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It was about an hour before game time, but Sheppard & Myers Stadium already had a parking lot full of cars and a stadium filling up of people.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” 55-year-old Jordan Taylor said. “Hanover hasn’t been this good since I’ve been here. It’s cool to see the community rallying behind this team.”

Over the past 10 years since he moved to the area from Kansas City, Missouri, Taylor said has only gone to a handful of games. But this year, the team was hard to ignore, he said.

“I usually go to the first game because I love football,” he said. “but they haven’t been that great until this year, so I travel to other places to watch other schools.”

Taylor was one of hundreds who packed the stadium for Hanover High School’s first playoff football game in at least a decade. Taylor noted that there was a great energy in the stadium before the game started, as the Nighthawks were preparing for the second time this season to face Biglerville, the team with which they shared the YAIAA Division III championship. This time, it was in a win-or-go home YAIAA playoff game.

On one end, chants of “Big-ler-ville” rang from the away bleachers as the Canners warmed up. Behind the end zone, members of the Hanover band played pop songs and danced as the local television camera filmed them.

Hanover High School students were among the first in the stadium. The sign under the student section read “Orange and Blackout” and they did not disappoint. There were painted faces, orange mohawks and Hanover shirts everywhere.

Zack Barnes, a senior at Hanover High School, was one of the students in the stadium early. He said it was hard to focus in class this week leading up to the game.

“Everyone is ready for this game,” he said. “Everyone in class was talking about the game all week. I know we’re friends with a lot of the guys on the team and we’re really excited for them.”

Barnes felt confident about Hanover’s chances heading into the game. Even though the Nighthawks' only loss of the season came to Biglerville, that was a road game, he said. Now they, have to win one at Hanover.

“Our goal is to give the team a lot of energy and get them pumped up,” he said.

However, Biglerville proved to be Hanover’s kryptonite this year. The Canners scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game and didn’t look back, ending Hanover’s season with a 30-7 victory.

Still, Sheila Gernarud said she hopes the team keeps their heads up.

“They gave this community a lot of joy, they were a lot of fun to watch,” she said.

As Biglerville spent some time after the game with their fans to loud cheers, some Hanover students and fans gave the Nighthawks a nice round of applause as they left the field for the final time.

“I hope that this is something they can build off of and encourages more people to try out and get involved with the team,” Gernarud said.

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