By David Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - In May, California-based Alumni Football USA created a Facebook page for a game between the alumni of Shenandoah Valley and Mahanoy Area, in an effort to gain local support for the full-contact football game, and make it a reality.
Friday night, that game took place, renewing one of the fiercest football rivalries in the coal region.
Among the players were Joe Ruth, Angelo Maskornick, and Nick Krusinsky for Shenandoah Valley, and Jim Wronski Jr., Freddy Petritsch, and Bryan Ogrodnick for Mahanoy Area.
51 players competed in the game, 27 for Shenandoah Valley, and 24 for Mahanoy Area.
The Shenandoah Valley and Mahanoy Area High School Marching Bands were also in attendance, along with cheerleaders from both schools.
Shenandoah Valley won the coin toss and received the opening kickoff.
However, the game started off rough for the Blue Devil squad, with #5 Dave Gottshall throwing out of a sack, right into the hands of Mahanoy's #4 Nathan Klinger.
Mahanoy Area's opening drive set the tone for their game, showing the Golden Bears' prowess in the ground game, with a 24 yard rush by #4 Klinger, followed shortly after by a touchdown rush by #2 Jim Wronski Jr.
A handoff to #47 John Maddis for the two-point conversion fell short, giving Mahanoy Area an early 6-0 lead.
Shenandoah Valley responded with their own ground attack, and a change at quarterback, putting Class of 1996 Alum Brian Racis under center. Consecutive rushes by #5 Gottshall advanced the Blue Devils past the midfield line.
However, the Blue Devils couldn't answer with a score, turning the ball over on downs at the Mahanoy 40.
Shenandoah's #13 Tom Schreppel ended Mahanoy's drive before it began, intercepting a Golden Bear pass as heavy rains drenched the stadium.
A 30-yard pass by #7 Racis to #35 Angelo Maskornick advanced the Devils into the red zone on the opening play of the drive.
Mahanoy's #4 Klinger picked up his second interception of the game to end the Devils' drive.
A 68-yard touchdown rush by #2 Wronski Jr. opened and closed the drive for the Golden Bears.
A pass by 1998 grad #14 BJ Hannon to #24 Bryan Ogrodnick, an '08 grad, on the two-point conversion gave the Bears a 14-0 lead prior to halftime.
It turned out Shenandoah would not let Mahanoy run away with the game without a fight. The opening play of the Devils' next drive saw QB #7 Racis toss a short pass to '08 grad #87 Matt Mankiewicz, who ran it downfield for 50 yards, putting Shenandoah within reach of an answering score.
That answering score would be delivered by a #7 Racis pass to #35 Maskornick. #66 Nick Krusinsky delivered a solid extra point attempt to cut the deficit to a single score at 14-7.
It would turn out to be the final score of the game, as it turned into a defensive battle to the end, with both teams fighting to the very end.
The penultimate play of the game would see Shenandoah Valley face 4th and 25 with a minute to go in the game after an interference penalty. A #7 Racis pass to #35 Maskornick, immediately lateraled back to #5 Gottshall would not be enough for the first down, and, with no timeouts remaining, Mahanoy took a knee on the following play to end the game.
Following the game, teams shook hands and posed for a group photo.
Most Valuable Player distinctions were also presented. Shenandoah Valley's #35 Angelo Maskornick and Mahanoy Area's #2 Jim Wronski Jr were named the MVPs for their respective teams.
Full Team Rosters