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Coventry, Manchester alumni renewing rivalry on football field

7/28/2011 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Alumni from Coventry and Manchester high schools will go head to head in the “Battle of Route 93.”
Photo courtesy of Lyons Photography
COVENTRY — For a second year in a row, alumni from Coventry and Manchester high schools will clash on the football field in the “Battle of Route 93.”

The game — a rematch of last season’s 36-12 victory by Coventry — will take place Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. at Coventry Stadium.

Gary Hutt, who will serve as the head coach for the Coventry alumni team, said the game offers a great chance for former players to get back into the game.

“The locker room before the game is an amazing place, watching the men and how they react,” the Coventry graduate said. “They still have the same goosebumps, the same nervousness you have in a high school game. It’s definitely not laid back; it’s definitely all out. It’s something to come and see.”

Plus, Hutt said, the game offers a chance for former players to suit up on the same field with people they have never gotten to play with or against.

“[In alumni games], fathers and sons have played together, brothers who never got to play together get the opportunity,” he said. “You have things like that that make it great.”

Last year, the game was played in front of 2,300 spectators, including Coventry High School graduate and current Pittsburgh Steelers player James Harrison.

“He really gets the kids pumped up from the sideline,” said Hutt. “He is scheduled to be here again this year.”

According to Hutt, who currently is the defensive coordinator at Rittman, the alumni game is produced by the Alumni Football USA organization.

“They put on these games all across the United States,” he said. “They come in and provide the tickets, the uniforms, the equipment. Last year, we used the equipment from the movie ‘The Blind Side.’ This year, we’ll be wearing brand new equipment.”

Hutt said Alumni Football USA handles some aspects of putting the game together, while other aspects are handled by alumni from each of the schools.

“They give us the tickets; we do all our own promotional stuff; and they give us half the profits of the ticket sales before the game. On game day, they get all of the ticket profits,” he said. “They rent the field. At Coventry, I believe they paid around $1,000 to rent the field, then they pay all the employees, such as the officials, the downs-keepers, security from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and everything like that.”

Hutt said each school will raise its own money.

“Manchester sells their tickets and we sell our tickets,” he explained. “We get the concessions, half of the presale tickets and we’re selling T-shirts. We also do a 50-50 [raffle]. Everything we get, we give back.”

Last year, Hutt said, the Coventry alumni team made a $4,200 donation for the new football locker room at the school.

“That was our major thing,” he said. “We did some little other things that needed to be done.”

This year, he said, among the items the profits will go toward are new goalpost pads and a $500 scholarship.

Tickets for the “Battle of Route 93 II” are $10 for those ages 17 and older, $6 for 6- to 16-year-olds and free for those age 6 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at Handy Jim’s, Lyons Photography, Asian Gardens restaurant and Hook, Line and Drinkers. Only tickets sold before the day of the game benefit the schools.

Concessions will be operated by Hook, Line and Drinkers, Asian Gardens and the Coventry Band.

“The Asian Gardens restaurant is going to sell sushi and eggrolls and Hook, Line is going to sell hamburgers and sausages and stuff,” Hutt said. “The band will be operating a concession stand.”

Hutt said each team will have close to 30 players and everyone will be able to play.

“It’s very, very hard-hitting and exciting,” Hutt said. “It’s just a fun outing.”

For additional information, call 330-541-5247 or email coventryalumnifootball@gmail.com.

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