York Suburban Middle School is an unlikely place for a high-spirited Super Bowl rivalry this year.
After all, the school is pretty far away from the home cities of the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.
But thanks to staff members Scott Payne and Jason Showvaker, faculty and students have picked sides as the two men cheer on the teams they've loved since childhood.
Payne, a seventh-grade health teacher, remembers watching the Seattle Seahawks' first game as a franchise in 1976, with his grandfather. That became a Sunday afternoon tradition, and Payne's devotion to the team was heightened when one of his favorite Penn State players, running back Curt Warner, joined the team in 1983.
Showvaker, an eighth-grade guidance counselor, remembers attending his first Denver Broncos game in 1985 when he was visiting family in Colorado Springs. Showvaker fell in love with watching quarterback John Elway lead the team.
The rivalry begins: Payne and Showvaker didn't meet until seven years ago at the middle school, but became close friends. And now, more than 30 years after picking their teams, the two have taken their good-natured ribbing to a school-wide level.
Payne said the rivalry between the two men isn't rooted in animosity.
"It's more one of those perfect moments," he said.
Payne and Showvaker host a segment on the school's morning television show to talk about "Got Pride," a program that encourages good choices and behaviors among the student body. For the past two weeks, Payne said the two have been making comments about the upcoming game.
As a culmination of that, students and faculty were encouraged Thursday to wear clothing that supported one of the two teams: Seahawks fans wore blue, Broncos supporters wore orange.
Showvaker said the split between teams was about even, though he conceded there may have been a few more students wearing blue.
Showvaker said it was fun to see the school get excited about the game, despite normally cheering for the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens.
After the game: Payne will be watching the game with friends at a 16th annual Super Bowl party. Showvaker will be in Cancun, Mexico, celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary with his wife, Renee. But Showvaker's not concerned about missing the action: There's going to be a viewing party at the resort.
Thursday morning during the television segment, Payne and Showvaker thanked the students for their involvement, and reminded them about the good sportsmanship that should happen, no matter who wins Sunday.
But Showvaker said the good-natured contest between the two will sting if the Broncos don't end up with the win.
"It's going to hurt for a little while," he said.
Regardless of the outcome, the two plan to continue an annual tradition with about six other staff members to attend a football game together next fall. That will be a win for Payne: The plan is to see the Seahawks play the Redskins outside Washington, D.C.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at email@example.com.