A sea of pink, sweaty teenagers, along with many eager parents attended the 2014 season opener for the Harrison Raider football team on Friday.
With much anticipation for the new conference and new coach, the Raiders started off the season facing the defending state champs, the Westfield Shamrocks.
The game started out with little activity from both sides of the field, but with time ticking down in the first quarter, the Shamrocks were able to score a 24-yard touchdown from Ryan Pepiot to Milo Beam. The Shamrocks pounded the Raider defense to end the first quarter of the game.
The Raiders came into the second quarter with a mentality to attack the Shamrocks and take the lead.
They started out with a 45-yard pass from J Dan Sturgeon to Jeep Morehouse, which lined them up for a 5-yard touchdown pass from Evan Sturgeon to Daniel Land.
The Student Section erupted with cheers roaring through the crowd, as the raiders tied things up at 7. The cheers came even louder with an interception thrown by Pepiot to the Raider’s linebacker Seth Meyer, who returned it to the Shamrocks own 24-yard line.
Things were looking great for the Raiders until two consecutive sacks brought them to a third-and-21. Sturgeon connected with senior Daniel Wright for a touchdown and the crowd couldn’t have been any louder.
Unfortunately the cheers were negative.
The officials called the touchdown off due to a penalty and set up the raiders for a frustrated fourth down.
Shortly after a missed field goal attempt by Raider senior Silas Jensen, the Shamrocks took the lead before half with a 43-yard touchdown pass by Pepiot.
Before the Raiders could even think about scoring, the Shamrocks quickly took a 35-7 lead.
With 1:45 left in the game, Sturgeon managed to connect with yet another Raider senior, Jeep Morehouse, for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Although the Raiders lost on the scoreboard, they were able to leave the field with many small victories and pride that they haven’t felt in years.