Annual Rival Game & Family Tailgate
By Carmen Greger
It was the start of a perfect evening, beginning with a family-friendly fabulous school swag wearing parent pom-pom donning tailgate success! The bagpipes and marching band wrapped up the pre-game festivities with a bow as they merely, by their exuberant energy and rhythmic motion, managed to get everyone to the next stop of the party train, out of the tailgate zone and into the stands before play one.
The band was playing, the cheerleaders were cheering, and the crowd was loud. Each side of the jampacked stands were rightfully proud. It was the annual ‘family’ rivalry game between Lower Merion Highschool and Harriton Highschool, longtime district siblings. Under the lights and under the moon, the star athletes unveiled their brilliance and shined for all to see on both sides of Harriton turf.
The mood was infectious. The parent chatter nearly matched the decibel of the highschoolers’ banter. Face painted, neon sporting, spirited fans chanted in unison through bull horns, ringing cowbells and with seemingly choreographed body positions, high-fiving students and close friends adorned in gear representing both their own and their rival school. The township’s teens were leading the way to a united victory, reminding us that we are all one, that we all belong, that we are all family, regardless of which football team wins the evening’s game.
Athletic director Shawn Albert must have been especially thrilled to see the stands filled, validating his multi-tiered approach to focusing efforts on bringing more students, family, and community out consistently to attend the games in order to support the players and enhance overall school spirit. This year, due to various components, the administrative decision was made for the Rams to shift temporarily to an independent schedule with the plan to return to the central league in 2024. It appears the move has already paid off in many ways; the increased player turnout, band and drumline turnout, cheerleading squad turnout and the ever-multiplying fan, parent, and booster support, to name a few.
While the scoreboard fluctuated, the mutual respect between the teams never did; Each coach, Harriton Head Coach Justin Mellor and Lower Merion Head Coach Joe Augustine had kind words, bvious dedication to good sportsmanship and appreciation for both one other and their respective players on the field.
This season, Harriton seems to be on top of the interception: Jay Cahow’s ‘grab and go’ for a 48-yard touchdown had at least half the crowd up on their feet dancing a familiar dance.
LM then took the field, and the ball, and retaliated shortly thereafter with a 51-yard touchdown by Declan Mack signaling the other half to rise and chant.
Noted players to watch: Lower Merion’s Mekkhai Smith, Sam Zheng, Aiden Fliszar, Declan Mack, Andrew Cook, Zack Bond, Jack Diamondstein and Zion Gray and Harriton’s Jay Cahow, Mason DeMarco, Logan Rothberg, Johny Timmons, among others.
There was a vibrant sense of healthy competition and comradery in the air of this beautiful fall eve, and with many key players on both teams, growing greatly and obviously into their own, demonstrating both team spirit and powerful plays, it was a great example of ‘all’s well that ends well’. Each team played a good game and put points on the scoreboard, sibling love in all of their hearts, and smiles on all of their faces, even though the Rams lost to the Bulldogs (aka Aces), this game goes down as a WinWin. Final Score: Lower Merion 34, Harriton 13.
Great for LM and better luck next year, HHS!