Honesdale and Western Wayne will clash under the Friday Night Lights
The final countdown to one of the season's most exciting local high school football games is officially on.
It's Week Three of the LFC campaign and fans are getting set for a crucial contest between ancient rivals Western Wayne and Honesdale.
Kick-off is slated for 7 p.m. Friday night at Sharkey Rosetti Memorial Stadium for what will be the 27th Annual Shrine Bowl Classic.
According to Wayne-Pike Shrine Club member Brian Wilken, this latest renewal of the annual grid tradition promises to be extremely entertaining.
“We're definitely excited about this year's game,” Brian said. “Everyone looks forward to these cross-county rivalry games. I know the kids and the coaches are pumped up to get out there.
“You can pretty much just throw the records out the window when Western Wayne and Honesdale play because it's such an intense rivalry.”
The Wildcats are paced by junior tailback Zane Janiszewski, who's already rushed for 336 years and seven touchdowns.
The Hornets are led by senior running back Jimmy Ludwig, who erupted for 115 yards against Paupack last weekend.
Western Wayne is coming off another solid season under the direction of Coach Randy Wolff.
The Wildcats went 5-5 in LFC action last fall, but still qualified for the District 2 playoffs. The local lads then went on a run, advancing all the way to the Class AAA semifinals before falling to eventual champion Scranton Prep.
This year, the 'Cats seem to be picking up right where they left off. They came out of the gate with both guns blazing in Week One, dealing Lake Lehman a 33-7 loss.
Coach Wolff's squad followed that up with an equally impressive effort in Week Two, hammering out a 27-3 win over a highly-regarded North Pocono team.
Meanwhile, Honesdale is struggling here in the early stages of the campaign.
The Hornets absorbed a 28-8 loss to Lakeland in their opener, then suffered a heartbreaking 17-16 loss to archrival Wallenpaupack Area last week.
Coach Mike Jurkowski's club played Western Wayne tough in 2018, but came out on the short end of a 13-7 final.
The Shrine Bowl Classic began back in 1992 and is now in its 27th year.
The game is hosted each fall by the Wayne-Pike Shrine Club. Over the course of that time, local teams who've been involved include Paupack, Delaware Valley, Honesdale and Western Wayne.
“This game is a big event every year, but this year it's even more special,” Brian said. “We're dedicating the game to the memory of Ken Dickinson who recently passed away.”
Dickinson was a longtime member of the local Shrine Club and one of the original organizers of the Shrine Bowl Classic.
“Ken was there from the inception,” Brian said. “He and guys like Ray Quiepo, Dick Osborne, Hap Balthaser and John Burlein were instrumental in making the Shrine Bowl what it is today.”
Dickinson died on March 16 at the age of 89. He and his wife, Audrey, were married for 69 years.
“Ken was a great guy and a very dedicated Shriner,” Brian said. “So, this year's game is in his memory.”
Preparations begin in earnest months in advance and culminate under the Friday night lights. All proceeds from the contest go to aiding the Shriners in their quest to help local children.
There are 22 Shriners Hospitals all across North America. It's the mission of the Wayne-Pike Shrine Club to help local children and their families as much as possible.
Local Shriners have made countless trips to hospitals in both Philadelphia and Boston … some of which Wilken has participated in personally.
“Any time you come out and support the game or support one of the local businesses who graciously took out an ad in this year's program, you're helping local families,” Brian said.
Over & Out
At the conclusion of Friday's game, Shrine Club members will gather on the field to present several highly-coveted kudos.
There's the “Traveling Trophy” which resides with the winning team for an entire year. But, there are also Most Valuable Player and Most Valuable Lineman awards given to members of each participating team.
And, while the game is obviously Friday night's focal point, the ultimate goal of the entire enterprise is helping local children in time of need.
“The bottom line is that if you see someone or know of someone who needs help, please contact us,” Brian said. “Call me and we'll get the wheels turning.
“We as Shriners never want to see a local family trying to choose between food or rent and helping their child. Call us! That's why we're here.”
Please contact Brian Wilken at 570-493-2426.