By Will LeBlond
The Dryden Football team will be playing for something more than just a victory on Friday, Sept. 7.
In the team’s second game of the season against Southern Hills of Section III and their first home game of the year, they’ll host their first ever “Patriots Game” that will be played to support the Dryden Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The team has invited the Cortland and Waterloo VFWs as well and their American Legions and local members of Fire, EMS and Police Agencies.
The team will be wearing special alternate jerseys for the game with an American theme and one of the jerseys will be raffled off throughout the course of the game with all benefits used to support the Dryden VFW. The game has been in the works for a while with the entire Purple Lion staff helping out, including the captains.
“They were really instrumental in adding it,” said second-year head coach Justin Wood on the captains. “We want to give back and give some support to the community and help with the things that they need. The guys helped design and pick out custom jerseys for that game.”
Unfortunately for the Purple Lions, they’ll have to travel a few miles down the road for the game itself. The Dryden High School athletic facility is in the first phase of a multi-year construction project that is renovating the game field, track and locker rooms.
With the Dryden field unavailable, the team will play the Patriots Game at nearby Cortland High School. It’s a tough bounce for the Purple Lions, but it will help in building Wood’s mindset with the team where they want to play their best every game no matter the circumstances.
“We decided on the motto for the season to be ‘defeat excuses,’ and we don’t want to make excuses for anything,” said Wood. “We want to approach each situation with the mindset that we’re going to control our own destiny. This is just another case where no matter where we play, we still need to play Dryden Football to the best of our ability.”
The Purple Lions will get to test that motto all season long. With their home stadium unavailable for the entire fall they will not play any true home games, as after their first game at Cortland High, they’re scheduled to play a few games at SUNY Cortland as well. Although nearby Cortland will be the new home to the team, for the time being, Wood still hopes that their first Patriots Game will be a huge success to honor the local community.
“We’re going to be honoring veterans, active reserve, and all first responders,” said Wood. “We’re really hoping that we can make this big and show our support for those that are constantly showing support for us.”
After the team’s game against Southern Hills, the Purple Lions will travel to face Spencer-Van Etten/Candor in their second Section IV game of the season. After that, the team will play two straight games at SUNY Cortland on Sept. 22 against Susquehanna Valley and then again on Sept. 28 when they will play host to Clyde-Savannah
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