Penn Manor Still Hanging with Phils in 2009 World Series

Phillies fans in Penn Manor and all around the country had a wide range of emotions Monday when the Phils stuck it out to beat the Yankees 8-6.

They felt happy when they saw second-baseman, Chase Utley, hit two home runs again in one game and when the Phillies shot up their lead to six runs. But then they saw the Yankees rally once again with in the ninth to almost come back.  However,  their run went over a speed bump when “El Capitan”, Derek Jeter, grounded into a double play.

The Yankees gave another scare to Phillies fans when they almost rallied, but then Phils’ fans were able to breath a sigh of relief when their relief pitcher, Ryan Madsen, ended the game.

Phillies’ fans don’t have time to feel relieved as they are going back to Yankee Stadium to try to keep their season alive. 

Although mostly Phillies’ fans are in Penn Manor, the Bronx Bombers have a lot of supporters in these halls as well.

“It’s easy to be a Yankee fan in that they win,” said Sean McKnight, one of the big Yankees’ fans of Penn Manor.

Even though students that are not fans of the Yankees might jeer his team, the tech teacher doesn’t keep his allegiance a secret. In fact, in his class, normally you wouldn’t be allowed to wear a hat, but if it’s a Yankees’ hat, you can wear it.

Not only that, McKnight and a fellow teacher, Gary Luft, are having a little bet of their own.

If the Yankees win, Mr. Luft, who’s a Phillies’ fan, has to wear a Yankees’ shirt and tie the next day, but if the Phillies win, McKnight has to wear a Phillies’ shirt and tie.

“(Having mostly Phillies’ fans as students) doesn’t bother me,” said McKnight. “It’s fun to rib.”

McKnight doesn’t mind being around a bunch of Phillies’ fans because he likes to joke around back and forth with the students.

“It’s going to be a really tight series,” said McKnight about the World Series.

McKnight isn’t the only Yankees’ fan teaching here.  Other teachers including Cynthia Lonergan (Social Studies), Scott Lackey (Phys. Ed.), and Katherine Lombardi (Foreign Language) are in the lonely group of Yankees’ fan teachers surrounded by the other Phillies’ fan teachers like Matthew Scheuing, Gary Luft, and more.

Sean McKnight wears his favorite team's mini baseball helmet.
Sean McKnight wears his favorite team's mini baseball helmet.

But why be a Yankee fan in south-central Pennsylvania?

McKnight said he was a Yankees’ fan because his brother used to play little league baseball and the team was called the Yankees.

That year, McKnight became curious about the real big league Yanks. That year, Jackie Robinson went wild with home runs and good numbers. His uniform number was 44. Guess what McKnight’s brother’s number was?  Yep, 44.

So McKnight started watching them and came to like them more and more as time went on.

Lonergan was living in New York before she came to Pennsylvania to attend college and teach; Lackey was a Yankees’ fan ever since he’s been old enough to play baseball. He started liking them because players like Reggie Jackson and Ron Guidry were fun to watch; also, Lombardi’s father lived in Brooklyn, New York and all of her family members are Yankees’ fans so it rubbed off on her.

Both Yankees’ and Phillies’ fans, are expecting a tight series and most people are saying the series might go 6-7 games. In a poll of about 50-60 people, the average who voted for the Phillies who they like/think is going to win was 61% then leaving the Yankees percent at 39. Not surprisingly so, the Phillies’ fans outnumbered the Yankee’s’ fans.

Arguably the biggest Phillies’ fan in the school, Wes Rowe, thought the Phils were going to win in 6 games. Mark Curtin, who is a Yankees’ fan, thinks the Yanks are going to win in 6. Kyle Harvey, a senior who is pulling for the Yankees, thinks they’re going to win in 7. Another big Phillies’ fan in Penn Manor, Bryan Hess, a junior, thought the Phillies would get their second World Series in a row in just 4 games with the help of Carlos Ruiz, or “Chooch”, as he calls him. He also had this to say about Yankees’ fans in Penn Manor.

“If you’re from New York, support your team; otherwise, you’re band wagon.”

