Battle for the Playground

May 13, 2013 2:51 am0 commentsViews: 194
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Pennsbury vs. NFL in Fundraiser

Former NY Giant Brandon Bing eludes Nolan Applegate.

Former NY Giant Brandon Bing eludes Nolan Applegate.

It was a strange feeling for former Truman High School football star Chris Becker as he stood on the sidelines at Pennsbury High School’s stadium on April 28. “I never thought I would run onto this field as part of the home team,” said Mr. Becker, a veteran of many memorable clashes between Truman and Pennsbury. But when the whistle blew, he put aside old rivalries and took the field for a worthy cause—a new playground for Manor Elementary School, of which he is now the Principal.

The main playground at Manor had been closed after being deemed unsafe in 2012. The school’s PTO has resolved to raise the $75,000 or so that may be necessary to install a new and better playground for the students. As part of Project Playground, the PTO teamed up with former NFL player Lonnie Allgood’s “Dreams for Kids” organization and persuaded a group of current and former NFL players to take part in a flag football game fundraiser at PHS. The game was the culmination of a weekend full of events for Project Playground, including photo ops and autograph signings, food and craft vendors and a Punt, Pass & Kick tournament for kids.

On a cool April evening, before a crowd that paid $10 each for admittance, the NFL players took on teams from the United States Army and the Lower Bucks Flag Football Association as well as the Pennsbury team, which included teachers and players, past and present, from the PHS Falcons. The NFL team took an early lead but the Gentlemen, a local flag football squad from the LBFFA, battled back with precision passing and put the home team back in the game.

As evening turned to night, the momentum of the good-natured contest swung back and forth. Down by two points with just 1:21 remaining, Jeff Arndt (PHS quarterback in 1995 and current teacher at William Penn Middle School) hit PHS senior Ryan Muse for the go-ahead touchdown. The NFL team came back with a quick strike to tie the game at 56, but on their potentially game-winning extra point attempt Muse came up big again with a clutch interception to seal the tie.

The dramatic finale was a thrill for players and spectators alike, and the Pennsbury team was understandably proud of holding their own against NFL caliber players. “Their speed, agility and athleticism was amazing,” said Dave Schrimpf (Falcons QB in 1998 and current Manor Elementary teacher). “Watching them on TV is one thing. Competing against pros on the field is entirely different!”

“In all of my experience in education,” said Chris Becker, “I have not been aware of any school community that has attempted to pull together an event of this magnitude. We are grateful to all who came out to support our cause in raising funds for a new playground at Manor.”