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Fans ready for some football

September 09, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - At the Williamsport High School season opener against Hancock High School, hundreds of fans waited in line at the front gate, well into the second quarter.

"We never wait this long, not even for the Redskins," said Todd Breeden, who waited with his wife and daughter to watch his son play in Williamsport's marching band.

Inside the gate, the Williamsport stands filled while about 50 people sat scattered along the Hancock bleachers. Teenage boys hung out near the fence on the visitor's side.

"We got to support the home team," said Damien Hinckle, a 2006 Hancock graduate who used to play football for his alma mater. "And it's something to do on a Friday night."

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Thomas Strong sat alone on the Hancock bleachers, watching the game intently. His grandson, Richard Lilly, is an offensive guard and this is Lilly's first year playing on the varsity squad, said his grandfather.

Strong lives in Clinton, Md. and said he drove to every one of his grandson's JV games, and plans to drive to every one of the varsity games.

"I'll drive anywhere to watch Hancock play," he said.

Over on South Hagerstown High School's campus, a larger crowd gathered as Liberty High School faced off against North Hagerstown High School. North's stadium was not yet ready for action.

Up in the home-team's stand, Greg Cunningham held his 11-week-old grandson, Brock, as his family watched Brock's father, Dan, at work. Dan Cunningham coaches North football.

Brock's great-grandparents also sat in the family huddle.

"We come to all the games," said Robert Shetron, Brock's great-grandfather.

Further up in the stands, Kristi McMurtrie and Kathy Balint sat in matching black-and-red "Cheer Mom" shirts.

Both women's daughters are North High cheerleaders.

McMurtrie said the funny part of her story is that she graduated from South High. "I had to convert myself! I had to learn to love black and red," she said.

But make no mistake, these ladies attend all of North's games together, and they love a good football game.

"We know football," McMurtrie said.

Star Goeins sat in a black-and-red North jacket, quietly watching her son, Anthony Lee, play. He has been playing football since the third grade, Goeins said, so she has been to a lot of football games.

"I love North High football," said Goeins, who graduated from South High.

Down near the field, Craig Gilbert dressed in a red ensemble, complete with a painted face, red bandanna and North jersey. Gilbert, aka Hubcap, is North's unofficial mascot.

"It's a real good crowd. We got people everywhere," Gilbert said.

A small crowd of 2006 North graduates gathered near the stands.

"I'm going to come back to as many games as I can make it to," said Danielle Porter, who now attends Shepherd University.

"Football is big here. It's about all that's here," said Amanda Mills, another 2006 graduate who now attends Hagerstown Community College.

"It's really competitive here, especially when it's North and South," said her friend, Shawniece Branch.

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