The experience of playing one last game under the bright lights before college or the real world beckons. The experience of meeting and becoming friends and teammates with former "hated" rivals. And the what-the-heck-is-going-on-here experience of - unfortunately - witnessing a naked (except for a mask) young fan streaking across the field late in the fourth quarter in an obviously preplanned prank.
OK, forget that last one. Please. Although it was pretty funny. Ask anybody that was there.
Anyway, that bizarre sideshow and the fact that their North squad dropped a 30-23 decision to the South in the 11th annual Tri-County All-Star Football Game at Manheim Central on Saturday night did little to spoil the final high school gridiron experience for Jordan Harro, Alex Kuhn and the rest of their Lebanon County scholastic football brethren.
"The team got close," Palmyra wide receiver Harro, who hauled in four passes for 83 yards, including an acrobatic 39-yard grab in the second half. "You could tell in the practices that we were together, we had pretty good communication. It wasn't enough to win the game, but it was just fun getting to meet the guys and playing with them.
"During the season you're always butting heads
Lebanon High wideout Kuhn, who capped his senior year-only football career with a two-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter, echoed Harro's sentiments.
"It was a fun experience," said Kuhn, who was joined at the contest by LHS teammates and offensive linemen Erick Caba and Carlos Sepulveda. "I didn't really have any expectations of making this game, and I met all these cool kids. It was a really cool experience."
Though their combined efforts weren't enough to overcome a prolific South offense led by McCaskey quarterback Jonathon Hulyo and his Red Tornado wideouts Blaise Glover and QuaShaun Davis, the Lebanon County receiver trio of Harro, Kuhn and Ritter certainly did their part, figuring either directly or indirectly in almost all of the North's scores.
Kuhn's TD grab off a deflected pass from Lancaster Catholic QB Andrew Dzurik briefly gave the North a 13-10 lead midway through the second quarter, and was set up by a 22-yard reception by Harro on the first play of the 67-yard scoring drive.
Cedar Crest's Ritter got into the act on the first drive of the third quarter, hauling in two passes for 39 yards on another 67-yard TD march that culminated with a two-yard scoring run by Catholic's Brandon Hollister.
And the North's final points of the night - a 27-yard field goal by Manheim Central's Bryant Myer - were helped along by Harro's aforementioned 39-yard grab in which he outjumped a South defender who appeared to have a better bead on the ball than he did.
"I personally did not," Harro said, when asked if he knew much of Ritter, Kuhn and his fellow North receivers prior to this week. "We're in the (Mid-Penn, as opposed to the Lancaster-Lebanon), we play Camp Hill, Trinity, schools like that. I had heard of them but I didn't know what they were like. But when you get into practice, you get to know them and it was great. They're great receivers, and it was fun playing with them."
"We had a little chemistry throughout the week (of practice)," Kuhn said, "and I got to know the quarterbacks a little better. What really helped me was all the competition we had with the other receivers. With D-Ritt (Ritter) out there, we were pushing each other, so that really helped me get acquainted with everyone."
Other Lebanon County players in action on Saturday were Cedar Crest's Garrett Levengood (defensive back) and Darin Kline (tight end), Annville-Cleona's Freddie Hess (linebacker), Northern Lebanon's Ryan Daub (defensive back) and Colton Ryan (linebacker), Elco's Dylan Hickernell (running back) and Harro's Palmyra teammate and defensive end Brandon Petrouskie.
The site of the all-star affair, Central's Eldon Rettew Stadium, held some special meaning for Harro and Petrouskie. Back in November, Harro and Petrouskie helped Palmyra to a victory for the ages at Rettew Stadium, a triple overtime triumph over perennial power Central in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA playoffs.
"When it was 23-23, I was looking (at the scoreboard) and thinking, 'No, not another triple overtime game again. I'm not ready for that,'" Harro laughed. "But there's a lot of good memories. It was different without the team, obviously. I'm so used to Preston (Bare) and Jon (Hicks) and all the other guys. It was different playing with other guys, but it was still fun playing on this field again and making plays."