2023 Week 2 (Delaware & Maryland)
Week two was a trip to Delaware. That was the entire plan. My friend LCF and I were going to drive over Thursday morning. And arrive in time for the Thursday afternoon game at Abessinio Stadium.
That was the plan. And then, my ex-wife got sick. With covid. Luckily, I didn’t cross paths with her while sick. My daughter had a cold and had tested negative twice. Her doctor determined it was a cold going around that many people were getting. And had swept through her school already.
Originally, there were three games scheduled for Saturday. But, at some point, the Saturday game was shifted to two games. With a 1pm and 5pm kickoff. Well, I would prefer to be closer to home Saturday night then. So, I started looking around for other options. If I was going to see two games, I could find two games elsewhere.
And that led me to Octorara. They’re located on PA41 between Gap and Delaware. it’s a cut-across road I’ve taken in the past to get to Wilmington and Newark before. It’s mostly two-lane, and a bit heavily trafficked. And the school is located right on the road.
And the game would start at 11am. Not noon. Not 1pm. Which would give me a lot of night game options. If there were many. The best options to be closer to home were Bishop Guilfoyle hosting Bishop McCort in Altoona, and OLSH hosting Rochester at Moon, near Pittsburgh.
Both neither game really interested me. So, I considered an Eastern PA game. But there weren’t really any that interested me too much. So, I looked to West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. And saw the likely game. Fort Hill hosting Northern Garrett. I had always wanted to see a game at Greenway Avenue Stadium. And I had seen Northern Garrett before.
But, I was going on this trip alone, now. With my daughter possibly having Covid, I notified LCF on Wednesday, before I could get her tested. So, he dropped off the trip. Just to be safe. She did then test negative Wednesday morning and again Thursday morning. She was well enough for school, and I dropped her off in the morning.
And then had the long drive east to Delaware. I too I-80 east into Pennsylvania. And stayed on it through Clearfield until the I-99 stubbed route. And immediately exit onto PA26, where it ends abruptly at PA64. Following it south to Pleasant Gap to PA144. Following that over Mount Nittany. Where the new construction of US322 now cuts off PA144 where the old two-lane road used to exist.
I stopped for gas twice. One, to get the best price before it could go up. And then again, to try and make it back to Ohio on a full tank. I stopped near Centre Hall. Where the Sheetz had Unleaded 88 for $2.999. Which was cheaper than gas in Ohio by nearly a quarter. And again in Duncannon, for the gallon and a half or so that was needed.
Then, after snaking around Harrisburg, it was PA283 to US30 through Lancaster. At Gap, where they’ve split US30 due to the heavily trafficked PA41 intersection, I took PA41 over the mountain and down past Octorara High School. And then onto US1 North, which starts as a freeway until PA52. And follow that on a new road for me, into Delaware where it becomes DE52, and onto DE141.
Going past the DuPont Innovation Space, I turned and drove through the Alapocas Run State Park. Then the Augustine Cut-Off to W 18th St, which runs between the stadium and Salesianum High School.
On the drive down, I had considered a different Thursday schedule. Philadelphia had a few afternoon games. But only at South Side Supersite, and Northeast Supersite. And those games started at 3pm, rather than 3:30pm. The thought being a night game at Interboro or somewhere else nearby to get two new Pennsylvania based schools. Where the four teams Thursday were Delaware teams. But, alas, traffic was not going to permit it even if I changed my mind.
At the stadium, I was informed I needed a VIP pass to park in the lot at the field. Otherwise, I’d need to park at the high school. I did, but that meant taking all of my gear as I wouldn’t have easy access to my truck. When I checked in with the media window, I was told that I could get into the lot the next day. if I show up earlier. Which would mean I could spend time between games in air conditioning.
#21 – Howard Tech v. Hodgson Vo-Tech
Though the forecast for this game was a one-sided affair, calpreps didn’t get the right team. Howard sported a UNC like uniform. Similar to Highland the week prior in New Jersey. They were 38-14 favorites. And would get beaten easily, 43-12 by Hodgson Vo-Tech.
Between games, I made my way over to the concession stand for a water or gatorade. And, was given a free gatorade by concessions. Which was nice. It was warm out. But not too warm.
They had shaded tables with large umbrellas to sit at. And I went through some things to prep for the night game. The host Salesianum Sallies and the Delaware Military Academy Silver Eagles.
