It will be easy to remember the Greyhounds
Written: Dec 15, 2008
(New Castle News photographer Erica Galvin traveled on the Wilmington football team’s bus to and from Hershey and filed this report following a pep rally at the school’s gymnasium late Saturday night).
It was a scene straight out of the movies.
Call it “Hoosiers” — New Wilmington style.
To say it was a hero’s welcome would be an understatement.
More then 10 firetrucks and emergency vehicles from around Lawrence County escorted the Wilmington High football team’s charter bus as it entered New Wilmington.
The bus briefly stopped to let the champions board the top of firetrucks so they could ride into town in style.
New Wilmington residents woke up to fire engine lights and sirens wailing at 11:30 p.m. As the heroes came into town, people of all ages came out of their homes in pajamas to wave. Senior captain Dallas Hartman proudly held up the championship trophy to all fans. Some of the elderly, who couldn't make it outside in time, peered out of their windows blinking their room lights and waving.
There were signs all over town congratulating the team. Someone even wrote "State Champs" in the snow on a hill leading into town.
Other fans opened champagne bottles and squirted the team as it went past.
The players soaked up the historical moment. Smiles went from ear to ear on every single one.
After driving through the streets of downtown New Wilmington, the parade of emergency vehicles drove to the high school, where they barely could pull into the school because of the massive number of fans waiting to welcome the champs home.
In the words of one of the seniors, “Holy Cow, is the whole entire town here?”
This was the moment team members waited for their whole lives. It was finally Wilmington’s day in the sun.
Fans surprised players by wearing shirts with the championship photo on it. Team members were asked by many fans to sign the shirts.
While waiting for the players’ dramatic entrance to the gymnasium, cheerleaders threw out Hershey kisses to fans as a “Greyhounds” chant roared.
In a standing-room-only gym, the team came out to a thunderous standing ovation.
Matt Wagner and Carson Sharbaugh carried the PIAA Class AA championship trophy out to the community.
Head coach Terry Verrelli was the first to speak following a three-minute ovation.
“This is truly an unbelievable moment. There's no question about that. These kids, I can’t believe it myself, how much effort and time they put into it. I think my proudest moment is the fact that these kids learned something when the season was over. I think playing together and playing with heart is what got them here,” Verrelli said.
After thanking the coaches, players and fans, Verrelli jokingly told the crowd he could stay and talk all night. He wanted to hand over the microphone, but the shy and humble players refused to speak at first.
That is, until a “captains” chant began to echo throughout the crowd.
Finally, senior captains, Dallas “Spike” Hartman, Carson Sharbaugh, Matt Wagner and Clint DeRosa spoke to the crowd.
Hartman was first to speak.
“You guys not only supported us when we were winning, but in the first half you guys kept us up, you guys kept us in it. And we want to thank you. Not only do we have the best fans and the best coaches, but now we have the best team in the state” Hartman said.
Sharbaugh said a quick thank you to everyone and handed over the microphone to Wagner.
Wagner tried to speak, but became overwhelmed with emotion.
After the crowd showed its support, the smile quickly returned to Wagner's face and he began to speak again.
“Everybody in the state doubted us, everybody, PCN, all those guys, we were supposed to be mercy-ruled by the third quarter, but looked what happened baby!” Wagner said.
DeRosa then took the mic and said his thank yous as well.
“Thanks to the fans. I speak for all the seniors when I say that playing at Wilmington has been an honor. When you look at all the other football leagues and teams all over the state, I guarantee you won’t find another place like this, it’s a bunch of good-hearted people. It’s a great team with a bunch of kids who show up every week, no matter what weather is. They go hard. They do their best. We don’t have the biggest kids or the fastest kids, but we definitely have the biggest heart and the most pride out of any school I’ve ever seen.”
Wilmington quarterback and safety Shane Wagner, who made the ankle tackle to help seal the victory, shyly took the microphone, said a fast thank you and passed it back to Verrelli.
As the rally wound down, the team took one final victory lap around the gym. The team huddled up one final time with the gold trophy.
After a 1-2-3 CHAMPS cheer. It was finished. The season finally came to a close.
Only one school from the PIAA Class AA can end its season with a win. And this year, it was Wilmington’s turn.
As the players look back years from now, they can take a page from the movie, “Remember the Titans.”
