NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT) – From October 31st until November 10th, the Redbank Valley High Bulldogs fall sports teams knew all about winning. The football team won its first District 9 title since 1996 on October 31st.
(Photos courtesy Redbank Valley Volleyball/Football/Soccer)
The girls soccer team followed it up with their first ever district title in dramatic fashion. The Lady Bulldogs forced penalty kicks and won against a powerhouse in girls soccer; the Brockway Lady Rovers. This game was held at Brockway on November 4th.
FInally, the girls volleyball team won their third title in five years the very next day. In less than a weeks time, the Bulldogs were on top in three separate District 9 fall sports.
The momentum did not stop there as the Bulldogs football team won their first ever state playoff game on November 7th over Northern Bedford. The volleyball team followed it up with their first ever state tournament win over Chestnut Ridge.
Finally, it was the girls soccer teams’ turn to play in the first round. Though they lost in double overtime, the girls battled the entire game and very well could have won that matchup against Cambridge Springs of District 10.
The question is, how did this small class A school have enough talent for all three of these outcomes?
The Bulldogs do not have any co-ops with any local schools like many of their counterparts, but this did not seem to matter in 2020 in the slightest.
The Clarion County school is home to some of the premiere athletes in District 9, and they proved that on the field and on the court the last few months. Some of the Redbank Valley student-athletes took the time to describe their special fall sports seasons.
Beginning with girls soccer, senior Josey Adams provided the inside scoop on what it was like to be a senior at Redbank in 2020. “It was so exciting when we got the green light for fall sports. We only had 13 games on our schedule which was super disappointing because we have 10 seniors. It appeared our “last ride” would be short lived, but we kind of had a fire lit under us to want to keep playing.”
Gabby Dinger also spoke about the special soccer team she was glad to be a part of this school year. “We set various records, including 10 shutouts on defense and Rhiannon Laughlin setting the assists record in a season. I would use the word special to describe this team because this group of girls is like no other. Everyone played a big part in our success and we truly acted like one big family all season. It is so nice to get recognized for the accomplishments we worked hard for.”
The girls soccer team had four UAVSL all-stars, including Raegen Beamer, Gabby Dinger, Teja Hageter, and Rhiannon Laughlin.
The volleyball team had three selected players to the D9 AA All-Star team, including the MVP Montana Hetrick. Alivia Huffman and Brynn Rearick were also named to the D9 All-Star team. This team continued its strong run in District 9 AA this season, and it carried over into the first round of states in 2020 as well.
Sophomore Alivia Huffman said “the community was outstanding this year. So many people supported us all the way to the end. I am so glad our immediate family could be there in person with us, but even those who could not be there showed so much support throughout the fall.
Brynn Rearick played in her final high school volleyball season this year, and she said this about getting to play. “I treated every practice like it would be my last because I was unsure if we would make it through or if we would have to cancel the season. Being able to win D9 and a state game this season means a lot. My favorite moment was when the team stormed the court after the D9 championship game and getting to celebrate with all of my teammates.”
Montana Hetrick described this Lady Bulldogs team as determined, hard working, and unforgettable. “We approached every practice like it was our last, and we competed as hard as we could for every point. This team and this family is one that I will remember forever.”
In football, it was a completed team effort in all three facets of the game that proved to be the difference maker in a special season for Redbank football.
Senior Aidan Gardner said “it was a special season for me because this summer, we did not even know if we would have a season, let alone one that would make history for Redbank.”
Chris Marshall joined the football team this season after some convincing from friends, and used the word fun to describe the team he joined this fall. “We just went out there and had fun with everything we were doing on the field.”
Hudson Martz noticed the community support and brought up just how long it had been for the Bulldogs since they captured D9 gold in football. “The community was so happy for us for our first district title in 24 years, and it showed as they packed the sidewalks through town when we were escorted in buses after the D9 championship game.”
Ray Shreckengost talked about the brotherhood and the bond that has been formed over the last 10 years for him in football. “Everything I did this year was for my brother beside me. We all played with a lot of heart this season, and we really did not have any weakness on our team. Sadly, it came to an end, but the bonds I made in football will never fade.”
Brenden Shreckengost included mention of a team that wanted redemption from last season “After losing the district championship last year, we wanted what was ours and we were prepared to do whatever it took to achieve it. We knew that it was in our hands to control our own fate, make history, and bring home the gold for all of our fans back home. There will never be anything else like setting the goals we did, and then actually achieving them.”
Marquese Gardlock described the team as versatile and adaptive and said “having so many players who could play multiple positions gave our team a great advantage and allowed us to have people step up in other positions and roles when they were needed.”
After hearing it from the players, it took everyone in the Redbank Valley community and school district to rally together for a great cause; the betterment and opportunity for young people. In a year that has been as decisive and as difficult as 2020 has in many ways, it is reassuring to know that here in Clarion County, history and memories for these student-atheltes were saved because the community rallied together to support them and give them a chance to compete.