Vikings, Spartans Ready For Railriders Bowl
MOOSIC — Riverside coach Harry Armstrong put it to his seniors for a vote. He knew they would be giving up a home game, and he wanted them to be on board.
The result was unanimous. They wanted to play at PNC Field.
The Vikings will take on Mid Valley in the fifth-annual RailRiders Bowl, which will kick off Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.
“Just being in the different locker rooms, being in the stadium setting is completely different than on a regular high school field,” Armstrong said. “You just have a lot of juices flowing, there’s a lot more excitement with the PA system here and everything louder — it’s a college-type environment and a professional-type environment and to have an opportunity as a 14-18-year-old to do something like that, you’ve got to take advantage of that.”
Riverside was 2-8 last season (2-7 in Division III) and lost to Mid Valley, 27-6. The Vikings are excited about the upcoming year, however. Sophomore quarterback Johnny Gilchrist said the team put a lot of effort into its offseason workouts.
“Obviously, we’re really excited to be here,” Gilchrist said. “It’s a great opportunity for us. For me, if you know me, I’m a baseball guy, too, so it’s the best of both worlds in a sense. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and great opportunity. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Mid Valley was 5-6 last year (4-5 in Division III) and returns some of its top playmakers, including senior running back Joe Chylak, who has a unique tie to the baseball diamond. Chylak’s grandfather, Nestor Chylak, was an American League umpire and is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It’s exciting to play on this field,” Chylak said. “Not every kid gets to play here. So, it’s exciting. We’re going to treat it like every other game, though. It’s hyped up, it really is. But we’re going to treat it like every other game.”
Though the schools are Class 2A, the RailRiders are still expecting a big turnout. Mid Valley’s baseball team has played in the District 2 championships recently, and the turnout for the classification’s title game is always among the best of the weekend.
“Mid Valley, I’ve had them here for the baseball, and their fans travel heavy,” said Robby Judge, manager of RailRiders University. “And I know Riverside’s the same, just being up the road, they have a heavy output of fan support. So, having both of them, I know it’s going to be a good turnout. When I looked at the schedule, they were pretty much the first one I said on there, like this is the one I want.”
Judge said the RailRiders are trying to add a second football game this season, looking at a crossover weekend where the Lackawanna Football Conference and Wyoming Valley Conference would play each other. He said he’s already reached out to a couple of schools, but is still trying to find the right fit.
Old Forge won last year’s RailRiders bowl, 43-7, over Lakeland, avenging a 44-14 loss to the Chiefs in the game the before last season. Abington Heights (2014) and Valley View (2015) split the first two RailRiders Bowls.
“Bowl Games, to me, are like — you don’t just go to bowl games,” Mid Valley coach Dave Rebar said. “You pick teams that are going to bring people. So, I’m pretty excited, pretty honored, the fact that they’d choose us.”
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