In 2009, I began a journey that would introduce me to hundreds of people I would have otherwise never met. Our youngest son, Robert, entered high school and signed up to play organized football. My wife and I were there every step of the way, watching every junior varsity (JV) and varsity game through his time on the field. At the beginning of that season, head football coach Matt Evancho held an information meeting for the parents of new players, which I attended. This is where I began to meet Coach Evancho and his assistant coaches as well as some of the other parents. Before the meeting was over, I had volunteered to capture statistics for the varsity and junior varsity games. This seemed to me to be a good way to engage with the ‘team’ and stay in touch with Robert’s football adventures. I also saw it as a way to watch every game and keep somewhat dry and warm in the press boxes of stadiums around the Lehigh Valley.

Thus began my statistics career in high school football. I had never done this before but my Marine Corps training had instilled in me a disciplined approach to new projects. This was a new project that required accuracy in capturing game day stats and I soon learned that school historical records had languished over the past few years so I took it upon myself to rebuild that record. Digging into the history provided to me by Matt and became friends with Duke Helm who was the self appointed District XI Statistician. I compiled an accurate accounting of not only the skilled players (quarterbacks throwing passes, running backs rushing for yardage gained and receivers catching balls to score touchdowns), but I added interceptions, fumble recoveries, tackles, sacks, kickoff returns, field goals and PATs. It was an incredible undertaking but I figured if the kids were going to put in the work to make those numbers, the least I could do was record them for posterity.

Fast forward to 2022, I was late in the first year of publication on my first book, thinking about what to do next. The light bulb of inspiration popped on in my head and I thought ‘why not write about the 2015 football team?’ They had done what no other Saucon Valley football team had ever done – before or since. There would be plenty of people associated with that team who would be interested in reliving that storied year. Yes. It is a story that must be told and retold.

The name of the book, Best Year of Our Lives, was casually uttered by Karen Kane during one of my interviews. As I interviewed others and wrote the story, it stuck. The parents, players, coaches, fans and reporters I interviewed were all of one accord on this. It was the best year for them, for Saucon Valley School District, for Hellertown and Lower Saucon Valley. This team brought a widespread community together like no other time in their history.

I’ll add more stories to this blog as we go forward, but if you were there in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, leave your comments below this article and tell me about your best memories of those years. Were you there? Did you cheer them on? Were you a player? Cheerleader? Play the tuba? Jungle Member? Chain gang? Press box? Did you officiate any of their games?

The book is set for release in the Fall of this year and I will be back in the Valley autographing as many as I can. More information on that will come out as we get closer to the actual release date.

So go ahead and drop your comments in the box below.

Go Panthers!

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