12/2/17: Santa Bowl VI
Welcome back, Hanover Rhinos!
For the sixth time, the Rhinos will be hosting the Santa Bowl, the annual charity football game benefiting Toys for Tots. Once again, it marks the first time that Snacktown’s warriors will take the field ahead of the upcoming season. It’s the first time that fans will have a chance to cheer on their new heroes, and renew acquaintances with the veteran players.
The Rhinos’ opponents will be the Pennsylvania Pharaohs, who just completed their fall season in the XEFL. The Pharaohs are based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
This game carries great intrigue, as numerous new members of the Hanover Rhinos used to play for the Pharaohs, and one former Pharaohs’ coach is on the Rhinos’ staff.
WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at 1:00 PM, Manheim Adventure Park, 4565 Camp Woods Rd, Glenville, PA 17329.
WEATHER FORECAST: 45 degrees and mostly cloudy. Precipitation: 0%. Humidity: 56%. Wind: 4 MPH northeast.
RHINOS IN THE SANTA BOWL: The Rhinos have a chance to move over the .500 mark for the first time in Santa Bowl history. Hanover has a 2-2 all-time record, but has been outscored 58-50 over the 4 contested games. The wins came over the Germantown Gladiators (2014) and the Southern Maryland Gladiators (last year). The losses were to the Virginia Chargers (2012) and Germantown (2015). Santa Bowl II (2013) was cancelled due to weather-related poor field conditions at Hanover Middle School.
LAST YEAR: The Rhinos raced out to a 26-0 lead through the first three quarters against Southern Maryland, en route to a 26-12 win. Defense and the passing game carried the day for Hanover. The Darkside Defense tallied 5 takeaways, 3 sacks, and a safety by Trey Seymour, while holding the Gladiators to just one first down in the opening 45 minutes of the game. The quarterback duo of Chase Scharf and Jake Orner threw for a combined 135 yards and 2 scores. Dominic Cotterino and Adrian Acevedo had receiving touchdowns after Stefaun Rascoe opened the scoring with a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown. Twon “Choo-Choo” Lyles scored the other touchdown on the ground for Hanover.
The game marked the first Santa Bowl for Noah Sneeringer as Rhinos’ head coach.
LAST MEETING: The Rhinos have never played the Pharaohs in an official game (Santa Bowl, regular season or playoffs), but they did meet in a preseason game this past February. Darius Crenshaw scored the only touchdown of the game as the Pharaohs won 6-0.
RHINOS’ OUTLOOK: Several former Pharaohs’ players and one coach will be matching up with their former team on Saturday. Among the former Pharaohs on the Rhinos’ current roster are quarterback Takeem Carter, cornerback Chris Brown, linemen Brian Warren, Eddie Mack, and Shawn Morris, and multi-position players Shawn Simmons, Jr. and John Gotti. The man known as Coach Jersey is a key member of the Rhinos’ coaching staff after leaving the Pharaohs two months ago.
Aside from the familiarity matchup, there are plenty of other important things to watch for the Rhinos on Saturday.
A staple of football training camps, the ever-present position battles will be fiercely contested across the board, with a number of key spots up for grabs and plenty of worthy talent to fill them. Three quarterbacks will take snaps for Hanover on Saturday. Incumbent starter Jake Orner, Carter, and former Carroll County Cannon Corbin Bailey are the men vying for the spot at the helm of the offense. Who will be snapping the ball to them this season? Saturday will bring us a step closer to finding out. Silas Hall, Dustyn Lauver, and several new faces will get looks in the middle. Lauver will start somewhere on the line when the season opens, the question is where.
Running back/receiver Raydel Ragland has turned plenty of heads in practice, and the Santa Bowl provides him with his first opportunity to strut his stuff in a live game situation.
The defense, which has yet to pick up a nickname to replace Darkside from last season, will be anchored by 2017 team defensive MVP David Harden at linebacker, safety Lloyd Welford, and Matt Reid, who returns to the Rhinos after spending some time on the team in the fall of 2013.
Noah Sneeringer will become the first Rhinos’ head coach to lead the team for multiple Santa Bowls once action kicks off this Saturday.
SCOUTING THE PHARAOHS: An impressive run during the 2017 XEFL fall season saw the Pharaohs earn the North Division title with a 10-3 record. In the first round of the playoffs, they beat the South Jersey Thunder 30-6, before bowing out in the XEFL semifinals with a 10-6 loss to the New Jersey Rams.
The Pharaohs are currently preparing for the spring 2018 NEAFL season, and hosted a scrimmage that they lost 34-6 to the Delaware Legacy last weekend.
Head coach and minority owner Eric Brickus coached 12 XEFL All-Stars this fall. Among them are quarterback Austin Mitchell, cornerback D’Shawn Turner, and Crenshaw, who played linebacker this past season. Other key players to watch are defensive tackle Brandon Wainwright, cornerback Quinton Tyler, and defensive back Howard Holton.
Holton, a former Harrisburg Shark and constant thorn in the Rhinos’ side, recorded a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Pharaohs’ 12-8 win over the Baltimore Rams on October 7th.