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Susquehannock to host full-contact alumni football game

Patrick Strohecker
505-5402/@P_Strohecker
  • Susquehannock and Spring Grove will play an alumni football game on Aug. 27 at Susquehannock High School.
  • Proceeds from the event will benefit the Susquehannock athletic boosters and other clubs and organizations.
  • Alumni Football USA has been organizing these full-contact games since the 1980s.

J.D. Freese is 36 years old, and up until about a month ago, he was never told that he was "too old" to do anything.

Alumni of Susquehannock and Spring Grove High School's will compete in an alumni football game on August 27 organized by Alumni Football USA.

However, when he began kicking around the idea of heading a potential full-contact alumni football game between Susquehannock High School and Spring Grove High School graduates, people started suggesting that he may be past his days of being able to take a big hit.

Regardless of those doubts, however, Freese decided to do it anyway, and so will about 35 other former Susquehannock players, along with roughly 30 former Spring Grove players. The game is set for Saturday, Aug. 27.

"It really grew into this big thing," Freese said. "Obviously, the original push to this thing was a bunch of old guys who played football way back when get a chance to suit up and do it one more time. But, the more we dug into it, the more important thing about this game, it's turning into a fundraiser. ... It started as something that sounded fun and morphed into something that could benefit the school and the community."

Game's origins: The idea for the game stemmed from a company based in California called Alumni Football USA.

For more than 30 years, Alumni Football USA has been putting on these full-contact alumni games in small towns across the county. The company got the attention of Freese several weeks ago through a Facebook flyer that it created promoting a potential game between Susquehannock and Spring Grove. Alumni Football USA is also organizing a game between the Dover and West York alumni scheduled for Oct. 15 at West York High School.

Interested, Freese clicked the link, learned all about what the company does, and began sending the link to people he knew. It took off from there. Most of the guys Freese approached about playing in the game loved the idea, even though many hadn't put on full football equipment in decades. However, just the thought of getting to play the game the way it's meant to be played — real blocking and tackling, no flags or two-hand touch — intrigued a large number of the former players. It was one last chance to play the game they grew up with.

"These are not just Susquehannock alumni," Freese said. "These are guys that lived and breathed football for a long time."

While the players compete at their own risk of injury, Alumni Football USA does have liability insurance with the school in case something happens to the field or on the premises during the event.

Freese is a 1998 graduate of Susquehannock and played football for the Warriors, and then went on to play in college at The United States Military Academy at West Point for a year before transferring to Ursinus College and playing there as well. According to Freese, there will be alumni participating in the game who graduated from as far back as the early 1980s. Some others are recent graduates.

For a good cause: While Freese admits he was excited to help organize this game as a way to play one final time under the lights, it's now taken on a bigger role.

With help from new Susquehannock athletic director Brad Keeney, proceeds from the game will go toward the Susuqhehannock athletic booster club and a few other organizations. As with all games organized by Alumni Football USA, 50 percent of all pre-game tickets sold will go to the company, while the other 50 percent will go back to the school. Proceeds from any tickets purchased at the gate the night of the game will go directly to Alumni Football USA.

Freese said he ordered 700 tickets to be sold before the game at $10 per ticket. People can purchase tickets at Saubel's Market in Shrewsbury. With those figures in mind, Freese is hoping that by selling out all 700 pre-ordered tickets, that the event can generate $3,500 for the booster club before the game takes place. Then, once the game begins, all proceeds generated from concessions and T-shirt sales will also go back to the school.

Freese is hoping that this type of event can spark some excitement in the community. With the 2016 football season just a few weeks away, Freese wants this to be the first of many football games fans around Susquehannock will attend, especially since the Warriors are coming off a 5-5 season under first-year head coach Steve Wiles in 2015. That matches the program's win total from the previous four seasons combined.

"The Susquehannock football team is kind of going through a rebuilding year this year," Freese said. "So, we're also hoping to bring some interest to people getting back to the stadium going to football games. Just try to get that interest back into the program."

The alumni game is set for next Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. at Susquehannock High School Stadium. Any kids under the age of 10 get in for free.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com