UNION (WBNG) — A rivalry is renewed Friday night in 12 Sports’ Game of the Week when the Maine-Endwell Spartans travel a few miles down the road to Dick Hoover Stadium to take on the Vestal Golden Bears. It’s the first meeting between the two schools since 2015 and the Spartans enter the showdown as the hottest team in Section IV.
"The Vestal-Maine-Endwell rivalry, it’s been going on for a long time, so it kind of sucked we didn’t get to play a team like that last year," said Maine-Endwell senior quarterback Joe Mancini. "But, we’re excited for this year and we’re just going to work hard in practice and we’re going to be prepared for the game."
"Just like a lot of the close, as far as proximity, rivals, this is a big one too," said Maine-Endwell head coach Matt Gallagher. "So, we’re looking forward to Friday."
Expect both student sections to be loud cheering on their team Friday night.
"It’s going to be good energy," said Maine-Endwell senior lineman Gavin Demilio. "I think it’s (Vestal’s) homecoming week, so the Den is going to be out. They’re going to be loud and it’s going to be a fun game."
"(I’m excited) just to get to play them," said Mancini. "Get to be in the atmosphere of the Vestal Den and the Spartan 300. So, a lot of people showing up. Vestal-Maine-Endwell, it’s always going to be a close game. So, I’m excited to see (how many people show up)."
The game though will be decided on the field and one of the keys for the Spartans will be slowing down 12 Sports’ Athlete of the Week, Matt Thrasher, who scored four times last Friday night for Vestal.
"We just gotta get after him," said Gallagher. "We gotta swarm tackle and make sure he doesn’t get into the open field like he can. He’s a good player. He’s a tough kid and I’m sure they’re going to try to get him the ball. I would."
Offensively, Coach Gallagher has plenty of options to get the ball to as Maine-Endwell has lit up the scoreboard with the most points so far this season in all of Section IV.
"(Playing quarterback in the Spartans offense), it’s amazing," said Mancini. "I love it so much. The offensive line doing their jobs. The backs doing their jobs. The outside wide receivers blocking on the outside. Everything is coming together."
"The guys are fast, so it’s nice," said Demilio. "We don’t have to block for too long and with the guys next to me, it’s pretty easy."
"It’s just fun," said Gallagher. "It’s really fun. These guys are awesome and the whole coaching staff and the team, we just love coming to practice, being together. At the same time, they know that when work has to get done, it gets done and then all that stuff leads into the game and they can enjoy the game. They can go out and play because they love to play the game of football and it shows on Friday nights."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night at Vestal High School.