The stadium itself was beautiful. Situated in Brandywine Park, it actually shares part of itself with the State Park. Which gives it a wooden, rural feel. Even if I-95 runs just a few hundred feet behind the home stands. Huge trees heading up a hillside toward a railroad track start to provide shade as early as the early evening. My only real complaint is the lacrosse nets. A necessity for the sport, to catch errant balls, but it limits movement behind the endzones and limits decent shots of the scoreboard when near the endzone.
#22 – Salesianum v. Delaware Military
I was told this was going to be a close game. That the big names, and strongly coached teams would be a competitive affair. And it was, for a bit. But the Sallies, whose school name I heard pronounced 7 different ways over the weekend, were dominant. Winning comfortably despite a late score to finish, 44-21 over DMA.
After the game, I walked my way back to the school. And had to find a new way out. W 18th was closed to vehicle traffic and luckily I found a much simpler, easier, way to my hotel. But first, was looking for dinner.
From the east side of the school, taking Broom St to Concord Ave takes you right to the onramp of I-95 South. But there’s nothing off I-95 for food. So, I found a Checkers many blocks off an exit. And went there. It had been a while since being at a Rallys or a Checkers.
Had a double fish and double chicken. Their fries are very underrated. I drove the rest of the way to the Quality Inn and it quickly made my list of worst hotel experiences. One, I nearly ran over a hooker backing into a parking spot. And just how even at 11pm so many people were just hanging out outside. But, the $68 price tag per night made me follow through with it.
One thing I discovered, though, was that there wasn’t an easy way back onto I-95 from the hotel. There was an easy offramp heading south. But nothing northbound. So, I followed the main road east to DE37, and a quick stop at a Wawa. Got some Mango and a scrambled egg bowl. Which was okay. But not great.
Then it was DE37 to US202 and back to I-95 North. Not adding too much extra time to the trip. This time taking the easier US202 exit to Broom St and the high school. Turning past the school to the stadium lot. And still arriving over an hour before the 12pm kickoff.
#23 – Philadelphia Northeast v. Philadelphia West Catholic
This was just one of those games. Friday afternoon, so the crowds were minimal. The sun overhead. And a scoreless first half. But then Northeast finally broke the draw, with a 28 yard TD pass. And a couple minutes later, doubled the lead with a 3 yard run. A 14-0 lead seemed comfortable, but they weren’t out of it yet.
Late in the game, West Catholic scored on a quick run up the middle by the QB, but by then it was not much to do. Northeast would hold on to win, 14-7.
#24 – Smyrna v. Manheim Central
What a game. What. A. Game.
This is easily the best contender for game of the year and should hold up to most competitors. Manheim Central jumped out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. It was just pure domination against a Smyrna team that looked shellshocked.
But then Smyrna scored on a 75 yard TD pass. But Manheim Central answered with a late field goal to go up 24-6. An 18-point lead still felt insurmountable. Until it wasn’t.
In just 28 seconds, Smyrna answered with a long TD pass to go into halftime, trailing 24-14.
And added to it. Smyrna with a 65 yard TD pass. And a two point try, made it 24-22 just 57 seconds into the second half. And that insurmountable lead had nearly vanished.
But the Barons hadn’t given up hope. They clawed their way to another TD, to take a 31-22 lead late in the third. And in the fourth, Smyrna secured a TD, and a two point conversion by Dior Mackey. To cut the lead to 31-30.
And then, with 3:06 left, Smyrna scored on a 45 yard TD pass. The run was no good. But, it gave them an epic comeback from 21-0 to lead 36-31.
But it wasn’t over.
Aaron Enterline would snag a 38 yard TD pass, splitting the defenders on a leaping grab, and taking it in for a score. Just 18 ticks left on the clock.
Smyrna couldn’t muster anything in their final plays. And Manheim Central would win an epic game, 37-36.
Between games, I went to the concession stand and got a cheeseburger and a gatorade. It was a really good burger. No photos.
#25 – Haverford School v. Imhotep Charter
All day, this was told to me to be a great game. And it started competitively. Nearly scoreless through the first quarter. Until Tep would score on a 38 yard TD pass with 31 seconds left. Unfortunately, I was at the far end of the field, since I was anticipating the change of direction.
In the second quarter, after going up 14-0, Jah’Sear Whittington had returned an amazing 40 yard interception for a TD, but it was called back. But he bowled over two Fords to get there.
The second half was more of Tep football. An interception down to the goal line would go for another touchdown. And then Tep would finish things off, with a 35-0 victory over Haverford School.