Philadelphia, led by ace, Cliff Lee and big bat, Ryan Howard, will continue to have most of Penn Manor’s support while they try and catch up to the Yanks.

Billy Scheid wears his phills shirts to school after their game one win of the world series
Billy Scheid wears his Phills shirts to school after their game one win of the world series

Will the Phillies make most of Penn Manor happy, or will the Yankees end their hopes for their second World Series in a row led by Alex Rodriguez, arguably the hottest hitter in the playoffs right now, and ALCS MVP CC Sabathia?

The Yankees gained a bigger lead, 3-1, on Sunday as they scored three runs off of Phillies’ closer, Brad Lidge,  to win game 4 7-4.

If you want to watch these tight remaining game(s), the remaining game(s) will be on as follows: (Note all game(s) are on FOX and the ones with an * are if necessary) The Series is returning to the new Yankee Stadium on Wednesday at 7:57 p.m.  as the probables of Andy Pettite, the all-time winningest pitcher in the playoffs, and Pedro Matinez, who got ripped apart by the Yankee Stadium crowd in game 2 of the World Series, go up against each other, and *Thursday at 7:57 p.m. where CC Sabathia would go up against Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, or even Cliff Lee on only two days rest but that would be doubtful.

“Someone is going to win and someone is going to lose,” said McKnight about this year’s World Series.

The Phillies, with most of Penn Manor by their side, will try and extend the Series and their season as they go from being comfortable – or maybe a little less because one loss and they’re out – in their own stadium to the tough to play in, Yankee Stadium.

Will the hanging by a thread Phillies extend their hopes to game seven? Or will the Yankees end the Phillies’ season on Thursday?

I guess we’ll just have to watch and find out.

By Alex Geli

PM Field Hockey Take Aim at Saturday Quarter-Finals

They just can’t find a way to lose.

The Comets field hockey team easily handled Twin Valley High School in the pouring rain Tuesday night. The rain remained steady and so did the Comets by winning the game 4-0.

Penn Manor started out the first half with two goals by Jill Witmer which quickly took  Twin Valley’s hopeful attitudes out of the game.

After putting up two goals early, Penn Manor ended the half 2-0.  All the Comets needed to do was to protect the lead and start preparing for the next district playoff game.

Not only did the Comets protect the lead, they increased it with another goal from Witmer who completed a hat-trick. Renee Suter also tucked a ball beautifully into the net to bring the score to 4-0.

The ladies on both sides showed no signs of slowing down due to the rain as they  battled until the final whistle.

The Comets advanced their district run to the quarter-finals and are unsure of the opponent, but will play Saturday, October 31.

By Connor Rowe

Comets Win Nail-Biter Game on Senior Night

Rain couldn’t slow down the Comets in their 14-12 victory against Warwick on Friday, October 23.

The Comets were on the board fast as standout junior receiver, Demetrious Dixon, brought in a pass from P.J. Rehm. LeRon Lee also had reservations for 6 as he entered the end zone untouched.

By the end of the first half, Penn Manor was ahead 14-0.

The heavy rain started to come and so did the Warwick football team. Before the Comets could realize what happened, their lead was shattered and only two points separated the section rivals.

The 4th quarter came quickly on the Penn Manor senior night. The seniors were looking for a different result but a fumble by Lee was recovered from Warwick which quickly turned the tables in the section battle.

Warwick charged down the field and set up for a desperation field goal with about 1:50 left in the game.

Champions come out to play in the 4th quarter and make plays and this is what the Comet’s Garrett Young did to close the match up by blocking a field goal ending the Warrior’s plans to ruin Penn Manor’s senior night.

After the game, Young said, “The game was exciting and after blocking the kick I was pretty hyped.”

Penn Manor prevailed, improving their record to 7-1.

By: Connor Rowe

L-L Champs in Field Hockey!

The Penn Manor field hockey team has won its first section title since 1986.

The Comets beat Donegal 3-1 at an exciting game Oct. 22,  avenging last year’s loss to the Indians in the section title game.

