Last year’s annual meeting of Liberty and Freedom high school football teams meant not only Christmas City bragging rights, but a slot in the PIAA Class 4A playoffs.
In a classic nail-biter, the Patriots won 45-42, its first victory over the Hurricanes in nine years, on a dramatic game-winning field goal by Sean Wrobel with less than 30 seconds left to play.
With Freedom at 4-5 and Liberty at 2-7, both teams have not had the seasons they hoped for going into this year’s annual tilt, which will be played today at BASD Stadium at 1 p.m.
It nonetheless carries great significance for Bethlehem. Yes, it’s a rivalry game between two teams that share a city and a school district. Liberty holds the historic edge, having won 29 of 44 previous games.
But it will also be the first big community event following the tough week that Superstorm Sandy brought to Bethlehem, the Lehigh Valley and much of the Northeast.
Even as school and other events were being canceled day by day during the week, Bethlehem Area Schools Superintendent Joseph Roy said the 45th gridiron meeting between these two schools would go on as scheduled – “Something for the community to look forward to during these tough times,” he tweeted.
There will be tailgating. There will marching bands. There will be cheerleaders. There will be football.
There also will be students from Freedom and Liberty out canvassing the parking lot and the stands for donations to the American Red Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania.
Said Roy: "This is a great opportunity for the District and community to come together to support the efforts of the Red Cross to care for the many Lehigh Valley citizens impacted by Hurricane Sandy.”