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Warriors recall snow battle with Dutchmen

September 13, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

Dwight Hentz was enjoying himself for the first couple series of last year's game with Lebanon Valley. Not so much after those series. And not so much when teammates had minor cases of frostbite from standing in four inches of snow for he better part of three hours.

But initially, sure it was fun.

"I don't need any more snow games," Lycoming's defensive tackle said Wednesday.

No need to worry about that when the Warriors and Dutchmen meet again Saturday at David Person Field for the second Middle Atlantic Conference game for both teams. The newly turfed field at the Shangraw Athletic Complex will be covered in sunshine instead of a wet, thick snow that blanketed much of the Eastern half of Pennsylvania when the two teams met during Halloween weekend a year ago.

The memories aren't lost on a Lycoming team that returns so many starters from that key 10-7 win over the Dutchmen. It was a surreal setting for a football game. An hour before kickoff the grass at Arnold Field -- which now also has turf -- was covered in snow. During timeouts workers shoveled the yard lines from sideline to sideline. By the time the workers finished with half the field, the half they had just shoveled was nearly covered.

"We knew there was a chance waking up, then it started to snow and you hoped it would stop, and it just kept going and going," Lycoming head coach Mike Clark said. "But I wasn't miserable. I had on boots and lots of layers. Other than the communication and the visibility, it was OK. It was unique."

Tailback Parker Showers carried 35 times for 115 yards that day, and backup Craig Needhammer had 20 carries. The Warriors ran 69 times that day, throwing just three passes, and abandoning the pass altogether after the ball slipped out of quarterback Zach Klinger's hand a couple times as he cocked his arm to throw.

"You got so numb that you were chomping at the bit to get back on the field just so you could run around," Warriors receiver John Sibel said. "I thought it was a lot of fun."

Sibel had never been one to wear long sleeves when he played football, dating back to a youth game when he fumbled while wearing long sleeves. He wore half sleeves for the game against Lebanon Valley last year and said he was freezing.

Showers came into the Lebanon Valley Athletic Center following the game with his teeth chattering. He didn't wear any sleeves under his uniform and didn't wear an extra shirt under his shoulder pads either. Defensive back Tyler Floyd had to change his cleats because the old ones he was wearing had holes in them and he couldn't stand the cold on his feet.

"Temperature-wise, it wasn't too cold," Hentz said. "But being in the show, it was cold. Your hands and you feet ... It hurt."

"A wet football is one thing, but the cold and being able to hold the ball is part of the challenge," Clark said. "You can't prepare for that. Even if you practice in the snow you can't guarantee that it's going to snow and they can't clear the field. A lot of times you're preparing for snow beforehand and then they get the field cleared and it's not all that bad. But that day, it just kept on coming."

The Warriors were able to smile after the game because it was a much-needed three-point win over a tough conference opponent. The win also gave Lycoming an opportunity to really mess up the MAC championship race if they could have beaten Delaware Valley.

The win wasn't pretty -- but the view from the stands sure was -- but it was critical in the Warriors' season as they battled back from an early-season loss to try and contend for a conference title.

"It wasn't ideal, but they don't generally ask what the score was afterward," Clark said. "During pre-game warmup you kind of chuckled a little bit. And (it was fun) certainly when we won. I don't know that we'll anticipate or have that kind of weather any time soon, but if we do, hopefully we'll be able to draw on those experiences."

 
 

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MITCH RUPERT/Sun-Gazette Snow covered Arnold Field last October when Lycoming played Lebanon Valley College.