There’s more anticipation than usual for the 2018 high school football season locally, primarily because it’s the first year for Super Bowl Champion Henry Hynoski as head coach of the Shamokin Area Indians. Hyno’s status as a former fullback for the New York Giants is enough to merit extra interest, and then there’s the fact his Indians will play against his high school alma mater, Southern Columbia, every year.
We can crank up the hype meter a bit further, however, thanks to the announcement that the Great American Rivalry Series will include the “Coal Bucket” as part of its 2018 nationwide schedule of some 100 games. The Coal Bucket, pitting Shamokin Area against Mount Carmel, dates to 1951. And although Mount Carmel has won 22 in a row, a number of those games have gone down to the wire.
The Great American Rivalry Series, in its 15th year, says the Coal Bucket has met the criteria for selection. A video about its series at www.greatamericanrivaly.com says it looks for games that bring both communities together and that generations come back to see.
“When the lights of Friday night burst on, the Great American Rivalry Series is there. We’re there for every crunching tackle, every seemingly impossible catch, every game-winning touchdown run. But we’re also there for the pep rally, the fans in the stands screaming their lungs off, and the community gathering together with one thing in mind: beating their arch-rival.”
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Inclusion with the series brings several perks, including a trophy for the winning team, a most valuable player selection and a $250 scholarship for a senior football letterman from each school with the highest GPA. A past player, coach or significant individual from each school will also be inducted into the Great American Rivalry Series Hall of Fame, and the host school receives a donation to its athletic program.
Recognition of students with the highest GPA stands out to us, and kudos to Great American Rivalry for recognizing academic accomplishment along with athletic prowess.
Moreover, the “perks” locally will be for the community to enjoy. Minus the ridiculous vandalism that occurs pre-Coal Bucket each year in both school districts, the game truly is a celebration. It’s sure to be even more exciting this year when national TV cameras come to town, and communities like Shamokin and Mount Carmel are ripe for some positive exposure. With the communities’ noteworthy sports histories, that exposure might as well involve football.
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As to the Coal Bucket game itself, scheduled for Oct. 26 at Mount Carmel’s famed Silver Bowl, what a time this would be for Shamokin Area to win it for the first time in 22 years, what with the Hyno hype and Great American Rivalry status. Not that we’re rooting one way or the other — we like our spot here on neutral turf — but what a storyline that would produce.
Either way, there will be quite a buildup all season long to the final game of the regular season and this special Coal Bucket episode. Not that anyone asked, but, yes, we are ready for some football!