BY COREY GESFORD
The sixth annual Battle for the Bluestone arrives with some differences from its five predecessors as Susquehanna travels to Montrose to take on the Meteors in the annual trophy football game.
Unlike the past few seasons when the game kicked off the football season, both teams enter Friday’s game with four games under their belt.
The decision to realign the Lackawanna Football Conference finds both the Meteors and Sabers competing in the same division this season which adds significance to the outcome of this year’s game.
The Bluestone was developed with the idea of intensifying the rivalry between the only two schools in Susquehanna County that have football teams. But with co-sponsorships between Susquehanna and Blue Ridge, and Montrose aligning with Elk Lake and now Mountain View, student athletes the game encompasses the student bodies of five of the six county schools.
Forest City is in a co-sponsorship with nearby Carbondale.
The teams head into the game seemingly headed into different directions. Susquehanna opened their season with a win and after two tough losses against Lackawanna Trail and Old Forge, but got back on track with a shut out of Mid Valley.
Montrose stumbled out to an 0-4 start as the Meteors march out onto the field with an inexperienced roster and a coaching staff with just over a year in place. But if you ask either coach, the records mean little.
“Anytime we play Montrose, even before it was the Bluestone game, the players knew it was a rivalry and played hard,” said Susquehanna Coach Kyle Cook. “Any team can win on any given night, and in rivalry games records can really be thrown out the window.”
Montrose Coach Steve Miller said his team is excited about the game and despite the slow start to the season the mindset of his Meteors is still positive.
“Our morale is good, the kids are still fighting on every play,” Miller said. “It’s a home game for us and the kids are looking forward to it.”
Susquehanna sports a senior-laden team with players that have played in the county team battle for two or three seasons and understand the importance of the game to both programs.
“It’s always a rivalry against them and both know what’s at stake with the Bluestone,” Saber Running Back and Linebacker Sam Cosmello said.
It’s also significant because many players will be competing for the Bluestone for the final time. “It’s definitely emotional knowing it’s my last season and the last Bluestone,” Susquehanna Lineman Brock Gumaer added.
Keeping emotions in check during the game is also something that coaches know they have to rein in and remind their players about.
“The players will play up for this one on both teams and making sure we can keep our emotions in check after the whistle blows will help us the most,” Cook stated.
“You just have to keep your emotions in check,” said Gumaer. “We all know what winning the Bluestone means, but we can’t do that if we don’t stay focused. You just have play to every whistle.”
Due to the playoff implications the game will be an important match up for Susquehanna as the Sabers chase Lackawanna Trail in the Division IV standings and is in pursuit of a District II playoff birth.
“We definitely can’t take Montrose lightly,” said Saber Quarterback CJ Stone. “This is a huge game for us not only for the division, but also the Bluestone.”
Someone will walk away with the Bluestone Friday night, but all we’ll be a part of the Susquehanna County football legacy.