It's been a rough few seasons for the Hanover High School football team. Heading into this season, the Nighthawks had four combined wins their last four years. That's all changed this season, as Hanover has jumped out to one of its best starts in school history, staying a perfect 6-0 after a 53-14 victory against Fairfield on Friday night.
No one is happier about that than the parents, said Craig Kime, who comes out to watch his son Nicholas play.
"Just seeing them having a good time out on the field and coming together as one group has been fun to watch," he said.
Kime is one of the many parents who has helped fill the stands to near-capacity Friday after Friday. Parents also bring a unique perspective because they watch the team play and get inside information from their kids after practice.
Here are four things you might not have know about Hanover football, as told by those watching.
1. Start me up?
One reason for the Nighthawks' success? Head coach Bill Reichart knows how to motivate with his pregame speech, Kime said.
"The coach's pregame speech he gives them, Nick said they're really effective at getting them pumped up, ready to take the field and starting off strong," he said. "It seems like most of the games, Hanover's come out with good starts. It seems like that might have a direct correlation."
Whatever Reichart said to his team Friday must have worked again. Hanover took an 8-0 lead just four minutes into the game and followed that up with a 70-yard touchdown pass. Hanover took a 16-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
2. Keeping it in the family
Perry Zinn never misses a Hanover football game. If he did, he would be out of the loop, he said.
Perry's grandson, Tavin, is a lineman on the team while Perry's son, Jason, is the physician's assistant, he said.
Before Jason was a physician for the team, he played football in college at East Stroudsburg University, Perry said.
"Jason fills them in on things to do and not to do during the game based on what he's seeing," he said. "He's in his ear."
Jason will meet up with Tavin and a few other players outside of practice each week to talk football and review film, Perry said. That perspective has been beneficial for everyone, he said.
"They'll get there, and they'll watch plays, and he'll show them different things," Perry said. "He's really mentored them."
3. Undefeated season exciting the alumni
Wendy Heagertty is a parent to a pair of twin girls at Hanover High School and another daughter who graduated from the school district last year, she said. In the past, the losing seasons deterred Heagertty from being more than an off-and-on fan, she said, but this year has been different.
"You would come because you wanted to support everything, but it was tough because they were losing bad every year," she said. "The winning has brought a whole different mentality. It brought that feeling of football back again. I think Hanover needed that."
Heagertty isn't the only one catching football fever in the family, she said. Alumni, like her daughter away at college, are itching to know how the team is doing.
"My daughter called me earlier and said 'OK make sure you text me the score and keep me updated,'" she said. "It's just all a positive experience."
4. Chasing history
In 1964, gas cost around 30 cents a gallon and The Beatles were just appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show.
It was also the last time Hanover High School put together an undefeated season, said Tom Long, a lineman on that undefeated team.
Long and Bill Krug, another player on that undefeated Nighthawk team — which won 10 games in a row before finishing the season with a tie — haven't missed a game this year, they said.
"They've become can't-miss for Friday nights," Krug said.
More than a few things have changed since Long played, he said. Hanover didn't have artificial turf or a track on the outside of the field, he said. The on-the-field play does bring back memories, he said.
"Our team was very small, but we were incredibly fast and tough," Long said. "This team is pretty similar that way. They're well-coached and fast."
Long and Krug said they hope to get more alumni from the last undefeated team out to games.
"I told coach Reichart that if they're undefeated going into the last game of the year, we'll get as many people from the last undefeated team to come to the game as possible," Krug said.