It wasn't just the losing that stuck with York. It was the way the Cougars lost.
Giving up 39 points to South Pointe in the regular season was the unusual part, as the Cougars have come to rely on their defense in their bounce-back season and trust that it's going to continue to get better tonight in the rematch.
Topping last week will be difficult, as they held a hot-scoring Daniel team - which was averaging 32.3 points per game - to a single touchdown in a 10-7 overtime win. But for York coach Bobby Carroll, the trend is clear.
"That South Pointe game was a wake-up call," Carroll said. "That one really told us what we needed to do.
"Ever since then, we've played a lot better, good team defense the last three weeks."
The point totals have declined every week since, all on the road. After giving up 34 in a first-round shootout win over Blue Ridge, they held Wade Hampton to 21 and allowed 7 last week. Their own star running back, Lee Wright, said he can play with confidence, "because I know we can stop anybody's run."
To advance to tonight's Class AAA semifinal, they bottled up Daniel's star running back Jae'lon Oglesby, who entered the game with more than 1,600 yards and 25 touchdowns. They allowed just 27 yards through the first three quarters, and though Oglesby scored a game-tying touchdown late in regulation, the Cougars made the play when they needed, forcing a fumble in overtime.
"Both offenses were kind of slow, so we knew we were going to have to play that much better," defensive tackle Beau Nunn said. "When the game was on the line, we knew we had to make a stop and we did.
"Being in that kind of game can help us, because you know that any play can go for a touchdown and ruin everything. That's why everybody's running to the ball to make a stop."
The defense revolves around linebacker Ty Currence, who leads them with 174 tackles. But good luck getting him to talk about it, as coaches and teammates say that's not his style.
"He's really quiet, everywhere he goes," Nunn said. "But when he's on the field, you know he's there. He's just an awesome football player."
That said, the York defense doesn't have that signature star, not the way Carroll had at South Pointe last year in Jadeveon Clowney. Instead, its forced to play a disciplined style, relying on gap control and each player knowing their assignments to keep things tight.
"We really don't have that one big guy," Nunn said. "Everything around here is a team effort. That's hard in a way, but the key is everybody just has to do their job, and trust the guy next to them and hope for the best.
"You can tell, we just get better and better every day in practice."
For the season, they're allowing 17.0 points per game, and know that keeping that average intact will be a challenge against a South Pointe team with numerous offensive weapons.
But there's a confidence now that's different, a belief that comes only from results.
"We've gotten some guys back from injury lately that were out, and that helps," Carroll said. "But the reality is I think these guys have figured out the speed of the game more.
"They're just playing faster, with more confidence in what they're doing."
They know they're going to have to be fast to stop the Stallions this time, better than they've been all year. That meant a little sacrifice Thursday, knowing they can enjoy a meal later if they win.
"We've got to have self-control on Thanksgiving," defensive lineman Andre Foulks said. "Because we know we have to play fast on Friday night."