…And ready to shock the World in 2017.They didn’t go all the way around the world, but they went all they way across York County to play football in 2016.
Now, they’re back, and ready to help the Hanover Rhinos shock the world in 2017.
Chase Scharf, Bashawn McFadden, and Ron Rohrback were among 13 players who left the Hanover Rhinos for the York Silver Bullets after the 2015 season.
“I wasn’t a player that Hanover contacted to come back (last year) like they did with others, and so that made me feel unwanted in Hanover at the time,” McFadden said, “But I’m back now. I appreciate the warm welcome the staff and players have given me, and I’m looking forward to a great year.”
Adam Bostian was the Rhinos head coach in 2015, and watched his roster stripped of some of its best players following that season. “When the Bullets returned to the Atlantic Football Association, we kinda knew what was going to happen. The guys that live in York, or close to it, would go and play for York,” said Bostian, now co-owner and defensive coordinator with the Rhinos. “We knew that was going to happe, and we didn’t blame the guys for doing that. It really did hurt our program by our win or lose record.”
What followed was a disastrous 2-8 season for the Rhinos that featured three head coaching changes. The Bullets went 6-4, making the playoffs. Adding fuel to the budding rivalry was the fact that the Bullets were placed in the Rhinos’ division, meaning, not only would they compete directly for a playoff spot, but they would face each other twice on the field during the season.
That first matchup came on March 19th, a cold, snowy day at Manheim Adventure Park. Before the game, the Bullets did a lap around the field during warm ups, which took them right by the Rhinos’ bench. The attitude was cordial, as players and personnel from the Rhinos greeted their former teammates with hellos as the York players passed by. However, it was clear in the crisp spring air that everyone on both sides was ready for the battle that lay ahead, and no one wanted to cede bragging rights.
“It definitely was (weird), man,” McFadden said. “I mean, Hanover was the 1st team I ever played for, so the Rhinos were home for me in a way.”
In the Bullets’ first game, they used strong defense and good field position to beat the Rhinos 25-6. Hanover scored just once, a tipped pass that turned into a long touchdown with just 3 seconds left in the game.
It was a harbinger of things to come for Hanover, while York would enjoy a sterling season. Scharf was replaced at starting quarterback by Bob Moore in the fourth game of the season, and the Bullets took flight. They surged through the likes of Franklin County and Carroll County, and gave the defending champion Harrisburg Sharks and the 3-time champion Virginia Chargers all they could handle.
Hanover’s season trudged on through 6 more consecutive losses, 5 of them shutouts.
Included in that was a 67-0 loss at York on 4/30 that set franchise records for most points given up, and most lopsided loss.
“It was strange a little during the first game in the snow,” Rohrback said. “It was almost like coming to practice, but with a different uniform on. The 67-0 game, I only played a few downs on defense. But some guys had a point to prove.”
In the playoffs, York took another shot at knocking off Harrisburg, but fell just short, 18-14.
When Clayton McNair’s late fourth quarter run for a first down reduced the Silver Bullets’ season to a few kneel downs, Scharf knew he wanted a change of scenery.
“The moment the season ended, I knew I wasn’t returning to the Bullets,” Scharf said. “It’s a new me, new scene. Adam had reached out to me the day contracts ended, and that really stuck out to me. Not only coming home, but being on a team that wants me there, and that I can lead.”
The hometown quarterback born a rolling stone wasn’t immediately sure he was running back to the only team he’d even known.
“We talked about life in general to start out,” Bostian said. “Then, I asked what his plans were for the next football season. He said he was not playing summer or fall ball, and wanted to get in shape for the next spring season, but never told me what team he was interested in playing for. He kept me in the dark for as long as he could.”
Ultimately, Scharf found something he couldn’t replace in Hanover.
When he ended a few months of speculation, and finally decided on the Rhinos, it instantly filled the position at which the Rhinos had the biggest need.
Last time we saw Scharf in the red and black, he was on his back on the Steel-High field turf as his 65-yard touchdown pass was being caught by Jay Collins in the 2015 playoffs against Harrisburg.
During that 2015 season, Scharf played to an 84.3 quarterback rating, which is 68.7 points better than Hanover’s team quarterback rating in 2016. Sixty-two-year old Greg Day took one snap at quarterback, but his 39.6 rating was the highest on the team.
Scharf is steadfast in his belief that the present is the only thing that matters.
“As much as people want to ask why I left York, when I left York, etc.,” Scharf said, “The fact is, I left, and its time to focus on the season. The past is over. Time to focus on us!”
The member of the original Hanover Rhinos squad in 2012 further cautioned against dwelling on the past.
