In the past I have had no success in convincing anyone who matters at Shikellamy High School to consider naming either the football stadium or, at least, the press box, for the late Daily Item sports editor Bill Toland.
I vowed several years ago to not give up, but the longer it goes, the less chance anything will ever come of it.
No one was ever a bigger supporter of his adopted Braves (Bill was a Danville graduate). In his days of picking the games in his Sports Sputterings column in this newspaper, he would pick Shikellamy no matter who it was playing. The running joke around the community was that Bill would pick them to beat Notre Dame. The closest thing to that today is the Shikellamy teacher who will remain nameless (but it rhymes with Still Wiggler; sorry BZ, I couldn't resist).
Saturday night, the folks at neighboring Line Mountain, are going to do something along that same line that is way overdue: the school will dedicate the football field at Eagle Stadium to its only alumnus to play in the National Football League, Dornsife's Glenn Ressler. The latter played for Mahanoy Joint, which later merged with Trevorton to form Line Mountain.
Incidentally, Ressler is one of two Twin Valley Conference (now Tri-Valley League) players to not only play in the NFL, but to excel at that level. Just three years ahead of Ressler was Gary Collins, who starred at Williamstown (now part of Williams Valley, Line Mountain's opponent on Saturday night. He was a two-time All-Pro wide receiver (and punter) for the Cleveland Browns out of the University of Maryland. Ironically, both now live in the greater Harrisburg area, Ressler near Mechanicsburg and Collins in the Palmyra area.
The idea to rename the field for Ressler was a great one and it is always nice when legends are so honored while they are living.
Ressler graduated from Mahanoy Joint in 1961 and was an outstanding two-way lineman at Penn State University, playing for the late Rip Engle. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend in 2001.
Ressler won just about every major honor there was for a college lineman, and was the 36th overall pick in the NFL draft, playing 10 seasons for the Baltimore Colts (he was also drafted by the then American Football League's Denver Broncos).
Not only did Ressler play in two Super Bowls, he appeared in an action photo on the cover of Sports Illustrated after the Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V.
Ressler's presence would certainly draw a crowd on any night, but Line Mountain did not stop there. Ressler is being honored at 6:30, before the annual Homecoming game with fellow unbeaten Williams Valley, and, as has been the practice for several years, the school will host a number of activities, including sporting events, in a day-long Homecoming celebration.
Between 10 a.m. and the 6:30 p.m. dedication, the school has scheduled seventh anad eighth grade girls basketball, varsity girls soccer, elementary, junior varsity and varsity field hockey, varsity and jayvee girls soccer, In additon, the homecoming parade will step off at 6 p.m. in Herndon and a king will be crowned.
The day-long Homecoming program was an idea that former coach Mike Carson and others adopted from another TVL team, Pine Grove, which also does its program on a Saturday night every year.
Even though a big game with the Vikings, for first place in the league, would be enough Saturday night, first-year Line Mountain coach Rodney Knock is excited about the Ressler dedication.
"It will be interesting for myself and some of the others on the coaching staff, and it's a good experience for the kids," Knock said. "He will be meeting with the team before the game."
All of the above represents the good in high school football. What happened late in the game Monday night at Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field represented the worst of high school football.
After an exciting 67-yard touchdown run by the Seals was called back on a holding penalty, a brawl broke out between the teams -- the same two teams who, at least in spirit, prayed together and observed a moment of silence before the game in memory of a Shikellamy student and a Selinsgrove graduate who both died in auto accidents on Friday and Monday, respectively.
Sure, things like that happen on a football field. It is a physical game, tempers flare and, in this case, emotions ran high.
What did not need to happen was all of the players leaving the bench to take part in this unfortunate melee. Fortunately for them, the PIAA does not have the NBA rule, where leaving the bench to participate in a fight draws an ejection.
Had that been the case, there likely would not have been enough players left eligible to play tonight for Shikellamy versus visiting Lewisburg or for Selinsgrove at Shamokin. As it is, three players were ejected and will not be allowed to play tonight.
Neither coach could tell how it all started, but both felt badly about it and delivered strong messages to their players after the game.
There will certainly be other scuffles, but let's hope this is the last time we see one of this magnitude.
n Assistant sports editor Harold Raker covers high school football for The Daily item. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.