Player's Diary #7: Andrew Weininger

Badger commit Andrew Weininger shares his emotions as he prepares for the biggest game of his season. This column was written for The Journal News, a Gannett newspaper in Westchester County, NY. Weininger has been kind enough to share his columns with Badger Nation.

After our win last Sunday night against Eastchester, it hit me. Coming up is my last Rye game.

Since I was a little kid at Harrison Avenue School, my dad would always take me to the game. It was special.

Cars from Rye would be parked blocks away in front of my house. There were always big crowds and football weather. The Huskies were always dressed in their intimidating maroon uniforms. I always dreamt of one day playing in this game. This game is the best.

Although this is only my fourth varsity Rye- Harrison football game, me and my teammates have probably played in a half a dozen more. The pick-up Rye-Harrison games that went on during the games when we were kids behind the bleachers were just as tough. We had no pads and no refs but the rivalry between the two teams from neighboring towns was always intense.

It is difficult to adequately express the emotions that I have playing in this game one last time. I am excited, eager to win for my community, and eager to show the Rye community that we are the better team.

The rivalry even goes beyond football. In Harrison, and I suspect Rye, every sports team's biggest game is Rye- Harrison. It's always the one "must win." I have played in four Rye- Harrison golf matches. They have the feeling of a Ryder Cup. Every shot felt like the most important shot of my life. Ask the baseball, basketball, hockey and lacrosse teams. They'll tell you the same thing.

But, the most juiced game of the Rye- Harrison rivalry is annual football game.

This year the game has added significance over the past two. The last two years the game has been played the first week of the season and it had no bearing on the regular season. I'm not saying it wasn't a huge game. It was. But this game was made to be played the last game of the regular season, with playoff seeding riding on it.

Tuesday was the beginning of what our school calls "Rye Week." During the week, the cheerleaders and majorettes dress up in different themes as a way to get school spirit up. Tuesday they all came dressed the way the football players come dressed to school. Also they decorate the cafeteria with signs dedicated to each player.

On Friday there is the incredibly loud and exciting pep rally. This year it will be in the gym for the first time since I was a freshman. The past two years it was outside at the field because of warm September weather. The atmosphere in the gym is electric. Everybody's going crazy, about beating Rye the next day.

When I ran out freshman year, I was so proud and excited. After that there is a huge bonfire where a house painted Rye red and black with "Go Rye!" signs is burned to the ground. Saturday morning you awake to your house "toilet papered," a sign to the community that a Husky lives there.

There is an electricity around players and coaches this whole week. Practices are longer and extremely intense. There is no room for error, every play must be perfect so that nothing is left to chance on Saturday. It is Tuesday and I am already so pumped for the game, and all of my teammates are also.

This year I will also look to win my first Rye game at Feeley Field. Many of the players playing in this year's game were on the team that lost to Rye two years ago, the first game of the 2000 season at Feeley Field. Our team is looking for revenge because Rye ran up the score against us. They were up by four touchdowns in the forth quarter when they ran a trick play - a wide receiver double pass just to rub our faces in it.

Last year when we won 28-7, we were tempted to retaliate but Coach Troilo did the classy thing and removed our starters late in the game. Our revenge will come by showing them once again that we are the better team and that there is a reason that we have won 10 of the last 12 Rye- Harrison games.

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