By Ian Adler
On June 16, 2015, Head Football Coach Jesse Shay received a phone call telling him that two of his player’s lives had been lost in a fatal car accident. “Like everyone else, I expected a phone call to say ‘Hey, we got it wrong,” Shay said. Unfortunately, that phone call never came...
That crash took the lives of two of Red Lion’s finest young men, Stone Hill and Nick Mankin. The two friends were traveling on Slab Road when their car struck an electric utility pole, eventually causing the car to be engulfed in flames before any help could arrive.
Both would be entering their senior year at Red Lion, and both were looking forward to the upcoming football season, along with the rest of their team.
The Lions traveled to Hershey for their first game on September 4, bringing home a 40 to 20 victory over the Trojans.
The team plans to memorialize Stone and Nick in several ways, starting with stickers of the two player’s numbers, 46 and 60, to place on the team’s helmets.
Both friends and players keep the boys in their memory, reflecting back on their personalities and the things they did together.
“He was that guy who if I needed a ride, he would take me, no matter what,” junior Patrick Daugherty said, reflecting on his friendship with Hill. “We played baseball together, so we had summer trips and we were always together for tournaments and whatnot.”
In addition to football, Stone wrestled up until his junior year and played varsity baseball.
Head Football Coach Jesse Shay described Stone as a “lead by example type of guy.”
“He didn’t talk on the field much, but the guys who played with him wanted to play up to his level because he always performed at such a peak,” Shay said. “He inspired guys to try and match his intensity.”
“We’d just hang out, go hiking, fishing, drive around or go to Walmart and mess around or whatever,” junior Dylan Gurreri said. Dylan had wrestled and played football with Stone, bringing their friendship to the point it was at before the accident.
“He could be awkward, but he’s a real nice kid,” Gurreri said about Nick Mankin, a newer addition to their closely bonded friend group. “He was real quiet, but once you got to know him, he could be really obnoxious.”
Nick Mankin recently moved to Red Lion from Susquehannock during his sophomore year, and soon found a family within the football team.
“I just met Nick this past year battling over a varsity position,” Tierney said. “It was a heck of a time, but we brought it together near the end and became best friends.”
Nick played offensive guard for the Lions during the 2014 season, ending up splitting time with his former rival and newfound friend Tierney.
Tierney is using the loss of two of his closest friends as a “drive”.
“It drives me to be better to myself, my teammates and the people upstairs that can’t play the game anymore,” Tierney said. “I know I love it, and I know they loved it, so I’m using it to my benefit to give 110 percent every play of the game.”
“You know, Nick was a great teammate, but he wasn’t necessarily a ‘football first’ type of guy,” Shay said. “He played football because he loved his teammates, and although football may have been his number two or number three thing, he still did very well at it.”
One of the team’s primary mottos is “FAMILY”, a simple acronym for “Forget About Me, I Love You.” It is with this in the hearts and minds that they will carry the memory of Stone and Nick throughout the season, and throughout the rest of their lives.
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