“When I was a Bullet, I was a Bullet, season ended. Now I’m a Rhino,” Scharf said.
For McFadden, the decision to return to Hanover was made easy when his friend Scharf said he was going back to Hanover.
“Like I told the coaches, I was going with my teammate Showtime, and it just felt right for me to branch off and take this route, especially changing positions,” McFadden, now a wide receiver, said. “There’s no hard feelings or nothing personal toward the Bullets. Those guys are my brothers, they’re very talented and I wish them nothing but the best. I’ll be rooting for them, as well as my team, the Hanover Rhinos.”
Flash back to 2015, to when McFadden, then a cornerback, began his semi-pro career.
“That 1st season was a learning experience for me, man”, McFadden recalls. “I gained a lot of friendships with the players, especially Shannon Martin, one of my closest friends on the team. Those were the times man.”
After bouncing around for a few years between Pennsylvania and his home state of South Carolina, McFadden settled in the York County Area to be closer to where his wife grew up.
AttendingWoodland High School in South Carolina, McFadden was a classmate of his cousin, Nagui Wright, who was a standout football player. Wright would also go on to play for the Rhinos, and still owns several of the Hanover Rhinos’ all-time rushing records.
For Rohrback, walking up to the first practice was a harrowing experience.
“Nervous. Not knowing what to expect. It had been 15 yrs since the last time I played organized ball,” Rohrback said.
He ended up living a million miles of memories with those teammates that he so tepidly approached on that fall afternoon in 2014.
Build like a cinder block at 5’6, 197 lbs., the 1999 Dallastown graduate still remembers his first touchdown.
In Santa Bowl III in December 2014, Rohrback stepped on the field with an organized team for the first time since high school.
In the annual charity game that benefits local Toys for Tots, the Rhinos were trailing the Germantown Gladiators 8-6 in the third quarter at the mud-stricken Hanover Middle School Field.
The Rhinos had driven to the 5-yard line when Bostian called a 22-dive up the middle to Rohrback.
The play went anything but the way it was planned.
The Gladiators’ defense plugged the gaps to the inside, so Rohrback dashed to the outside and around the end of the line for the eventual game-winning score.
“It was a team effort,” Rohrback said. “The line held up, just couldn’t get any push, so just bounced it out. I grew up watching Barry sanders play. He never, not once, showboated.”
It remains Rohrback’s only touchdown as a semi-pro athlete.
Once the regular season started, Rohrback and McFadden joined a defensive unit that was coming off of two consecutive seasons where they held their opponents under 100 points.
After an unlucky start, which saw the Rhinos lose their first four games by a total of 21 points, including three losses by 5 points or less, Hanover caught fire, and won 4 of its last 6 games to make the playoffs.
That season is viewed very fondly by the players on the Hanover Rhinos, with many of them regarding 2015 as their most memorable season.
Part of that may be due to the untimely passing of two of the team’s biggest personalities from that season. Shannon Martin and David Telp, Jr. passed away during a several week period in the fall of 2016.
“To really sit and think why a lot of guys have such fond memories of that season, is because we can never take the field again with a few guys,” Rohrback added.
Rohrback hopes that some spiritual elements of the 2015 team will develop in the Rhinos this upcoming season.
“To early for me to tell but I think it’s right there,” Rohrback said. “Guys have to grow on one another. Only a few that are still there that I’ve played with.”
As practices have begun in the fall of 2016, Scharf has been a vocal on-field leader as he and the rest of the players work on head coach Noah Sneeringer’s offense.
“That’s the most important (relationship)!,” Scharf said. “I feel like me and Noah have gotten off to a great start, two football minds working as one. QB’s need to have that support system, so regardless, good or bad, we can talk on the sidelines to correct anything at a moments notice.”.
McFadden has been working hard and studying to learn the art of playing receiver at the semi-pro level.
Rohrback will continue to be two-way player who impacts the game on both sides. He’ll be taking snaps at fullback, and his usual linebacker position on the Rhinos’ newly-named “Darkside” defense.
Asked what he needs to do to help the team, Rohrback said, “Just play my part. Get to know some guys better, strengths and weaknesses, to help each other. Other then that, that’s about it. I’m no hero, but if we work as one team and curb the ‘I’m the greatest’ BS, the winning will take care of itself.”
All three players have expressed gratitude over the way the Rhinos’ organization has welcomed them back with open arms.
“The Rhinos have treated me like I never left,” McFadden said. “In fact, I seem more appreciated by the team than before. It feels great to be back. I’m looking forward to a great season with the team.”
Who says you can’t go home?