Game Day Preview


Photo Credit- Chris Bunty.

Get ready for Santa Bowl VI with Rhino Charge’s legendary game primer series!



Rhino Bites

Santa Bowl week is one of the most exciting weeks of the year on the Hanover Rhinos’ calendar. It hearkens back to the first week of high school, when anticipation is high for the members of the football team as the first game is on the horizon.
The first game of the new season for the semi-pro Hanover Rhinos is always the Santa Bowl, an exhibition game that benefits the local Toys For Tots.

On this Monday, Hanover Rhinos football is so close, you can almost taste it.

The players have been strapping on the pads every Sunday for the last two months to prepare for their opponent, which is the ECFA’s Harrisburg Pharaohs this year.

We kick off our Santa Bowl VI coverage week with a very special edition of Rhino Bites, featuring a new member of the Rhinos who once played in one of the more memorable recent football seasons for local South Western High School. He played defensive end and offensive tackle for the 1999 South Western Mustangs,  a team that went 8-2. However, the team missed the four-team PIAA District III class AAAA playoff field by a few rankings points. What really stung for the Mustangs was that Cedar Crest, who had the same record as South Western, made the playoffs despite losing to the Mustangs 40-7 during the regular season. Cedar Crest started two future NCAA Division-I scholarship players in the backfield.

          MATT HILKER                           


Age: 35                       Hometown: Glenville, Pa             Class: South Western ’00         Positions: OL/DL

#1. What made you decide to come out and play for the Rhinos this season after 17 years away from the game?

MH: When you have the pads taken off for the last time, it’s the hardest thing to do. Playing in high school was a special feeling. When you have the chance to put ’em back on, you don’t question it. You just do it.

#2. What’s your favorite memory from your playing days at South Western?

MH: The Cedar Crest game senior year. We played against the best running back in the state (Michigan State recruit Jaren Hayes), and shut him down for just 44 yards.

#3. How much did it sting to miss out on the playoffs, while Cedar Crest went to the playoffs with an identical record to yours?

MH: The most disappointing thing was when we lost the YAIAA division championship by losing to Central York. We were up at the half, but we had no senior leadership. We were in the locker room celebrating at halftime, and we came out and got our (butts) kicked. It still haunts me to this day. If we win that game, then (ranking) wouldn’t have been an issue.

#4. How did it feel watching all of the underclassmen from your ’99 team beat Reading in the playoffs and reach the district championship game the year after you graduated?

MH: It was awesome, we were family, and watching them achieve what they did was an amazing thing.

#5. How did you hear about the Hanover Rhinos?

MH: I saw it on Facebook 3 or 4 years ago. At that time, I didn’t have enough money, so I’m doing it now.
Remember, fans, you can catch brand-new interview segments with brand-new members of the Hanover Rhinos every week, here on Rhino Charge, the official blog of the Hanover Rhinos football team. Stay tuned throughout the rest of this week as we get you prepared to cheer on the Rhinos in Santa Bowl VI.



Rhino Bites

Our third edition of Rhino Bites features one of the most versatile new members of the 2018 Rhinos. He brings a rare semi-pro veteran presence to Snacktown’s warriors after stints with several teams, including the Baltimore Giants, where he teamed with 2017 Rhinos’ defensive MVP David Harden.



Age: 22                                 Hometown: Jarrettsville, Md             Class: North Hartford ’13               Positions: S/WR/K

#1. Tell our readers about your football playing background.

TR: I started off with 6 years of rec football. Wanted to focus on other things in high school, so I didn’t play. After high school, I played 2 years semi-pro in Baltimore. I’ve played a couple of positions including safety, wide receiver, and kicker.

#2. What teams did you play for in Baltimore?

TR: The Baltimore Giants (NEAFL) and Harco Pirates (XEFL).

#3. What drew you to football and continues to make you love the game?

TR: I grew up watching my older brother play, and watching on TV. Like any other kid, I had a dream to play football and go as far as I could go with it. For some reason, I can’t get away from the game though. Something brings me back every time. Maybe it’s just the thrill of the game itself.

#4. What’s the most exciting thing you’ve been a part of on a football field?

TR: Kicking the game-winning field goal (for the Pirates) in one of my first semi-pro football games.

#5. Tell me about the play.

TR: Fourth-&-3 on the 30 yard line. Less than a minute on the clock. Snap was a little high, but holder brought it down and the kick was in.

 Don’t forget fans, that the 2018 Hanover Rhinos take the field for the first time in Santa Bowl VI on December 2nd, at 1 PM at Manheim Adventure Park. Admission is 1 new unwrapped toy or $5 donation to Toys for Tots.

Rhino Bites

Today’s version of Rhino Bites features a new member of the Rhinos who is very proud to call Hanover his hometown. Without further ado, here is Snacktown’s own…



                      Age: 21                           Hometown: Hanover, Pa                         Class: South Western ’14                    Positions: WR/CB/S/RB

#1. What does it mean to wear the logo of your hometown semi pro team?

DL: It means a lot to me. I wouldn’t want to play for any other team. I’m with my friends and family, in my eyes, and get to play the sport that I love the most for the town and people I love the most.

#2. Growing up here in Hanover, tell us what makes this town special?

DL: The connection between people- we are all neighbors. We all have big hearts, care for one another. It’s a town known for sports and great coaches. I’m proud to say I’m from here.

#3. Finish this sentence. You know someone is from Hanover when ______.

DL: They talk about playing sports or watching sports. I.e. Penn State or their high school football team going to districts or states.

#4. Did you ever become a Penn State fan?

DL: I’m a Penn State fan, but not as much as I am a Steelers fan. I grew up watching Penn State and the Steelers with family, so to me, I was born into the PA sports.

#5. What’s it going to be like to step out on the field with the Rhinos’ logo on your helmet for the first time in the Santa Bowl (December 2nd)?

DL: It’s going to be wonderful. I am achieving a goal of mine. It’s a feeling that can’t be explained. I just always knew my place is on a football field, and to play with my friends and for my town makes it so much better. It’s so surreal, will have a better time describing it after that first game.


Don’t forget fans, that the 2018 Hanover Rhinos take the field for the first time in Santa Bowl VI on December 2nd, at 1 PM at Manheim Adventure Park. Admission is 1 new unwrapped toy or $5 donation to Toys for Tots.