Thirteen years ago, two local schools combined.
Alumni of Bald Eagle Nittany and Lock Haven High Schools will tell stories of their Friday nights. They talk of the rivalry, the location of their reserved seats, the coaches, the friendships, and the exciting games that have resonated with them all these years.
Here we are 13 years later.
The question: When is our community going to take back ownership of Central Mountain Friday nights?
The Central Mountain football team travels to scrimmages, where the entire town is covered in spirit for their team. The last four years we have traveled through Central Pennsylvania and each team has obvious support.
Signs, posters, ribbons, painted sheets, you name it.
But here we are at Central Mountain. We are not limited to just Lock Haven or just Mill Hall. We are spread out from Woolrich to Beech Creek, from the Renovo Road to Loganton. Not one borough, not one town, but from all over our entire county.
Last Friday night we traveled to Williamsport. The away crowd was one of the best we've had in four years at an away game.
The Wildcats looked good, the crowd was supportive. And then, we went down by 1 point with 2:36 remaining. The fans went silent. We needed to hold them on defense; we needed two yards on offense.
Silence. There was the sound of a handful of moms and a single cowbell encouraging the boys to keep fighting.
We are writing to remind fans living in Central Mountain territory and beyond that there is a 12th man on the team.
These kids, ages 14 to 18, need your support. YOUR belief in them. YOUR voices. You can help them.
You have to choose to do so. You can change the course of the game. You can help these boys who have worked hard all summer, attended camps, run countless miles, and lifted hundreds of pounds of weights since summer began win games. The time is now.
And then there is the band, kids who work all summer preparing their sound for the crowd, for the team, for Friday nights. There are the cheerleaders who attend camps, work on chants and cheers to involve the crowd, prepare special signs, and spirit items for the school and players.
We don't deny numbers are down. We don't deny that the last several years have not been state championship seasons. But we do know that something has been missing: Community support.
Coach Kishbaugh and his staff, as well as the Booster Club, have worked hard to get the boys into the community by performing litter pick-ups, speaking engagements and holding fundraisers. Members of our community have been luke warm with their reception. One even said to one of our senior players, "I will come to a game if you start winning."
This is the mentality of our area.
Someone once said, "They love you when you win and they love you when you win.".
Coach Kishbaugh has a motto for this season: "All in- All out."
Every player on the CM football team buys into this concept. They are all in and will play all out.
We may not have 80 boys on the sidelines. Not many teams do these days. But we have 40 boys who have formed a brotherhood. Each one of them has a role to play. Each one of them is there for the right reason, because they want to be.
We may not have 60 kids in the band, but we have enough to play a fight song. They are there every Friday night and proudly show their talents.
We have heard all the negative comments, all the disbelief, and frankly, it is sad. You may not agree with decisions the school board has made, or the name of the stadium, or the consolidation of schools, but the 100-plus kids involved in these programs have never had any control over that.
Tonight we play our first home game against the State College Little Lions at Malinak Stadium ... our first (Blue Out) home game of the season.
We have the talent and strength to defeat them. The coaches believe it, the parents believe it, and the players believe it. Do you? We are challenging the community to come out and support OUR team, YOUR team.
You can give them the edge to win. Not just by showing up and watching ... Stomp the stands, engage in the cheerleaders chants, make some noise when we get a first down, make some noise when our "black flag" defense stops the opposing offense.
And most importantly, make noise when they are facing adversity, when the odds are stacked against them.
That is when they need us the most.
Traditions are not easy to establish. The Central Mountain Wildcat football team is working hard to show the community, or should we say the county, that they deserve your support.
Please, don't let them down.
Help us defeat State College.
Be the 12th man.
Let your negative thinking go and bring your positive, supportive self.
We know you have it.
Don't wait to jump on the wagon, jump aboard now.
Make Friday nights on the southern side of Clinton County roar. Make them your own. Take ownership of the CM football team and your Friday night lights.
The kids who will benefit will make you proud.