mike transferred from Delone to South Western. Everyone, at first, was jealous of him. They thought he was cocky.
"But, I didn’t really care or let that bother me. I knew he was a level better than everyone so I embraced it. It’s awesome to know I played with him. We’ve been through so much on and off the field.”
Their final season on the gridiron was a special and emotional one.
The Mustangs reeled off five wins in their last six games. They played with a swagger that helped propel them to a 5-0 division record.
They managed to do this in the fiend-like face of adversity.
Ben Bynaker, a junior wide receiver for the Mustangs, was killed with his mother, Tammy Bynaker, by his father, Gary Lee Bynaker, in a double murder suicide on Oct. 10.
The death of Bynaker, who wore number 81, sent shock waves through the school, which rallied immensely in the trying times following his death.
So, the scene unfolded after every game following the unspeakable tragedy.
With “81″ emblazoned on team hats and jerseys, the Mustangs wrapped around each other. Some pointed to the sky to symbolize Bynaker’s heavenly presence.
Others let the waterworks flow from their eyeballs down to their chins.
“No one thought that we could pull a division championship,” Krise said.
“The pundits and everyone, they all thought it was Red Lion and Central’s year this year. The death of Ben Bynaker and the death of Josh Hertz over the summer really brought us together. It pulled us together. We were leaning on Ben. It was our collective decision to dedicate this season to Ben and Josh Hertz.”
Hertz, a 2011 graduate of South Western High, passed away in a car accident during the summer of 2011.
When asked if there’s a lasting memory from Felton’s four-year career at South Western, Krise didn’t flinch.
He referenced Felton’s ferocious, dome-rattling tackle which ultimately knocked out a Dallastown player during the Mustangs’ come-from-behind homecoming win.
Felton was uproarious following the bone-shattering hit, but the senior stayed around and offered to help the player up.
“As soon as the ball was released, the secondary knew what was going to happen,” Krise recalled.
“He left the kid out to dry. When he hit him, we all knew it was bad. You could just hear how bad it was.”
The tandem helped South Western register a 5-0 YAIAA Division I record, a 9-3 overall record, and South Western’s 13th YAIAA division championship in 26 years.