RYE, N.Y. -- With Rye High School set to take on rival Harrison High School in their annual varsity football matchup on Saturday, Oct. 19, current students as well as alumni are getting pumped for the big game.
This year's contest will start in the morning for the first time, with kickoff scheduled for 11 a.m. at Harrison High School's McGillicuddy Field.
Ali Sims graduated last year and is now a freshman in college. She has the week off from school and was supposed to go to a tennis match, but decided to skip it to attend the game.
"I like seeing everybody there," she said. "A lot of people come home from school to attend. There are so many generations there."
Ernest Sisca played in the Rye-Harrison game in 1970, when Rye won 3-0. Sisca was a wingback and cornerback. Though he grew up in Rye, most of his family is from Harrison, and he actually ended up playing against his cousin that year.
"The game is so monumental," Sisca said. "Growing up in Rye and Harrison, once you play in that game, you never forget. You could go 0-7, but if you win this game, your year is made."
Amber Slater, a senior at Rye High School, predicts that Rye is going to win, saying, "We're undefeated this season, so I think we're probably going to win. But I think it's going to be a good game."
Slater and Sims said that their favorite traditions associated with the game are when the players shave their heads and when the winners jump into Blind Brook. "Although, last year Harrison jumped into the Brook, and that was not okay," Slater said.
Sisca said that this year is especially poignant because of the recent deaths of longtime Rye coach John Nugent and longtime Harrison coach Art Troilo Sr., the father of Harrison head coach Art Troilo Jr.
"Hopefully something is happening to honor them," he said. He knows what an impact those two coaches had on their players, particularly Nugent. "He was great with the kids. He made you want to play, and he taught a lot of lessons."
Sisca hasn't seen Harrison play yet, but he thinks that Rye looks pretty dominant.
"Rye's quarterback, has got a Division I arm," he said. "But with the emotion of this game, anything can happen. It's all about inspiration and playing hard."