After the game, it was back to Checkers, and the hotel. Having already taken my stuff to the room the night before, and checking in, it was a much more efficient night.
I got my photos finished. And called it a night around 3am.
In the morning, I was up early by 9am to make sure I got to Octorara at a decent time.
I wasn’t sure what type of crowd to expect. Or why the game was at 11am. But, I wanted to get there early enough.
I left the hotel and headed north of DE7 into PA, where it joins with PA41 at an interchange. And just north of that, I passed a Sunoco while I was planning to find something else for breakfast. if anything. And I saw heaven.
Of course, I had to stop there. So, I walked in and it make look the same. It wasn’t. Instead of talking to the ladies behind the counter with your order, you had to use the screen. And then I saw their offerings. Even for Breakfast, Laredo Taco Company always had Barbacoa. Instead, it was nothing but egg or potato based tacos.
I asked the lady, and was informed they don’t have Barbacoa. At all. Even for lunch. No lunch plates either. it’s literally just tacos. And they weren’t cheap. At $2.99 each or 2 for $5. I got three, and some of the chicken wings from the store’s hot case. All of it was disappointing. I had chorrizo and egg tacos. And the spice was minimal. Such a letdown. Makes me wish for a return to Texas soon.
But, I was close to my game.
#26 #1400 – Octorara v. Pequea Valley
Octorara is a very rural school for its place in the state. Extending along PA41 from just south of Gap to just northwest of US1. Including the primary town fo Cochranville. Pequea Valley, borders the district to the northwest. And includes a stretch of US30 through Kinzers and Gap. Along with rural areas including Intercourse and White Horse.
Both teams are the Braves. And the rivalry game is called either the Braves Bowl or the Battle of the Braves. I had thought maybe the rivalry was the reason for the morning game. But I didn’t see anything that would indicate trouble happening at a game. Where you might see a big rivalry having fights among students or threats to push a game to a Saturday morning.
All fans sit on one side of the field. While a soccer and ballfield sits across the field and down a small slope. With some trees in the southwest corner providing some shade for the late morning game.
After pulling in, I was let into the parking behind the school. And could walk in the far entrance to the field itself. Rather than through the fan entrance. I was beat after five games the past two days and twelve games the weekend before. So, for the game I mostly stood toward the endzone Octorara was heading. As that was the best bet for photos.
Octorara would score on two short runs of 1 yard, and a third from 3 yards to get a 21-0 halftime lead.
Overall, it was a one-sided game for my 1400th. But I did enjoy the day. Octorara has a beautiful setting for games in the afternoon when not playing at nights.
The third quarter started with a quick 1 yard TD run by Mekhi Murray, his third of the day. One shy of the coveted Al Bundy Award. An interception would setup another TD, and with 7:12 left in the third, the running clock would start.
The rest of the game would move briskly. And Octorara would hold on a goal line situation as time expired to win, 35-0 over their rivals and claim the Braves Bowl.
The game ended early, and I had a lot of free time before my 7pm game in Cumberland, Maryland. So, I took the scenic route. Instead of dropping down to I-95, I took US1 south over the Conowingo Dam to the I-695 loop around Baltimore. And then hit horrible traffic from an accident near I-83. And had to route around.
One of my plans was to stop for loaded shrimp and steak fries at a small place in Pikesville, Maryland. Just outside Baltimore. I had been here twice before and loved it.
I called ahead my order. And luckily my detour around the accident had a quick, efficient way to reach This is WINGS & SEAFOOD.
Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the past two times. Maybe it was the afternoon cook. But the fries lacked the cheese sauce they had previously, and the fries were drier and starchier. I also had ordered a dozen wings. And they were good. Split between a cajun rub and half Mumbo. Which was a tangy vinegar based hot sauce. Mild, but tasty. In the end, though, the fries were overkill after having the tacos in the morning. I then walked next door to the Seven-Eleven for a drink. And ate in my truck before heading out.
Taking I-68 west of Hancock, was nice to see Sideling Hill again.
I stopped in Cumberland at the Sheetz on the east end of town and bought Milo’s to drink. As the gatorade I had early just didn’t sit well with the loaded fries for taste. From there, there was a backway around town to get to the stadium. With convenient signs pointing the way.
#27 – Fort Hill v. Northern Garrett
With my longer drive along US1 and the two stops, I was much closer to kickoff than I anticipated. And it was also homecoming. I drove past the school and followed Greenway Ave past the stadium. Turning right and then finding a side street that had yet to fill up with traffic. Two other cars followed me to the last remaining spots. The homecoming festivities had started around 6:30pm. Which had cut into my free time.