Life will hand them different struggles, but they can look back, smile, and always, always, “Remember the Greyhounds.”
Crunch Online's Lawrence County Football Player of the Year 10/19/16
Empty stands, early start to greet 'Cats at Cornell 10/13/16
Standing tall: Only in eighth grade, New Castle's Cox, Crockett already
making their mark on the n 9/22/16
Lauro statue to be dedicated Friday 10/30/15
Community rallies around 16-year-old Shenango teen battling leukemia 10/23/15
New Castle incident provides wake-up call for other area coaches 10/16/15
Laurel Soccer Club gets a surprising letter -- 11 years after
a donation to those in need 10/2/15
Shenango family learns to push on a year after the death of wife, mother 9/25/15
Leonard Matarazzo will be remembered at New Castle High's Home opener 9/11/15
Bob Mitcheltree will be absent from Wilmington sideline for first time in 36 years tonight 9/8/15
A salute to Neshannock's senior class 11/19/14
Shenango-O: Big, powerful line is ’Cats meow
WPIAL Playoffs: Lancers, ’Cats and ‘Canes get first-round matchups 10/28/14
Neshannock retiring Brzoza’s number
At Shenango, experience is the best teacher 10/10/14
Ticket Master: Since 1946, Joe Plant has been THE eye of the Hurricane 9/27/14
Miles returns to Laurel sideline as assistant
Owens cleared to play for Neshannock 9/5/14
Before Buckeyes come calling, Hooker looks to boost ’Canes 8/30/13
‘Boo Baby’ winding up career at Neshannock
Union PA announcer Don Bromley signs off from the press box 10/26/12
While he can’t always control game’s ups and downs,
New Castle coach keeping his diabetes in check 10/19/12
Girls playing football? Boys playing on the girls soccer team? At Ellwood, the answer is yes
Senior leaders earning ‘A’ for The U with winning ways
Girls soccer star joins ’Hounds for kicks — and is excelling, to boot
Coaching connection, offensive fireworks make Neshannock football fun 9/21/12
Shenango transfer Tynen Greer making most of move to Montour
Inside-Out: ’Canes’ basketball stars tackling football, too
Pop Warner program and Lauro will be honored at New Castle
Strength Finder: Phillips, Ellwood return to winning ways
Fleo ready to take next
step after sitting out season
Neshannock soccer stars tackle football for kicks
With ‘lazy’ days behind him,
Baker giving Union a big lift
Sister Act: New Castle’s Hood twins
share spots on the homecoming court
Football offers emotional
lift for Shenango’s Brown
Breathe right: Proper treatment
keeps asthmatics on playing field
On and off the field,
it’s always a full house
Humphrey puts best foot forward
following devastating accident
Father's heart condition weighs on 'Canes' football player 10/29/10
‘Unusual’ trio helps to kick
start Wilmington special teams
Neshannock’s Pasquarello turns life around, becomes a leader
The 1970 ’Canes: Unbeaten,
unparalelled in WPIAL history
Neshannock soccer player getting his kicks in football, too 10/1/10
Laurel honoring WPIAL championship team from 1980
Alumni football games allow former players to relive glory days 9/17/10
Donofrio back on sideline as coach at Kennedy Catholic
Threats family tradition carries on at Shenango
‘Pink Out’ hits close
to home for the Floras 10/30/09
‘Field of Pain’ leads
to gain for Spartans 10/23/09
Wireless microphones offer
‘big-time’ sound at games
Born with single kidney,
Wilmington players battle on
Wilmington football celebrating 50th anniversary
Books help Rapone kick-start football career
Neshannock dedicating stadium in honor of Bob Bleggi
Laurel celebrating 50 years of football
Laurel’s chain crew has unbreakable link
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: 2008 ’Hounds define team effort
It will be easy to remember the Greyhounds 12/15/08
Verrelli the dean of county football coaches 12/13/08
Wilmington looking to bring back state title
’Hounds prove their mettle with overtime victory
JV squads hampered by numbers game
Freshmen coming of age
for New Castle High football
Coach leaves football family
for another tour of duty in Iraq
Mohawk chain gang member
hasn't missed a game in 52 years 10/3/08
New Castle’s Pavia overcomes diabetes to hit the field
Former head coaches back
on sideline — as assistants
Ellwood senior tackles Army Reserves
Grandson of Chuck Abramski
is starting quarterback for Indiana