The Comets scored their first goal when Nancy Stehman assisted Jill Witmer in the first sixteen minutes of the game with the team’s first shot on goal.

2009 L-L league field hockey champions
2009 L-L league field hockey champions

Coming into the game after halftime,  Kirsten Gochnauer scored the Indian’s first goal and tied the game.

Witmer then scored her second goal of the night, assisted again by Stehman with only six minutes into the second half.

Kelly Harsh then put the Comets in the lead for good, when she scored off of a tipped corner shot from Witmer.

By: Damien Oswald

Witmer makes cover of ESPN Rise Magazine

From the Coop (nickname of her gym) to the hockey field, Jill Witmer has her sky blue eyes set on the stars.

Climbing her way to the top, Witmer, featured on the cover of this month’s “Rise” magazine, an ESPN high school edition, will try and reach the summit tonight as the Comets enter the L-L league championship game against Donegal at 7 P.M. at Manheim Central High School.

Witmer, who was never into field hockey in her younger years, already has a state championship under her belt, All-American honors and is the number one recruit in the nation. (Committed to Maryland)

“When I first tried it, I didn’t really like it much,” she says in the magazine “My dad said, ‘Just one more year, see how it goes when you get into ninth grade,’ so I went to play for Coach Soto. He was great, and I was hooked.”

Heading into her senior year Witmer has scored a total of 59 goals, 54 assists, and a team record of 71-11-3.

By: Damien Oswald

Comets are Still Rolling: Ranked Number One in Country

The bulls-eye on the Comets’ backs just got a lot bigger for teams trying to overtake Penn Manor field hockey.

PM Field Hockey 4
Number 16, Renee Suter marches up field staying focused. Her goal this year is to contribute to a Pennsylvania state championship.

“Every team out there wants to beat us or even just score on us,” said All-American Renee Suter.

The Comets were recently ranked number one in the nation by a high school field hockey national-ranking website, The Comets are currently 15-0-1

Lancaster is one of the top counties in the nation for field hockey according to Suter. “This makes it not very unusual for a team inside central Pennsylvania to be ranked number one,” Suter said.

Last year the Comets won the state championship and hope to have the same results this year.

“We have very high expectations and truly do hope to have similar situations as last year,” said head coach Matt Soto.

The team is lead by Jill Witmer, who is being heavily recruited by the University of Maryland, the number-one, college-ranked team in the nation. Witmer is trying to take the role of some of the key seniors who were lost from the previous season.

“Some players think it’s best to be totally under the radar, and to not be familiar with their rank,” she said.

However Suter doesn’t have a preference either way.

“I mean Lancaster County is such a good area for field hockey that they know most teams in the area are good and they expect it,” said Suter.

“It’s just now it’s public that we are number one in the nation,” she said.

“For us as a team, it doesn’t matter who knows or not, we are going to play hard no matter what. Last year we weren’t ranked number one and it didn’t matter, we still played hard and won states. We haven’t changed because we will continue to play hard no matter what rank we are.”

The Penn Manor Comets will continue to attack their goal of another state championship.

By: Connor Rowe

Suiting Up Next Season

It’s the question that girls suiting up for both soccer and field hockey want answered.  At the start of the fall sport season next year, will Penn Manor junior, Katie Breneman, be putting on a soccer jersey or a field hockey jersey?

Yet this is just one of the problems that have emerged from the PIAA’s decision to move the girls’ soccer season from spring to the fall.  Fortunately for many seniors, they will not have to make the decision before they graduate.  Soccer will be moving to fall but the move has been postponed until 2012.

“It puts them on equal turf,” Penn Manor Athletic Director, Jeff Roth, who commented on this recent decision.

While many Susquehanna Valley schools were playing their girls’ soccer in the spring season, the remaining schools were playing in the fall. But it won’t be like this in two years, thanks to the 22-7 PIAA ruling that brought this “split-season play” to an end.

In 2005,  four girls from three different high schools represented by the Women’s Law Project filed Federal Civil Lawsuits against the PIAA claiming that the two different seasons (fall and spring) as well as not having a unified statewide championship placed them at a disadvantage.

