Meaning of life returns for football fans
NEW KENSINGTON — Whether your team wins or loses, high school football is a rite of late summer and fall in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
With a warm breeze under a blue moon, the ritual started Friday night as hundreds of fans — alumni, proud grandparents, parents, students and just plain football fans — poured into the bleachers for opening night.
It's arguably the best show in town where the marching band plays, the ref's whistle blows and the fans cheer as the home team is introduced.
Among Friday's openers were Freeport at Kittanning, Connellsville at Kiski Area, and the Valley Vikings versus the Deer Lakes Lancers.
Enduring a school-record 22-game losing streak, but with a new head coach, Chad Walsh, Vikings fans have patience, according to Tonya Norman, vice president of the Valley Touchdown Club, who was running around the concession stand.
“Their spirits have been uplifted with having a new coach and a new attitude,” Walsh said — even before the Vikings went on to win the season opener, 14-7.
So are their appetites as volunteers working at the concession stand served up nonstop nachos, pretzels and pizza. The Valley High School soccer boosters' greeted fans at the field entrance selling lanyards and plastic Viking helmets for $5.
“The kids look and I know what they are thinking: french fries or a Viking hat?” said soccer and track mom Valerie Kasavage of New Kensington.
“Everybody is up for this game,” said Jean Babusci of West Deer, a Lancers fan. “Watch out for No. 55,” she said.
Who is, of course, her grandson, Dylan Dempsey, a center and guard for the Lancers.
“I love the excitement,” she said.
“The players are excited, the fans are excited,” said Babusci, to which her husband Tony added, “We'll be more excited if they win.”
For Viking fans, team spirit was high as they continued to stream into Valley Memorial Stadium at kickoff.
Near the gate was Tom Rocchi, acting superintendent of the New Kensington-Arnold School District.
“This game, Valley is going to start a winning streak that will continue,” he said.
“But winning and losing isn't that important — it's the community spirit that matters,” Rocchi said.
Kellye Sproull of New Kensington said, “It's a new year. We're going to start it out good.”
Regardless of record, for some fans Friday nights are all about the football.
Ralph Barr, 79, of New Kensington, who played football for the Arnold Lions when he was in high school, has been coming to local high school football games ever since.
“It's nice entertainment, and I like to watch the kids,” he said.
After playing and then watching his local high school football team for decades, he notes: “The teams are better, faster and smarter, and so is the coaching,” he said. “The players are bigger.
“The crowds seem a little calmer, too. They used to get into fights. But they don't do that anymore.”
Another longtime fan, Bill Mathewson, 71, of West Deer, said, “I just like football.
“I go to most of the home games and if they're out of it, I'll leave in the third quarter and get the game information in the newspaper.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh man taken for wild ride on Route 28
- Arnold fireman falls from truck
- New Ken raid nets 2 suspects, $4,000 in drugs
- Freeport High School students rise to the challenge
- Allegheny Valley board approves contracts for assistants
- Highlands extends superintendent’s contract for 3 years
- Suspect admits to arson in Harrison
- Alle-Kiski seniors attend Walk the Red Carpet event
- Boscov’s could help sustain decade-old Pittsburgh Mills
- Mia Z voices no regrets after failing to advance on NBC show
- Entertainment attractions going strong in Pittsburgh Mills mall