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South Williamsport, PA
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Saturday Football

Before there were Friday Night Lights, there was Saturday afternoon football. In many communities around the area, the high school game in the daytime was The thing to do. Perhaps like no other locale, the era of daytime dominance was most prevalent in Mill Hall during the 1960s & ’70s as Walt Diehl’s Bald Eagle

Before there were Friday Night Lights, there was Saturday afternoon football. In many communities around the area, the high school game in the daytime was The thing to do.

Perhaps like no other locale, the era of daytime dominance was most prevalent in Mill Hall during the 1960s & ’70s as Walt Diehl’s Bald Eagle Nittany Panthers routinely clawed opponents venturing onto their Clinton County feeding ground. While those traditions have become a thing of the past, our Bradford County neighbors in Canton have made it a point to keep that bygone tradition alive.

Miller A. Moyer Field was lit up with lights a few years ago, but the community continues to be treated to what-once-was by scheduling one Saturday afternoon game each year. This year that game was played on autumn’s first Saturday as the state’s number one Class A ranked Warriors humbled South Williamsport 50-0 on a Norman Rockwell-like afternoon.

For the community’s rabid fans, the atmosphere was much to their liking.

At the gate, ticket-taker Nancy Neff was emblematic of the day’s proceedings.

“It’s good for the community, and it brings a lot of people out. We see families and a lot of grandparents, and it is a good enjoyment on a Saturday. A lot of people like the day games.”

In the south end zone parking lot Becky Bellows, mother of senior standout Weston Bellows was setting up a tailgate spread.

“We started tailgating four years ago when our boys moved up to varsity, and we’re right here before every home game. Football is ingrained in our community. It brings the community together and provides support for the kids. I graduated from Canton and was used to the Saturday games, and it is neat to see a game on Saturday. I don’t know if the boys love it because they are used to a certain routine, and this goes against that norm for them. But for me, Saturday games bring out many memories of the past, and the sun is shining, so it is a good day.”

In the north end zone, Jason Ward was at work grilling hamburgers and hot sausage.

“Football is pretty popular in Canton, and I enjoy Saturday games. I played here when all the games were in the daytime, so to me, this is carrying on a tradition. However, Friday night games are fun, so I’ll be here whenever they play.”

Cheerleader advisor Mikayla Davis was quick to chime in.

“Many people like the Saturday games, but I just graduated a few years ago, so I was used to Friday night games. But, last year, our football team went above and beyond, and it has generated a lot of community support and interest. I think the fans will come out whenever the games are played. For our girls, the best part is winning. When the team wins, the girls are excited to be here.”

On this afternoon, Canton was inducting four new members to its Warrior Hall of Fame.

“It is something we have done every year since 2010,” explained Boo Perry, Canton quarterback from 1989-91, who later starred at Wilkes.

“We select between two and four guys each year to honor those players from Canton football’s past. You don’t play for yourself. You play for people who have been before you, and you play for each other. Things are different today than they used to be, and by honoring past players, we can help show today’s players what it really is all about.

“Football means a lot to Canton, and I mean a lot. This is the only ticket in town. People are off work. They can come here, have a good time and see a good football game on a Saturday afternoon. This is the way it was for years. On those Saturday games, you would see jerseys from Troy, Wyalusing, Towanda, and other northern tier towns on the sidelines watching Canton play football.

“To do this once a year, I have mixed emotions about it. I’m glad they went to Friday night football; it was time. However, I grew up with Saturday football and had great memories, so I kind of wish it would stay that way. Some people were upset with the change to Friday night, while others welcomed it with open arms. I understand there are other things going on Saturday afternoons, and I’m not the one to give you a good answer for the change, but Saturday football is something I enjoy.”

In the press box Peter G. (Geanacopoulos) has been affiliated with Canton football since the 1970s and has served as the public address announcer for 23 years.

“We’ve always liked the fall days, and I think most people prefer to come out on a Saturday. Up here and in the stands, you can see much better. You can see the numbers better and see the kids and that smell in the air of the turning of the leaves.

“Canton is a small school, and over the years, we’ve had our ups and downs. A lot of the schools we play are larger, but we have been able to hold our own. We have that reputation as being the big old farm boys, but in the last couple of years, we’ve enjoyed great success. If we are gonna go, this is the year. The stars are aligned, we hope. It means a big deal to the community.”