Coaches were able to vote in the decision, where eleven voted in favor of the change in season, and eleven voted against the move.  Two coaches however did not vote; one of them being Penn Manor head soccer coach, William Zapata.

Zapata claims that those who voted were under the impression that this move would not be taking place until the 2012 season, which would provide two years for students to prep for the change, not the 2011 season, only allowing one season’s notice.

Now, the additional voting session has pushed back the move until 2012 season.

Eventually, however, these questions will have to be answered: where will these games take place and where will officials be found to manage those additional fall season games?

“We don’t have the fields to support all the fall sports,” said Roth, and Penn Manor is a decent sized school that was placed in the middle of the problem.

Commenting on the situation of a crowded fieldhouse that will “make it a nightmare, but we will just have to deal with it,” said Coach Zapata.

Fall sports teams including football, boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, and field hockey will all be competing for access to the fields, leaving those fields all to the lacrosse teams in the spring.

According to Roth, the varsity and junior-varsity soccer teams would have to play back-to-back games. With afternoon games, the varsity games would take place first, most likely around 4:00, and the junior-varsity game to follow at 5:30. For a night game, the junior-varsity game would be played first, probably at 5:30, with the varsity game to begin at 7:00.

And for all those fans of the girl kickers on the football team, this year may be the only year that it takes place.  With soccer in the fall, the girls would not be able to kick for both the soccer team and the football team.

But probably the biggest issue coming from this decision is that now placed on the girls who play in were used to playing both field hockey and soccer, or both volleyball and soccer.  They will now have to choose just one sport.

However, girls wanting to play both soccer and track and field, or soccer and lacrosse will now be able to.

Breneman is currently a junior at Penn Manor and would have been forced to choose between playing soccer or field hockey.

“It’s a bummer,” Breneman added.

She also believes that both sports teams will go very far during her senior year.  However, if she had to make the choice Brenneman said she would be putting on the field hockey jersey come next fall.

“You can go farther in field hockey.”

So is the decision for the overall good?  The answer to that question will not become evident until the 2012 season, when all the fall sports take the field.

By: Tyler Barnett

From Shin Guards to Shoulder Pads

Starting forward and defense on Penn Manor’s soccer team, Ashley Vellucci and Ambria Armstrong had to make a slight adjustment to their kicking game when Jeni Dellinger brought a football to club soccer practice one day.

Vellucci and Armstrong await their chance to make extra points in the game against Exeter
Vellucci (left) and Armstrong await their chance to make extra points in the game against Exeter.

The day after soccer practice, Vellucci and Armstrong decided to go out for the kicking position on the football team.

Ever since, they’ve been part of the team. The teams record stands at 6-1

Scott Lackey, a member of the football staff, said “Initially they (the team) thought it was going to be a distraction but as they came around more and proved they could do it, they accepted it.”

At first people around school made jokes and comments about it but on the football field they “welcomed us with open arms,” Vellucci recalled.

On the first day, Vellucci and Armstrong practiced kicking field goals with coach Bill Beck all day.

The game against Exeter was the first time the girls got to experience and feel the hype and excitement of being a part of a football team and standing on the sidelines.

During that game, Vellucci made a 31-yard field goal and a pair of extra points.

Vellucci said, “I like being on the sidelines more than sitting in the student section.”

Vellucci said she was “really nervous and shaky” when she finally got her chance.

Not having a physical was the downfall for Armstrong when game day came around and she was ineligible to participate in the game against Exeter.

But she was allowed to stand on the sidelines with Vellucci and help her practice her kicking game, and be there to cheer her on.

There’s no competition between the girls due to the friendship they’ve been sharing for many years, they have class together everyday, help each other at football practice and hangout on weekends they said.

Armstrong has a good memory of her first time on the field.

“When a little girl walked up to me and Ashley with a little Nerf football and asked for both of our autographs,” said Armstrong with a smile, “I was surprised. It was really cute and exciting to see that the community had a positive reaction to us.”

By: Damien Oswald and Alex Geiger