After getting in, I bought a program and then walked over to the field. And started talking to an older woman. She had asked who I was shooting for. And remarking that her grand-daughter was the girl in the white dress. She was the homecoming queen. She asked if she could buy photos. So, I went and got one for her as she waited for the announcements before the game to start the walk onto the field.
I don’t usually do a lot of pregame photos. But, I decided to head over and to the 50 and get photos of the ceremony of crowning the new queen. It wasn’t like other games where a winner is announced. Instead, she had already been chosen, apparently. And this was just the coronation.
Then the game started. Greenway Avenue Stadium is a great venue. Built for the two schools that reside in town. It sits behind Fort Hill. Home of the Sentinels. And Allegany, the Campers, located on the west end of town.
Fort Hill and Northern Garrett may be member of the MPSSAA Class 1A, but they were worlds apart. In western Maryland, Garrett County encompasses the western wedge that sticks down into West Virginia and borders Pennsylvania across the top. It has two schools. The aptly named Northern Garrett and Southern Garrett. While Allegany County to its east, which includes Cumberland, has just three schools: Fort Hill, Allegany, and Mountain Ridge. And they’re all Class 1A.
And of the 30 schools in Maryland’s 1A class, Fort Hill is in a class by themselves. Winning 8 of the last 10 state championships. And look like a favorite again, this year.
After a surprise turnover, Fort Hill would finally get on the board with a 26 yard TD run late in the quarter. And a 26 yard TD pass a few minutes later. But then the second quarter would have three quick touchdowns. A 58 yard pass, a 25 yard run, and another 5 yard run to go up 35-0 with 4:34 left in the half. And by that point, the game had ground to a halt. Northern Garrett couldn’t find the endzone, and Fort Hill didn’t do much themselves. But at halftime, the running clock started and the game clock moved quickly. Fort Hill would win, 35-0.
Two 35-0 games on a Saturday. But both were fun for different reasons. After the game, it was an arduous walk back up the street to my truck. Which I had to do a 3-point turn to avoid heading past the heavily congested stadium area. After following the traffic snaking through town, I was on I-68 and finding an open Dollar General for some Milo’s. Since the game had ended before 9pm.
Heading west on I-68, I took the efficient toll-free route home. Taking US40 northwest from Grantsville toward Uniontown. Passing Nemacolin Casino and Ski Resort. I stopped for gas in Uniontown. As the Sheetz also had the $2.999 Unleaded 88. And some ice to drink my tea.
From there, it was PA51 through the south hills of Pittsburgh past Rostraver where I had been many times in the past for indoor football games in a long gone era. Past the end of the PA43 Toll Road, the Monongahela Expressway. Following PA51 to the Liberty Tunnel. And taking the short way through Pittsburgh via the Liberty Tunnel and Liberty Bridge. Across the I-576 skirting the southeast edge of downtown to I-279. And I-79 north to US422. And west to home.
Overall, it was a very fun weekend. It was unexpected to be going it alone. But I managed to have fun.
Overall, for the entire weekend, I drove 813 miles. Gas cost a grand total of $76.01. Food was $123.24. The bulk of that being This is Wings & Seafood. The rest being mostly Checkers twice and Wawa twice. And Laredo Taco Company’s major disappointment. I did spend $21 for two stuffed animals for my daughter. The hotel was free and reimbursed. For a total cost of $225.25.
31 New Teams
7 New Stadiums
1,524 different teams
475 different stadiums
1,401 total games
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
For photos from this game, and others this weekend, click HERE.
For photos from previous weeks and seasons, visit http://www.flickr.com/sykotyk/sets/
My plans changed with my sister flying home for the week. After the Fort Hill game, I spent less than a day home before picking her up from the airport. And spending several days in Erie. My Thursday game had planned to be Gowanda/Pine Valley v. Cattaraugus-Little Valley. But that changed as I was home. And the only option was Sharpsville v. Reynolds. But with someone covering that, I ventured to Ohio for an interclass game between Sebring McKinley and Valley Christian in 8-man football. Friday was a promised return to see CSP. Who were playing at Randolph. A place I had wanted to see a game at for a while. And Saturday would be just a night game. Greenville hosting Slippery Rock.
OH – Sebring McKinley v. Valley Christian (8-man)
NY – Randolph v. Clymer/Sherman/Panama
PA – Greenville v. Slippery Rock