Shiloh resident Kevin Stover is pictured with his 11-year-old son Kohen after the Super Bowl ended on Feb. 3 in New Orleans. The Ravens made their trip
Shiloh resident Kevin Stover is pictured with his 11-year-old son Kohen after the Super Bowl ended on Feb. 3 in New Orleans. The Ravens made their trip worthwhile by earning a thrilling 34-31 victory over the 49ers. (Submitted photo)

Serendipity.

It's that happy place where fortune meets opportunity.

It's a destination that few of us get to visit with any regularity.

For the Stovers of Shiloh, however, Sunday, Feb. 3, turned out to be the most serendipitous of days.

Many of you may recognize the name Kevin Stover. His running exploits are well known in these parts. He was a District 3 champion at West York High School and an All-American at Millersville University. He once ran a marathon in a world-class time of 2 hours, 23 minutes and was a national champion in the steeplechase. The 45-year-old is currently a teacher and coach at Hershey High School.

Shiloh’s Kohen Stover, 11, is shown with Ravens kicker Justin Tucker after Baltimore’s recent Super Bowl triumph over the San Francisco 49ers.
Shiloh's Kohen Stover, 11, is shown with Ravens kicker Justin Tucker after Baltimore's recent Super Bowl triumph over the San Francisco 49ers. (Submitted photo)

What you may not know is that Stover is a big-time fan of the Baltimore Ravens. He's had season tickets since the team's new stadium opened in the late 1990s.

Not surprisingly, Stover's 11-year-old son, Kohen, is also a huge Ravens' fan. He was born the same year the Ravens won their first Super Bowl in 2001. His father freely admits that the kid never had a chance to be anything else but a purple-and-black fanatic.

Fortune first smiled on the Stovers when they won the ticket lottery among Baltimore season-ticket holders for the Super Bowl game in New Orleans on Feb. 3 against the San Francisco 49ers. That gave the family the chance to purchase Super Bowl tickets at face value _ $850. Those same tickets, on the open market, would've cost in the thousands.

After about eight hours of Web surfing and phone calls, Kevin Stover was able to find an affordable way to make the trip happen with his son. He flew into Birmingham, Ala., stayed with friends in Fair Hope, Ala., and then made the 21/2-hour drive to the Big Easy for the big game.

The tickets weren't great. They were in the nose-bleed section. But the Stovers didn't care _ they were watching their favorite team play for the NFL championship. It doesn't get much better than that.

But for the Stovers, it was about to get much, much better.

The Ravens made the trip worthwhile by earning a thrilling 34-31 victory. But that was just the start.

Moments after the game ended, some nearby Ravens' fans encouraged the Stovers to go with them to the lower deck to watch the post-game festivities up close. After a brief hesitation, the Stovers agreed.

They went back into the bowels of the stadium and started a hasty trip below to get a better look at the celebration. When they reached a tunnel entrance, some folks motioned for the Stovers to come with them. Kevin Stover later came to believe they were relatives of Ravens' player Jacoby Jones. The Stovers followed them, thinking they were going to emerge on the lower deck of the stadium.

Instead, they suddenly found themselves on the playing field in the middle of a raucous celebration. They had their Super Bowl tickets around their necks, but no other special passes. But security didn't stop them.

Somehow, someway, they had gotten on the field and that's where they stayed for the next two hours, mingling with the players, their families and other celebrities.

They immediately started congratulating and high-fiving some of the joyous Ravens' players. They shot tons of videos and photographs. Kevin Stover had forgotten his Sharpie, but a kind cameraman remedied that situation and they were able to get a dozen or so autographs for Kohen's hat.

At one point, Kohen decided he was going to do a snow angel on the confetti-strewn field. Ravens' kicker Justin Tucker, who had taken a liking to the young boy, soon joined him.

They even got to meet Baltimore native and Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps.

The players and celebrities were pleasant and accommodating to the Stovers.

"It was surreal," Kevin Stover said. "It was a lifetime opportunity. We were at the wrong place at the right time."

Kohen, naturally, was thrilled. When his father first told him they were going to New Orleans, the youngster "freaked out."

"I said 'what in the world _ no you didn't," Kohen gushed. "I nearly passed out."

It turns out that was just the beginning of a journey that he'll never forget.

"It was a great experience," Kohen said. "Ever since I was born, I've been a true Ravens' fan."

His son's unbridled joy made the pricey trip more than worthwhile for Kevin Stover.

"Nothing will top this Super Bowl," he said. "Watching my son's facial expressions and the thrill of being there on the field just tops anything. It was a lifetime memory."

The Stovers from Shiloh met serendipity in New Orleans.

Fortune met opportunity.

And the result was one unforgettable evening in The Big Easy.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.