There’s just something about a rivalry.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Yankees-Red Sox, Cowboys-Eagles, Duke-North Carolina or even Pittston Area-Wyoming Area. The rivalry is all that matters at that time. It’s all that matters in Greater Pittston.
For 49 years, the rivalry between Pittston Area and Wyoming Area has been considered one of the most storied. And I’m glad I could be a part of it for the past three seasons. The first game was played in 1967 when Pittston Area came away with a 28-7 win. Almost a half-century later, that rivalry is still thriving.
Both teams celebrated their 50th season as a program this year. The two teams did not play in 1966, when both schools were formed.
This week featured a lot of smack talk between the two teams on social media. There were mentions of a #BlueTruck and #WelcomeToPittston on Twitter all week — we’re not sure what either means, but we hope it’s all in good fun.
There were dynamic pep rallies on Friday at each school. I heard some people say they were both two of the best either school has ever put on. The stadium was decorated to the nines, and the student sections were top-notch. Kudos goes to each student section for their respective creativity and outright passion.
It also helped that it was almost 70 degrees at kickoff. I can’t speak for the prior 50 years, but this had to be one of the warmest games played between the two schools.
Back in the day, the rivalry was annually played on Thanksgiving, much later in the year. Turkey, stuffing and football — doesn’t get much better than that.
But now, the game is played usually three weeks earlier, and the tradition is still extremely strong.
Each year, the Wyoming Area Alumni Association brings back its former players for their Ring of Pride night. That was the case on Friday night. Head coach Randy Spencer said his team’s win had a lot to do with those players being around his players all week.
One of the longest-standing traditions in the rivalry is the trophy presented at the end of the game.
Wyoming Area’s Brian Miles was named the 38th annual Carmello Falcone Memorial Most Valuable Player following his 169 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
The annual trophy is named after Carmello Falcone, who passed away in 1977. Every year since 1978, the family has awarded the trophy to a player at the Pittston Area-Wyoming Area game.
Carmen Falcone, Carmello’s grandson, organizes the award every year and said he has a plaque in his office with all the winners of the award. Sam Falcone, Carmello’s son, is 94 years old and has presented the trophy each year since 1978.
“Every year we remember (Carmello) and have to remember him,” Carmen Falcone said. “He always said to give back to the community. That’s what we’re going. We enjoy it.”
In the history of the award, no player has won it in back-to-back seasons. There’s been only one time where a player won it twice. Wyoming Area’s Jim Pizano won the award in 1991 and 1993.
This rivalry signifies the end of the football season for Greater Pittston. The teams combined for only three wins this season, but you certainly wouldn’t know it if you were at the game on Friday night.
I’ve always wished that when I was in high school my teams had a rivalry like that. The only rivals we ever had were 20 miles away. Wyoming Area and Pittston Area are separated by a river — that’s close!
Next year will be the 50th meeting between the two schools. This was only my third rivalry game in my time at the Sunday Dispatch. I have seen the Warriors win two of those meetings, but I’m sure the series record will remain pretty tight over the next 50 years.
Both teams gave their all this season, and that’s all anyone can ask for.
The seniors have seen the last four Pittston Area-Wyoming Area games with were split. I hope each and every one of you stood by your locker for a little longer on Friday night and let it sink in. You were part one of the biggest rivalries in the area, and you gave it your very best. Good luck in everything you do in the future!