After a tumultuous offseason that saw the Red Lion football team lose two teammates, Stone Hill and Nick Mankin, the Lions headed north to Hershey to open the season and came away with a 40-20 victory.
"We tried not to talk about it too much the last two or three weeks," said coach Jesse Shay. "But obviously with this game coming up we needed to address it because we wanted to talk about the fact that we can help, in a small way, help our community heal with how we play in this football game tonight."
The Lions found themselves in an early hole, trailing 20-14 in the second before outscoring Hershey 26-0 down the stretch.
"I was very pleased, for our first game with how we came back," said Shay of the comeback. "The old coaching cliche, 'What are you going to do when someone punches you in your mouth?', figuratively. I was very proud of the way the kids played."
Quarterback Dalton Grove led the Lions by scoring five touchdowns: three passing and two on the ground. He compiled 183 all-purpose yards. Grove found Kendrick Boyd-Gillespie five times for 66 yards, two of those going for touchdowns. The other TD pass went to Alex Keough. Grove also added 60 yards on six carries, two of those going for touchdowns.
"It was a little bit of a track meet at the beginning," Shay said. "Both teams had a real hard time stopping the others teams offense. We got in a hole early in the second quarter, 20-14, scored and were up 28-14 at the half. J.D. Granger and the rest of the staff made some great adjustments and we shut them out in the second half."
As a team, the Lions totaled 427 yards of total offense, 298 of that coming on the ground. Keough made two catches for 45 yards and also ran for a team high 142 yards on 19 carries. Teammate Dylan Gurreri carried the ball 15 times for 91 yards to help pace the offense.
The Lions will wear helmet decals all season to honor Hill and Mankin and also have a moment of silence before next week's home game against Manheim Township.