The build-up to any organized football season is gradual, whether it’s Pop Warner, High School, semi-pro, or the top level of the pro ranks.
For the 2019 Hanover Rhinos, the next chapter of their story is here- their second preseason game.
The Rhinos, who haven’t played since the Santa Bowl on December 8th, will travel to the Baltimore Giants for a tune-up game on Saturday, February 2nd at 11 AM.
The game will be held at the YMCA on Caton Avenue, and is free for the public to attend.
“The Santa Bowl is like the first chapter of the book,” Rhinos head coach Noah Sneeringer said. “You don’t really find out much about the plot or all the characters involved, but it gets you excited for the rest of the book.”
The Rhinos will get some much needed work in during chapter two of this book. There is still much to be figured out about the depth chart and how this edition of the Rhinos will operate on game days.
“First preseason (game) tells a lot about the players you got,” Sneeringer said. “You find out who’s been studying the playbook. You’re hoping to get some clarification on position battles.”
Sneeringer, who is entering his 4th season as Hanover’s head coach, has been through two previous preseasons with the team, so he tends to know how things work this time of year. But, he still gets a little nervous for these tune-up games and all the challenges they bring to coaches at the semi-pro level.
“It’s a little bit of both,” Sneeringer says about the excitement that combines with nerves. “You don’t know much about our team or the team you’re playing. Gameplans are not really about the opposing team but more of an evaluation on (your own) players. It’s more a self-evaluation game in all areas.”
The game against the Giants is what the Rhinos hope will be the first of two winter preseason contests, the other one coming later on at home against an opponent to be determined.
This is the first time the Rhinos will play a preseason game on the road since 2/11/17, when they travelled to face the Pennsylvania Pharoahs in Harrisburg.
“I want to get one home, one away scrimmage,” Sneeringer said. “Always nice to have home events, but we need to know how we travel.”
Many of the players are just excited for the same old reason they get hyped up this time of year- the opportunity to hit somebody wearing a different-colored jersey for once after lining up against their teammates in practice for months.
“Honestly, (I’m) hyped!,” said Rhinos’ newcomer Tristan Simpkins. “I’ve been waiting for another chance to play someone new. I’m very excited to see what I can produce and what the team can do as a whole!”
For others, the game is an opportunity to try out new wardrobe combinations.
“(I was thinking) how lucky (my teammates) are that I’m playing with them and not against them,” said another newcomer, John Curtis, Jr., a defensive back out of New Jersey.
“Actually, that was a PC answer,” Curtis continued. “What I really thought was what colors I was going to match my gloves and cleats with.”
“All red or all white, I haven’t decided yet.”