By Jeffrey Mansour
The Mt. Hebron varsity football team fell to Long Reach High School 6-18 on the evening of Friday Sep. 17, but that wasn’t the school’s biggest story of the night.
As a result of a vote held by the Baltimore Sun, Long Reach at Mt. Hebron was selected to be one of the annual Ravens RISE High School Football Showdown games. The Showdown included an appearance from Baltimore Ravens starting safety Chuck Clark, along with a visit from the Ravens’ cheerleaders, Baltimore’s Marching Ravens, and the team’s mascot, Poe. Both schools’ athletic departments also received a 1,500 dollar donation from the program.
The buzz around the game resulted in a visibly greater number of fans than usual showing up to represent their schools. The stadium was so packed that Long Reach fans could be seen spilling out the side of the visitors’ bleachers.
Prior to the game’s start at 7 p.m., both teams were welcomed to the field by fireworks as they ran through a Ravens-themed tunnel, and down the home team sideline. Long Reach players were met with boos from the packed Mt. Hebron bleachers, while the Vikings received exuberant cheers as the marching unit played the team’s fight song. Ravens safety Chuck Clark was present on the home sideline, and took pictures with Mt. Hebron staff as the athletic department was presented with a check for 1,500 dollars.
Clark also shared a few words with the team before the game in the hopes of educating the young players and getting them fired up before they ran through the tunnel.
“He first started off by telling us to appreciate our coaches,” junior rotational lineman Sahith Mada recounted. “He also told us how high school games are where we make memories, and if anyone plays after, they are going to realize that you’re never going to get that same bond that you had with your team in high school. He told us to represent the school name on our jerseys.”
Long Reach began the game’s scoring with a Julius Saunders second-quarter touchdown run, before Mt. Hebron tied the game at six points with a score from junior Drew Peperone. The Vikings were held scoreless in the second half, while the Lightning scored in the third and fourth quarters to put the game away and advance to 3-0 on the season. Mt. Hebron, who had not started a season 2-0 since 2012, fell to 2-1 with the loss.
It was a hectic night for the Mt. Hebron marching unit, led by director Mr. Joseph Fischer, along with senior and junior drum majors Deon Kouatchou-Ngongang and Gabi Peters. In addition to the unusual presence of the Ravens marching unit, Friday evening was Mt. Hebron’s Future Vikings Night, where elementary and middle school students could get a taste of the marching band experience prior to potentially joining when they reach high school.
“I think the Hebron marching band was encouraged and impressed by the Ravens band,” junior marching unit member Natalie Venginickal said. “It was cool to have professionals come to Hebron and play with us.”
Mt. Hebron’s marching band featured a halftime performance of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” and The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” before closing out with “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra.
“I thought it was much improved,” Mt. Hebron junior Lilliana Sonpar said, regarding a comparison to the band’s performance the week prior. “From my perspective they seemed more organized and confident.”
The night of Sep. 17 was certainly one to remember for the Mt. Hebron community. Although the Vikings couldn’t muster a third straight win to start the season, the event will stay in the minds and hearts of students, parents and staff for a long time to come.
Photo from Madeleine Phillips