CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — As the dust flies on the practice field, pads pop with one goal in mind for the East Pennsboro Panthers.
Get better and uphold the tradition.
“Being a part of the 1000th game, and so many great players that have come through this organization,” explained senior middle linebacker Josh Angelo. “Just be able to carry on their legacy and keep doing what they started is really special.”
“I can't wrap my head around the number of young men who came through this program and made East Pennsboro what it is today,” agreed Cliff Benoist.
Benoist is a Panthers alumnus and played for the orange and black from 1993 to 1995.
“It's really hard to even put a word on it except, just really amazing to be part of,” he said.
It is a history that started with a three-game first season in 1923. The first win came in 1925, and 348 wins later, the tradition carries on.
“The legacy that they talk about it means a lot of different things but the older guys would pass down lessons, life lessons really," said Benoist. "It bleeds through from the seniors to freshmen. But it really is truly a legacy here at East Pennsboro.”
The highlight of the Panther's history is the 1959 team. The first after-school mergers formed East Pennsboro. The team went undefeated and unscored upon and their lessons and leadership continue to be passed down.
“The ‘59 team,” recalled current head coach John Denniston. “That's hard to fathom, to be honest with you. The idea that a team was unscored upon is such a remarkable achievement. The kids are certainly aware of it. It's very much part of our lore.”
And the history and respect for the past show no sign of stopping, according to Angelo.
“We're just looking to keep that torch going pass to the younger generation. Keep the great winning traditional alive at East Pennsboro that the 1959 team had.”
East Pennsboro is not the biggest of schools, but they are one of the proudest. If one is to listen to the alumni and coaches, it really isn’t hard to understand.
Like Benoist, who came through the youth program and now coaches at the varsity level.
“It really a full circle moment. To be proud to be a Panther,” he said.
Or as Denniston puts it: “Little Panthers want to grow up and be the big Panthers.”
One hundred years down and the pride continues to roar.