Saucon Valley football’s remarkable 2015 dream season is over.
The Panthers’ best efforts and the enthusiastic support of an entire community were not enough to overcome the athletic prowess of their Philadelphia opponent–Imhotep Charter–in Friday night’s PIAA AAA semifinal game in Bethlehem, and the team lost 72-27.
While the point differential was large, observers noted that the Saucon team scored more touchdowns against Imhotep than any other team they have played.
Some observers also called the matchup lopsided, since IC is able to draw its players from a wide area while Saucon’s football talent is entirely homegrown.
In the end, the result is the same–Saucon Valley will not be playing in its first state championship game in Hershey.
But the team went further than any other squad in the district’s history, and along the way captured the hearts of their community, as was demonstrated by the heroes’ sendoff and welcome home to Hellertown they received Friday.
On the way to and from Bethlehem Area School District Stadium they were escorted by local police, fire and EMS personnel in vehicles with horns blaring.
Hundreds of residents turned out along the route from the high school to the Freemansburg-Steel City bridge to cheer for the team, before and after the loss.
And many more were at the high school when the Panther bus escort arrived home a little after 10 p.m.
On Facebook, hundreds of supportive comments were posted by fans who told the team how proud they are of what they accomplished this year.
“Congratulations Saucon players!” wrote Chris Guro. “David couldn’t beat Goliath this time, but you gave the most valiant effort possible! Thanks for making the sacrifices and commitment to make it to this level of play!”
“Great job Saucon! Couldn’t be more proud!” added Kelly Opitz Buki.
And Alicia Kichline commented that she is “so proud of them!”
“That was a very tough team with boys on there that were bigger then NFL players,” Kichline wrote. “We still fought and tried our best and that is the most important part!”